What are the key challenges FMs face and how to overcome them? Success in FM Part 1

Welcome to the first blog in our series Success in FM.

We’ve interviewed seven property and FM professionals about what they feel is the key to success in facilities management.

In this edition, we ask: What are the key challenges you face working in facilities management, and what would have helped overcome those challenges – if I’d known then what I know now?

Here’s what they had to say…

Chris Stoddart

The challenges: “Misconceptions about FM’s true value to the business.”

Overcoming them: “Better communication.”

Jane Sansome

The challenges: The key challenge that facilities management will always face is creating the right working environment with the client. I have seen all sorts of behaviour during my career, at both ends of the spectrum. Poor relationships are often attributable to a fundamental misunderstanding, between the parties, of the contractual parameters, leading to unrealistic expectations. However, poor performance against contract KPIs can also be a key challenge and, unless addressed in a timely manner, can result in the client implementing rigorous audit regimes that will ultimately lead to deterioration in the relationship. Good and great relationships are possible when all parties take time to ensure they develop a common understanding of the contract and where the facilities management services are aligned to the business needs of the client.

Overcoming them: “When entering into a contract the emphasis is inevitably on the commercial agreement. From my experience, insufficient time is dedicated to talking about how the parties will make the contract work. For example, as in any arrangement where you commit to work with another person or organisation, you should discuss ‘What I need from you to ensure I can deliver for you!’”

Neil Usher

The challenges: “There is never enough time to learn what you need to learn, or to do what you feel you need to do – which are at once challenges and motivators.”

Overcoming them: “We inevitably get better over the years at knowing what is important and what is less so. However, I wouldn’t have missed the years of getting better.”

Julie Kortens

The challenges: “There have been several challenges. The first was to make sure that the FM team was viewed as a strategic partner in the business and not just a place to go when things went wrong. This has taken time but I’m pleased to say that we are well respected and known as the team that always delivers! Another challenge has been ensuring that we deliver value for money. Channel 4 is a public corporation and every penny we make is diverted into programmes, it’s essential therefore that we are innovative in our service delivery.”

Overcoming them: “I’m not convinced I would have done anything differently – our reputation depends on the good job that we do and the customer service we provide. I suppose for me the biggest lesson is understanding that we aren’t miracle workers – we should just be efficient and customer focused.”

Rachael Kearns

The challenges: “Relationships – people are the hardest thing to manage and there is a wide variety of characters on the project that I work for. It is difficult to please everyone.

“Achieving the impossible – people do expect FMs to achieve the impossible. We have a good go but sometimes it is just impossible.

“Being female – I think there are a few dinosaurs out there that still think that women are inferior. I believe I have proved them wrong, which is nice!”

Overcoming them: Where possible speak to people face-to-face, rather than using email. Email can be read in so many different ways and not usually in the way that you want! Don’t let people tell you what you can’t do – you are only limited by your own expectations.”

Georgia Basquine

The challenges: “As a service provider there is a very fine line between delivering your own initiative and going outside the boundaries, which is very different to being part of an in-house team. I view challenges as lessons learnt that build your key skills and experience.

“Working on an EMEA portfolio is different to dealing with just the UK, there is a language barrier to overcome from both sides. Listen to ensure that you respect and understand local cultures and working practices.”

Overcoming them: “I think that you overcome challenges from your experience of getting involved. Asking for support when you need it, giving everything a chance (sometimes a second chance as well) and not being afraid to make mistakes. You have to ride the journey and take on board the lessons learnt.

“Networking and attending Continuous Professional Development (CPD) events have been key to my progression and ensuring that I keep on top of the current themes and industry changes.”

Robert Cunliffe

The challenges: “In facilities management change is a constant. It may be that the organisation is changing around the FM team, but the facilities manager still needs to change to meet the new needs of the organisation. Managing change successfully is key to an effective FM service.”

Overcoming them: “The profile of facilities management has risen in the last five years. FM needs to prove its worth in an organisation and demonstrate the value it adds to the workplace. Involvement in strategic business decisions will then allow FM to support the future of the organisation more effectively. Therefore, being an integral part of the organisation is key.”

Our esteemed panel…


We want to hear from you… what are the challenges that you face as an FM, and what do you think is needed to address them? Leave a comment below or email me with you views.


To view the other parts of the series click the links below:

Part 2 – What is the key to success in FM?

Part 3 – What do you love about FM?

Part 4 – What are the major themes in FM right now?

Part 5 – What would you do with a magic wand?

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