An FM guide to operational readiness


Mike Packham, Partner of Bernard Williams Associates and BIFM member, reveals the detail behind the newly released Operational Readiness Guide for Facilities Managers and how it can help with BIM and Soft Landings…

My previous article in this series took Star Wars as its inspiration (BIM 4 FM – May the force be with you) but this time, I am afraid that I have been sadly lacking on the imagination front and the best I can come up with is the BREXIT debate. However, rest assured that I am not going to spend the next two pages rehearsing the in/out of Europe debate, but simply use it to draw a comparison with the discussions that we have been having within BIFM about how we can help our Members and FM generally get to grips with BIM and Soft Landings.

To start from the beginning, a little over a year ago, a somewhat disparate group of interested individuals morphed into what is now known as the BIFM Operational Readiness Group. Membership is (deliberately) drawn from a widely diverse background that is intended to represent FM at its broadest definition; the group, therefore, includes service providers, clients, academics, software developers and people such as myself representing the consultancy side of things.

As you can probably imagine, with such a broad range of interests represented our discussions were “lively” on occasions and it is this that brought to mind the current BREXIT situation. It is unfair to compare our BIFM “minder” (Laura) to Jean-Claude Juncker, but I am sure that she felt as frustrated as the EC President on occasions – just when she thought she had got us all going in the same direction we would suddenly head off somewhere completely different!

Anyway, to cut a long story short, after much debate and having re-invented the wheel several times, BIFM’s Operational Readiness Guide for Facilities Managers was made available on 4th April to coincide with the official go “live” date for the UK Government’s BIM Mandate. In developing the guide, we were conscious of the need to build on (and supplement), rather than replicate the body of work which has already been carried out. Equally, we recognised that FM’s are typically busy with their day jobs and that to expect them to read through yet another lengthy BIM related document was likely to be wishful thinking.

What we have aimed to produce therefore is a kind of “ready reckoner” of how FM can/should get involved in the capital project development and delivery process. This, with the overall objective of enhancing the operational and occupational performance of the end “product”. In doing so we have referred to, but not repeated, the underlying alphabet spaghetti (my kids used to love it when they were younger) of supporting standards and the like as represented by PAS 1192, Parts 2 and 3, BS8536 etc., etc.

So what does the guide look like? Well, it is structured around the RIBA Digital Plan of Work (DPoW) and has eight sections to reflect the various design stages of the DPoW. For each stage it sets out the envisaged role of the FM representative; thus, by way of example at:

• Stage 0 – Strategic Definition: – “The FM, as the representative of the end user of the building with a detailed understanding of their key (core business) requirements, has the opportunity to ensure that the client’s business case and the strategic brief are fully considered from a Facilities Management perspective.”

• Stage 3 – Developed Design: – “During this stage, the FM role is to continue to ensure that the client/end-user’s operational and occupational requirements for the premises are appropriately considered and incorporated into the developing design proposals. The FM should, therefore, be involved in reviewing on an ongoing basis drawings and specifications as they are produced by the design/construction team.”

• Stage 7 – In Use: – “The FM should co-ordinate the post-handover aftercare period to ensure the building operates and, where necessary, adapts in accordance with the design intent and operational demands.”

Clearly these statements are at least partly aspirational and, being the practical souls that we FM’s by nature are, the guide then goes on to identify the underlying activities that are considered necessary to achieve the “aspiration”. These activities are grouped under the headings of Compliance, People, Process, Procurement/Finance and Technical, with each section (stage) following the same format.

As I said earlier, the guide is intended exactly as what it says on the “tin”, i.e. as a guide; it is not intended to be prescriptive in any way. In this context, we recognise that the role to be played by FM will vary for each RIBA stage depending on the nature of the project (e.g. new-build/refurbishment, complexity, procurement methodology, etc.) and the requirements of the client or end-user (N.B.: not necessarily the same organisation). Thus, some flexibility about when specific activities are to be undertaken is to be anticipated. As a consequence the cost of the FM support required in each stage will vary accordingly to what activities are required to be undertaken and other variables such as the level of involvement of the service provision supply chain.

To conclude and return (somewhat tenuously) to where I started with this article, the process that BIFM’s Operational Readiness Group has been through in developing the guide bears some resemblance to the BREXIT negotiations. Its production has involved much discussion, some heated debate, and eventual compromise. Unlike BREXIT though it is not a once in a generation “in or out” decision. We fully recognise that we almost certainly have not got it 100% right, and in this respect, we look forward to receiving the industry’s feedback. ■

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Mike Packham


British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM)

Tel: +44 (0)127 971 2620



  1. A well written description of the guide. It provides a starting point for an experienced FM to help clients obtain the maximum benefit from the building from the day it becomes operational. Thanks


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here