Imdaad’s Lootah says the regional FM community will greatly benefit from adopting the globally accepted standards. “A number of enterprises – including those based in the Middle East – are now working towards complying with the set standards, but admittedly, much still needs to be done to further highlight the importance of FM in today’s modern set-up.

“Implementation of ISO standards is nonetheless a major step towards accomplishing this dream and serves as a big victory for the entire FM industry.”

Being ISO certified will be beneficial to FM operators if it helps them to win new contracts or retain existing ones, and operators say it is not going to be just another certificate that forms part of a checklist. “I believe that, over time, [the FM ISO standards] will become standard industry practice [...]. Initially, I am not sure what value the clients will place on the standards, but it will be incumbent on FM service providers to prove to the customers the value of these standards,” Davies says.

“It will be equally interesting to see how demand organisations choose to apply another set of ISO standards, the ‘ISO 41012 – Facilities Management – Guidance on Strategic Sourcing and the Development of Agreements’. Combined with changes from both sides, these standards have the ability to truly transform industry practices within the facilities management sector,” he adds.

One UAE-based asset management firm, speaking anonymously, states that FM companies that are ISO certified will be in a favourable position to win new contracts, but that factors such as an increase in service fees would be something to watch out for. At this stage, it is not clear what fees FM companies might incur in order to achieve ISO 41000 certification. And, of course, any increase in costs to operators would likely be passed on to clients.

To date, ISO 9000 – which is now a family of quality management standards – has been the most popular accreditation within the FM field globally. There are currently more than one million companies and organisations in 170-plus countries that are ISO 9001 certified. While it may take time for the new ISO 41000 standard to attain the same level of acceptance as more established standards such as ISO 9000, or the ISO 14000 series on environment management, the new standard will set the precedent for a sector that is expected to be worth more than $50bn in the GCC by 2022.