Feb 12, 2020
Where do we go from here?

As the article being written, we started off 2020 with so many horrifying news. Hope everything will get better in months to come.

Anyway, since I switched career and on a thrilled route, I felt that I engaged more with those in the industry. (Those asking, I am in the facilities management although at the moment I am trying to serve to more clients outside FM). Having more than 15 years of experience taught me a thing or two about looking at the 'patterns' or the trends in the industry.

The question in the headlines getting more and more relevant, now more than ever. It can be applied to anything or anyone. The organization you're working for, your career, the industry you're in, or even your life (although let's not go over there yet). I have met with multiple organizations in the past few months and safe to say, 'that' question popped up every time.

So, where do we go from here, FM?

There have been significant development, in terms of research and standards being introduced in the past few years in Malaysia and some companies willing to invest in improving their services. Though inevitably, the dwindling issue is that procurement is preparing the FM industry for race to the bottom. Clients strive to have the cheapest and most unreasonable expectations and multi scope of works. The so called FM companies that is operating on 'stupid margins' (a term my former colleagues in the UK used to say) that bid first, figure out how to operate later and squeeze the salary packages for staff and sub cons (some have outstanding invoices for months).

As FM is a service type of business, many of the scope still dependent on humans manual labour and interactions, and without the right people with the right attitude in it, it will fail eventually. Service will deteriorate. Clients will get frustrated. Your future clients will be staying away as if you have contacted a contagious flu. Buildings will faltered. The issue with pay and packages for FM practitioners is safe to say is as old as I can remember the last time Liverpool won the league title. (Though this year will be our year). Motivation, productivity, efficiency, attracting the right talent, all coming down to one single question, are you paying enough/right? I am interested if there is a research that deal with the industry pay and packages, so that we can be more transparent as income disparity has becoming a national issues.

There is also a lot of debate on whether outsourcing is the right move for facilities owners, or mid size FM company will serve you better since they have reasonable margins and because they are small and nimble thus their flexibility is unmatched. As I recalled from recent conversation with a friend who works in the industry, the profit margins have depleted fast since 5 years ago. This will be a challenge especially to those non-local companies that carries perhaps top heavy management.

All of the above issues surrounding FM shall not detract us from making the right decisions, implementing sustainable FM approach and support of a social value. The FM industry alone has been quite stagnant with lack of new innovations, proven with less than 1.5% investment for R&D compared to other industries e.g. the automotive which seen 4.5% investment for R&D, and we expect building to last 100 years. The process of building a nice, fantastic facility that can awe anyone in sight, magical, with beautiful gardens and landscape, only account to 15% of total Life Cycle Cost. The rest 85% of the life cycle will be managing the operations of the building.

We could do better, if we want to.

So, where do we go from here? We aren't going anywhere soon if we don't have a destination yet.