According to a recent story that appeared in a Czech Republic newspaper, the answer is: when trying to explain the profession to someone outside the field.
In “Staying focused on the core essentials,” a story for The Prague Post earlier this week, Jacy Meyer writes about facility management:
It’s a bit like trying to describe an artichoke to a blind person. At first glance, it seems obvious: You know how it looks, tastes and feels. But when you start pulling off the leaves, you discover a heart and blossom that wasn’t apparent from the surface.
The same is true for facility management.
“People think they understand facility management by saying it’s the operation of the building,” says Ondřej Štrup, managing partner at Hein Consulting, a worldwide consulting and strategic management firm. “But it’s a mistake to say operating and facilitating a building is the same thing. Facility management is much wider.”
How, then, does one define facility management? Most people understand it to include the maintenance, cleaning service, security, groundskeeping and other items essential to the upkeep of a building. It certainly is all those things, but modern facility management goes much deeper.
“Facility management takes care of everything you don’t want to manage,” says Štrup, offering the head of a typical company as an example of who could benefit.
“As the decision-maker, you want to concentrate on certain aspects of your business — production, marketing, whatever,” he explains. “You are also responsible for your employees, the workplace environment, etc. But it’s not what you want to do.”
Štrup divides such responsibilities into two basic categories: core business and noncore business. And he recommends handing over the noncore business essentials to someone else.
“Facility management is a profession that says we are here to take your noncore business as our core business,” he says.
Štrup and other facility management professionals will be discussing the concept, as well as delving into the specifics of how good facility management can help improve businesses, at a conference in Prague next month.
“This conference will target the topics, case studies and trends of facility management, as well as the progress, perspectives and new opportunities for the industry,” says Hana Němejcová, senior conference producer for the Institute for International Research, the company organizing the event. “Attendees will meet facility managers, developers and facility consulting companies.”