Principles of facilities management

Zhen Chen (Department of Facilities Management, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK.)

Journal of Facilities Management

ISSN: 1472-5967

Article publication date: 2 February 2015



Chen, Z. (2015), "Principles of facilities management", Journal of Facilities Management, Vol. 13 No. 1.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Principles of facilities management

Article Type: Editorial From: Journal of Facilities Management, Volume 13, Issue 1

The Principles of Scientific Management book (Taylor, 1911) has profound influence to the evolving theory of management science over the past ten decades. According to Jones and George (2012), the management theory has evolved from the scientific management theory in the 1880s and 1890s through the development of administrative management theory, behavioural management theory, management science theory and organizational environmental theory towards the theoretical system of contemporary management. In the past several decades, the revolution of integrated lifecycle management of built assets has made the facilities management (FM) one of the most fast-growing profession in the global construction industry with regard to clients’ diverse needs and demands, and the formation of FM principles has been eventually in need for theory development for both research and practice for this profession.

The concept of total FM (Atkin and Brooks, 2015) has not only been adopted in practice, at Mitie for example, but also inspired management thought on three essential elements, including people, products and processes, to structure the FM body of knowledge (FMBOK) so as to derive a set of principles of FM. From FM profession point of view, people are FM professionals and their organisations, products are various FM services and processes are various management actions to provide FM services. A further review focussed on people, products and processes was therefore conducted into the evolution of management theory to set up a generic framework of management principles for FM. After looking into five major management theories summarised by Jones and George (2012), it has been found that the three essential elements as a whole set of essential elements of FM are well connected with key aspects inside the five management theories in terms of their coverage to all general management issues (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Interconnections between management theories and FMBOK elements

With regard to the relevance of these essential elements to structure, the FMBOK, a further review into the following three related documents and other publications, including A Practical Guide to Facilities Management (Barker, 2013), has provided strong justification:

1. BS 6079-1:2010 Project management – Principles and guidelines for the management of projects (BSI, 2010).

2. RICS facilities management standards – core principles (RICS, 2012).

3. ICE’s Guiding Principles of Asset Management (ICE, 2013).

Generally speaking, the best practice in FM satisfies two needs on dependability and sustainability. Dependability consists of issues about conditions of built assets and related FM services in terms of reliability, maintainability, supportability and adaptability. Sustainability includes all aspects of FM in relation to social, technical, economic, ecological and political issues. Based on needs for both dependability and sustainability in FM, and a comprehensive review and technical analysis into related literatures and practice, a set of six general principles of FM can be summarised within the FMBOK framework structure. For people, it emphasises professional competence and lean organisation. For products, it emphasises quality services and resources efficiency. For processes, it emphasises effective actions and dynamic responses. The six general principles of FM are given below:

1. Domain 1: People – FM profession:

  • Principle 1: Professional competence.

  • Principle 2: Lean organisation.

2. Domain 2: Products – FM services:

  • Principle 3: Dependability-driven quality services.

  • Principle 4: Sustainability-oriented resources efficiency.

3. Domain 3: Processes – FM models:

  • Principle 5: Effective services procurement and provision.

  • Principle 6: Lifecycle-oriented rapid dynamic responses.

In comparison with RICS draft FM standards about core principles for FM Surveyors (RICS, 2012), which consists of ten pre-contract principles, 12 principles for contract operation and 2 principles for contract completion, the six principles simplified here are within a new FMBOK framework which is structured on all three essential elements of management theory in a holistic connection with the nature of FM.

Zhen Chen


Atkin, B. and Brooks, A. (2015), Total Facilities Management, 4th ed., Wiley-Blackwell, London.

Barker, I.C. (2013), A Practical Guide to Facilities Management, Whittles Publishing.

BSI (2010), BS 6079-1:2010 Project Management - Principles and Guidelines for the Management of Projects, British Standards Institution (BSI), London.

ICE (2013), Realising a World Class Infrastructure: ICE’s Guiding Principles of Asset Management, Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), London.

Jones, G. and George, J. (2012), Essentials of Contemporary Management, 5th ed., McGraw-Hill Education.

RICS (2012), RICS Draft Guidance Note - RICS Facilities Management Standards - Core Principles, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), London.

Taylor, F.W. (1911), The Principles of Scientific Management, Harper & Brothers Publishers, NY, London.

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