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How integrated is your service?

Alan Millin tries to understand what integrated facilities management really means

Alan Millin.
Alan Millin.

Integrated facilities management (IFM): we all know what it is, don’t we? But if facilities management is defined as the “integration of processes within an organisation to maintain and develop the agreed services which support and improve the effectiveness of its primary activities,” then isn’t every FM company an integrated FM provider?

But wait, maybe an integrated facilities management provider integrates the integration of those processes with something else—but what..? Let’s take a look at a real life situation.

Take my building watchman. (Yes, take him, he’s yours!) He works for an IFM company. His predecessor, if you could find him to lodge displeasure with some aspect of service provision, was known to pick up a brush, mop or whatever it was he needed and leap into action. Seamless integration, you might say.

The new guy, however, uses a different system. Raise an issue, and he promises to call his supervisor.

So efficient is this IFM system that it took a week of complaining to get enough rubbish removed from the garbage room to allow us to open the chute door again. Unfortunately the IFM service did not run to cleaning the garbage room at the same time.

Along with bits of garbage still on the floor was a rather large, and apparently rather dead, cockroach. Even dead on its back with its legs in the air, the roach was a formidable size, you couldn’t really miss it, unless you are an integrated FM provider of course. The roach stayed there for another week before it was finally removed and, presumably, dispatched to that nice Roach Motel in the sky.

Unfortunately for the human residents though, whoever removed the cockroach apparently thought it was too much trouble to remove its back, which remained stuck to the floor for a further week.

Another conversation with the watchman, followed by another call to his supervisor, followed by a few days of waiting, and then, finally, the cleaners show up. They wash and scrub the corridor, but apparently fail to find the garbage room, leaving the remains of the cockroach still stuck to the floor.

We challenge our intrepid watchman again, and finally, the cleaners come and clean properly. Our previous watchman, who on a good day of loafing could give the Scarlet Pimpernel a run for his money, would have had this sorted in next to no time. To us, he was all the integration that we needed.

Of course there’s always a happy ending. Today, the garbage chute is blocked, and the watchman has, of course, put in a call to his supervisor.

When the IFM team appears (next month, perhaps?), they will no doubt find that the chute is blocked by a very large cockroach, with his back pinned against one side of the chute and his legs against the other, holding up piles of rubbish in the chute and whistling the latest chart-topping hit: “Integrate this!”

So, how integrated is your service..?

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Construction Week - Issue 745
Jun 30, 2019