FMJ, the official magazine of the International Facility Management Association (IFMA), is written by and for workplace professionals and is published six times a year. FMJ is the only magazine that draws on the collective knowledge of IFMA’s global network of thought leaders to provide insights on current and upcoming FM trends. For more information on FMJ, visit

The right fit: Selecting an FM management system standard for your facilities

by Casey Martin and Laverne Deckert — Originally published in the May/June 2016 issue of FMJ — Today’s facility managers face unprecedented challenges. In a profession already saturated with competing priorities and investment options, why would any organization voluntarily self-impose a complex and potentially costly management system standard?

In the rapidly evolving world of facility management, for which the only reliable forecast is more transformation, management system standards should be a welcome change for today’s facility managers. Based on the plan-do-check-act cycle, management system standards provide relevant specifications for organizations to demonstrate their capability to meet internal and external requirements.

Management system standards require FM teams to focus on operations and processes, thus enabling efficiencies. They enable facility managers to focus on strategies that reduce costs by minimizing waste and errors and increase productivity.

A 2012 study by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) documented three key benefits realized by companies small and large that use standards. These companies are able to:

  1.  streamline internal operations;
  2.  innovate and scale up operations
  3.  and even create or enter new markets.

Imagine for a minute a life with no standards. What if no one asked for metrics or benchmarks before approving a budget? What if there were no processes or policies to follow and no data to maintain? Life for facility managers would be easy — or at least easier.

In a world with no budget or time constraints, FMs could perform reactive maintenance and replace assets deteriorating before reaching the end of their useful service life without concern for cost, lost revenue or downtime. Each FM would be free to use any self-invented terminology, like naming chillers after planets or exotic animals (think of Apple’s operating system names: Puma, Jaguar, Snow Leopard, etc.). Life would be dreamy…or would it?

Without standards, it would be impossible to compare our performance to that of other organizations or across the industry. There would be no foundation to learn about what other organizations are doing that may be best practices, and we may not be able to determine the best capital investment options, since there would not be a standard in place to support decision making. Without standards, we may as well use “eeny, meeny, miny, moe” as the foundation of our decision-making processes.

So many standards for FMs; so little time

The development of internal procedures and the process for systemizing how activities are performed within an organization is a management system. The benefits of management system standards include improved communication of requirements and methodologies among and between public- and private-sector organizations, improved service consistency, and hence, reduced risk to buyers and a common platform for small businesses and those from developing economies. For businesses, they are strategic tools that reduce costs by minimizing waste and errors, while also increasing productivity.

There are several ISO management system standards (MSS) available for use by facility mangers; the purpose here is to highlight a few that impact facility management. When evaluating which one to implement, a good rule of thumb is to consider your organization’s business objectives, then determine which MSS will help you support the achievement of those goals. When implemented, applied and certified, management system standards can improve profitability, quality, service, organizational performance, client loyalty, brand reputation and much more.

Here are a few standards to consider:

ISO 9001 Quality Management Standard

Customer satisfaction is the cornerstone of ISO 9001. This MSS is grounded in the concept of continual improvement and is applicable to both product- and service-based enterprises. The standard guides organizations in identifying their customers — all those affected by the work performed by the organization and the expectations they have.

Quality is important to all organizations hoping to maintain a customer base, whether this is internal or external. ISO 9001 outlines the requirements for establishing a quality management system to control and manage organizational processes to increase customer satisfaction. Efficiency is another focus of the quality management system.

Efficient operations mean better process flow and control, with processes defined, aligned and understood by the whole organization as contributing to higher productivity and lower costs.

ISO 50001 Energy Management System Standard

Escalating energy costs and shifting environmental regulations are a challenge to any organization. ISO 50001 is the management system standard for designing an energy policy that enables each organization to maximize the effectiveness of its consumption.

The standard requires the development of an energy management plan that identifies and analyzes regulatory requirements, evaluates existing energy use and determines the energy baseline for the organization. Following the development of a policy and management plan, it guides implementation to initiate control measures over all high-energy consumption activities, information integration, document control and training curricula within the organization.

The implementation is where the rubber meets the road, and finally, where measuring and monitoring energy use, process and policy compliance, and legislative changes will ensure the energy management system continually meets goals and efficiency targets, but also identifies areas for improvement of the overall energy efficiency of the facility. Following ISO 50001, organizations will be able to determine which additional opportunities align with business goals and criteria when integrated into the energy management system.

When the organization’s core objectives are to conserve resources, positively impact climate change and save money, understanding what energy is being used and where it is being used through the implementation of this MSS enables facility managers to implement operational controls for efficiency and reduce energy waste while remaining compliant with regulatory laws and legislation changes. The identification and management of risks to rising energy costs and supply shortages is another benefit of developing an energy management system.

ISO 55001 Asset Management System Standard

The new international asset management standard, released in 2014, focuses on the full life cycle of facilities. The asset management system provides a framework for controlling, aligning, collaborating, optimizing and continually improving the processes for managing physical organizational assets. Optimizing the delicate balance between risk, cost and performance against organizational objectives and operational priorities can reduce the total cost of ownership, as well as provide an increase in reliability and operational stability for physical assets. ISO 55001 is intended to organize the continual improvement phases of the asset management system.

Implementing an asset management strategy requires a holistic enterprise transformation built on a foundation of organizational context, leadership, planning, support, operation, performance evaluation and continual improvement. This MSS describes the procedures required to meet the organizational objectives for managing the full life cycle of physical assets. It outlines what needs to be done, while leaving the development of how it needs to be done to each organization to determine.

More mature organizations that are ready to consider their operations and assets from a cradle to grave perspective will benefit from implementing ISO 55001.

ISO 14001

Environmental Management System Standard

Efficient use of resources and reduction of waste are of concern to every facility manager, and no professional is better positioned to understand and manage the relationship between natural resources and the environmental impact of every facility. The updated environmental MSS helps organizations align with current regulatory requirements and provides greater focus on the assimilation of environmental issues into the business management realm (both an inward and outward assessment), including employee and leadership engagement and supply chain management.

ISO 14001 steers organizations through the environmental performance labyrinth while maintaining the full life cycle, holistic approach. The environmental MSS aligns environmental performance with organizational objectives and strategic initiatives. This standard is framed under the same guidance structure that flows parallel to the plan-do-check-act format and incorporates identify, manage, monitor and control.

As with all ISO management system standards, the effect of implementing the ISO 14001 is realized in cost reductions and efficiency improvements. Companies whose brand is tied to strong corporate social responsibility initiatives will benefit from implementing this standard as it can result in a positive social impact.

ISO 22301

Societal Security: Business Continuity Management System Standard

Whether it’s an act of terrorism or a natural catastrophe, unexpected disasters can strike at any time. Because facility managers have responsibility for so much of the built environment, contingency planning and disaster recovery are familiar terms.

The advancement of these responsive plans has evolved into business continuity management (BCM) — a business led process for mitigating the adverse effects of disruptive events on society. The BCM MSS addresses a larger purview than just the internal organizational procedures during an emergency and includes considerations such as supply chain continuity, business partner continuity alignment and a plan for return to normal business operations.

Performance against plan, as well as continual improvement, are both requirements of this and all management system standards. Functional tests to validate continuity are required and may already be part of a facility manager’s emergency preparedness and operability plan, such as emergency generator testing.

There is no organization that cannot benefit from a plan that focuses on recovery from disruptive events, but if your organization’s core objectives are focused on maintaining service delivery through all supply chains, this standard is for you.

ISO 26000

Guidance on Social Responsibility

Facility managers across the globe are becoming increasingly aware of the need to operate in a socially responsible manner, including organizational policies and processes for operating and maintaining facilities. Businesses are dependent on the social and environmental networks that provide the opportunity for the organization to pursue their business mission. ISO 26000 provides a tool to assist organizations in developing operation and management models that contribute to a healthy environment, social equity and sustainable organizational processes.

As more organizations enter the international facility management zone, it is important to understand not only social, environmental, legal, political and cultural considerations, but also alignment with acceptable international norms and behaviors toward social responsibility. The seven core guidance sections within the standard include human rights, labor practices, the environment, fair operating practices, consumer issues, and community involvement and development.

Because ISO 26000 is not a management system standard and does not contain requirements, it cannot be certified against. It can however, be very valuable for understanding social responsibility and identifying stakeholders within the sphere of influence of the organization. Once these two fundamental issues have been realized, the standard provides additional guidance for integrating social responsibility throughout the organization and contributes to sustainable development. In partnership with ISO 14001 or ISO 50001, this guidance standard enables an organization to build a solid brand around a message of corporate social responsibility.

Why should FMs use standards?

The benefits of using international standards for facility managers are wideranging. From economic and performance improvements to best practice implementation and industry standardization — there are aspects of every management system standard that can help facility managers align with business priorities, provide decision making support to executive management, increase credibility and confidence from customers and stakeholders, prepare for unexpected events and realize continuous improvement.

The allocation of precious time and resources is well worth the effort of developing and implementing a management system, whether you choose to use a third party or take a do-it-yourself approach. The investment in developing organizational standards, even if you do not seek certification, not only results in more efficient operations and management of facilities, but also contributes to improved total cost of ownership, positive social impact and sustained business continuity.

Developing FM standards

The FM profession has a direct impact on the productivity of every individual who works in and around buildings and infrastructure. FM also plays a role in the security and quality of life of people around the world. Beginning in February 2014, ISO Technical Committee 267, chaired by Stan Mitchell representing the British Standards Institute, began work on an FM management system standard. ISO 41001 will enable “an organization to be able to demonstrate that it has a robust process through which to design, manage and improve its integrated facility management system.”

If you are interested in getting involved in the development of ISO FM standards, or for more information, contact Laverne Deckert at ifmastandards@ to help form the DNA of the FM profession of the future.



Casey MartinCasey Martin has more than 20 years of building industry experience and is currently engaged in the Asset Management Strategies practice at Jacobs Engineering. In this role, she consults with private and U.S. federal institutions, providing full life cycle perspectives throughout project development stages. Her approach considers important long-term views such as total cost of ownership, reliability-centered maintenance practices, operation strategies, and processes and policies to align asset management with business and mission objectives.

Laverne DeckertLaverne Deckert has been with IFMA since 2012 leading projects that focus on the strategic elements of FM. In her current role as product manager, she manages IFMA’s professional development programs for classroom delivery and instructor development as well as IFMA’s standards initiatives. Deckert served as project lead for IFMA’s publications, “Facility Management Trend Report: Emerging Opportunities for Industry Leaders,” “High Stakes Business: People, Property and Services,” and “Redefining the Executive View of Facility Management.” She also serves as the U.S. Technical Advisory Group Administrator on behalf of the American National Standards Institute for ISO/TC 267, Facilities Management.

FMJ, the official magazine of the International Facility Management Association (IFMA), is written by and for workplace professionals and is published six times a year. FMJ is the only magazine that draws on the collective knowledge of IFMA’s global network of thought leaders to provide insights on current and upcoming FM trends. For more information on FMJ, visit

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IFMA is the world’s largest and most widely recognized international association for facility management professionals, supporting 24,000 members in 104 countries. This diverse membership participates in focused component groups equipped to address their unique situations by region (133 chapters), industry (15 councils) and areas of interest (six communities). Together they manage more than 78 billion square feet of property and annually purchase more than US$526 billion in products and services. Formed in 1980, IFMA certifies professionals in facility management, conducts research, provides educational programs, content and resources, and produces World Workplace, the world’s largest series of facility management conferences and expositions. To join and follow IFMA’s social media outlets online, visit the association’s LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter pages. For more information, visit