‘Facility services’, what is the meaning of that? There seems to be quite some confusion about this. For some people, facility services equals cleaning. For others, there is much more to it than that. Who is right?
Origin of ‘facility’
To link the correct meaning to ‘facility services’ or ‘facility management’, we will look at the origin. ‘Facility’ comes from the Latin ‘facilitas’. This means, among other things, ‘ease’. The link with ‘facile’ in French or Italian is … easily made. ‘Facility services’ are therefore aimed at making things ‘easy’ for others. But there are many ways to do that.
The term ‘facility’ in this sense first appears in 1978 in the United States. At the beginning of the 1980s, the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) was born there. A few years later, the term spread to Great Britain. In the mid-1980s, it was introduced in Western Europe.
Over the years, various definitions have been developed. The greatest common denominator of all those definitions gives the following meaning to ‘facility services’:
“Facility services comprise all supporting activities for the primary process of an organisation.”
Whereby the primary process consists of producing goods or providing services. The secondary process is then that of facilities services. What it comes down to is that a facilities service provider creates the best possible working conditions for its clients.
‘Facility management’ then means ‘managing all these supporting activities’. It is no longer just a question of carrying out certain tasks, but also of planning, controlling and monitoring. Facility services are situated at the operational level. Facility management leans towards the strategic level of an organisation.
Broad meaning of facility services
The above definition refers to ‘all supporting activities’. But what do we mean by that? Cleaning in the broadest sense of the word is certainly one of those activities. But facility services have a much broader meaning. The following services are also included:
- green space maintenance
- parking maintenance
- technical maintenance
- pest control
- waste management
- event management
For a long time, many companies and organisations outsourced each of these services to different suppliers. In recent years we have seen that there are many advantages to working with one facility services provider such as Multi Masters Group. We will elaborate on these and other trends in the next articles.