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Is building maintenance the same as FM?

Often, terms like facility management, facility services, building service, building maintenance and even housekeeping services are used as synonyms even though the profile and operations of each differ both in terms of volume and delivery. An interesting discussion on how Facility Management is different from Building Maintenance brought to the fore some valid points giving more significance to facilities management as much broader and all-encompassing occupation.

Facility Management is the second largest contributor to the operational costs of a company and includes a much broader perspective than what is perceived. In developing countries, where contractual services is engaged sparingly for separate functions, hiring FM services in totality is much restricted to MNCs or bigger corporate houses. Hence, it is no surprise for a building maintenance provider or a building service contractor being addressed as FM service provider.

Facility management encompasses almost everything that comes in and out of the building and could include areas/services like mailrooms and security;thus, including all the non-core internal services that support the business to execute the core activity. Maintenance is limited to the building; usually more of a mechanical/janitorial aspect and part of FM services.

The defining of FM as building maintenance or housekeeping relates to the type of business.

Companies dealing with ownership and leasing of real estate, both facilities management and property management functions exist within the Real Estate Division. While they are two different functions with two different skill sets, they can be referred to commonly as facilities management even though particular functions like accounting and tax is specialised in property management.

In the bifurcation of the functions in the real estate segment,building maintenance falls under the property management, which focuses on the upkeep of the building envelope, building common areas excluding tenant spaces such as main entrance, loading docks, washrooms on all floors, underground parking, maintenance of the property grounds such as snow ploughing/landscaping, etc.

Facilities management, on the other hand, falls under the tenant or corporate responsibility and focuses on a specific tenant and its people. FM includes planning of people and space, paying rent and upkeep of tenant’s facility. FM can also include services such as security, mail and copy services, receptionists, and other services within a Corporation.

In general terms, building maintenance focuses on hard tasks around the building while FM includes not only the overall planning and budgets, but also delivery of services in and around a facility, including aspects of client satisfaction. Significance hence lies in the link between service delivery and service consumption, and also includes the user. User satisfaction is one of the key contributing factors to vendor selection, along with project execution, financial accuracy, and KPI fulfilment.

Spelling the actual functions, FM can be defined as one with the responsibilities inside and outside the facility, including staff, safety, training, budgets; operational and capital, policies and procedures, codes and re’pour with the authority having jurisdictions, hiring, mentoring and firing, long range plans to emergency disaster plans, administrations and so on. While, building maintenance consists of all the operating systems of the facility from equipment to infrastructure, including commissioning, testing and acceptance of new or repaired equipment, operations and maintenance, repairing or replacing of equipment likeboilers, jockey pumps, air handling units, vacuum pumps, elevators or foam suppression systems on a heliport.

Simply put, facility management is a profession that encompasses multiple disciplines to ensure functionality of the built environment by integrating people, place, process and technology. Building management is a discipline that comes under the umbrella of FM to ensure parts of building are working as one process and controlling all part of FMS by using BMS.

Formally speaking, FM is managerialin nature, meaning you manage what you can measure and you measure what you can see, whereas building maintenance is compliance with rules and regulation of technical nature that you make it manageable so that it becomes part of the operational strategy of the building owner/operator! Once you can integrate operational maintenance aspects and business strategies formulation, you will arrive at strategic FM that is usually headed by FM Director.

However, there is no obvious or clear definition to either building maintenance or facility management. While, FM professionals can differentiate between the two, drawing parameters of which functions fall within the purview of building maintenance and which one with FM is difficult to ascertain. Each one is incomplete without the other.


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