A rise in professionalism

by Michelle Dunner
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This year may be when the industry embraces the plan for an international Facility Management ISO standard.

FM specialist Martin Leitch says the process to develop the standard is well under way, with three parts to be released. “This is an accreditation standard; anyone working in FM now needs to think about how they’re going to address what will be required and get their own house in order. Even if they’re not intending to be accredited, they should at least think about how they will be aligned with the standard.”

Driven by ISO, the international body overseeing standards development, more than 23 countries have contributed to the development of the FM standard, which Leitch says has been three years in the making.

“The aim is to get some standardisation around the way we do things. FM started in the US and evolved in the UK and Australia. Coming from the UK and now based here, I can see the way we do things is different from the UK and US.

“In this era of globalisation, one of the things the standard is trying to achieve is to make the profession as transportable as possible – and that means we all need to be able to do things in a standard way.

It’s important for Australia to get on board and align itself with international best practice. Given there are a large number of international corporates working in Australia, this makes a lot of sense.”

Leitch says a main focus of the standard will address contracting and procurement – presenting a robust process rather than making facility managers continually reinvent the wheel. “It will take a major organisation, possibly a large government department, to start specifying that their service providers must comply with the standard. I envisage this will be in much the same way as has happened with sustainability practices – insisting on certain outcomes and standards. Then, it will become integrated into FM procurement processes.”

In March, Leitch released part three of his ‘Raising the Bar’ research project emphasising the strategic role of FM. While FM has enjoyed stellar growth over a number of decades and a number of international studies indicate that will continue this year, Leitch says he takes the statistics with a grain of salt.

“We have to remember that a lot of people working in FM don’t have facility management in their title and this applies across many different levels, from admin to maintenance, all the way up to directors. We still need to look at how to raise the profile and position of FM within organisations.

“When I see the figures indicating stellar growth, I’m not sure I’m qualified to comment on the value of that, but I would say China is probably the major influence in the region. China has started to recognise FM more and the value of it. Other places in the Asia- Pacific region are pretty established.”

Image copyright: fgnopporn / 123RF Stock Photo

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