Facilities management emphasises that every aspect and person involved in buildings and construction is of equal importance; there are no hierarchical inequalities. Therefore, unlike building maintenance, which is primarily concerned with preserving and restoring items; facilities management is holistic in nature. Facilities Management aims to provide an organisation, including its space, infrastructure and people, with strategic and calculated management.


Facilities management has been defined as ‘an integrated approach to maintaining, improving and adapting the buildings of an organisation in order to create an environment that strongly supports the primary objectives of that organisation’ (Barrett & Baldry, 2003: xiii). The ‘primary objectives’ part of this definition is an appropriate description of facilities management because its wide-ranging meaning reflects the extensive elements of an organisation that should be considered and analysed to maximise the efficiency of the company.

According to British Standards, building maintenance is defined as ‘the combination of all technical and administrative actions, including supervision actions, intended to retain an item in, or restore it to, a state in which it can perform a required function’ (Wood, 2009: 4).

Facilities management is ‘a new discipline and as such is still trying to find an agreed identity’ (Barrett & Baldry, 2003: 45). As a result, for some organisations facilities management is predominantly defined as a building maintenance task, whereas elsewhere the scope can be significantly broader, accounting for services such as transport or security. However, the management of an organisation’s facilities can be assigned to an external provider or to a department within a company; within FM this process is known as outsourcing.

An in-house building maintenance case study: Independent day school
(Barrett & Baldry, 2003: 10)

This school educates over 1000 pupils and houses a group of buildings of a variety of ages. FM is controlled by the bursar who is supported by a small facilities group that maintains the buildings and relevant grounds. This organisation utilises formal and informal communication strategies to not only carry out the works, but to fulfil the requirements of the users. The FM team has created a strong networking foundation with external consultants, making them aware of new developments within the realm of FM. However, this organisation only focuses on maintaining the buildings and the surrounding grounds of the school and therefore does not delve into the holistic nature of FM. The school now realises that in order to remain competitive, they must capitalise on the opportunities associated with FM. For example, they could introduce a security team throughout school hours; offering all staff and pupils further protection. This could encourage more parents to choose this school for their children, which will in turn secure further capital for the organisation.

The procedure of outsourcing described ‘in its simplest terms is buying a service from the open market’ (Barker, 2013: 106). This option transfers the risk of poor and ineffective FM from the client to a designated party, who will acquire the majority of the FM responsibility. Facilities management ‘allows you to bring in specialist staff, which can be cheaper for certain areas of your service….many larger services in FM carry specialist staff who cover a number of contracts. They can justify their specialism by their economy of scale’ (Barker, 2013: 108) Therefore, for some organisations it may be wise to employ a specialist FM contractor, who can capitalise on the expertise of the FM professionals; enriching the productivity of an organisation’s facilities.

Case Study – St Helens and Knowlsley NHS Trust:

In order to satisfy the ‘clinical and holistic needs of its patients’ (Vinci Facilities, 2010) the NHS Trust employed the building and FM expertise of VINCI Construction to design, construct and manage two new hospitals. VINCI took charge of both the hard and soft services and managed to transfer and keep hold of around 47 employees. VINCI were also expected to provide the estate services with better management and control which made patients and visitor care the primary focus. The introduction of a CAFM system to monitor the Trusts expenditure and work orders has resulted in 95% of work orders being completed within two days. This epitomises a vast progression on a duty that was previously performed manually by an on-site manager. Furthermore, the Trust has been rated as excellent five times in the patient environment action team assessment and so thus far, they have accomplished the overall aim of their partnership with VINCI Facilities. However, agreeing a 40 year contract with an external provider is a risky business move because the service could be poor or deteriorate in time. Therefore, in order to avoid complications, the partnership contract should include robust termination clauses. But the Trust’s partnership with VINCI Facilities is unlikely to endure poor service or reliability issues considering VINCI’s multinational corporation status; rendering it a mutually beneficial business venture. On the other hand, an issue with entering business with an experienced FM contractor, like VINCI Facilities, exposes the Trust to high variation costs. This is because at the initial stage of the contract they can anticipate potential project variations; enabling them to significantly increase the profit margins.

As an organisation, it is essential not to underestimate the significance of facilities personnel who have valuable information that could help senior management with their key business decisions. A common error within many organisations is the perception that FM is merely operational, as exemplified by the following statement that ‘the facilities departments exist to provide a day-to-day service, not to consider how facilities could benefit the core business in the long term’ (Barrett & Baldry, 2003: 45).

North West of England – NHS health care trust:

The NHS trust case is a prime example of how senior management can neglect or fail to appreciate the FM team. The trust identified that’s its multi-cultural and diverse patients required services that are ‘timely and sensitive in approach, ensuring the delivery of appropriate local and regional healthcare services’ (Barrett & Baldry, 2003: 35). The introduction of basic medical training for the FM employees has enabled them to become integral members of the ward and departmental groups; thus heightening operational effectiveness. Research into various trusts have concluded that this particular trust represents best practice in relation to methods for handling performance assessment in facilities management. New facilities strategies have been developed with a closer association to the aims of the core organisation. Resultantly, the senior personnel recognised that the facilities management had a greater organisational impact than just financial benefits.

Innocent Fruit Juice:

Innocent fruit juice decided to move 200 staff to a new headquarters from their familiar open plan industrial unit to a ‘light and airy office building spread across six floors’ (FM World, 2011). Despite their happiness with their original headquarters they saw the transfer as a prospect for expansion and positive change. The facilities team (e-team) astutely selected a nearby office (moving from Hammersmith to Ladbroke Grove in West London) to ensure a swift and seamless move; making it more attractive to all parties.

The scope of facilities management can be understood through two categories, the first is space and infrastructure. Within these two concepts, strategic planning must be adopted to enhance the efficiency within elements such as the workplace, accommodation, technical infrastructure and the cleaning services. The new accommodation boasts a floor space of 20,000 square feet spread across five floors; thus providing the area to contain further investment in machinery, staff, improved facilities such as a gymnasium and table tennis table. The latter represents a major feature of Innocent’s ethos which is to strike a balance between hard work and entertainment; a combination that is likely to augment employee satisfaction.


‘Facilities management has an influential role to play in meeting key sustainability and environmental targets not only for their individual businesses but also in the design, fit-out or refurbishment to deliver more efficient buildings’ (BIFM, 2013). This implies that in order to produce efficient facilities management, the organisation’s building infrastructure should be designed in a sustainable manner. A way to achieve sustainability is to enforce regimented energy and utility management schemes. Innocent fruit juice have introduced a technical system whereby as the outside air reaches the internally required temperature, a green light appears encouraging the occupants to make use of fresh air. It also simultaneously disables the mechanical air conditioning systems to save energy. However, research conducted by the British Institute of Facilities Management implies that a reoccurring barrier to sustainability success is the over emphasis on technological systems. They argue that the senior and middle management need to engage with FM more closely. Their report discovered that ‘facility managers are not targeting the areas of highest priority relating to behaviours or processes which have the highest impact’ (BIFM, 2013). Subsequently, senior personnel should be investing more capital into FM and enforcing FM related training courses and schemes for their employees.

Life Cycle Costing and Whole Life Costing:

Life Cycle Costing ‘is a decision-making technique which takes into account both initial and future costs’ (Trada Technology, 2011: 2). In respect of buildings and structures, this not only refers to accurate costing of the construction phase, but the operational costs such as maintenance, utilities, the replacement of building elements, periodic management and end of life costs.

Moreover, a new concept known as Whole Life Costing offers a more holistic analysis of an organisation’s costs. It embodies a greater range of costs including non-construction overheads such as employee costs, business and planning costs and other external costs. However, acquiring accurate analysis of costs can be difficult for certain components such as the prediction of structural failures. Consequently, to cover an organisation’s costs, the facilities team should make cost allowances within the WLC model. These can be based upon construction knowledge regarding the likelihood of that failure. Another option could be to apply the insurance cost relating to the particular risk within the WLC model.

By producing an accurate analysis of the building phase and building life costs, the FM manager can identify the areas of excessive cost and therefore implement new cost effective strategies to combat such losses. Similarly, in order to maximise the efficiency of new strategies, the FM team should be adopting sustainable building designs. Sustainable buildings will create more efficient technical infrastructures, which will in turn reduce running costs of the organisation.

A criticism of LCC and WLC is that there is no systematic method for calculating these concepts. Further research must be conducted to develop a system which can be universally used within the industry. Wilmot Dixon have been performing a variety of in-house research into these topics and have produced their own LLC and WLC packages.


Within facilities management the concept of benchmarking exists, whereby organisations seek ‘to measure their performance in set activities against that achieve by their competitors’ (Park, 1998: 57). An evident difficulty of this is the notion of confidentiality, competitors are unlikely to release its performance statistics to help a fellow competitor attain similar success. According to Alan Park this concept is generally unsuccessful, except during random cross company research and development schemes. An example of this is the combined manufacturing plant between Volvo and Mitsubishi located in Holland. In order to establish a benchmark, the FM manager could compare its organisation’s performance statistics with another industry that utilises similar technology. This would be beneficial as it eradicates the obstacles to an honest exchange of information; thus providing accurate results.


  1. BARKER, I., 2013. A Practical Guide to Facilities Management. Dunbeath: Whittles Publishing.
  2. BARRETT, P., and BALDRY, D., 2003. Facilities Management: Towards Best Practice. 2nd Edition. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.
  3. BIFM, 2013. Facilities Management Leading Sustainable Business Practices. British Institute of Facilities Management, [Online] Available at: http://www.bifm.org.uk/bifm/news/6990 [Accessed 10th January 2014].
  4. FM WORLD, 2011. Fruits of their labours. FM World, [Online] Available at: http://www.fm-world.couk/features/features-articles/innocent-drinks/ [Accessed 6th January 2014].
  5. PARK, A., 1998. Facilities Management – An Explanation. 2nd Edition. London: Macmillan Press Ltd.
  6. RILEY, M., and COTGRAVE, A., 2009. Industrial and Commercial Building.  2nd Edition. Basingstoke: PALGRAVE MACMILLAN.
  7. TRADA TECHNOLOGY, 2011. Life Cycle Costing. Trada Technology, [Online] Available at: http://www.ihsti.com/tempimg/5B55F43-CIS888614800297340.pdf [Accessed 11th January 2014].
  8. Vinci Facilities, 2010. St Helens and Knowlsley NHS Trust – Case Study. Vinci Facilities, [Online] Available at: http://www.vincifacilities.com/Downloads/Case-Studies/Healthcare-Case-Study.pdf [Accessed 9th January 2014].

The content of articles and other projects is for informational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice.

Article by: Robert Cunningham