Three facilities management (FM) standards were revealed by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) late last year.

Due to be published in the coming months, the new ISO 41000 standard paves the way for a framework that will better define FM, its functions, and its positive impact on both emerging and developed markets worldwide.

The Middle East Facility Management Association (MEFMA) has now encouraged the regional FM sector to get FM ISO certified.

The process began back in 2012, when Stan Mitchell was appointed as the chairman of the Technical Committee (TC) 267 Facilities Management — the committee that was responsible for writing the standard.

Mitchell says there is provision to create 30 standards within the family of ISO 41000. “It’s about establishing framework, criteria and measurement for any type of organisation in creating a facilities management regime against which it can be benchmarked,” he told the British Institute of Facilities Management.

The FM sector as we know it has not been around for as long as some of the more established sectors, such as mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) or hospitality. As a result, the new ISO standard for the sector has been welcomed by operators with open arms.

Regional FM veteran Bill Heath said at a panel discussion in 2017: “Most engineers and professionals wound up in FM by chance, and the transition was taking place in the late 1980s. Then, the traditional operation and maintenance function spun off into an industry [of its own].” He believes that a professional standard will serve the sector well.

There are currently three standards (see box out on page 23), and Imdaad group CEO Jamal Abdulla Lootah sheds light on their implications for the regional FM sector.

“The management system standard, ISO 41001, targeted for publication in 2018, is expected to raise awareness about the FM field, provide support to the industry, and implement and maintain effective FM procedures across all global sectors,” says Lootah, who also serves as president of MEFMA.

Lootah believes FM is one of the world’s fastest-growing professional disciplines, but that has suffered from a general lack of understanding and awareness of its importance. “[This] is unfortunate, and something that will get rectified through the implementation of ISO standards,” he says.

There are several accreditations and certifications that FM operators can acquire in order to maintain the highest levels of service. The British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc) training is tailored towards soft services, whereas the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting (NICEIC) standard is a British-based, globally accepted benchmark for power-based operations. There are also several other accreditations that are applicable to the FM field. Managing director at Emrill Facilities Management Alex Davies sheds light on how the ISO standard will tie all of these together.

He says: “NICEIC and BICSc [certifications] have an important role in ensuring that individual trades and technical roles within FM are carried out with high levels of competence. But the coordination and integration of these functions is about much more. According to the new standard 41011:2017 Facilities Management Vocabulary, FM is described as an ‘organisational function which integrates, people, place and process within the built environment with the purpose of improving the quality of life of people and productivity of the core business’. I think this captures the [overarching] nature of FM and the impact that good FM can have on each of our daily lives,” Davies says.