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The Warsaw Voice » Real Estate » June 17, 2009
The Real Estate Voice
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Professional Facility Manager Wanted
June 17, 2009   
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Facility management companies offer an increasingly sophisticated range of specialized services. Professional real estate management is needed not only in modern office buildings, retail centers and companies, but also in public facilities.

The crisis on the real estate market has been a challenge for the facility management sector. Companies and tenants are carefully analyzing costs that are not directly linked to their core business. Issues such as an optimal use of space in a building and saving electricity and heat have become key priorities these days.

Economy versus quality
Building owners are chiefly guided by economic arguments when deciding on a specific facility management system, but many also consider other factors.

According to Bartosz Soroczyński, president of the IFMA Polska International Facility Management Association, building owners and tenants are making increasingly informed choices of FM service providers and specific projects. That is why price is an important but not always the only criterion considered when selecting a project, Soroczyński says.

Before making the final decision, clients need to ask themselves what they actually want to achieve by outsourcing.

"For savings reasons, a client could decide against the highest quality option, and such decisions are indeed made sometimes," Soroczyński says. "But the most important thing is that by using different mechanisms and indices we can measure the quality of a service and consequently monitor it more consciously, improving and adapting it to the client's budget."

Tomasz Kwiatkowski, commercial director at Hochtief Facility Management Polska, says the facility management sector is increasingly professional. "The FM sector is effectively resisting the economic downturn," Kwiatkowski says. "People's awareness of FM outsourcing in Poland is increasing and a growing number of companies are deciding to outsource FM tasks that they once handled by themselves. This leads to improved work quality and lower costs. Clients looking for savings at this time of crisis are approaching us with questions on how to optimize costs. We offer comprehensive projects, from taking over services unrelated to the client's core business to optimizing the usage of utilities. Our services are increasingly based on Service-Level Agreements (SLA), which means keeping to a service quality level agreed with the client."

Always forward
Facility management today is not just about maintaining a building in good condition, providing security, cleaning and catering. A service provider increasingly deals with computer services, e-help desks, safety and environmental management.

"FM service providers are expanding their range of services all the time," says Małgorzata Bachara from the Polish Facility Management Association. "Besides technical services, they offer packages such as art management, meaning artistic interior design of offices, painting galleries and so on, in addition to medical services and warehouse management."

Facility management services are changing rapidly. Services offered by an outsourcer to a facility's users aim to support their main area of business. An FM company's activities should be directly linked with the nature of the client's operations and should indirectly contribute to increased business satisfaction and profitability, experts say.

"We don't need to fear comparisons with the West," Soroczyński says. "The Polish market for facility management is mature. FM operations here are professional and geared to produce specific results. It isn't just security and maintaining a facility in good condition. These are projects with a tangible return on investment, like modernization of power or heating infrastructure. Another aspect of the FM sector's growing professionalism is that outsourcing companies specialize in managing specific sectors of the economy, such as healthcare and the automotive industry. Companies increasingly require specialist service providers with unique skills needed in a given sector. That's why FM projects are carried out in more than 30 sub-sectors. Just a few years ago, FM companies specialized mainly in the management of office buildings, shopping centers, companies and public utility facilities."

Outsourcing vs. insourcing
More companies are deciding to outsource management of their facilities to a facility management firm. To do it by themselves, they would have to devote too much energy to mastering these operations satisfactorily. It is easier and often cheaper to commission the work from companies that specialize in it. Additionally, the client does not have to maintain extra staff and worry about finding replacements during sick leave or vacations. Even companies that manage their building on their own still outsource cleaning, security and cafeteria services.

Cost control is a major asset of outsourcing. Prices obviously depend on the quality and scope of the service, but that is precisely what the facility's owner can control. The economies of scale also applies. The service provider's equipment is divided among several facilities. Outsourcing services such as cleaning or security is cheaper for an FM company with a portfolio of several facilities, as this makes it a better, bigger client.

Another asset of outsourcing facility management companies is the people. For employees, this work is their main job. They are focused, on the lookout for innovations; they take part in training programs; their career path is linked to FM operations. Outsourcing companies hire the best advisers and specialists in the sector to come to a building and solve a problem whenever one arises.

Time for the public sector
Meanwhile, the public facility market is waking up. Changes in the management of these facilities are occurring slowly but are inevitable. FM most often steps in when new facilities are built or existing ones modernized. Soroczyński says the latest trend is implementation of facility management projects in the public and military sectors.
What's in store for the future? "There will certainly be a consolidation of the FM market," Soroczyński says. "Nationwide, there is a lot of decentralization and many small businesses that handle just one client."

Magdalena Fabijańczuk
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