Working for a recruitment company that specialises in Facilities Management recruitment, I’m no longer surprised when people ask me, “So, what is Facilities Management”. I even struggle to define Facilities Management myself.
With this in mind I decided to test one of my colleagues. “Alex, in your own words, what IS Facilities Management?”. His reply? “Well….errrm. I’ll get back to you”.
Facilities Manager Clive Douthwaite defines it as, “So much done by so many seen by so few!”. Similarly, Steve Davies uses an analogy to define it, “The spine of an organisation. From top floor to ground level, servicing every organ (department) and supporting the core”. But do the general public know this? Have enough people heard of FM? Does FM have the profile it deserves in the wider market place? And does the FM function in a company have enough exposure at board level?
These are interesting question and ones which have been discussed since the beginning.
When posting these questions on LinkedIn I discovered a lot of people believe that not many people know exactly what FM is or struggle to define it. For example, Ellie Hurst, Marketing Manager at Advent IM thinks that, “People in general are rather confused about what FM is and probably don’t realise the scope of knowledge and expertise required to really deliver the value into a business that great FM can” Furthermore, Tim Clapham, Marketing Manager at Planon Software explains that a lot of people see FM as an “an industry that fixes things that break”.
Does the industry itself struggle to define itself? If so, will others be able to? Moreover, why would an industry be unable to define itself? Is it a result of conflicting viewpoints regarding the definition of FM or is it a lack of consultation between associates to agree?
Perhaps, as Naveed Khan suggests, it’s just the case that FM is named differently in different organisations, such as building support services or maintenance. But are these names necessarily correct for the industry or necessarily the names that FM deserves?
Is it the case that the FM Industry simply has an inability to effectively market itself? What’s more, why should it effectively market itself? It is even necessary for people to know or even to care what it is?
Ellie Hurst believes that in many ways FM is an unsung hero. She states, “Perhaps there’s a need for Facilities Managers to blow their own trumpet a bit more, or at least let the business world know they have a trumpet!”.
However, will this change? Furthermore, as Paul Phillips, Head of Customer Sales and Service at Elementus states, is there, “a real job of work to be done in order to raise awareness and understanding of the contribution FM makes to the success of any organisation”?
So, how do FM professionals raise the industry profile? If not enough people have heard of FM then how could this be changed?
Tim Clapham thinks that “FM professionals need to get better at communicating the strategic value they can add to an organisation”. But how do they get better as this? Is it a case, as he suggests, of FM professionals acting as, “Internal consultants who advise their Directors on the best use of the resources/space that are available”?
So, is Facilities Management an unknown industry? Maybe, as Ellie Hurst suggests, a push towards professional status or maybe even chartered status will help to raise the FM profile. However, in the meantime it might be down to FM professionals to spread the word, to promote their industry and how it benefits different organisations. Afterall, as Paul Philips states, “Those of us who support FM will be very happy to help and promote the profession we all depend on for our livelihood”.
For those who were wondering, my colleague Alex did get back to me. “Facilities Management is an industry that goes relatively unnoticed unless something goes wrong! You don’t notice that the office is clean every morning, but you do when it isn’t.
You don’t notice when the air conditioning works just fine, but you do when it doesn’t. FM is an industry that most people only hear of if there are problems to deal with. If the industry didn’t exist nothing would function as we know it. Facilities Management – The back bone of business”.
What are your thoughts on this? Let us know!
The FM Network are one of the UK’s leading Facilities Management and Building Services recruiters.