AFMPN Conference: Balogun Charges Facility Managers to Improve Operational Model

Fadekemi Ajakaiye

Facility managers have been urged to rethink their business model to enable them to add value to buildings and lower cost of operation.

Dr. MKO Balogun stated this in a keynote address he delivered at the Association of Facilities Management Practitioners Nigeria 2023 annual conference in Lagos, recently. The theme was “Integrating Facilities Management into the Built Environment.” 

Balogun said, “The theme of the conference is not only apt but timely, in the current global economic landscape. Facilities management, like any other business unit, must rethink its model and how it can add more value to businesses and help achieve better results, lower costs of operations and focus on delivering exceptional results for the business, while focusing on ensuring the wellbeing of the users of the buildings is guaranteed.” 

He said, “Our Industry as at 2022, world GDP is estimated to be $103 trillion FM contributes about 2.3% to world GDP about $1.7 trillion It is expected to grow at an annual rate of 7% FM in Africa is about $65.7b as at 2021 figures, data per region is not available. The private sector will continue to be the major driver of FM services in the continent. There are opportunities in the public sector. 

“Lack of proper procurement process is a major drawback in how quickly FM can grow in the continent. Skilled personnels is another area of concern. In Nigeria, there is no real data for us to work with however, the pictures are not different with Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt being the largest markets in the continent, we can assume the 3 countries take about 50% of the African FM market. Our ISO 41011:2017 definition of FM is the most important tool for any FM today to be able to achieve above. My speech therefore will focus on how we can 3 integrate Facilities Management to the built environment through focusing on the definition of FM. ‘organizational function which integrates people, place and process within the built environment with the purpose of improving the quality of life of people and the productivity of the core business.’” 

He listed the functions of professional groups in the built environment, stating that facilities managers “operate and manage the built environment after it has been completed. The role of the Facilities Manager to carry out O&M activities in a built environment cannot be achieved if the Facilities Manager does not understand what has been built. It is also imperative that the professionals responsible for developing the built environment understand the Facilities Management requirements for the structures, buildings, or infrastructure they are developing, I am aware they do to some extent. How do you as a facilities manager improve the quality of life of the occupants of a building you did not participate in designing or developing? Will it not be very difficult and even expensive to adjust after the act? How do you enhance the productivity of the core business of an organisation whose primary resource is a building? Or who uses buildings as a major component of their business, when you were not privy to the design parameters and what has been built? Will it not be a major task (we all face the challenges of maintaining buildings when we don’t even know the basis for the design). When we take over buildings we are always looking for ‘As Built Drawings’, operating manuals for equipment, design capacity of services etc, mostly we do not get any information. 

“The issues are always numerous when we take over buildings, if we are lucky they will be limited to minor changes if not they are major that requires extensive works and remodeling at a huge cost to the investors, building owners and even inconveniences to occupants. 

“The future of FM is now as most companies do not design and build offices and move their employees in, they consult the employees on how the building design will enable their work and their well-being, why then as Facilities Managers, we stand back and wait for buildings to be completed before getting involved? Most developments are advanced before FMs are involved, if they are involved at all.” 

He said, “To deliver on the role and definition of Facilities Management, we need to go beyond the built environment professionals. An organisation that expects FM to enhance the organisation productivity and wellbeing of the employees, it is imperative that we engage with stakeholders in the organisation, these stakeholders are Human Resources, IT, Finance, Procurement and Administration. How as an FM are you supposed to deliver when the people who will approve your budget, your plans, your strategies are not aware of what value you bring? We have had stories of frustration of FM professionals blaming finance and procurement for their failure, however, you are responsible for your own success or failure, you must sell FM’s value to the business to align with you. We have developed ISO standards to help us achieve a holistic interaction with stakeholders, such as ISO 41012:2017 Facility management – Guidance on strategic sourcing and the development of agreements; ISO 41015:2023 Facility management — Influencing Organisational behaviour. We learn crossfunctional competencies, but we do not use the skills we develop to engage and deliver exceptional services to the demand organisation. 

“The Problem with us as professionals in the built environment is that we are talking to ourselves, we operate in silos, we are not connected, and we don’t share ideas and knowledge that will enable us to deliver the requirements of the demand organisation. The challenges of providing an environment that allows businesses to meet their business targets, improve productivity and wellbeing of the people in the human environment, requires stakeholders in the built environment to work together from the inception of projects and we jointly engage with the stakeholders in the business.” 

Suggesting a way forward, Balogun said, “The responsibility to deliver a human environment that meets the expectations of the demand organisation, lies with the facilities manager, a building typically lasts 60 years, useful life, on the average, equipment 10 years and are renewed. Other professionals in the design, development and delivery of the building are in for only 5yrs, its therefore the absolute responsibility of the FM to create that environment to bring all professionals together to drive FM acceptance. Every professional body today has created an FM body/division operating in silo, while there are more than 4 other professional associations for FM. The need therefore to enhance FM in Nigeria must start with the drive to bring all FMs together as one body, connecting and working together to drive adoption, learning, development, and research on FM.”

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