Advice and Opinion

South Africa breaks new ground with Facilities Management Standard

South Africa is the first country in the world to publish a draft of the FM Standard to break new ground in best practice Facilities Management. The Standard was presented to the ISO meeting in Glasgow, Scotland on 5 June 2015 to positive feedback. “I am very proud of my working group and the quality of work produced within a very short time. I am even prouder now that the world has acknowledged the high quality of our approach”, said David Khasebe, local convenor of the volunteer group of professionals. He was also invited to join and contribute to the international working group.


The world decided through the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) committee of 32 countries in late 2014 to create an FM Standard globally to ensure effective management of facilities within organisations. The standard prescribes the manner in which facilities management must be implemented within organisations, in the same manner ISO 9001 series of Quality Management System provide best practices within organisation. This had become necessary as facilities professionals managed facilities differently and poorly to their own detriment and that of the organisations, profession and industry.

Pockets of excellence around the world have shown that facilities management, as a strategic business support function, can actually aid and support the organisation’s competitive advantage. At the centre of MacDonald’s success is facilities management, for instance. Their facilities, including their layout designs, electric corporate car sharing, air quality, efficient lighting and cleanliness are a great example of how, if executed effectively, facilities management can make organisations more competitive. Facilities management, therefore, does not only aid and support cost related strategies only, it can also support differentiation and other sources of competitive advantage.

The Googleplex in the Silicon Valley, California is a corporate headquarters complex which tells a story of corporate culture, environmental sustainability and people-centred organisation. The design, furniture, indoor corporate colours, indoor combination of technology and nature, air quality, cleanliness, food, ambassadorial services, the ‘work and play’ feeling employees associate with the place – all these elements which make the place tick, is facilities management in practice. This is the power of great facilities management practice within organisation.

Facilities management can effectively be found everywhere: Inkosi Luthuli hospital in Durban, PRASA passenger trains in Bloemfontein, Industrial Development Zone in East London, University of Stellenbosch, Dihlabeng Mall in Bethlehem, Kimberly airport, the ICC in Durban, Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg are examples of varied type of facilities where this management discipline can be applied in South Africa. “FM is everywhere, whether recognised or not, and can add so much value to organisations, be they in the REIT, corporate occupier, government or retail sectors”

It has the potential to be the greatest job creator and economic contributor if effectively implemented. This makes the Standard the greatest contribution to the NDP and national economy SAFMA and the FM industry can make.

FM System Standard

“The working group and I are convinced this standard is the step change the SA industry needs to catch up to leading nations. You see we are at least 10 years behind having started practising FM in late 90s. The US started in the 70s, and UK, 80s.” explained David who is also an independent management consultant. “It is an opportunity to leapfrog other nations and we have the most to benefit from the Standard – organisations, the industry and our economy. Everybody knows we need jobs and this is the industry’s contribution to this national effort, our own stimulus if you will.”

“The standard will become the much-needed hymn sheet for the practice of facilities management in organisations” David continues. Much-needed because organisations are generally unaware of the potential value of FM to create competitive advantage, facilities professionals feel undervalued and that the practice underestimated. The standard will clear this up while raising the bar for facilities management. “Raising bar, game changer; these are concepts that come to mind because FM will never be the same again. Organisations have always recruited people based on one or two technical aspects, the Standard broadens the scope and challenges professionals more. Effectively, if a professional and/or outsourcing provider cannot demonstrate how they support the organisation’s competitive advantage strategy, they will be found out by a simple assessment. The Standard ushers in a new era, indeed” adds David.

The standard unpacked

This diagram explains application of the standard within organisations. The diagram is becoming the standard itself after tentative adoption by 13 countries in Glasgow. It is also been subjected to ISO expert review to see it can achieve instant global application.

Orientation: The “strategic”, “tactical” and “operational” indicate the level at which processes are undertaken.

The following are salient principles of the Standard:
1. Prescribes the integration of the organisation’s strategic management and FM’s end-to-end processes. The standard introduces the concept of Demand and Delivery organisations.
2. Six pillars of the Standard are an ISO directive in terms of the Plan-Do-Check-Act mythology.
3. Certification documentation is the minimum the application of the Standard must produce to attain certification, for instance. These are the elements of change expected to raise the bar in FM within organisations


fm figure

Figure 1: The FM Standard within Organisations (SABS Draft Standard)


Elements of Change

These are shown in the diagram as Certification Checklist are going to change the application of facilities management. No company will achieve certification without these elements as a minimum. As shown below, they are not about ticking things off the list but about the principles of the Standard:

1. Policy

Most companies do not a Facilities Management policy despite its potential value in terms of competitive advantage, budget size in relation to other costs and its impact on other standards such as Quality Management System, Risk Management, Business Continuity Management, Environmental Management System, Occupational Health and Safety, Energy Management, Information Security Management System, Asset Management.

Organisations must put in place a policy that puts all this in perspective and ensure company buy-in and support of the FM function.

2. Strategic Facilities Management Plan (SFMP)

Most company do not define and assign FM in terms of the end-to-end process and thus also undervalue FM. The SFMP will resolve this as it will comprises functional plans including acquisitions, design, workplace optimisation, green building, portfolio maintenance & service, et cetera.

The introduction of this plan will also dispel misconception that outsourcing is bad for career prospects because its development and monitoring is an in-house function. This cannot be outsourced as it must be undertaken by the Demand Organisation. It is multi-disciplinary and requires concepts like core competencies and centres of excellence to be put to action. Our experience show most organisations are understaffed in this regard.

Some bad outsourcing stories have demonstrated that lack of strategic FM sponsorship and ownership by Demand Organisation was behind their failure.

This plan is a symbol of the so-called Strategic FM. Bold and portfolio level planning with bottom line and company-wide impact.

3. Resources Plan

Poor budgeting for people, financial and technology is behind the many stories of poor FM application. Most FM functions are understaffed and as a result are in survival instead of expansion mode. It is a vicious cycle of under-staffing leading to under-performing which leads to under-valued which leads to further under-budgeting.

The three budget categories will be impacted as follows:
• People – the introduction of core competencies with end-to-end FM approach will expand budgets and create more career opportunities
• Financial – Two sets of budgets will be implemented, aligned to business and facility lifecycle replacements
• Technological – 21st century FM demands computer-aided technology and this must be budgeted for. Performance Evaluation depends on availability of data

4. Facilities Management Delivery Plan (FMDP)

This the where the majority of FM currently focuses – at tactical and operational levels. The noise and action, associated with implementation plans, give professionals a lot of misplaced satisfaction and keep them busy while they fail to make organisations more competitive.

This is important work as it is about integration of varied, multi-disciplinary services, use of technology and ‘the moment-of-truth’ for FM. It will however have limited impact on the organisation and perpetuate the Cinderella syndrome if not aligned to or in the absence of SFMP.

5. Performance Metrics

All the grand FM plans are nothing if performance cannot be proven. Performance Evaluation with company-wide reporting is essential. This depends on the information availability and technology, of course.

Proving performance and reporting to stakeholders will help FM gain credulity on future plans.

6. Improvement surveys and studies

FM in SA is an internally-focused and not the most transparent industries, especially corporate occupier sector which includes corporates, government administration, healthcare, education and others. Only the REIT sector is highly transparent with ongoing IPD benchmarking and reports.

Independent stakeholders’ satisfaction, workspace use, facility condition and benchmarking studies are some potential improvement tools which bring about an external perspective.

A call to action

Although still a draft, professionals are called upon to promote principles of the Standard and commence experimentation before publication by year-end. This pre-publication experimentation will improve the quality of feedback during the formal Public Enquiry process in September.

Furthermore, all other stakeholders are asked to comment and input on the Standard. They include business and industry chambers on the one hand; industry associations on the other including SAFMA, Green Building Council of SA, SAPOA, SAIBPP, Engineering Council of SA; government ministries Public Works, Economic Development and Trade and Industry.

The feedback, comment and input is requested along these lines:

I. Do you agree that FM is currently not delivering potential value?
II. Do you believe the Standard will effect improvement and change?
III. Are the elements of change, policy, SFMP, etc adequate to effect improvement and change or would you add more? Which?
IV. Which elements of change do you not agree with and why?

To comment on the Standard, stakeholders are invited to email with their input.

Active participants of the working group and their organisations:

Banzi Bam – Public Works
Chris Schoeman – Builtcare
Claire Odgers – Barclays Africa
Craig Henry – SABS
Johan Eiselen – Academy for Facilities Management
Nico Mabaso – Ntumbani Inc
Hendrik Wannenberg – TFMC
Convenor: David Khasebe – DKMC

See more (download PDF): FM Standard TC Draft