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17 January 2019
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Silly season is over

2 September 2013

Another silly season is over.

Facilities managers back from well-earned holidays are returning to the serious matter of supporting their organisation’s business case.

But it wasn’t always so, as shown by our feature on the BIFM celebrating 20 years since it was established. It’s a good time to reflect how business times have changed, and how the FM profession has changed over these 20 years.

It’s been steady progress from the late 1960s when ‘facility manager’ wasn’t even a recognised term. Some employees way down the managerial pecking order began to realise there were common elements within different jobs in their organisations; receptionists, catering staff and cleaners all helped their organisation run smoothly.

Then came the 1993 merger of the Association of Facilities Management with the Institute of Facilities Management to create the BIFM. Fast-forward to 2013 and senior FMs, managing multi-million-pound assets, are mixing it up at board level.

The BIFM is celebrating its accomplishments by also looking ahead to where it should put its resources, including into building information modelling (BIM).

Through the associated Government Soft Landings programme, BIM is the government’s main vehicle for forcing joined-up thinking by architects, engineers and FMs in the design and construction through to the operation of public buildings. Under BIM, FM input is not only desired, but expected.

So potentially, FMs can now go further if they choose. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has called for the creation of a governmental chief built environment design adviser role to be created to lead and set the agenda for a better built environment. In other words, the opportunity is there for FMs to step outside the physical asset and collaborate in a wider environmental, urban and social context.

The complexity of today’s facilities manager role is highlighted by our case study with Ian Jones, head of facilities at ITV. Jones has an IT specialist and two procurement people assigned to his internal Workplace Services. Make no mistake who leads whom: “They are part of my team and not adversaries,” Jones says.

Many FMs talk about their organisation’s business culture. Jones has three internal cultures: the classical corporate culture of the head office, the creative culture of programme development and the technical culture of production teams.

Modern FMs are adept at identifying such differing sets of service requirements, and some of the best will be rewarded for their work in October at the annual showcase BIFM Awards. The names and job roles of recently announced shortlist for the coveted title of Facilities Manager of the Year shows just how far the profession has come: David Scott at Sodexo, Deborah Rowland at the Cabinet Office, Donna Brown of ISS UK, Hadleigh Standen at Pinnacle PSG and Niamh Lynch at Acuman Facilities Management.

The awards event at London’s prestigious Grosvenor House Hotel in Mayfair, will again be the highlight of the year for the finalists and attendees.

I am leaving FM World, but could well return from time to time when called on by my esteemed colleagues. After all, in my experience on FM World, there were never two days the same.