Paul Redding, regional facilities manager for DTZ in Bahrain outlines best practice and the benefits it can bring if implemented properly.
Best practice is an often used phrase in FM throughout the world and is something that is increasingly being adopted in the Gulf region.
In mature FM markets like the UK the term ‘best practice’ is used regularly, but what does it mean?
If you ask a selection of FMs what best practice is you will often get a number of different answers.
To some it is a philosophy to others a procedure.
Most common definitions of best practice tend to describe it in the following terms:
‘Best Practice is a way or method of accomplishing a business function or process that is considered to be superior to all other known methods’.
Most companies would argue that they all use best practice, lets face it who would want to say they don’t!
Implementing best practice in FM in the Gulf region presents a number of benefits and challenges.
Some of the benefits that result from implementing it are: safer buildings, longer life cycles on equipment and fabric and better trained staff.
The biggest benefit is that well maintained and run facilities attract and retain occupiers, which increases the resale value and revenue to the landlord.
There are challenges though, such as: Where do we get the staff to implement best practice?
Are suppliers up to standard?
What are the cost implications for employing better trained staff and implementing higher standards of say health & safety?
The key to well managed property is having the right staff with the appropriate FM skills at all levels, allied with the implementation of FM procedures and practices that are uniform and applicable across a portfolio.
This will involve developing standard procedures, amongst other things, for service charge budgeting, health & safety management and the proper management and selection of contractors.
With the correct training, tasks can be delegated to locally trained FMs, giving them a sense of ownership and responsibility and empowering them to make decisions.
This has to be tempered with the careful selection of the potential FM.
For example in Bahrain there is a programme of Bahrainisation where companies are required to employ a percentage of Bahraini nationals.
DTZ Bahrain is keen to turn this to its advantage and is recruiting educated and suitable nationals as FMs of the future who, with the correct training and experience, will be an asset as the market matures and buildings start to age.
Specific areas where they should be given training are financial monitoring, building services, health & safety, managing risk and managing contractor performance.
Another key requisite is to have competent and reliable suppliers.
The UK market is used to having suppliers that are ISO 9000 certified.
Although there are ISO certified contractors in the region there are also many that are not.
Therefore selection of contractors and their buy in to best practice procedures is vital.
Ideally suppliers who are not ISO accredited should go through a selection process to ensure that business risk is limited.
Local FMs should receive training in the measurement and monitoring of contractor performance against SLAs (service level agreements) and KPIs (key performance indicators).
Of course all this comes at a cost which is probably one of the largest challenges.
Another challenge is the educating of our landlords to the benefits of best practice.
Although things are changing there is still a short term view to FM in the region.
With a ‘build it and they will come’ attitude.
This is fine for attracting investment but to maintain income levels assets have to be maintained in good condition over the longer term.
The initial cost for best practice can appear, to some landlords, to be expensive “why go with company A when company B is cheaper?”
This short term view could mean property will deteriorate and reduce resale or letting values.
On the other hand assets that are managed to best practice standard are more likely to retain their capital value, quality of environment and occupancy rates.