Tackling Challenges in Nigeria’s Facilities Management Sector to Unlock Growth

Tackling Challenges in Nigeria’s Facilities Management Sector to Unlock Growth

By Mutiu Iyanda

In the last few years, the population increase and the growth in the real estate and construction industries have been the key drivers of FM growth throughout the world. In Nigeria, according to a recent report, the Integrated FM market in the industry is growing by 5%, while the global growth is 8.4%. The Total Facilities Management solutions segment is growing by 6.6% every year. Last year, the report indicated that the total market size of the public and private sectors’ FM needs was $3.3 million and $1.4 million respectively. During the year, the value of the Outsourced FM was $1.5 million, while in-house was $6 million.

Looking at the growth over the years, the sector performance has been more feasible in Lagos, Port-Harcourt and Abuja. These places are the mature markets of the sector in Nigeria. Like other sector in the country, though not really known by many, the sector is making significant contributions to the economy. In 2017, the sector employed 3.9% of 60.8 million workforces. In the same year, 16% of the FM sector workers were within the Outsourced FM segment, while 84% worked in the in-house segment. Despite the growth, the sector is not immune from various challenges and risks. These must be mapped and addressed by the key players.

The Challenges

The yearly growth of the sector is attracting quacks into it. Since the sector is having recognition challenge, some people and businesses cannot differentiate between property managers and facilities management providers. The quacks ply their trade more in the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning maintenance and cleaning segments than in the Integrated FM and Total FM segments. This remains a significant threat to the cost saving approach and offering of value-added solutions.

With the emergence of ISO 41001 FM Standards, a new challenge has been added to the sector’s Challenge Map. While most players in South Africa, Kenya and Egypt have been certified by the International Standardisation for Organisation, few companies have received the body’s certifications. According to the information on the websites of the FM companies, the certification has largely been ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 9001:2015, which emphasise quality management system. Nigerian companies are yet to be certified with ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems certification (EMS), ISO 50001 Energy Management Systems (EnMS), ISO 26000 Guidance on Social Responsibility, ISO 55001 Asset Management System Standard, ISO 22301 Business Continuity Management systems (BCM), OHSAS 18001 Occupational Health and Safety Management systems (OHSAS), Fire Risk Management System, Competence Management System and the Gas Safety Certification Scheme, available information reveals.

Check equally reveals that of the 223 companies with the Nigerian Industrial Standards 9001:2008, FM companies are not on the list. “Standardization will bring efficiency to FM operations by ensuring customer focus, leader’s commitment, monitoring and continuous improvement. Adhering to standards like ISO 14001 will enhance delivery of best value for clients and users,” Ishola Abass, GTP Global Resources’ Mechanical Engineer, said. Recently, mixed feelings from the professionals in the sector have once again emphasised the need for striking a balance between pricing and getting adequate funds from the clients. The arguments have been that FM providers do not always provide insightful issues on facilities to the clients, lack sustainable budget management, execution plan presentation and supply management knowledge. On the client-side, experts believe that businesses are not ready to provide an upfront budget for the management of their facilities.

New Konga
A warehouse

Apart from addressing these challenges with the right processes and tools, players and professionals need to deploy their resources towards the proper measurement of the sector in the country’s Gross Domestic Product quarterly calculation. Without making the authority see the reason for separating the sector from administrative services in the GDP calculation, the sector will remain undefined and continue to be one of the impeding factors for its full recognition in public and private lives. FM awareness in the private buildings is higher than in the public buildings despite a link in the FM practices in the two buildings. Insufficient educational institutions offering Facilities Management as a course at undergraduate level is another challenge players need to address. FM is being offered only at postgraduate level at the University of Lagos and Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. This gap is being bridged by few FM companies with their training arms. This remains inadequate considering the huge workforce the sector needs to manage soft and hard facilities across the country.

Unlocking the Growth

To really capture the manifest and latent values in the sector, players must address identified challenges. These challenges must be addressed with specific attention to the processes, people, solutions and technologies. As long as real estate and construction sectors are growing in addition to the water supply, sewage, waste management and remediation, electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply, administrative and support services sectors, FM sector will continue to expand.

However, it would be difficult to capture the values absolutely without finding solutions to the challenges. Unlocking the sector growth and capture the needed values require that FM companies imbibe data driven culture. The sector is missing a lot from not appropriating data for solutions delivery. Nigerian FM companies need to take a cue from the United Kingdom, the United States of America and other developed markets where big data are being used to manage soft and hard facilities intelligently. In these markets, big data is being appropriated to stay competitive, reduce business risks, maximise asset and equipment performance and enhance customer-oriented services.

By 2020 and 2021, some places in Lagos State are expected to be transformed into smart cities, forming much publicised Lagos Smart City –an attempt to establish a strong convergence between technology, economic development and governance. In these cities, companies with better data driven culture will survive the data storms from different facilities and people. A workable plan is needed to lure public sector into proper maintenance of public facilities across the country. Lagos, Kwara and Imo states are showing some level of readiness to accept the sector wholeheartedly with their pledge to ensure maintenance culture and set up facilities management agencies. Already, Kwara state has established Harmony Facilities Management Limited. FM providers in the mature markets need to see beyond their locations.

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