Call me old fashioned, but I’d respond and say “as soon as possible” but then that becomes rather subjective and different in the eyes of who is asking the question. So what is good practice then? In fact, is there any good practice {in the NZ context}?

The UK’s Soft Landings framework goes someway to offer a mandated approach (but some may say lightweight) to ensuring a collaborative approach between the Main Construction Contractor and the FM Services Provider. It offers a structure that starts very early in the design process and ends some three years after commencement of operations. Outstanding!… a process that forces the Construction Contractor to talk about and plan for facility operation whilst there is still time to make a difference.

However, I fear that we are missing a vital opportunity here to engage the services of experienced FM and Property Managers during early design to add further value in whole of life trade-offs, maintenance planning, BIM Execution Planning, Business Management System planning and safety in design to name but a few.

Considering that c70% of expenditure is on Operation and Maintenance (O&M) for a building over 40 years and c20% is for Capital Costs (c10% then being the cost of finance), it seems commercially immature to focus only on the design and build content and then leave the O&M planning to a time when whole of life opportunities are lost.

So, having articulated the problem, what’s the solution? Should we engage an FM Service Provider in the Design Process so that they can collaborate and share their experiences with a construction focussed design team? Or, is it safer and/or more convenient to wait until, say 6 months before construction completion, to bring on board an ‘FMer’?

I’m battling a bit here, because I see rare evidence of a lifecycle planning approach to Design, Build and Operation in NZ and as such feel as though we are missing out on value for money gains.

So, are there any good case studies and experiences where an FM Service Provider has had a contracted opportunity to offer their services in the design process? Spread the news and others might follow and all that,

Perhaps it’s time to value the input that FM Service Providers and Advisers can give during design and perhaps it’s time to elevate the importance of whole of life thinking, and walk the walk that our international colleagues have followed for some time.

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