Why standards, best practices are needed in FM industry
With the growing awareness and demands of end users coupled with the complexity of modern infrastructure, there is increasing need for facilities management to adopt global best practices in Nigeria. Where such best practices are not achievable, at least, let us adapt them to suit our peculiar circumstances.
From a practitioner’s understanding, facilities management has to do with people, process, place and technology. It integrates all these to make a built environment ideal and a place of comfort for end-users. The built environment may also enjoy the benefits of longevity and value appreciation.
Every infrastructure is designed for a particular purpose and this determines the kind of maintenance required to keep it in excellent condition despite natural wear and tear. For instance, a hotel is a place guests come to stay or perform one function or another.
It must, therefore, be in such condition that those who make use of it can enjoy the facilities provided. It will be unacceptable if electricity is unstable, the a/c system malfunctions, the toilets have no constant water supply and the environment is generally untidy.
To achieve strong growth and best practice, the activities of facilities practitioners ought to be regulated as it is done with most other professions like law, accountancy, medicine, architecture and engineering to name a few.
Legislation is required to create a robust landscape for the practice of FM. At the moment only a few legislations such as the Factories Act, Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Act and more recently Facilities Management and Maintenance Law of Lagos state exist.
However, more work is required to deepen the regulation and practice of FM in Nigeria including related issues. What obtains now is that most FM professionals carry on, believing that they understand what they do.
Legislation and regulation will make it mandatory for existing and prospective FM professionals to acquire the necessary training, skills and apply a code of conduct. Currently, a good number of people still don’t have the competence and skill-set to practice in this industry.
As a result, many FM professionals end up creating more problems for clients when assigned tasks. Ethical values will also be given the necessary attention so that professional misconduct can be handled according to laid down rules and guidelines
My position is that we have to evaluate what we do, determine if it meets global best practice, if not, aim to achieve it or at the minimum set an achievable standard that gives customer satisfaction.
We need to look outside our local environment and adopt what other countries, that have done so well in this industry, do. The ISO 410001-2018 will also be very useful.
The growth of the industry requires collective effort from all stakeholders including government, private sector operators and the industry practitioners. It will require educating people to know about the FM industry in order to understand what it entails.
There is need also for conferences, seminars, mentoring and training sessions to share knowledge and experiences from time to time. To develop and grow the industry, I believe it is time we start defining the criteria for standards and best practice for existing and prospective practitioners in facilities management.
Obileye is the Chair, IWFM Nigeria region and Managing Partner, TWT Consulting Ltd.