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Facilities management 2020 and beyond: What’s driving change?

Oculus, NY. Photo by Ethan HooverUnsplash

By Nicholas Burt, CEO, and Bryon Price, Chair, FMA

The next decade is set to be a period of significant change, creating both opportunities and challenges for facilities managers.

Here at the Facility Management Association of Australia (FMA), we asked industry insiders to share their views on what’s driving change and forming trends in the facilities management (FM) industry.

As we enter the 2020s, understanding the key drivers of change will be important for facilities managers to prepare for, and succeed in, this pivotal decade. We spoke to six thought leaders about what’s driving change in the FM industry:

  • Ashley May, Director, Luminaire Solutions
  • Beck Dawson, Chief Resilience Officer, City of Sydney
  • Glenn Talbot, Managing Director, Verified
  • Patricia Ferrier, Education Specialist, FMA
  • Peter Kavan, Senior Consultant, Indec Consulting
  • Walter Rafin, National Director, Head of Sales Australasia & Pacific, Corporate Solutions, JLL


Beck Dawson: The decade of resilience has begun. Now is the time to better understand the risks of our cities, infrastructure systems and buildings. Sectors, companies and communities who use their imaginations to scenario plan for large-scale events and prepare in advance will be best placed to adapt to the future and provide continuity of service or new products. Resilience is a team sport – we need to cooperate across the sectors and with our neighbours to survive, adapt and thrive.


Peter Kavan: The FM sector is stepping up to the challenge of climate change, with increasing evidence of corporate take-up of resilience as a key policy objective. Led by the more progressive municipal councils – who are at the forefront of climate impacts and have already developed climate change plans – the move to listen to, and respond sustainably to, the science on climate change is underway in boardrooms across Australia. I’m also encouraged by the growing impatience for a paradigm shift in the approach to dealing with climate change among many younger facilities managers. This gives us hope for the future.


Glenn Talbot: Recent building-related incidents have brought to the surface many underlying gaps in the existing regulatory framework. From fires, combustible cladding, and building structural failures, to new workplace manslaughter laws, there has been renewed focus placed on compliance. These issues have uncovered many systematic problems that impact the health and safety of our buildings.

Additional compliance, new regulations, more laws – it’s already happening. The expectation is that your business is compliant across all disciplines. Be prepared to demonstrate the tools you have in place to record and report on compliance.


Patricia Ferrier: As the industry grows, so does the demand for suitably qualified and skilled facilities professionals. This is evidenced by the better-than-expected enrolments in the Association’s Diploma of FM, combined with the increasing number of enquiries. In addition, there is high interest in professional development opportunities, with the following topics seen as most critical:

  • risk and compliance
  • managing contractors
  • sustainability (energy efficiency)
  • building technology, including building
  • information monitoring (BIM)
  • communication for facilities professionals
  • finance for facilities professionals.

This decade, to keep up with the evolution in the industry, facilities managers must embrace technology and become more intelligent about the requirements of their own built environments, and be able to scrutinise what is available to support this technically. Myriad software packages are available, but knowing exactly what you need to support your practice will be critical.

FM has always required its professionals to be multiskilled – from technical requirements to communication, relationship management, and managing budgets and finance. While not expected to be an expert in every field, facilities professionals should be capable of seeking relevant advice when required. If they are required to manage a site’s built environment, oversee the relationships required to achieve this, and achieve the client’s outcomes, then the facilities manager needs to have a wide skill set.


Ashley May: Decisions on asset management strategy, investment decisions and strategic planning are best placed with the property owner, while insourced or outsourced teams need to adapt to technology, data management and the Internet of Things (IoT) to provide timely and informed decisions.

The level of insourcing versus outsourcing is expected to continue over the next decade, but with greater emphasis on the decision-making process being driven by value. Outsourced contracts are being bundled in different ways, challenging the traditional head contractor model, while increasing the number of strategic insourced roles. For example, the rise in the number of bundled facilities services contracts is being driven by achieving these outcomes.


Walter Rafin: The Australian outsourcing market is relatively mature, with several generations of full outsourcing in many sectors. Facility owners and occupiers, however, still face ongoing pressure to reduce costs, and are turning to their outsourced partners for answers.

At the same time, FM service providers are facing their own challenges with fee reductions and maintaining margins for their own shareholders. Many have turned to the self-delivery of hard and soft services as a means of retaining margin, under the premise that they can eliminate margin on margin for third-party vendors, and therefore charging their clients.

Now, in an environment of probity and transparency, clients are asking if self-delivery provides them with contestability and best value for money. This is a rapidly evolving discussion in the property services industry as digital productivity tools mature, and is one that will take shape rapidly in 2020.

Find out how the FMA is addressing these issues.

This story was originally published in Facility Perspectives, Vol 14 No 1.