It has been a week now since I returned from Philadelphia. While the pressures of returning to a two week backlog prevented the time necessary to post here in the interim, it also allowed for reflection on the the direction Facilities Management (FM) is taking. WW2013 was very successful in nearly all ways one might consider to evaluate the event. Attendance and energy were up as noted previously, the education sessions were strong (especially the WE track that I focused on), exposition participants were uniformly bullish, and the IFMA Foundation closed a year in which $150,000 USD in scholarships were awarded. As good as all of that is there are two initiatives underway that I think signal the long term strength and depth of our profession.
Development of an ISO Standard
IFMA is functioning as the lead agency for U.S. organizations engaged in developing a global FM standard through the ISO process. Working under the auspices of ANSI (the U.S.’s representative to ISO) a working group with representation from APPA, ASHRAE and other groups has been engaged since last fall in initial efforts. Since then working and plenary sessions have been held in Berlin, New York, Budapest, Vienna, and most recently Tokyo. Technical Committee 267 (TC267), the overarching ISO entity, is comprised of twenty participating countries and eight observing countries.
Initial efforts are focused in two areas: Developing a set of common terms and definitions, and developing guidance on the sourcing process and development of facility management agreements. By the end of this month both working groups are to submit drafts to the Secretary for circulation and comment. By the end of January 2014 the goal is to finalize a draft proposal for creating a Facilities Management System Standard.
ISO standards development is a rigorous process. The work is detailed and complicated, and requires transparency and compromise as national norms and practices are homogenized into one standard. It is also vitally important to the advancement of the FM profession.
If you are interested in participating you can contact the U.S. TAG group at firstname.lastname@example.org . If you are not a U.S. resident and wish to participate you should contact the standards organization in your country which represents you as an ISO member.
As a Board Member of IFMA I was pleased to observe an informal gathering of FM leaders from around the globe as part of the WW2013 agenda. With representatives from the U.S., U.K., Colombia, Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan among those present, it offered a forum for open discussion of the issues around furthering the FM profession around the globe. BIFM and Euro FM were represented as well, contributing to acknowledgment the FM profession is growing globally even if regional issues, cultures and practices differ.
Much of the discussion centered on furthering FM education and degree programs and advancing certification. Ideas were floated about how we might increase the appeal of FM to younger generations, including those still in high school, developing the image of FM as a career of choice. Perhaps most importantly this session offered a chance for FM leaders who most often interact via electronic forms of communication (if at all) to meet face to face, share ideas, and develop relationships based in a common desire to advance FM.
Taken together these two initiatives, a formal global ISO Standard for FM and the informal gathering of global thought leaders and influencers within the profession indicate a very good trend. FM is in a good place. It is growing stronger and maturing. It recognizes its issues and opportunities and is approaching them with appropriate rigor and transparency. We are elevating our profile and increasing our ability to influence business and societies.
FM is on the move.