One hundred new Smart Cities in India. 250 million people relocating to the Indian urban centres (McKinsey Global Institute report). By 2020, India’s urbanization investment requirement of $1 trillion. With such large sale prospective development in the near future, India’s Facility Managers need to be ready and equipped for managing complex buildings and related infrastructure in a sustainable and “smart” ways. John Ringness, CEO, NEXT FM Solutions, Vancouver and President IFMA’s Global FM Consultant Council who serves on the Board of Directors of IFMA Mumbai Chapter in the first article of the series elaborates.
With my experience as the Chief Facilities Officer earlier at Lavasa and presently at Kohinoor Group, Mumbai, I have had the opportunity of witnessing the important journey of Facility Management in India, and understand the essential role the industry should play in the sustainable built environment within the country. Over the past six years there has been a tremendous amount of change in the world-wide FM profession and coupled with the recent local political focused drive and economic activity; more than ever, the need for professional sustainable facility management expertise has grown exponentially. So, it is imperative that we apply the global best practices in conjunction with the practicalities of the local context.
As India moves towards urbanization, increased demands on the electrical grid and water supply will not only impact the business continuity but society as well. We need to understand the intersection of economy, social and environment factors and the four elements within Facility Management i.e. People, Property, Process, and Technology.
There are four elements within Facility Management i.e. People, Property, Process, and Technology. In the first article, the focus will be on two of these elements – People and Property.
It is appropriate to first address People because without people, the FM industry could make a lot of noise but just be found, spinning its wheels and going nowhere.
One of the encouraging trends in India is the appointing of Facilities VP or Chief Facilities Officer in a company reporting directly to the MD/ President level. This type of proactive strategic working relationship brings an aligned rhythm to both the long term strategic direction with the tactical execution of mission objectives. This realignment establishes FM on par with the other Strategic Business Units, sending a strong signal to the other departments within the corporation and its customer base.
The move usually communicates that FM is so much more than a cost centre but also a revenue generator. The effectiveness and efficiencies of the FM services carried out positively or negatively impact customer acquisition, employee retention and of course the bottom line. 96% of all dissatisfied customers never complain about the product or service they receive, however 91% of those 96% simply never return to purchase again and they will tell their friends and family about the poor delivery of product or service. So the condition of the built environment with its FM employees and systems who deliver the services is extremely important.
Another consideration is training of and for the FM employees at all levels. Its not simply training that is required but it is essential to have credential training with consistent follow-up program for effectiveness. An interesting development is occurring within the FM world; with the access to the internet, anyone can pull key words or jargon off the net, but when one starts to peel back the discussion, it does on occasion lack depth of experience of practical workings. If a vendor comes to pontificate his company’s services or products, adopt the strategy of “show me”; this quickly illuminates the gap between a good talker and current reality.
Let me explain the difference between credential training and university course in order to make things a little more clear. When a student takes a university course, while certainly valuable at that point in time, unless the student keeps abreast of the swiftly changing built environments in 20 years the student’s knowledge may become redundant. The initials used after a person’s name holding credential training can only be used when the student maintains eligibility thresholds required by the education institution or FM association. This criterion varies from credential to credential but usually requires an annual renewal of education in the related field. If these criteria are not met in any given year, the professional would lose their credential. As an employer, I am more interested in hiring an FM professional who has a credential from an accredited education institution or FM association.
All levels of any Facility Management team require on-going training. We should also not underestimate the value of training the entry level positions such as housekeeping or landscaping employees. Imperatively, the on-going credible training and salary alignments coupled with improved FM Standard Operating Procedures will improve productivity, lower overall costs ensuring property and life are properly protected, and that business continuity plans are in place.
The Property or assets not only includes the superstructure, infrastructure, roadways, and grounds but the fixed and occasionally the rolling assets as well. IGBC predicts that by 2022 India will have over 10 billion square feet in green real estate. Green or LEED buildings while an admirable strategy also require special care to maintain them at the green level of standard. In addition, to keeping pace with Indian urbanism, according to Cisco, 700 million and 900 square million meters of residential and commercial real estate will need to be constructed. This presents tremendous career opportunities for capable FM professionals to maintain and protect the assets and occupants.
A paradigm shift is occurring from low price to cost value model. The industry must start addressing life cycle which is the number of years or cycles an asset will operate before it is made redundant. Manufacturers will always sell to a willing market and once consumers start demanding a longer life cycle, the manufacturers, will produce them. Inevitably, the products will cost more at the consumer level but the life cycle costing is greatly improved. I recently toured a facility where a ringer for the mop bucket had failed after approximately 900 cycles (6 months) whereas, one manufacturer abroad claims 40,000 cycles for their ringer life cycle.