Explaining what Facility Management is, is very different depending on the country where you are and the way it’s understood there. If we combine this with the fact that every company makes its own interpretation and assigns its Support Department -or FM or however they call it- the responsibility of matching the needs they choose, standardization becomes even harder.
I came up with the idea of explaining this making an analogy between FM and gastronomy. We all understand that gastronomy exists and depending on the countries there are different kinds of cooking and different kinds of recipes, which use local ingredients or add foreign ingredients. In this analogy, FM would be like gastronomy in general and then we would make particular applications.
The Facility Management Department would be our restaurant, “bistreau”, pub or however we want to name it; we are going to get food whichever way as that’s why they exist. Some of them are an all-you-can-eat, they open all day long, others have specific dishes for certain hours and others are like kitchens, where you order a-la-carte-… You can get food at many places, from supermarkets to vending machines and not all of them look like restaurants, but when you’re hungry, anything goes.
Aside from how the food is served, we need to look at the content, the menu, and the recipes they are elaborated with. The cooking style will depend on the kind of clients I´m dealing with, their interests or the resources they have. I may use local ingredients or I may bring them from far away, but all of this will always have to be aligned with the client, which is whom I work for and whom I provide a service to. The style of recipes and the mix of ingredients will be aligned with the cooking style I want to offer my guests, because if they don’t like it, it’s useless, regardless how good it might be. That’s why Chinese food tastes different in Europe than in China, it’s been adapted so we like it.
Facility Managers would be my chefs, the cooks, those who have to cook those recipes with the ingredients I have in my department to make the dishes my company expects. Although Facility Managers can condition the kind of recipes, they can’t forget the kind of restaurant they work at, the availability that’s expected form the menu or which ingredients they can and can’t use, even if they´ve worked in Hong Kong before and were famous there.
This is why each company has to cook their own recipe. Every company knows that there’s great gastronomy, but they have to identify the kind of client they have and according to this adjust their cooking style: first to the ingredients they have and after to the cooks they have to prepare it. With a broad market, with a wide range of ingredients, and with a great chef, we can afford any kind of cooking, but if our supermarket is limited and our chef only has basic skills, we can’t chose complicated alternatives; we should try to make simpler dishes that can work equally fine.
It’s important to place service suppliers in this analogy, without them we couldn’t work. These suppliers would be the supermarkets that provide us with raw materials. The question that pops up is “why are raw materials not the same everywhere?” That’s easy, because the same supermarket offers different products depending on where it’s located, and the same happens with service providers. A big FM provider can offer very different services depending on the countries where they work or it can even not be present in certain regions. This also justifies that we can access certain products that maybe big providers don’t offer, in which case we can choose local providers.
This is why we recommend that, when you define your ideal FM recipe, you should take into account the following elements: the cooking style you want, the ingredients you have and the ability of your chef, as well as the supermarkets you can access to.
Each company needs its own food style and the ingredients and recipes, as well as the way they are served, must be aligned with what’s expected by the client, but this shouldn´t stop us offering new things to see how their reaction is.
Author: David Martínez, PhD. Strategic consultant, coach, researcher and international speaker. Renowned Facility and Asset Management expert. Specialized in multicultural property management models and productivity applied to workplace.