ISSN: 0263-2772

Article publication date: 1 March 2000



Nutt, B. (2000), "Editorial", Facilities, Vol. 18 No. 3/4. https://doi.org/10.1108/f.2000.06918caa.001



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited


The year 2000 has provided a unique threshold for us all to consolidate the successes of the past and to focus on the opportunities for the future. For young and relatively untested areas of development such as facility management, this has been a particularly significant time. With "Threshold 2000" in mind, an international conference, "Futures in Property and Facility Management", was held at University College London (UCL) in June 1999. The conference was presented by the FM Exchange at UCL and was sponsored by WS Atkins plc. The conference addressed the fundamental issues and strategic directions for property and facility management world-wide, bringing together an international audience of leading facility professionals, property clients and academics. This special issue of Facilities looks at some of the questions that the conference debated:

  • What new forms of facility management, finance and design, might be needed to support the dynamic and diverse business and social needs towards 2020?

  • How will revolutionary changes to the nature and organisation of work and leisure affect expectations and requirements for property, facilities and support services?

  • How will twenty-first century technology and changing business practices impact on the ways that we measure facility performance ?

  • How should major public and private sector organisations reposition their property and facilities strategy to face the uncertainties of the future ?

  • What needs to be done to build a secure international knowledge base with supporting techniques to meet the challenges of property and facility management futures ?

The conference focused on four themes. First, it explored "New strategic directions for FM"; the changing priorities, potential scope, functions and impact of facility management in providing strategic support to business and public organisations. Second, it considered "Future performance imperatives", investigating the basis for the next generation of facility performance criteria, new management methods, innovative procedures and decision techniques, with which to face the unprecedented pace of change. Third, it speculated on "FM policy and investment developments, debating the key FM issues for a more sustainable future and the radically new approaches to facility investment under the private finance initiative (PFI). Finally, it considered the vehicles for "Promoting knowledge exchange"; the arrangements for sharing FM expertise, research results, ideas and concepts, methods and techniques, between those in practice, consultancy, education and research, to create a platform for innovation in FM.

In his opening address to the conference, Mike Jeffries, chief executive of WS Atkins plc, set out the key links that will be crucial to the future development of property and facility management (Jeffries, 1999).

Linking the facilities management industry with market demands:

There is little doubt that we in the facilities management industry operate in times of great change with traditional methods of operation being regularly challenged and the market demanding innovative solutions to the provision, financing, operation and maintenance of the physical infrastructure which makes up the built environment.

Linking facility management with business performance:

What can be stated with confidence, however, is the growing acceptance of the role that property and facilities management plays in the business arena and the influence that physical environment has on business performance.

Linking those that procure facilities with those who operate them:

It is generally the case that in most organisations, whether they be public or private sector, the part which procures the asset and the part that is responsible for its maintenance and operation are often organisationally disconnected.

Linking facility management, design and construction within a whole life cycle approach:

Those businesses which are involved in the provision of the asset must also recognise the impact of the product and premises life cycle on the facilities management process and understand the relationship between the design and construction process, and the subsequent operations and maintenance phase. To have a sustainable product we must incorporate whole life design criteria into the design brief and clearly understand issues such as life cycle costing and bench marking of quality as well as cost.

Each of these key linkages is explored in the papers that are included in this issue of Facilities. Eight of the 38 conference papers and six of its summary speculations have been selected to represent the conference themes and concerns. The first paper is introductory. It maps out four rather different directions for the future of FM. The four directions relate to the four resources that always form part of the FM agenda; the management of financial resources, human resources, property resources, and the management of the resources of information and knowledge. The papers that follow are structured around these four basic directions.

Oliver Jones's paper looks at the fundamental changes that are under way in the financing of facilities and the diversification of the business support environments that are being created. A quarter of the conference time was devoted to this area, with presentations on PFI policy by the chief executive of the Government's Treasury Task Force, on PFI/FM business opportunities by the chairman of Nomura's Servus FM company, and PFI case experience by the chief executive of the South Manchester University Hospital Trust.

Wes McGregor's and Ashley Dabson's papers explore FM developments from a human resource perspective. Wes's paper considers the human support services that will be required for the future management of flexible work and workplaces. Ashley's paper looks at the management of the journey to and between workplaces, and the measures to reduce stress and non-productive time.

Virginia Gibson's and David Kincaid's papers consider the need for property resources to become more flexible, adaptable and sustainable. Virginia argues that property portfolios need to be not only more physically flexible, but also more functionally and financially flexible. David's paper looks at the potential for adapting existing building stock to meet the changing nature and structure of demand. He suggests that radical changes to the regulatory system are required, if we are to move towards a more sustainable future.

The last two papers deal with aspects of facility knowledge management. Stephen Bradley and Geoff Woodling's paper looks at the impact of information and communication technologies on "intelligent working" and the management of "work-space" and "work-time" settings.

Finally, Peter McLennan's paper describes the unique potential and strategic advantage of FM's intellectual capital, outlining the ways in which it could be exploited in the future.

Those attending the conference were invited to submit short speculations concerning property and facility management futures. Six of these are included to end this issue. These speculations echo the consensus of the conference delegates, that progress in FM will be reliant on diversity, variety and versatility, building on an open cross-disciplinary and multi-professonal approach that is applicable and adaptable to all sectors. A single integrated future for facility management is neither viable nor desirable.

Bev NuttGuest Editor

ReferenceJeffries, M. (1999), "Opening address", in Nutt, B., McLennan, P. and Kincaid, D. (Eds), Conference Proceedings, Futures in Property and Facility Management: Creating the Platform for Innovation, University College London, June, ISBN: 0 9536142 0 4.

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