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First published on www.i-fm.net, March 2012


Did you ever have cause to wonder why you do what you do? Has your time at work been well spent?

I ask this not from idle curiosity, but because ISO55000 landed on my desk this week. It is a draft international standard on “Asset management – overview, principles, and terminology”. I assumed initially that it was sent to me because I sit on the BSI committee on Facilities Management and that someone, somewhere, figured that it had something to do the Facility Management. And you too might make that not unreasonable assumption.

But you would be wrong.

Nowhere in the 28 pages of this standard on Asset Management is Facilities Management, or FM, mentioned. Not once. Which frankly, in an International Standard which declares that it covers “the principles and terminology relating to assets, asset management and asset management systems … of all types of assets” is a little worrying. But the Standard (which is actually pretty good, so don’t think I’m knocking the document) specifically covers aspects of management activity which you might think explicitly include what FM covers: improving business performance and operational efficiency, reducing risk, ensuring compliance, improving customer satisfaction, improving sustainability and improving organisational culture are all covered. Not that the Standard limits itself to mere physical assets – it also covers information assets, financial assets (which I recall we used to call “money”), intangible assets, human assets (aka “people”) and something called linear assets … the list goes on. But fundamentally, in describing asset life cycles and the principles of asset management, it seems to me that almost every element described could equally well apply to FM. But, to repeat: nowhere is that terminology used.

Now I’ve argued recently (at Workplace Futures) that we shouldn’t be too institutionalised or precious about FM, and to that extent I would actually pleased if the principles and practices our best practitioners espouse are recognised within a wider asset management world. But the plain fact is that although you might recognise almost all the values and processes described in the Standard – it’s not about you, or our “profession” or our industry, and it doesn’t even recognise that we exist.

Which raises some uncomfortable questions for us as practitioners and for our global industry leaders: how did this happen? How is it even remotely possible to cover this topic area and not mention facility management? Has the battle for recognition of our cherished discipline been lost already – or is this a one-off aberration?  Or, indeed, is this an opportunity that we should grasp as quickly and firmly as possible, so as to finally elevate what we do s having value to our organisations?

Whatever the answer, I at least have the chance to contribute some comments into the Standard. So too do a few other members of our esteemed community. And I will try to argue for at least some recognition of our existence and (hopefully) key role in the achievement of asset management benefits. But how much better if we had been involved.


© Dave Wilson 2012