FM consultancies are being taken more seriously

The facilities management consultants role in the ever-booming construction sector is becoming more prominent

Chris Bond, director of consultancy, Macro Middle East.
Chris Bond, director of consultancy, Macro Middle East.

Overlooking facilities management services in a new build project is one of the most costly industry practices, experts say.

In the previous issue of fmME architects and designers gave insight in to the involvement of interior design firms from an early stage, in order to ensure well thought out and functional facilities.

Going a step further and involving an FM consultant from the construction phase is pivotal, and Macro Middle East director of consultancy Chris Bond goes on to list the importance of getting the right consultancy services in the long run. “During the course of the asset life cycle there are many different objectives and requirements for building owners, designers, investors and operators. These range from, for example, design reviews from an operational standpoint, life cycle cost modelling, FM services procurement and live operational audits,” Bond says.

He also adds that it is extremely important to be able to respond to these differing needs. “It is important from an FM consultancy perspective to offer a balance of capabilities to deliver these requirements to maintain both continuity of business and develop further business. Additionally, there are value adds that come, at the design phase, that can support later needs such as operational cost modelling,” Bond says.

Macro offers consultancy services from master planning, design, construction, handover and operational phase. Bond explains: “We provide asset and FM service strategy development, design reviews from an operational viewpoint, allround cost modelling.” he says. In addition, an FM consultant also works on creatin a suite of FM services tender documents such as service specifications, service levels agreements (SLAs), key performance indicators (KPIs) and performance mechanism, management of the FM services tender process, and operational audits”

The failure to follow a streamlined approach can result in a disastrous handover period, where a tenants moving-in stage can be marred, tarnishing not only the reputation of the developer, but causing damage to the building’s facilities as well. An infamous example can be cited through a handover of a new residential building that had mixed up its apartments’ water and electricity account numbers. It resulted in hundreds of apartments not having a corresponding unique identification number for its utility connection.

This left the asset manager with a colossal task of sifting through contract documents and MEP blueprints. The FM company (which chose to remain anonymous and requested to keep project details classified) was roped in and had to offer on-ground assistance to resolve the matter.

Bond says the practise of involving FM companies and consultants early is gaining steam. He says: “There is an increasing awareness of the importance of considering FM requirements at the master planning and design stages, when clients take a long term planning approach to their assets. This is evidenced by our involvement in many projects at these early stages. The recognition of this involvement is positive and growing steadily, which is to be welcomed by all asset stakeholders.”

In terms of trends, service charge cost modelling is something that is increasingly on the rise. “The allotment of costs between differing uses on a development (e.g. residential, commercial) is becoming increasingly important, based on best practice guidelines. Additionally, the rationalisation of service provision across multi-portfolio clients (such as banks) is an increasing trend. It usually starts with FM strategy development, and moves into the procurement of services on an integrated facilities management (IFM) delivery platform.

There is no structured framework for FM consultants in the market today, and it’s not a practice that is governed by a set of laws, rather taking in account best practices, for example to those of RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors), Bond says.

Meanwhile. ancillary consultants that serve facilities management service providers have also grown in prominence: Companies and associations such as Middle East Consultants Association (MECA) or NICEIC’s certification programme. Training, learning and development is pivotal for employees to stay ahead of the curve.

Abu Dhabi based facilities management company Adeeb Group works with AlChemy Consultants, which provides weekly training programmes for its employees. Meanwhile, UK-based NICEIC first entered the region a couple of years ago when it joined hands with Emrill. NICEIC has since opened a regional office in Dubai.

Meanwhile, MECA will mirror ISSA (Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association) in the Middle East, bringing its high standards, best-practices, latest advancements in science and technology to local service providers, contractors, and governmental bodies, among others, the association’s chairman and CEO Ahmad M. Alayan tells fmME.

Alayan explains: “MECA will bring innovation, new science, progressive and continuous education, and global best-practices to the local market such as the Green Clean programme. That said, the most important change that MECA aims to bring is rehabilitating the perception the region has towards cleaning and FM. These industries should no longer be in the background, but should be given the attention, respect, and importance they deserve,”

The scope defining FM consultants is growing, with FM service providers such as Macro playing a major role in influencing asset management. The emergence of MECA, NICEIC and service providers’ eagerness to associate with international accreditation bodies such as BICSc should all make for a more structured future of the regional FM dynamic.

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Construction Week - Issue 765
Jun 29, 2020