Thursday, February 23, 2017

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Getting the groundwork right

22 Feb 2017 | 12:41 AM

The construction industry has been growing literally in leaps and bounds - with malls, shopping plazas, residential complexes, office buildings rapidly closing in on the skyline.

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Usha Albuquerque

The construction industry has been growing literally in leaps and bounds - with malls, shopping plazas, residential complexes, office buildings rapidly closing in on the skyline. Each of these infrastructure complexes require proper management of services to ensure the efficient functioning of services such as the maintenance of the grounds, the lifts and public spaces, water and electricity facilities, safety and security, communications infrastructure and so on. While in the past such services were handled in an unregulated and arbitrary manner by residents or interested parties, the need for a more organized and systematic approach has given rise to such a career. 

Facility management refers to a profession that uses the virtues of multiple disciplines and ensures the proper functioning of built environments (i.e. malls, schools, shopping centres etc.) by integrating technology, processes, place and people. A facilities manager is the professional who manages and regulates all the required services in any such complex to ensure that it meets the needs of the owners or residents. It is a relatively new field but one that is gaining increasing popularity with foreign construction companies entering the industry and bringing with them new workplace technologies, as well as a growing realisation of the latent need for efficient management of real estate and demand for ''smart buildings''. 

Therefore, more and more architects, consultants, builders, contractors, property managers, and others are incorporating the necessary technologies to ensure the management of services and processes that support the core business of structures being built. 

As facilities at any one site cover many myriad services, Facility Management encompasses many different roles and skills. Not everyone in the facility or property management profession is responsible nor skilled for all of these roles. Some are responsible for specific functions as specialists others are responsible for everything while some oversee all these roles through other specialists. Regardless, it's important to have a working knowledge of each one to be able to deal effectively with colleagues, co-ordinate activities of different specialists, experts and other professionals, manage staff or interface with external resources. 

A facilities manager can be employed in all sectors and industries and duties can vary depending on the nature and size of the organisation. Responsibilities often cover several departments, for example operations, real estate management, technical services, asset or property management and so on, as well as central services that link to all the teams in the organisation. Many facilities managers are responsible for either one or many sites. Some organisations outsource their facilities management services and use specialist facilities management providers. In these cases, facilities managers may work for a firm offering all services or one that offers specific services such as catering.

Job prospects

With the construction sector growing at a fast pace, despite the slowdown in the economy, there will be an increasing demand for facility managers. They can work for multinational companies, international property consultants, developers & builders, IT / ITES units, facilities management companies / agencies / consultants, condominium / owners welfare associations. The growing IT/ ITES, the Corporate real estate market, the retail sector with increasing retail outlets like super markets and malls, hotels, private hospitals, schools, colleges and institutions, industrial facilities and factories, urban complexes and townships, require integrated facilities management services. 

As many managers move into this field after professional training in specific areas such as civil engineering, architecture, interior design, even hotel management, they normally start their careers handling their specific areas of interest before moving into management of the department and subsequently move into general management in charge of all the operations. Facilities managers can also move into other general management jobs within their organisations or in different sectors.

It is also possible to specialise in a specific aspect of facilities management and  work with facilities management consultancy organizations that 

handle the services of particular companies, organizations of urban complexes. With some experience it is also possible to set up your own facilities consultancy business.

Courses to watch out for

Some of the courses include:

  • RICS School of Built Environment (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors ) at Amity University offers 1-year full-time PG programme in facilities management for graduates. The intensive course which includes fundamentals of science and engineering for facilities management, project management and real estate laws and regulations, also includes a 12-week industrial training. Admission will be on the basis of  the percentage achieved in graduation, as well as results of a test and personal interview
  • Kohinoor School of Facility Management, Mumbai  is partnering with the International Facility Management Association's (IFMA) for conducting certified courses of IFMA at Mumbai. The professional programme which involves a four-month classroom teaching programme along with online study is suitable for those currently working in facility management, those transiting into this profession, related-industry practitioners such as architects, designers and safety engineers, and graduate students entering this profession.
  • International Facility Management Institute, Bangalore, offers a 1-year diploma course, approved by MS University, Tirunelveli available in full time, part time and correspondence mode.
  • EMPI Business School, New Delhi has collaborated with Jones Lang Lasalle (JLL), a property consulting and facility management MNC and Manpower Group, in manpower outsourcing MNC to train graduates and engineering diploma holders in facility management (soft services) and facility management (technical services) respectively with guaranteed jobs in MNCS at the end of the programe.

The Executive Programme in Facility Management is a six-month train-to-hire MNC model. 

  • The National Academy of Construction, Hyderabad, in collaboration with Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (JNTU) offers a PG Diploma in Facilities Management PGDFM for any graduate in Engineering/ Master in Business Administration / any other disciplines with experience of not less than six months in Facility Management from a recognized industry. Fresh Graduates can also apply. The course is a structured full time of 24 weeks at the National Academy of Construction, Hyderabad followed by 24-week internship with the industry.
  • The International Facility Management Association also offers three recognised credentials to help Facility Management professionals with different requirements.
  • Facility Management Professional Course for FM professionals and industry suppliers who want to increase their knowledge on core topics.
  • Sustainability Facility Professional Course for those seeking higher sustainable performance of 
  • their facilities
  • Certified Facility Manager Course for experienced professionals requiring high FM skill and education.

Work profile

Facilities managers are involved in both strategic planning and day-to-day operations, particularly in relation to buildings and premises. Likely areas of responsibility include:

  • building and grounds maintenance;
  • catering and vending
  • project management and supervising and coordinating the work of contractors;
  • planning for future development in line with strategic business objectives;
  • directing, coordinating and planning essential central services such as reception, security, maintenance, cleaning, waste disposal and recycling where applicable
  • ensuring the building meets health and safety requirements and that facilities comply with legislation
  • planning best allocation and utilisation of space and resources for new buildings, expansion, or re-organising current premises

Getting in

You don't need to have a specific degree or qualification to enter this area of work but a background in some field could be of use :

  • Architecture or building management 
  • Business studies
  • Engineering, construction and building services engineering
  • Hospitality and estate management
  • Surveying
  • Property management

There are now full time and online courses in facility management which can help gain entry into this profession. Most are diploma and certificate courses which admit graduates from any discipline. Online courses are available for working professionals, often leading to a certificate or master's degree in facility management, or a similar area.

The core content of the courses are planning and project management, operations and maintenance, real estate, quality assessment and innovation, finance,  human and environmental factors, communication, and all trades pertaining to facility management.

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