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Making an impact in FM

Friday, July 01, 2016

One of the largest challenges that FM service providers face in the Middle East is driving performance and continuous improvement. Every year a number of FM providers and in-house departments set out to offer their clients a valued service across the region but only a few are able to grow and develop become true leaders in the industry. Over the last 8 years in the region I have had the pleasure of seeing so many leaders succeed and be challenged when delivering FM services. Here are just a few of my insights where successful leaders have made an impact in FM.

Setting your Strategy with the End in Mind

It sounds simple but so many FM practitioners get this wrong or give the wrong answer. When I ask many FM’s this question they will give me answers on a corporate level about their organisation seeking to be the biggest provider in the region. I will then ask them what is their vision for the service they deliver whether that be to a client or as an in-house provider. It is important for FM’s to understand what drives the satisfaction of their customers. While many will answer that cost is the number one factor, when you speak directly to the client utilising the service many will talk about timeliness to attend, communication and quality of workmanship before they even mention the cost. Many FM’s in the region also do not understand what their customers core business is and what role FM has in meeting their vision and many have not given thought to what that vision looks like when they reach it. Visualising that moment of achieving your goals makes it seem real and meaningful when adding it to your strategy. Strategies for Strength and Stability Strategy is difficult in the emerging markets of the Middle East given how quickly things change but you can clearly see which companies and government bodies have them and more stick to them over time. Strategies are typically active for five years or more and should only be changed with the vision. I have worked with one client who has changed their strategy 4 times in the last 6 years and has truly struggled to get their ‘business as usual’ in place let alone focus on improving performance. With each change made to their strategy they failed to see the results and made a decision to change. While operational or tactical plans can be made each year, strategic change will take 2 to 3 years to see significant internal and external indices.

Key Performance Indicators (KPI)

KPI’s when done right can give FM’s a clear and timely insight into how they are performing. So many times I have seen KPI’s copied and pasted from contracts without the business understanding what they are measuring for and why they need to see the metrics. While it is prudent to measure a number of KPI’s and report on them monthly, I often advise my clients to measure no more than 5 KPIs that they want to see daily and in real time. Much like the dashboard of your car, your FM dashboard should not be cluttered but instead allow quick glimpses to know when to put your foot down or to pull over for some assistance.

Metrics set should be a mixture of leading and lagging indicators for FM’s. Lagging indicators are output orientated and occur after the fact. Lagging indicators for FM’s are important as they allow for key decisions to be made but many times they are reported on up to a month after they are measured. Leading indicators are input orientated and used to measure outputs before they occur. Leading indicators are typically harder to measure but when done right they can give more detail to allow FM’s to take action. An example of an FM lagging indicator would be the number of incidents that occur on a site whereas the leading indicator could be the number of safety inductions done for staff.


Engagement should be the first step for an FM looking to improve their performance. Some of the best innovations I have seen have come from the very staff who live and breathe FM service delivery. So before changing CAFM systems or changing uniforms an FM needs to involve their team, client and even suppliers in the process to get the best perspective on the issues they may be facing, where they are spending too much time and where improvements can be made. Rewarding those who are brave enough to give their recommendations also goes a long way to retain staff which is constant challenge in the region.

Quick Tips to Perform

  • Align your technology strategy: If your organisation is not ready for a full bells and whistle CAFM system then why burden your operations with it now? Align your technology strategy and match it to your milestones.
  • Communication is key: The old adage that FM should only be thought of when something goes wrong is no longer the norm. Ensure your team delivers a tailored message to your targeted stakeholders to get a desired action. It is amazing how many FM’s fail to do this until it is too late!
  • In-house vs. Outsource: Does it make sense for you to deliver the service yourself from a financial, operational and risk perspective? Is delivering the service yourself distracting from your core business?

When you simplify what your client needs from FM, what the end result looks like and set up metrics to measure those indicators to get you there everything else becomes how you can do that faster and smarter. This is what performance is. It’s setting out to win a race in the fastest time with the least amount of pit stops. When a Facilities Manager can prepare and implement this type of strategy for their clients then they truly will be a successful leader.

(The blog is written by Ryan Darnell, the Executive Director-Facilities Management, Khidmah for FM Today Magazine)

Filed under:Facilities Management


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