Benefits of involving FM early | Macro

Benefits of involving FM early


By Bill Heath, Chairman, Macro

The awareness of the benefits of good, well organised facilities management (FM) has taken considerable steps forward in the Middle East recently. This is thanks to rapid growth of real estate developments and international investors buying into such developments, which in turn has led to greater demand for better service standards. Due care and attention, in line with international best practice, is increasingly being paid to protect the built asset values. 

What is perhaps less commonly known is the fact that over the 25-year lifecycle for a building (which in itself is very short by some standards) approximately 80% of the total costs are down to the FM operations and only 20% is the capital spend to construct the building. Consequently, if FM expertise is involved in the progressive design stages of a development, then due and proper consideration can be given to the effectiveness and efficiency of the FM operations. This could be related to the ease of maintenance, accessibility, storage requirements, parking, and even circulation routes. 

As project construction progresses, consideration needs to shift to the operational phase of the asset to ensure all requirements for steady state operations are completed, in preparation for handover to the asset user and FM provider. This includes system training, documentation transfer (physical asset details, drawings, operation manuals) and snagging closeout. The project team will leave when practical completion occurs and move to their next project but the FM teams will then continue throughout the life of the building. They will certainly need to deal with potential construction issues and defects in the first year or two. Much of this can be avoided if the architects, construction teams, project managers and FMs all work together. 

The occupants should also be considered. Is the building fulfilling their needs? And what if the business needs change - will the building be able to cope with this? The surrounding environment and landscaping might be beautifully created but it will need to be maintained. In the UAE in particular, water consumption needs to be brought into the early calculations. And what about Health & Safety? This is about eliminating risks, ensuring safe access and working practices (e.g. emergency exits, roof access), approval procedures and closeout, to name a few. 

Moreover, appropriate handover documents are essential but their importance is too often overlooked. These come in the shape of Operation & Maintenance manuals which include drawings, details of approved spares, consumables and replacement parts, installation defect logs and system testing certificates. Similar to taking ownership of a new car, the requirements for correct operation are essential to ensuring the optimum asset life of the building is achieved.

Having an FM strategy in place will iron out later problems. It’s about taking a long-term view when erecting a new building. Developers should consider the needs of the occupants, the sustainability of the building, and how these can be maintained without incurring unnecessary costs. It comes back to early involvement: the greatest opportunity for influencing the building operating costs is in the design stage.

This article has previously been published in Construction Week.