Innovative Technology Is a Key to Facility Management Survival (Journal Review)

Innovative Technology Is a Key to Facility Management Survival (Journal Review)

*This is a summary and analysis of the following publication. For full references and research details, please see original publication. Summary written by Isaac Kashiwagi*

Kashiwagi, J., & Rivera, A. (2020). Innovative Technology Is a Key to Facility Management Survival. Journal for the Advancement of Performance Information and Value, 12(1), 21-29.

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 The Facility Managers World is Changing

Facility managers (FMs) can have many different titles but at its core FMs are responsible for making sure systems of the built environment (or the facility) work harmoniously. A large part of an FM’s responsibilities is procuring and managing projects and services delivered by their service providers. Recently, the FM business environment has been rapidly changing. The objective of the worldwide competitive marketplace is to lower costs, increase efficiency, and maximize sustainability. Automation and information systems are eliminating stakeholders [removing costs] out of the supply chain at a dizzying speed (Muro et al., 2019). FMs must change their role to prevent professional extinction. The path to that extinction is clear—it is outsourcing, followed by loss of benefits, commoditization and then abusive work hours and demands.

The FM Dilemma: Losing Professionalism

Over time, FMs have begun to lose their professionalism and value within the industry. This started as FM services were labeled as only a cost of doing business and are now being outsourced in an attempt to minimize those costs. The problem is that outsourced services still utilize the same FM professionals who are now paid less and forced to work harder with fewer resources. FM professionals find themselves disconnected from the C-suite (executive leadership) of an organization, often reporting to individuals who do not have knowledge of facility management.

With the pressure of low-cost FM services, FMs are forced to pass the burden to their service providers. Cutting costs has now become more important than utilizing the service providers expertise to lower cost. The issue is exacerbated as FMs are expected to be experts in all the services they manage. However, as the world continues to accelerate and change, FM professionals no longer have sufficient time to maintain their expertise in all the services they manage. In an effort to cut more costs, FMs try to push outsourced vendors to do more at lower costs (even these tasks go against vendor recommendations or regular scope of services). It is within this “low cost” climate that the level of expertise in both the FM professional and the FM service providers are decreasing, while costs still continue to rise.

The FM education and certification structure only perpetuates the issues. FM education is designed to teach technical skills, but these skills are becoming rapidly obsolete as technology advances.

The Proposal: A New FM Model

By observation of the existing trends, the FM professional and service providers of the future must meet the following requirements (Rivera, D. Kashiwagi, J. Kashiwagi, & Doyle, 2016; Gunnoe, Kashiwagi, & Corea, 2018; Gunnoe & Krassa, 2019):

  1. Minimize their workload along with their stress level.
  2. Increase the breadth of their responsibility without increasing their workload.
  3. Increase performance by utilizing FM expert service providers.
  4. Create an environment of transparency where the C-Suite Leadership can clearly identify the value and performance of the FM.
  5.  Increase the demand of FMs.
  6. Make the FM a leadership-oriented career.

FMs are overworked, under-compensated, and undervalued. International Facility Management Association (IFMA) chapters are now being led by IFMA FM service providers, but 20 years ago, they were led by FM professionals. FM professionals are too busy to participate at the same levels as before.

The FM of the Future is an Information Worker

A new model for the FM professional was created at Arizona State University (ASU) based on the Best Value Approach (BVA). It has been tested extensively with very consistent results to increase the performance of the delivered services while cutting the cost by 5% to 30%. The new model requires the FM of the future to become an information worker, which means switching from a technical role to a non-technical leadership role.

The information worker does not need technical knowledge but has the technology that can identify and utilize expert service providers to increase performance and decrease cost while decreasing the need to manage and direct the FM service providers. This new professional utilizes performance metrics that increases their scope of services while decreasing costs. In testing the effectiveness of this new approach, research has shown:

  1. One professional FM can do the responsibility of 10.
  2. The performance of the service is on time and on budget with 98% customer satisfaction (Krouwel, 2018).
  3. The cost of the services can be reduced by 5% to 30% (Gajjar, Kashiwagi, Hurtado, & Sullivan, 2014; I. Kashiwagi, D. Kashiwagi, & Gambla, 2018).

The FM professional of the Future is as an “Information Worker” who minimizes effort while delivering a significant increase in performance and capability. An information worker is not a technical expert in the services they manage, rather they identify and utilize the expertise of their service providers to create transparency and value. Information workers learn how to use the language of metrics to communicate with users and the C-suite so everyone can immediately see their role and value. An information worker knows how to create a structure which effectively leverages the service providers expertise and facilities the use of their expertise.


It is time to revolutionize the FM industry and the answer is automation. Automation will minimize the technical knowledge and time needed for FMs to think and make decisions. The answer lies in minimizing the need to use someone’s own experience. The FM model of the Future has already been tested. It must now be proliferated in the industry. It can cut costs, improve performance, demonstrate the value, and minimize the physical efforts and stress of FM professionals. The proposals and recommendations contained here were developed and are offered toward strengthening the future of the FM profession and the IFMA organization.


To review references cited in this article, you can read the full publication here.