Step-BY-STEP Development of Facility Management Services

I3CONThe development of the construction industry from a traditional crafting industry towards a service-based industry requires a more structured and effective process of developing and designing services. This trend, as well as a growing number of competitors, increased market saturation, deregulation and multiplication of successful service concepts (comp. Fähnrich and Meiren 2007), make the service markets in the construction industry more dynamic, and increase the pressure on the participating services providers. In addition, facility management (FM) services need to consider an increasing variety of user groups. In the future, the structure of tenants’ households, for example, will vary even more than today, resulting in more diverse service needs for residential buildings. The same is true for office buildings, considering the increasing flexibility of people’s work schedules and the blurring of the boundaries between work and private life.

The provision of the right services to a customer is therefore a crucial yet challenging task. It requires a structured service development process which considers (and continuously adapts to) key user needs. And it should be as integrated as possible, since customers increasingly ask for facility managers as central contact points to coordinate the different services of a building, which are provided by different sub-contractors. This may be the internal facility management team of a company, but it could also be a general contractor who provides services along with the building, or a consultant team that supports the building definition, production and use phase.

The aim of this guide is to provide FM teams with an easy-to-use guide on how to:

  • develop suitable service portfolios for different user groups
  • identify suitable service combinations for one specific customer
  • collect crucial feedback during the service selection and provision phase

The guide starts with a brief definition of underlying terms (chapter two) to then present the five phases of the approach (chapter three). The following five chapters each explain one of the phases in detail. A summary and an outlook complete the document.

The approach presented in this guide is called the I3CON Service Engineering Approach (SEA). It has been developed and validated within an EU co-funded research project1 (called I3CON) and integrates »Service Engineering« and »Mass-Customisation« elements into a process which is aimed at the structured development of modular service portfolios.

Service Engineering is a concept for the step-by-step development of services, based on Product Engineering concepts. There are already a number of Service Engineering Guidelines on the market (see for example Bullinger et al. 2003), but very few of them focus on the construction sector. An excellent example, available in German only, however, is the Guideline of the National Association of German Building Companies (GdW, Bundesverband deutscher Wohnungsunternehmen): Leitfaden »Innovative Dienstleistungen rund um das Wohnen professionell entwickeln« (GdW 2004).

»The housing industry already applies approaches on how to develop services in a systematic, method-based fashion, by means of tenant surveys, company-internal workshops or working groups, for example. However, they still lack concrete processes and procedures for the development of services, as they are traditionally used in product development or software engineering for instance.« (Hohm et al 2004)

The key benefit of the service engineering aspect is to enable the structured pre-planning of services. Today, decisions as to requisite facility management services are often made intuitively, without a thorough analysis of what is really needed and how it is needed. And most decisions are made much too late, i.e. when the building’s planning has already been finalised or the building has even been constructed. A fast and early decision-making process with regard to the service support required is, however, crucial to ensure that both the building and the services perfectly fit the lifecycle costs and the users’ comfort.

However, simply providing a wide variety of different services for all possible user groups is not the way forward. Customers are often overwhelmed if they are given too many options to choose from. And an excessively large portfolio will cause costs for the service provider to skyrocket. Mass-customisation has helped various industries to dramatically reduce the costs of their product portfolio, despite their customer-specific personalisation. Extensive literature is available for product mass-customisation (see for example Piller 2008), but only few sources mention the mass-customisation of services. Bringing this concept to the facility management domain is, however, a suitable step not only to increase customer-friendliness but also to ensure greater cost-efficiency in this domain.

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