A critical review of Facilities Management Taxonomies

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1 A critical review of Facilities Management Taxonomies Matthias Ebinger 1, Thomas Madritsch Pratt Institute, New York City, USA University of Applied Sciences FH Kufstein Tirol, AUSTRIA; University for Health Sciences, Medical Informatics and Technology UMIT, Austria ABSTRACT During the past decades, Facilities Management has gained recognition as a distinct management discipline. While there is general agreement on the definition of Facilities Management as a high level concept, there still remains confusion on the specific scope of functions and competencies that make up the discipline (National Research Council 2008, Homan 2007). Recognizing the need to bridge the various definitions across the different constituencies of Facilities, Asset, Property or Real Estate Management, this study compares multiple classification frameworks from professional organizations, government agencies, academia and standard setting bodies. The study also suggests with the Built Environment Management Model a possible approach to align FM knowledge across the various constituencies. FM TAXONOMIES Every management discipline organizes it knowledge in more or less formally codified taxonomies. Lambe (2007) identifies several benefits for the use of formal taxonomies: Taxonomies add value, reduce costs, reduce risks and stimulate innovation. Most FM organizations have developed some type of classification framework with the goals to provide access to structured knowledge, to provide a consistent vocabulary and to show the interrelationship between knowledge units. In reviewing 18 existing FM taxonomies, this study identified five different general taxonomy forms (Table 1). Generally speaking, less mature classification frameworks rely on lists and trees, while more mature and defined frameworks gravitate towards hierarchical categorizations, multi dimensionally matrixed classifications or system maps (Lambe 2007). Out of the 18 surveyed FM knowledge classification frameworks, 44% use a simple list or tree structure without a clearly defined organizing principle (Table 2). Consequently, these frameworks are often ambiguous and the unstructured knowledge units provide limited value. 56% of the studied frameworks leverage more advanced taxonomy types in order to highlight how FM knowledge units interrelate. The comparative review of the existing classification frameworks was based primarily on the source material published on the web site of the respective organizations. In addition, the authors evaluated existing trend studies and comparative reviews such as Alexander (2009), the Committee on Core Competencies for Federal Facilities Assets (NRC 2008), Whittaker (2007), Then (2004) or BIFM (2003). The table below summarizes the findings of the review. Ebinger, Madritsch: A critical review of Facilities Management Taxonomies Page 1

2 Taxonomy Type Description and pertaining FM Taxonomies List Tree Hybrid Tree Structures Hierarchy Matrix System Maps Table 1: Classification types (Based on Lambe, 2007) Lists are the simplest form of knowledge organization. Lists arrange knowledge units one dimensionally along some organizing principle. Examples: Checklist; Project Phases IREM: Knowledge Areas / CoreNet: Knowledge Areas Trees break knowledge units into super and subcategories and highlight a relationship between a broader parent unit and the narrower child unit. The relationship does not necessarily have to be the same in all cases. Example: Table of Content IFMA: Core Competencies / APPA: Core Areas / BIFM: FM Taxonomy (2008) Institute of Asset Mgt (IAM): Knowledge Centre Tree structures partially complemented with other taxonomy principles European Standards for Facilities Mgt ( ) / GEFMA Standards for FM ( ) Hierarchies are a special type of trees with a clearly defined relationship between parent and child, and requiring that each knowledge unit has only one unique place within the hierarchy. Example: Organizational structure (showing reporting relationships between employees); Building systems classification (such as UNIFORMAT II), showing super and sub components of building systems CoreNet: Corporate Real Estate Job Competencies (2008) / Institute of Asset Mgt (IAM): Competency Model (2008) / Capital Project Portfolio Management Model (2005) Matrices organize information by two or more dimensions. Each dimension can consist of a list, tree or hierarchy. Example: Classification of rooms by occupant (=List), department (=hierarchy), location (=hierarchy), room type (=list, hierarchy or tree) etc. Institute of Asset Mgt (IAM): Standard for Asset Mgt (2008) / Institute of Asset Mgt. (IAM): Maturity Assessment Methodology (2009) / National Research Council: Facilities Assets Management Core Competencies (2008) System maps visually show relationships between knowledge units. Graphics can usually provide a rich context that helps to explain the framework. At the same time, graphical representations have a limited amount of detail that can be shown. Examples: Subway Maps, Building Drawings, Process Diagrams, Mind Maps Integrated Resource Management Framework (1999) / Built Environment Management Model (BEM2) (2010) / Built Environment Management Maturity Model (BEM3) (2010) A proposed meta framework for Facilities Management While the above listed FM frameworks with advanced classification taxonomies provide excellent approaches to classifying FM knowledge, there continues to be a need for a meta framework that can summarize the nature of the built environment management discipline in a simple yet comprehensive framework. This framework would use advanced classification principles in order to easily communicate the complex core principles and nature of FM in a concise model. As a result of the multi year research project Mapping Best Practice in FM the authors developed in close cooperation with numerous facilities practitioners, consultants and academicians a normative framework that can be overlaid over existing frameworks and bridge the gap between the FM constituencies. The resulting framework, a process model, was named Built Environment Management Model (BEM2) to highlight its industryneutrality and its general applicability to numerous FM/RE environments. Ebinger, Madritsch: A critical review of Facilities Management Taxonomies Page 2

3 The starting point for BEM2 is the simple Asset Lifecycle, a principle that is universal to all environments that work with physical assets. BEM2 groups the asset life cycle into four Key Process Areas (Figure 1). Figure 1: The Four Key Process Areas (KPAs) of the Facilities Life Cycle Diagram (Source: Pratt Kufstein BEM2/BEM3 Research Initiative) In a subsequent step, the lifecycle diagram is unrolled and plotted onto the x axis of a simple Cartesian coordinate system (Figure 2). The four lifecycle steps are matrixed on the vertical axis with three hierarchical organizational levels. The top level represents the strategic interest of core business towards the built environment and defines the strategic requirements that the FM/RE function needs to satisfy. The middle level (Portfolio Level) represents portfolio functions typically associated with senior personnel in facilities management and related business functions. The third level (Operational level) includes operational tasks such as the management of projects, transactions, operations, maintenance and services. Figure 2: The two dimensions of the matrix (Source: Pratt Kufstein BEM2/BEM3 / Mapping Best Practice in FM) Finally, the matrix is overlaid in Figure 3 with a system map in the form of a process diagram. This diagram shows in detail the process sequence, management function and strategic benefits with regard to the management of the built environment. It contains 34 process areas, organized within the two dimensions of the matrix. The model differentiates between processes that are directly involved in the asset lifecycle (shown with filled background and a white border), and processes that are indirectly either contributing or benefiting from the life cycle (shown with a white background and a dark border). Ebinger, Madritsch: A critical review of Facilities Management Taxonomies Page 3

4 The Built Environment Maturity Management Model The principles of the Capability Maturity Model (Carnegie Mellon University 2006) were applied to the BEM2 process model to develop a maturity assessment tool to quantify process maturity. The authors studied organizations in Europe and North America, to identify and map best practices in FM/RE process management across different industries and countries. Figure 5 shows one example with resulting process maturity profiles. Figure 5: Example of findings resulting from the use of the Built Environment Management Maturity Model (BEM3) (Source: Pratt Kufstein BEM2/BEM3 Research Initiative) Conclusion The comparative study identified challenges inherent in existing knowledge frameworks: Almost half of the assessed classification frameworks, including prominent frameworks such as the IFMA Core Competencies or the IREM Knowledge areas, are still based on rudimentary taxonomies. The application of more advanced classification methods could possibly help these organizations to derive higher value from their existing knowledge base. Another challenge is taxonomical inconsistency within the same standard: the recently released European FM standard, for example, uses a number of interesting organizing principles in its various parts. However, the taxonomies across the parts are not fully aligned and the standard has only a limited, overarching framework. A common classification model could have significant benefits for Facilities Management. It could help organizations to more effectively share knowledge, best practices and performance metrics, even beyond the existing boundaries of existing FM/RE constituencies. Process based models such as the Built Environment Management Model (BEM2) or a model with a comparable taxonomy could be used as Meta Models to help align FM knowledge. In addition, adding performance evaluation components to the frameworks, such maturity evaluations or comparable quality assessments, the taxonomies could help to further enhance the performance and recognition of the FM function. Ebinger, Madritsch: A critical review of Facilities Management Taxonomies Page 4

5 Figure 4: The Built Environment Management Model (BEM2) (Source: Pratt Kufstein BEM2/BEM3 / Mapping Best Practice in FM) Ebinger, Madritsch: A critical review of Facilities Management Taxonomies Page 5

6 References Alexander, K. (2009), European Facilities Management. The Next Generation, Naarden: EuroFM. Carnegie Mellon University (2006): Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) Version 1.2 Overview, retrieved October 27, 2010 fromhttp://www.sei.cmu.edu/library/abstracts/presentations/ cmmi v12 overview.cfm. Dettbarn, J., Ibbs, C.W., Murphree, E.L. (2005), Capital Project Portfolio Management for Federal Real Property, Journal of Management in Engineering, Vo. 21, No. 1, pp BIFM (2003), Re thinking Facilities Management. Looking to the future. Hertfordshire: British Institute of Facilities Management. British Standards Institution (2008): BSI PAS 55:2008 Specification for the optimized management of physical assets. CEN (European Committee for Normalization) ( ): published by CEN National Members. Facility management Norm EN15221, CoreNet Global (2008): Corporate Real Estate (CRE) Competencies, Atlanta: CoreNet Global. Homan, K. (2007): Vorwort zu Facility Manager Berufsbild, in: Das Berufsbild des Facility Managers in Deutschland, Berlin: GEFMA e.v., p IFMA (2007), Facility Management Forecast. Exploring the current Trends and Future Outlook for Facility Management Professionals. Houston: IFMA. Institute of Asset Management (2008:1), IAM PAS 55:2008 Standard for Asset Management, London: IAM. Institute of Asset Management (2008:2), IAM PAS 55:2008 Competence Framework (Part 1 and 2), London: IAM. Lambe, P (2007): Organizing Knowledge: Taxonomies, Knowledge and Organisational Effectiveness, Oxford: Chandos Publishing. National Research Council (2008), Core Competencies for Federal Facilities Asset Management through 2020: Transformational Strategies. Washington, DC: The National Academic Press. Then, D. (1999), An integrated resource management view of facilities management, Facilities, Vol. 17, No. 12/13, pp Then, D. (2004), The Future of Professional Facility Management Education in the Asia Pacific Region. New World Order in Facility Management Conference, Hong Kong. Whittaker, J. (2007): Facilities Management as an Evolving Profession: What the Research Shows, Proceedings of Government / Industry Forum, The National Academies. December 13, Ebinger, Madritsch: A critical review of Facilities Management Taxonomies Page 6

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