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6th November 2012 FM Network event on Sustainability Issues

Event 5: Thursday 1 November 2012 - University of Bradford

The latest event of the Public Sector FM Network focused on sustainability – a great opportunity to take stock of where the public sector is  in terms of the sustainability agenda and to explore what’s looming on the horizon. The day covered a raft of issues, from planning for energy shortages, looking at the business benefits of travel plans, and exploring Scope 3 emission regulations to a critical look at return on investment for greening energy. Click here to see the photos.

All in all, the impression was that the sector has moved on – sustainability issues are now firmly established on the business planning agenda. The University of Bradford was a worthy host for this event – it has delivered pioneering work over the past decade, and the day culminated in site visits to its latest projects, the award-winning hall of residence “The Green” as well as a building made of hemp! A group of delegates donned yellow jackets and hard hats and climbed the scaffolding to see the building in the making. A fascinating visit! To see the photos from the site visit please click here.

It was also very encouraging to hear of another ‘Network success’ – following our last sustainability event in 2011, the University of Leeds developed its “University Residences Environment Charter’, a whole system to make its halls of residences more sustainable, covering all aspects of accommodation management, from procurement to maintenance, catering to student involvement (students are encouraged to become “green reps”).

The charter can be downloaded at

For further information about this exemplary project, contact Mike Leonard, Residential Property Manager, on

8th October 2012 Public Sector FM Network – Annual Conference 2012

12-13 September 2012 – Sheffield Business School

We're in this Together: Delivering FM Services to the Public
Sixth annual conference of the Centre for Facilities Management Development, in partnership with Sheffield Joint Asset Management Board

Inspiring, thought-provoking and extremely interesting were all words used to describe the Centre for Facilities Management Development's annual conference, which was held at Sheffield Business School on 12 and 13 September.

The conference brought together Facilities Management (FM) public sector professionals from around the UK to discuss and debate the key issues and challenges facing the FM sector, and was characterised by enthusiasm, exploration and optimism.

Chaired by facilities management expert Iain Murray, whose own enthusiasm encouraged some lively debate with the audience, speakers and panel, the conference got off to a great start with one of the UK’s leading social entrepreneurs, Lord Andrew Mawson OBE, taking the stage as the first keynote speaker.

Lord Mawson discussed new ways of providing services to the public and drew on his own experiences in renovation and partnership building, including his involvement with the recent Olympic Park Legacy Company.

Arguing that the way to solve a macro problem is by working through smaller micro problems, Lord Mawson explained that the ‘devil is in the detail’ and advised that working out the smaller issues within bigger problems will help determine the way forward.

He concluded his presentation with six pieces of advice proven to help facilities management work:

1. people are needed to define the process/structure of an action;
2. everything is in the detail;
3. it's about teams not committees;
4. teams should have a clear narrative;
5. learn by doing to find out what works;
6. be realistic with time when considering procurement.

The conference also boasted a host of other professional speakers, who offered a range of insightful discussions around the current issues facing the FM sector, as well as proposing their potential solutions.

Mark Swales, Sheffield Hallam University’s Director of Estates and Facilities, delivered a presentation on the potential to integrate all aspects of work style, thus creating cohesion between people, the workplace, technology and work processes.

The goal? To inspire improved relationships to enable collaboration and co-ownership of these work style elements, rather than mere co-existence.

Chris Kehoe, UK Group Executive Director for EMCOR, gave an interesting talk on the collaborative approach to facilities management, stating that common decisions and mutual trust are needed by all the parties involved to achieve excellent outcomes.

Following Chris, Stephen Jacobs OBE talked about providing services to the public by using the voluntary sector, considering the benefits such as more social value, increased jobs and more opportunities for flexibility in delivery.

Ilfryn (If) Price, Professor of Facilities Management at Sheffield Business School and one of the pioneers of facilities management, chaired a session of case studies with a panel discussion. If also took the opportunity to launch his new book, 'Managing Organizational Ecologies: Space, Management and Organization', which he co-edited with Keith Alexander.

If argued that facilities management engages with the narratives of social settings, and that assets and space can help to become enablers and drivers. He explained that the book brings together all the principles around the way that facilities management should be taught, with a view to educating the next generation of facilities professionals.

The conference was attended by more than 100 delegates from a variety of organisations and sectors, including universities, city councils, NHS trusts and facility services companies.

Fides Matzdorf, organiser of the event, said: "The conference gave attendees the chance to debate and discover different ways of providing services to the public sector, whether it is a hospital, a local government organisation, or another public sector institution.

“We're delighted at how well the conference was received, and the excellent feedback we've had from the delegates confirms that we achieved our aims.”

The conference also welcomed its guests to a conference dinner in Hallam View, and provided opportunities for site visits to Sheffield Hallam University's award-nominated Business Engagement Centre and to the city centre's successful developments, the Peace Garden, Winter Garden and Millennium Galleries.  Click here to see some of the conference photos.

12th July 2012 Summary of Estates and Space Workshop

Public Sector FM Network manager, Fides Matzdorf summarizes the second workshop for the current Network year.  The event was held on 27th June 2012 at University College London. The focus of the day was Estates and space - so what's new?

The latest workshop of the public sector FM network offered another day of information, inspiration and new impressions. Feedback on the day was overwhelmingly positive, as the sessions offered insights on all areas of the public sector.

In the introduction to the day, Alec Gray, our host for the day, offered a glimpse of UCL's master plan, which does not only set out the strategy for UCL's estate over the next years, but also questions assumptions underlying current space use and the status quo.

In his case study on Staffordshire County Council's public services property review, Jamie MacDonald shared some of the underlying issues. For example, when it comes to sharing resources and thereby sharing benefits, it needs to be clear who gets which share. Another important issue in partnership working is good, clear, detailed management information - without this, it is impossible to work. If space utilisation is to improve, agile working is an indispensable tool. Jamie put some very useful items on the 'to-do list':

• when planning for property, look beyond just property.
• It is vital to understand the services that are delivered: a customer-facing 9-to-5 service requires different accommodation from a back office paperwork service that can happen any time anywhere.
• Using pilot projects is an excellent way to get high-level support as well as staff buy-in, examples of good practice and better understanding of needs and requirements.
• Consultation and change management are absolutely indispensable for getting people on your side.

In his afternoon discussion session, Jamie explained further details and answered questions about partnership working involving several public sector organisations.

Tom Harris' report on space-based budgeting contain no surprises, but offered an excellent underpinning of what we know. He identified five critical success factors:

1. Building an asset management profession
2. Joining up corporate services into an integrated, seamless support structure
3. Working better with the private sector, understanding contractors better and developing models of joint ownership
4. Transforming data collection and use, with better data allowing better predictions.
5. Building an integrated, collaborative strategy, including a sensible balance between central and localised control.

Naomi Chesterman and Michelle Bendall unpicked legal issues around leases, brakes and payments, e-disclosure, subletting and assigning issues, dilapidations and vacant possession. Some of these issues were discussed in more depth in their afternoon session. They also provided a very comprehensive handout, with a sample of a service charge code and two free questionnaires on electronic documents disclosure. (You can download this handout from our members-only section.) Beyond this workshop, they also offer free legal training for Network members -- so do not hesitate to get in touch if you would like to take this up! You can contact Naomi by e-mail on

A site visit to Central St Martins College of Art and Design's new campus development at King's Cross with a guided tour of the premises rounded the day off. An old warehouse, lovingly restored with modern facilities and offering plenty of flexibility for a range of different uses, made for a fascinating experience before we all rushed off for our trains home!

As usual, all presentations as well as the recordings of the speaker sessions are available in the members-only section.

1st June 2012 Summary of Multi-agency working and shared services Workshop

Public Sector FM Network manager, Liz Clark summarizes the first workshop for the Year 2012-2013
The event was held on held on 22nd May 2012 at York St John University.  The focus of the day was Multi-agency working and shared services: the way forward?

Steve Atkinson, Chief Executive at Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council started the day giving his personal view on the key factors that make shared services successful.  The council has partners in and outside local government and within and outside the County of Leicestershire.  He pointed out that shared services are not about sharing Chief Executives, Directors or managers; what is needed is a fundamental change in the way the services are delivered, without this transformation nothing will be achieved.  The new shared service needs to be effective i.e. "does what it says on the tin" as well as delivering better value.  It also needs to be what the citizen wants; its no good having a shared service that moves from a weekly bin collection to a 2 weekly service which will be cheaper but not what the citizen wants.


Any shared service arrangement needs to be lead from the Chief Executive.  He/she can make people who don’t want to work together, work together.  A major barrier can be Directors/Managers not wanting to give up their echelons of power.  It must also have a lead organisation, this can be for each service not necessarily for the whole shared service arrangement, but too much delegation can harm the project, there needs to be accountability.  Organisations but have the desire, will and know what they want to get out of shared services for it to succeed.  They must identify and go after shared benefits; it will not work unless all partners have something to gain from the sharing of services.


Steve finished with the message that shared services has been, is and will continue to be of benefit to citizens and is therefore the way forward.  In addition, he believes Local Government is the most efficient part of Government and sees the opportunity for Local Government to take on some of the functions of central Government e.g. the Department of Work and Pensions.


York presentations


The second session was a series of presentations from York St John University, York City Council and Higher York.  All these organisations are working together and with others in a variety of different shared service arrangements.  One of the key messages coming from these presentations is that York is an "island" i.e. it’s a small, clearly defined city i.e. it doesn't merge into other cities.  All speakers believed this greatly enables them to work together as they are all geographically close to each other and know each other well.  Whilst this closeness may facilitate sharing services it is not necessarily a barrier for other areas and organisations.  For example, Hinckley and Bosworth Council work with organisations both within and outside Leicestershire.


York St John University recognises that it has to work with its neighbouring public sector organisations as it is not a large university and needs the benefits of sharing services.  For example it has worked with York NHS Trust, looking at areas it is good at and areas that the Trust is good at and how by sharing interests they can help each other out.  Areas where they have worked together include accommodation; the hospital had accommodation that was not economic to repair so the university now provides accommodation for the hospital - on-call doctors, student nurses they do not go to the hospital.  The University also provides some library services for the hospital.  This enabled the hospital to free up some space and the University gained information on sports and other medical related topics.  The University is also leasing some office space to the hospital.


The University is part of a joint scheme initiated by AMHEC and Guild HE to help smaller institutions with the provision of legal services.  The University is too small to have its own legal section and therefore has to buy-in legal services; this joint scheme provides members with a pool of legal experts that members can draw upon.


The City of York Council is now looking after the University's vehicles.  This means that now, unlike in the past, fleet is legally compliant and all vehicles get serviced and looked after.


Philip Callow from City of York Council informed delegates about the York Asset Board.  This has been in operation since 2010 and has members from the public and community/voluntary sectors only, private sector is not included.  Its purpose is to enable an integrated approach to asset management by working in partnership.  Its focus is outcomes rather than strategy "you can talk about strategy forever and nothing happens".  Its approach is to work on projects.  The first one was a mapping exercise which has proved very successful.  Unlike most mapping exercises carried out it also includes the community/voluntary sector property which makes it far more extensive.  They are now in the second phase of collecting data on the properties - tenure, condition, suitability/accessibility, capacity for sharing/re-using.  They are doing this at a simple level and rather than getting bogged down with systems and formats have just said to members give us what you have and we will do the rest. 


The new football/rugby stadium is a project that is being delivered through the Asset Board and has just received planning approval.  It will provide a stadium for the football and rugby teams along with other organisations such as York University sharing the space.  The Council is moving into new office accommodation at the end of this year and will be sharing the space with other organisations.  They will be housing the Police National Computer come with its steel casing and there will be a police presence in the building although it cannot be used as a police station because they cannot provide the 24 hour access that would be required.  Some elderly person homes have been identified a surplus to requirement and these are being transformed into a voluntary sector hub.  The advantages of the York Asset Board are that when surplus property becomes identified it can be taken to the Board straight away to see if a new use can be made of that space by other member(s) of the Board.


Higher York is a partnership arrangement between universities and colleges within the York area.  It has links to the Asset Board but its focus is what it can do with partners and has a team of 3.5 FTEs working for it.  It was established in 2001 originally looking a joint curriculum development activities etc., it has only recently looked at properties.   The majority of its discussions have been linked to procurement e.g. looked at Health and Safety training and sharing expertise giving access to some full cost provision by colleges at a reduced fee or bought in provision by the universities can be accessed by other members.  They are now looking at linking in with other organisations such as the NHS or other members of York Asset Board.


One of the key benefits from the York projects are that members can get access to services that they would otherwise not be able to afford because their organisation is too small to be able to afford to employ dedicated staff or do not need to have a dedicated person/team to look after that service but through the partnership arrangement they gain access to the expertise they need when they need it.


Tim Wiseman from Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust was the final speaker of the morning and talked about the creation of a Clinic Services administration hub that has been established in Liverpool and that others will follow so they will have a series of hubs across the City.  Prior to the project the administration space was on 40% occupied and spread around numerous locations which all had their own reception area, circulation space etc.  Each member of staff had their own workspace regardless of the hours they worked. People now have the freedom decide where they work.  There was a fear that this freedom would have a detrimental effect on the "team" so they make sure people come into the office at least one day a week and are not remote workers 5 days a week.  People now have better working space there is always a workspace and the technology required when an individual needs it.   They also find that people work more efficiently when they are actually in the office.  They have also made sure that computers have webcams so people can speak face to face even if they are in different buildings.


In the afternoon, feedback was presented on some of the case studies CFMD is investigating for the Better Practice research projects.  Helen Helllaby informed delegates about the Health and Welling Centre at Rotherham NHS Trust.  This is a new facility designed to support new ways of working and improve services for members of staff who visit the centre.  The old service did not support new ways of working and was not fit for purpose but the new Centre has been carefully designed by the Facilities department in consultation with the old Occupational Health team to ensure it is fit for purpose and has greatly improved privacy, dignity and confidentiality for those using the service.  The


Fides Matzdorf talked about the York Multi-agency working case study.  There are a diverse number of organisations involved in the project, from large complex organisations (e.g. the council, universities) to small, probably much more centralised ones (e.g. colleges).  Each of these organisations has different agendas & objectives, different processes (i.e. procurements, maintenance), different sizes & timescales for contracts, etc.  There are numerous issues around the stakeholders' involvement, including communication (both internally and between collaborating partners), involvement of SHs at strategic and operational level, senior management backing and project champions, staff buy-in, the complexity of large organisations (different departments may be involved), small organisations may feel unheard or out of their depth, marginalised or at risk of being ‘taken over’.  The role of FM is quite diverse depending on size, power and leverage of the organisations.   Some of the critical success factors included:  Building on established relationships where they exist; Having a champion in each organisation; Agreeing level of confidentiality; ‘Quick wins‘ to build confidence; SMART objectives (e.g. asset mapping) and achievable project stages.  Some of the key challenges included: agendas; organisational culture & conventions; ‘protecting your turf’; and of course staff worrying about their jobs!

A written report of the outcome of the above case studies will be available for the members shortly once it has the approval of the relevant organisations.

Liz Clark had a poster presentation on the findings of the Staff Satisfaction/Importance survey.  To see the poster please click here.


During the afternoon session, there were opportunities for the participants to go on a tour of the York St John University sites.


In general the feedback from the workshop was very positive and some of the comments from the participants included:


  • Steve Atkinson was very inspiring - good event
  • A very useful event – enjoyed all presentation
  • It was a good workshop
  • Enjoyed the more off the cuff presentation from Tim
  • Another good day, thank you

7th March 2012 The TSK Business Engagement Centre

Ian Ellison - CFMD

Report from CFMD Ian Ellison, Senior Lecturer and Course Leader on the TSK BEC (Business Engagement Centre) at the Sheffield Business School.


The TSK Business Engagement Centre at the Sheffield Business School recently opened its doors. It is an exciting new space in which staff, students, clients and partners of the business school can interact and work together in a physical representation of our ‘business school without walls’. The BEC is part of an ongoing journey to provide high-quality space that facilitates personal engagement across the business school. This journey constitutes a living research project that will create an iconic home for us, as well as an innovative showcase within our Stoddart building in the city centre.


The BEC our aim of partnership working. In this case, our partner is the TSK Group, a specialist workplace design, fit-out and furnishing company. Their expertise in understanding the way people work and using that understanding to translate business strategy into fully optimised workplaces, is combined with that of the Centre for Facilities Management Development in conceiving, designing and implementing a space that is more efficient, productive, greener and better for business.

We believe this partnership will deliver significant advantages for our business school community by helping people to discover and implement better ways of working together. The business school wants to improve its offer to existing business clients and its impression on new ones. TSK and CFMD want to showcase their combined expertise in conceiving, designing and implementing spaces that are actually better for business, and cheaper and greener than anything else in the higher education sector.


The core idea is that nobody’s job is totally tied to one fixed location. Some are less mobile than others and they have larger desks. Everyone has access to different work and social settings. Some are designed for concentrating and reflecting or writing. Others are designed for meetings of various kinds, including the informal and social. There is a wealth of research that suggests that ‘open-plans’ do work when they allow individuals the right balance of interaction and concentration. This type of space works if we are proactive, autonomous and respect the differing needs of our colleagues around us. Also, the TSK BEC is a collective SBS resource. The bookable and non-bookable meeting spaces are there for collaborative activities large and small.


Furthermore, there is a pay off. The extra shared space has become available because the space dedicated to individuals, and especially individual offices has been dramatically reduced. This kind of workspace concept focuses on genuine business and user needs, where any savings or efficiencies are transposed for higher-quality shared facilities. Finally, the space is a living research project. How do such concepts work in higher education? What is their impact? CFMD and TSK will be monitoring its performance from both business and academic research perspectives.

The TSK Business Engagement Centre will be commercially launched on March 15 at an exclusive workspace focussed 'Knowledge Exchange' event. If you would like to attend, please download the full event invitation and follow the enclosed joining instructions:

You Tube video link:

15th February 2012 CiB Conference 2012 - The University of Cape Town

Professor If Price - CFMD


Report from CFMD Professor If Price, key note speaker at CIB (the initials originally stood for Conseil International du Bâtiment) Conference held at the University of Cape Town, 22-25 January 2012.


Please click below to read If's report.



1st February 2012 Implementing change in relation to facilities management

CFMD Senior Lecturer, Mel Bull, produces chapter with Tim Brown (past MBA student) on implementing change in relation to facilities management in Edward Finch’s new book on Facilities Change Management.


Implementing Change Chapter synopsis

"My building would be great if it wasn't for the people!" Facilities management, however, is very much about people, and this can sometimes be forgotten. Facilities Management is the enabler for any organisation, and there is a need to engage with the end users to ensure the service we are offering allows them to carry out their day to day business.  When we start to disrupt this service, even if it is actually for the better, it can still be a very emotive subject.


This chapter will address the issues that surround the implementation stage of change projects, from an FM perspective considering the communications issues of move management, the practical issues involved and methods to minimise the disruption associated with a move.  It draws on a practical case study example to illustrate the facets of communication in move management. The issues arising from changes to working environments can be hard for facilities management staff to engage with.  There is very often an approach that "it just has to be done" and this results in a lack of engagement and communication from the facilities management staff to the end users (Donald, 1994; La Framboise et al 2002; Price and Fortune, 2008).


 There is existing literature in relation to importance of change communication and how the lack of a communication strategy can impact on the satisfaction and engagement of staff in the long term, but little is written about this from a facilities management perspective.  Included within the chapter is a case study based on research in a blue chip organization that focused on staff satisfaction following a change to working practice and also on the communications method used.  Alongside the issue of communication the chapter also considers the politics of move management, how to engage staff so they are fully participatory in the move, building the right project team and how to evaluate the communication strategy used and the overall satisfaction of the staff post move.

Facilities Change Management Book synopsis

Modern organisations are subject to continual change – technologies evolve, organisational structures are modified, people and underlying cultures are transformed. Yet the facilities that organisations occupy are static and can impede the changes that are essential to organisational survival. The response to change in terms of property and support services is often too little too late – leading to facilities that do not support organisational reality. The facilities management team is thus constantly challenged to bridge the gap between what an organisation has and what it needs.

Facilities Change Management is a practical evaluation of the management of change for facilities managers and related professions. It considers:

• the forces of change affecting facilities decisions
• the obstacles to change at a resource level and human level
• the effective implementation of change
• the human aspect of change

Each of these is considered in relation to modern facilities management issues. The discussion will enable practising facilities managers, project managers, surveyors, service providers and architects to understand, engage with and manage facilities change effectively at a strategic level. Through real–life case studies it demonstrates the complexities of change and hidden elements of change that may undermine carefully planned projects.

For more information visit:

16th August 2011 Benchmarking Facilities Costs to ‘Industry Norms’ – there is no ‘Quick Fix’!

Bernard Williams FRICS

[The request for a quick ‘rule-of-thumb’ industry norm for the cost of the various fm services is common and understandable. However it is an impossible task with no valuable outcome; it is bedevilled with myriad incidences of misanalysis and enigmatic resource-driver impacts which combine to make any ‘average’ figure taken from published sources, or gathered in at second-hand by lay people, not worth the paper it is written on in terms of its use in the cost benchmarking process. Sources of error and the key resource drivers and their impact are discussed in detail and should leave no-one in any doubt as to the logic or validity of the argument being presented.]


1.0 Introduction

Although the general appreciation of what Facilities is all about is growing with leaps and bounds there is a long way to go before the costs of FM services and the factors driving them are properly understood by a majority of practitioners and consultants.


A really worrying syndrome that continues to prevail is the perception that particular industries or sectors have some kind of identifiable mean cost of each service; and that then, once this has been identified, testing an  organisation’s own costs against them will provide some measure  of benchmarking support (or condemnation) of the cost levels currently being incurred.


Although one can quite understand why lay (as in non-FM-skilled) senior management might seek to benchmark in this simple way, professional facilities managers and/or/their advisors should know better than to allow themselves to be dragged down this non-beneficial blind alley.


To see why this popular concept is dismissed out of hand in this way let us consider what is being attempted and why a ‘quick fix’ cannot be achieved - other than at a level so high as to be worse than useless.


2.0 What are they trying to find out?

The usual business argument for comparing to the ‘industry norm’ is to see if there is any extravagance or imperfect procurement in the various facilities services - and that is highly commendable.


But we will demonstrate here that asking for it to be provided quickly and cheaply by reference to some published data or informal enquiry is something of a nonsense.


And remember that we are talking about costs now.


Of course you can and should test your service levels or qualities of specification of materials and systems against a peer group; if you can do that in a benchmarking group the discussion on who does what and why will be worth many times the resources taken up in doing so.  But cost is another thing entirely as will be explained below.  But first …….

3.0 The Parameters

Most FM people are well aware of the problems inherent in using common measures such as headcount and floor area to compare annual costs of similar services. We will take a quick look at some of the more common in use.


Floor area

There are nearly as many different methods of measuring floor areas as there are buildings and this is not the place to describe or define them all.

Figure ‘A’ shows the definitions of the different types of floor space and commonly accepted methods of measuring them as defined in ‘Facilities Economics’.

Figure A

(Facilities Economics in the UK – Bernard Williams :IFPI Ltd)   


Clearly the cost of a facilities service per sq.m of the ‘Productive Space’ could be almost double that same cost set against the gross external area.  A common and fatal error rife among the whole FM community is failing to specify what sort of square meters they are talking about, whether in comparing facilities costs or simply space allocation per capita.


And even when the parameter is stated clearly the areas given are often wrong for a host of reasons such as:

• lack of measurement skills
• failure to adjust building data following alterations, acquisitions, disposals etc.
• failure to adjust for sub-let or unoccupied space
• and so on


And then we have the headcount.  Differences between full-time, part-time and full-time equivalents are fairly well understood and most people recognise the need to allow for contractors in the total.


The full-time equivalent (FTE) is probably the most commonly used and for good reason. But what about visitors making extensive use of the facilities and people who hold on to workplaces while they are absent most of the time on external sites?  The number of bodies in a building has a big impact on the physical environment – heat gain, waste generation, water consumption and so on – not to mention the consumption of paper, mail services and catering provisions.


You only have to divide the wrong floor area by an inappropriate headcount to get a nonsense density of occupation and that is just for starters! And we haven’t got anywhere close to the cost analysis yet.  Before going on it is however only fair to point out that provided you properly identify the floor area and the headcount you have adopted you will be able to compare your density of occupation with another organisation using similar parameters.  But then, what if they have a restaurant and a gym and you don’t …..


 4.0 Cost comparisons

Chartered quantity surveyors measuring and analysing building costs use an industry-wide Standard Method of Measurement and standard form of Building Cost Analysis.  This means that their clients have access to good benchmarking data to compare the costs of their current building proposals with the ‘industry norm’ using space as a parameter.


However, these protocols require a sound understanding of the technical nature of the services being analysed and Chartered Quantity Surveyors have 5 years training to beyond higher degree status before they are considered to be capable of using them in practice.


Even then, before their measured areas and analysed costs can be used as a building cost parameter they have to make any manner of adjustments to take account of locations, density, climate etc.  –  the same plethora  of variable resource drivers (more about these) that impede direct comparison of the costs of facilities services.


So, even though the problems with the accuracy of the parameters are more or less avoided in construction by the use of highly trained professionals the issue of the ‘resource drivers’ in the building process has still has to be fully addressed before the overall costs per sq.m of the defined floor area can be brought to the table for benchmarking or budgeting.


Compare that highly structured process with what goes on in FM where generally speaking the areas and costs are produced by people whose skill-base is really quite inappropriate for the task.


The Facilities Resource Drivers

Figure B (also from Facilities Economics) is a real-life example of ‘before-and-after-correction’ data submitted from various sites to a standard protocol for cost analysis.


Figure B

Whether you use the floor area or headcount or anything else as a parameter the resulting cost comparator will have been significantly influenced by the ‘facilities resource drivers’: these are factors which reduce or increase the resources (of labour, materials and mechanical plant) required to do the job.


The resource drivers include:

• the scope of the service
• the specification of the building
• the maintained condition of the building
• the service levels
• the density of occupation
• the size of the building
• the shape of the building
• the location
• the climate
• hours of occupancy
• accessibility
• use of cost-efficient mechanical methods (where feasible)
• service charges
• the imposition (and inclusion) of taxes
• and many more


Depending on how they fall these facilities resource drivers can move the ultimate cost up or down a min/max range  by several standard deviations from the norm – possibly by up to 50% either way. So the Industry Norm for facilities is not a close run thing in the middle of a tight pack but the average of a widely distributed field.


Fail to adequately allow for some or all of these resource drivers and the resulting benchmarking will be a nonsense even assuming the comparative cost analysis is based on a similar  protocol and computed correctly – unfortunately not a regular feature of facilities cost benchmarking exercises.


Costs around the norm might just be bad performers getting a lucky break from the Resource Drivers; being in the top quartile could easily be the outcome of best cost performance being delivered in the face of severely adverse Resource Drivers.


The scope

Because of the way facilities costs are accounted for in companies’ books there is rarely enough detail in the costs to know whether the scope of a cost centre is comparable with the same one in another building or in the same peer group.  E.g. one organisation may include its window cleaning in maintenance and the disposal of ‘secure waste’ in security, whereas another may have them both in ‘cleaning’.  The cost differential brought about by the different scope of these two cost centres could be as high as 40% even before any of the resource drivers such as window areas and diversity of occupation are taken on board.  If your accounting system can identify these cost sub-centres then you can adjust the figures and start the comparison.  Otherwise, forget it!


Mis-analysis can cause big differences in the scope of the service costed. E.g. if Maintenance includes a lot of whole-life replacement or project work it will totally distort any maintenance benchmarking data-group in which it turns up. OK if you know about it, but otherwise…….


Published statistics based on figures generated by lay–people in terms of measurement and protocol are highly popular with the ‘quick-fix’ brigade but usually so unreliable as to be downright dangerous in use. It is one thing to publish a protocol for measurement and analysis and entirely another to get the answers back correctly in the manner specified. The latter is unfortunately the exception rather than the rule as demonstrated in Figure B above.


The specification

Most fm people appreciate that maintaining the mechanical and electrical services in a building with air-conditioning costs a lot more than one which is ‘heated –only’.  Nevertheless, even within air-conditioning systems there is a wide range of specifications with attendant significant differences in maintenance resource requirements.


Again, some buildings may have a large amount of double glazing while others may have a large amount of reflective triple glazing: window cleaning costs and energy consumption will be markedly different in both buildings even before the geometrical Resource Drivers have impinged on the quantities. Generally speaking costs of services per sq.m of the defined floor area are lower as buildings get larger (see below) so cost comparisons of a similar service level for maintaining or cleaning a similar material/system in buildings of disparate sizes will turn out to be quite different for no apparent reason to the lay analyst.


The service levels

If you are smart enough to try to compare your own service levels with those of another organisation or a peer group still be aware that in some services the levels of input need to be raised to overcome local features such as climate, density or production methods. The chiller on the roof in Brighton will need a lot more maintenance than a similar one in a dry Basement in Eastbourne -  same chiller, same region, different resource driver, very different cost.


Actually, comparison of performance levels is a very worthwhile exercise carried out in a benchmarking group with an expert facilitator who can help to unscramble the impact of the resource drivers on the required output performance. In practice input does not necessarily relate to output in either performance or cost terms so the best starting point is output delivered rather than service level specified.


Size of the building

Size and shape have a very big impact on the quantities of materials/systems per unit of floor area  and thus the extent of facilities resources deployed. E.g. on a like-for-like basis large buildings have less walls and windows per square meter  of floor area than smaller ones.  Consequently cost centres like window cleaning, services maintenance, energy consumption and fabric maintenance will start out with greatly variable costs per square meter of floor area (whichever parameter) before any other of the 100 or so other Resource Drivers have even begun to impact.


Even some publicly available statistics on ‘good practice’ energy management completely ignore the effects of shape and size on energy consumption – a serious and remiss lack of understanding of facilities economics.


The location and climate

Apart from obvious climatic resource drivers like degree-days and rainfall the access to the site by a well-trained reasonably paid workforce can have a big influence on costs: business security requirements likewise.


Hours of occupancy

Some buildings have a 24/7 occupancy and although not all of the facilities services costs increase in proportion – some of them do. Often the working hours are at the whim of management and may relate to many factors which are site-specific rather than a normal feature of the particular industry.



Some parts of a building are much easier to access than others both in physical terms and in terms of times of operation. The availability of standby pumps etc. can make it a lot easier to close parts of a service down for maintenance. However, it is not uncommon for such beneficial design features to be ‘value-engineered’ out of a scheme at design stage!


Use of cost-efficient mechanical equipment

In some buildings large areas can be cleaned using ride-on cleaners whereas smaller buildings having a similar function may not permit this facility. We are talking about big differences here, especially in industrial buildings where the workers often clean their own workplaces and only the aisles are in the cleaning operation. Just to labour the point the cost per sq.m GIA of cleaning an industrial building with narrow aisles where the operation includes the workplaces can be 4-5 times greater than the converse. What norm?

Service Charges

In tenanted buildings some costs may be borne by the landlord but there is no golden rule about what or why. Benchmarking Service Charges themselves is extremely complicated and definitely not one for the DIY- data-collection–and- analysis brigade.



Forget to state whether or not your costs (or theirs) include VAT at your peril: 15% difference will be there before you start any benchmarking comparison!


5.0 Conclusion

Maybe the point here is a bit over-laboured but then most people in FM don’t realise how difficult it really is to compare costs and space use at a high level – which is essentially what the Industry-norm scenario is all about.


Apart from the fact that it is a pretty meaningless benchmark anyway - even if you could find it - how could you know that everyone operating at that level had worked the business case from first principles setting cost of service delivery against the cost of lost output avoided or incurred? In a recent benchmarking study 2 organisations with a completely similar personnel profile and operational functional  requirements had  costs per sq.m GIA or FTE which differed by a factor of 3 – and neither of them was at or near the average for the industry. Actually one was overproviding to a totally unnecessary extent while the other was risking a staff revolt! The latter knew they must have it at the wrong level but still needed the misplaced comfort of being told they were actually in the lower quartile. On the other hand the former were at the average for the industry and such comfort would have been totally counter-productive.
So, the next time someone asks you to go away and come back with the industry norm for facilities just show them this article, ask them to study it carefully and then ask if they still want you to waste your time trying to do it. If they do, then they are probably the industry norm themselves right now!

Bernard Williams is Managing Director of International Facilities and Property Information Ltd. and a consultant to Bernard Williams Associates (BWA). He is a visiting Professor in the Facilities Management and Development Group at Sheffield Hallam University.


Bernard Williams FRICS
Managing Director
International Facilities and Property Information Ltd.
Kings House
32-40 Widmore Road
Bromley, Kent,
Tel: 00 44 (0)20 8464 5418
Mob: 07774 232 827
Fax:00 44 (0)20 8313 3363

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