FMJ Archives - May/June 2003
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Incorporating Facility Management throughout the Project Lifecycle
Steven Ee

The maintenance and operation characteristics of buildings and their effects on an organization are a direct outcome of the initial design and installation processes. Sometimes these designs are done without careful thought to the purpose of the facilities, their place of installation or the effect on the users; or such considerations may come about only after the design and installation has been completed.

The dire consequence may result in costly and complicated maintenance and operation. The fate of the maintenance and operation of the facilities lies entirely in the hands of the project team.

Although the project lifecycle may last from only a few weeks to a few years, the useful life of the facilities often stretches way beyond that, from about 10 to 50 years. Hence, proper consideration for the operation and maintenance of the facilities should not be overlooked as their costs could amount to several multiples of the original investment.

In managing facilities, smooth operation should not be the only major concern. The running cost of the facilities, which forms the bulk of the cost-in-use of the building and the comfort and safety of its users or occupants, should also be of equal concern.

Very often, the purpose of the facility, the place of its installation and the interest of the people directly or indirectly affected by it are neglected during project management. The organization, which does not have much influence or control over the project management, but is responsible for managing its facilities, usually gets to “inherit” the product of the completed project.

A good understanding of the organization's strategy and the operation of the facility would ensure that the product created is synergistic to the organization. It should be able to satisfy the organization’s and its occupants’ needs and requirements, and at the same time, operate at peak efficiency.

The practice of facility management takes into consideration the management and co-ordination of “people, purpose and place.”

People. This refers to the stakeholders whose expertise, opinion and behaviors can affect (or are affected by) the success or outcome of the facility. The facility management department and users of the facility are surely the key stakeholders, but so are the members of the board, customers, business managers, government authorities, the public, suppliers and anyone who can affect the works of facility management.

Especially in a small-size facility set-up, there aren’t many organizations’ functional departments that perform stakeholder management. Most of them are still quite reactive in their practice, meaning that the facility departments are operating its functional role without much concern for other functional units or external parties, such as neighboring companies, government authorities or suppliers.

Different stakeholders have different expectations and requirements. Quite often, they see only their own stake without considering other stakeholders. The people aspect of facility management concepts can be considered as stakeholder management as in facility management concepts. Constant interaction with the stakeholders is required in understanding the impact that they may have on the success of facility management.

Stakeholder management is incorporated in a project to:

Determine facility management's stakeholders for the project.
This is a process to survey, gather information and determine the stakeholders who have impact on the success of the project.

Determine, evaluate and justify stakeholders’ requirements.
Upon identifying the stakeholders, their requirements and expectations will be evaluated. Subsequently, they
will be justified and translated into facility management performance requirements.

Incorporate stakeholders’ management into the project.
This refers to the incorporation of stakeholders’ requirements into facility management’s strategy for the project, which can be in the form of: standard operating procedures, maintenance procedures, decision-making protocol, facility management plans, etc.

Therefore, if the people aspect is being considered in a project, not only will the likelihood of satisfying the people be high, but the perception of the project’s success will also be greater.

Purpose. Understanding the intention of a facility will enable the facility management department to focus on its requirements and have better control of the project. Everyone involved must know and understand why and how it supports the core business. Therefore, incorporating facility management ensures that all facilities work in harmony and towards the same purpose: to give the organization a better return on its investment.

If the projects contradict each other or when a project is carried out without considering the operation of the other facilities, it could cause operational problems and unnecessary costs and time to rectify them.

The facility strategy and the values that are shared are monitored and reviewed in real time to ensure that facilities are in tune with the organization and that they are both travelling in the same direction. Hence, facility management is capable of anticipating changes in its environment. The role of facility management is to act as a catalyst to the change process and to respond proactively to support the achievement of the organization’s goals.

Place. Long-term space forecasting, real estate management, space inventories, building operation and maintenance, furniture and equipment inventories, support services, etc., are in the scope of facility management related to place.

Facility management is a single function that has a holistic understanding of the plan and use of place. Thus, it should be the part of the organization that coordinates place to be in line with the organization’s mission, vision and objectives.

From the aspect of place, by incorporating facility management into the project would enable:

• The adaptability of the project to its organization’s space (with consideration of the existing operation and the likelihood of changes to its business and/or by the organizational functional activities).

• The organization’s real estate portfolio to be managed so the project does not contradict real estate objectives.

• The prevention of any adverse impact in accommodating the proposed project, and to ensure that it is in compliance with the necessary legislation and regulation for the use of the proposed facilities.

• Building operation and maintenance to ensure that the facility fits into its practice.

• Assets inventories to ensure that the systems, equipment and furniture used are in accordance to facility standards and/or requirements.

• Facility support services to prevent any major interruption that would affect the smooth operation of business during the implementation of new projects.

The importance of facility management throughout the project lifecycle has several benefits, based on:

a. Single source responsibility;
b. Meeting facility management objectives;
c. Quality and customer service; and
d. Project control.

Through review of the literature, the extent of control throughout the phases of the project life cycle can be briefly described as:

• The concept phase of a project is the only time at which there is total control over the future maintenance and operation of the facilities. Generally, the earlier a study of facility management is conducted, the greater the opportunity for improving quality in terms of maintenance and operation. From the building services maintenance, Pareto’s Law applies whereby 80 percent of the maintenance cost is contained in 20 percent of the design elements (i.e. early stage of a project) because it is here that the greatest value mismatch is likely to occur. Similarly, from facility management’s view, the project output affects not only the aspect of maintenance, but also the operation and users of the facility. It is crucial in this initial phase to have an understanding of the organization’s requirements, such as the use of building and maintenance policy. It also will affect the future growth of the buildings and the potential users, and necessary changes have to be taken into consideration. The design of a building will influence the cost of the inevitable maintenance program for the building.

• In the design phase, the facility planning process identifies user needs and agreed service levels as the basis for designing the service. Effective planning will ensure that facilities are “work-shaped” and support work processes. The facility management department has to ensure that design is in accordance with the organization’s needs, as well as the needs of the occupants. Maintenance planning and cost analysis, facilities failure, maintenance risk, and organization risk analysis have to be continuously reviewed during this phase.

• In the execution phase, when production of the facility is underway, the output has to be monitored to ensure that it conforms to the set requirements. During this phase, the planning of maintenance and operation programs can also be carried out.

• The finishing phase encompasses activities such as testing and commissioning of the facilities and documentation of operations and maintenance procedures. The maintenance plan has to be reviewed and monitored by the responsible parties.

The inclusion of facilities management practice will ensure that the facilities management objective, which is to achieve its organization’s mission, vision and goals, is being taken into consideration. Thus, by incorporating facility management throughout the project lifecycle, the quality in managing the project will definitely be enhanced.

About the author:
Steven Ee is a member of the IFMA-Singapore Chapter. He has more than 14 years of experience in facilities project management, fire and safety management and facilities operation and maintenance. He is currently employed with MTU Asia as its manager of facilities and plant services. Besides being a Certified Facility Manager, he is also a registered safety officer and fire safety manager with the Singapore governing bodies. He holds a MSc in project management from Curtin University of Technology.


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