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Facilities management - increasingly vital

In recent years, it has become evident that requirements by property owners and property asset managers in regard to property services are changing.

It is now expected that property services companies provide a comprehensive ‘one-stop’ property and facilities management service, says Sulayman Abdullah, CEO of Excellerate Facilities Management (EFM) – a subsidiary of Excellerate Property Services. EFM, which provides such a service, has Level 3 BBBEE credentials and operates nationally in South Africa with headquarters in Sandton, Johannesburg.

“Facilities management is rapidly emerging as an important factor which can play a major role in boosting the income stream of property assets. Worldwide it is accepted that facilities management has developed faster than almost any other discipline in the property industry.

However, the current emphasis where it can add significant value is in helping property owners and tenants to address wasteful and unnecessary practices which have a negative impact on the environment. This provides a tremendous opportunity for the astute facilities manager. Action steps with regard to energy saving, waste recycling and minimising the use and pollution of water are simply no longer sufficient. Facilities managers are expected to provide guidance and to implement action steps on the full spectrum of green issues during the construction and use phase of a building,” says Abdullah.

He says the starting point is the acknowledgement that during their lifecycles, buildings use a significant amount of natural resources, and the ‘use’ phase of a building’s lifecycle accounts for as much as 85 percent of its total impact on the environment. As a result, facilities managers have the opportunity to implement strategic plans for buildings under management, partnering with landlords to compile appropriate action plans in regard to energy savings - which in turn will effect savings for landlords as well as tenants.

“Facilities management in South Africa is best described as the practice of coordinating the working environment with the people and processes of the organisation. It’s a combined approach at all levels in the organisation to plan and implement support facilities in line with prime business objectives. Globally, it is therefore regarded as an integral part of the strategic thrust of an organisation. However, the fact is that generally organisations prefer to focus their expertise on their core business, with non-core activities such as facilities management are managed by entities more suitably structured and resource.”

Abdullah says here in South Africa an integrated approach is adopted to manage facilities in line with prime property management objectives such as leasing, rental collection, tenant liaison and general administration. These are described as ‘hard and soft services’. Hard services are those elements that form physical parts of the building such as the structure itself, exterior and interior finishes, plumbing, mechanical and electrical installations, office installations, maintenance and refurbishments, while the soft services focus on issues such as security, cleaning, pest control, hygiene and garden services. In some instances, facilities management services can be extended to incorporate additional services such as fleet, mail and cafeteria management.

“Now more than ever, well maintained properties are those which will stand out, so it’s crucial that facilities managers ensure that the service providers, from refuse removal to cleaning and security, maintain exemplary standards and keep buildings immaculate. If there’s a possibility of vacancies arising, well kept assets have an advantage. The economic downturn has created an ideal opportunity for growth in the facilities management industry as a means of creating cost savings, and this is a trend that will become increasingly evident,” adds Abdullah.



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