How Facilities Management can embrace the digital age

In KEY’s guest blog for CENSIS -Scotland’s Innovation Centre for Sensor and Imaging Systems- we set out how Facilities Management (FM) can embrace the digital age.  This piece outlines our takeaways and learnings from speakers at CENSIS’s  4th Tech Summit from the perspective of the FM Community.

Facility managed by KEY features in Scottish Award for Quality in Planning 2017

Nucleus, the  Nuclear and Caithness Archives, has featured in a prestigious Scottish Government awards event as Highland Council won a prize in the Scottish Awards for Quality in Planning 2017.  KEY has provided ongoing facilities management services for Nucleus since 2015, including through the design and mobilisation phases (read the Case Study here).

The Quality in Planning awards are part of the Scottish government’s Planning and Architecture Division, and highlight excellence in all areas of the planning process, from initial processing to how individual projects utilise the themes of Place and Partnership.

The archive, located in Wick, Caithness, featured in the Place category, reflecting not only its position in the surrounding landscape but also socio-economic considerations including bringing much needed employment to the area.  A panel of four judges shortlisted 22 projects overall, and Nucleus takes its place amongst other significant legacy project winners.

The Nucleus building has a distinctive triangular shape, and makes maximum use of natural light in its public spaces.  The archive points due north, and is surrounded by seeded wildflower meadows.


Owned by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) the Nucleus archive, opened to the public in February 2017.  The archive provides a consolidated location for the records of the UK’s civil nuclear industry, as well providing a home for the Caithness archive, a local collection which dates back to the 14th century.

The judges commented that:

Nucleus was a wonderful, strong and robust piece of architecture. There was no doubt that it was built to last – which was an important factor in considering its precious cultural and built heritage contents

KEY’s Senior Facilities Manager responsible for the Nucleus contract, Stewart Lackie, said:

KEY Facilities Management congratulates the Highland Council on winning this prestigious Scottish Government award for Quality in Planning.  We continue to be very proud to be part of the team at Nucleus.  Nucleus is an iconic building that we agree reflects not only its position in the surrounding Caithness landscape but also socio-economic considerations bringing much needed employment to the area.

Nucleus is a key part of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s mission to preserve and safeguard vital knowledge for future generations. The archive is operated on behalf of the NDA by Restore Plc for whom KEY provides document and facilities management services.

Read the Case Study about KEY’s services for the Nucleus Facility.

Profile of Jorge Diniz: KEY Portugal Facilities Manager

Continuing this month’s Portuguese focus, we’re in sunny Lisbon for a conversation with Jim Yorston, KEY’s Chief Operations Officer, and our Portugal Facilities Manager: Jorge Diniz.  Our aim is to learn more about Jorge, who is a cornerstone of the country’s operations.

Photo of Jorge Diniz: KEY Portugal Facilities Manager

Jorge Diniz: KEY Portugal Facilities Manager

Jorge is an exemplar of KEY’s capacity for spotting and nurturing internal talent.  (A factor which helped us become the UK’s first Facilities Management business to win an Investor in People Award!).

Jorge’s story is typical of several members of our Management Team, who having joined KEY, have won promotion through their efforts and furthered their careers.  When we first met Jorge, he was in a junior position.  KEY had won a major new Portuguese contract, and he was working for the incumbent Facilities Management provider.

Speaking about their first meeting, Jim said:

“When I arrived in Lisbon for the contract mobilisation, I was appalled at what I found.  I made my feelings known to the incumbent provider.  I then parked myself in the same office as Jorge, to get a handle on things and develop our alternative corporate governance model.  While Jorge’s English wasn’t great, his enthusiasm was clear from the outset.  So too was his eagerness to understand what I was doing.”

According to Jorge, this interest was motivated by his frustration at the way the contract has been managed to date:

“I had a manual role, but could plainly see thing weren’t being conducted in the interests of the client or best practice.  There wasn’t even a maintenance schedule.  How can you claim management responsibility if you don’t even know what to do day-to-day, let alone how or when to do it?”

Over their 3-month office-share, Jim’s respect for Jorge’s talents continued to grow:

“Putting together the budgets, – for cleaning, security, lift maintenance etc. – , Jorge consistently produced excellent data on spend. He also proved a very effective translator, and was invaluable in negotiations with the existing provider and supply chain.  My confidence in his potential grew and by the end of that period, I knew he was the guy I wanted to appoint.”

On his side, Jorge was also impressed by KEY’s approach:

“KEY had a very different culture to anything I’d been used to.  It was clear that they were very much about sharing knowledge, delegating responsibility and empowering people. In prior roles budgets were always kept secret, so we never had any idea of the scope of what I could do.  KEY’s openness meant the team always had the details they needed to deliver their very best for the client.


When KEY made me an offer, I was genuinely surprised and a little nervous.  However, I had in my mind lots to do and a wide field to improve. I knew it was a great opportunity, that I’d get the support I needed and that I’d enjoy working with the team.”

However, not everyone shared KEY’s belief in Jorge’s abilities at first.  As Jim puts it:

“There was a nervousness at our strategy from the client at such a bold move to promote Jorge and give him some significant aspects of responsibility within the contract,  As the delivery of the contract was ultimately our responsibility we took the decision despite many voices suggesting it was high risk.


I am glad to say that we’ve been proved right!  Jorge has become a True Facilities Manager who continues to grow and develop in his role and who we truly consider a safe pair of hands with whom we trust our reputation and contractual responsibilities.  That we have retained the contract based upon our performance is down in part to the role Jorge has played on our behalf.


Particularly notable is the care and attention he gives to the employee experience. 


On that first contract, Jorge quickly transformed a workplace in bad shape into one where staff enjoyed coming to work.  On the way, he has become a fluent English-speaker and has demonstrated imagination and great people skills, –everyone likes him.  There’s no question that his innovations, – from developing healthier canteen menus to radically improving air quality – , have promoted workplace wellbeing and productivity.”

Well done, Jorge!  So, over to you for any closing statements you would like to make?

“For one, thanks Jim!  For two, I would like to say that whilst working for KEY, it has become clear to me that ‘Facilities Management’ is a term used very inaccurately in Portugal.  Many companies say they provide Facilities Management, when in fact they just provide workers. 


Here at KEY, we provide True Facilities Management –a strategic management discipline which seeks to improve operations by optimising all dimensions of an organisation: people, place, process and technology.


My goal is for KEY Portugal to introduce True FM to more of my country and people: to demonstrate this difference, and the real savings and value it represents for any business.” 

Hear, hear!  If you’re located in Portugal or the surrounding region and think you might benefit from KEY’s True FM approach, then contact us now on

Final Countdown to ISO 41001: Malaysia Update

In the last week of September, the final plenary meeting was held in the countdown to ISO 41001.  ISO 41001 is shortly to become the world’s first international management systems standard for Facilities Management (FM).

The new ISO standards are a response to the rapid expansion and fragmentation of FM worldwide.  This led to increasing demand for a unified global FM community to maintain the quality and integrity of the profession.  In 2011, ISO Technical Committee 267 was set-up to develop the standards, led and chaired by KEY’s CEO, Stan Mitchell.

The plenary meeting took place in Kuala Lumpur.  It followed on from the 3rd Malaysia Europe FM Conference, where Stan was a keynote speaker.

The discussion was hosted in fine style by Standards Malaysia.  The venue was the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, situated next to Petronas Towers, the world’s tallest twin-towered skyscraper.

Photo of Petronas Towers - highest twin skyscraper in the world

Petronas Towers

The Committee warmly welcomed three new participating members, Russia, Colombia and Poland.  It was generally agreed this was a great sign for the future of the project.

Group photo of ISO Technical Committee 267

Group photo of ISO TC 267 with new members

First on the agenda was the standing down of Working Groups 1 and 2.  These were responsible for facilitating the publication of FM’s first ever international standards earlier in 2017.  Specifically, the standards were ISO 41011 (FM vocabulary) and ISO 41012 (strategic sourcing and agreements), and a technical report, ISO 41013 (FM scope, key concepts and benefits).  The respective leaders of both groups, Jay Drew and Olav Egil Sæbøe, were commended for “a fantastic job”.

ISO TC 267 deep in discussion

ISO TC 267 – deep in discussion

The foremost item on the busy agenda was Working Group 3’s Management Systems Standard ISO 41001.  Past Chair of IFMA and group leader, Jim Whittaker, facilitated a review of feedback from the standard’s public consultation.  Members then worked on sketching out a communications strategy and road map.  The discussion constituted the final leg of ISO 41001’s long development.

Photo of ISO TC 267 Chair, Stan Mitchell

ISO TC 267 Chairman, Stan Mitchell

The meeting closed on Friday September 29th with unanimous support from the 13 member countries present for ISO TC 267 for Working Group 3 to press ahead and complete their work.  The goal is to launch this revolutionary standard in the first quarter of 2018.

Some key team members took their high spirits even higher with a trip up to the sky bridge between the Petronas Towers. (Many thanks to Abg Madu for the photo which perfectly expressed the mood of the moment!).

High Spirits: ISO TC 267 members on the skybridge between the Petronas Towers

High Spirits: ISO TC 267 members on the skybridge between the Petronas Towers

International Standardization and Professionalization of Facility Management

A US interview with Stan Mitchell, KEY’s CEO, on the international standardization and professionalization of facility management.  The interview was for Kayrell Connections’ series of podcasts with global FM Innovators.

Interviewer, Mike Petrusky, asks Stan about music, the Loch Ness Monster, his career and the huge implications of ISO 41001.  ISO 41001 is FM’s first global management systems standard and is due for launch early 2018.

Attending IFMA World Workplace 2017 in Houston later this month?  Then check out Stan’s co-presentation on the new ISO Standards on Friday, October 20, 2017, 9:15-10:15am at the George R. Brown Convention Center.

If you’re interested in KEY’s work and views, we welcome you to follow us on Linkedin, Twitter or Facebook.

Risk Aversion: Barrier to and Driver of Smart FM

This article argues that the inherent risk aversion of the Facilities Management (FM) profession, which to-date has been a barrier to the adoption of smart FM technologies, in 2017-18 is becoming one driver of a sea change.

The Smart Revolution: so what’s the holdup?

Consensus is building that we’ve reached the tipping point in the use of the Internet of Things (IoT).

The basic conditions necessary for a smart technology revolution have been in place for several years.

On the side of the technologists, increasing competition and investment have fuelled rapid evolution in the affordability, usability and connectivity of sensors and platforms.

On the client side, there has been a corresponding growth in awareness of the promise of smart operations to deliver those efficiencies and marginal gains upon which c21st success depends.

The holdup has been the lack of a party with sufficient understanding of the technology, and the clients’ needs and operations, to weave solutions that deliver on this promise.

Inherent Risk Aversion as a Barrier to Smart FM

Clearly, FM is best equipped and placed to fulfil this role.  There is also increasing pressure for us to do so.  IoT is quickly becoming a client expectation both within existing contracts and the tendering process.

Nevertheless, FM is an inherently conservative profession, underpinned by the principle that ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.  This is particular so in challenging economic times such as these.

While technology has become central to our toolkit, FM is often a hidden laggardly influence in the adoption curve.  Many providers are driven reluctantly by client demand, not by intrinsic innovation.

In the case of IoT, this resistance is exacerbated by implications more radical and haunting than previous technologies.

There are concerns around ownership, security and unproven technology.  Deeper still, there are existential questions around FM’s role and purpose in a world where buildings effectively manage themselves.

The explicit and implicit threats are non-trivial, not least wholesale restructuring, downsizing, and loss of control and expertise.

Facilities Managers 'Minding the Gap' between smart technology providers and the market.

Are Facilities Managers ‘minding the gap’ between smart FM technology and the client?

On these bases, we attribute the failure of smart FM to go mainstream already, in part, to the risk aversive nature of FM.

Risk Aversion as a Basic Principle of FM

Nevertheless, in the arena of operations, risk aversion is one of FM’s basic principles.  We assess and mitigate risk, and implement processes to ensure that failure events have minimum impact on business continuity.

It is in the area of risk management that IoT aligns best with the conservative FM mind-set.

Smart sensors offer an affordable, quickly implemented solution for remotely monitoring critical assets and environments.  This application enables Facilities Managers without threatening to change them.  It also allows them to take a low-risk first step into the world of IoT, and to learn about the technology and its win-win benefits for FM and clients.

Once that step’s taken, there’s no turning back!

Risk Aversion as a Driver of Smart FM

Unsurprisingly, therefore, risk management is one area where we are seeing an acceleration in the adoption of smart FM technologies.  This is particularly apparent in the food and manufacturing sectors, and also as a mechanism to plug risky gaps in business information systems.

There is also a growing trend for looking beyond the measurement of discrete variables such as temperature, humidity and vibration. The new frontier is to understand the complex behaviour of specific assets and environments. The goal is to predict and resolve business critical issues before they occur.

The major advances to-date are in farming, for example, to monitor disease in cattle, the quality of the shellfish marine environment, and the interior conditions of beehives.  Smart sensors are also being developed which can pre-empt breakdown of cars and and even the human body!!

It is inevitable that similar context-specific condition-based monitoring will become integral to planned preventative maintenance and FM.  It is proposed one catalyst for this transformation is and shall be the management of business continuity risk.


This article has argued that, paradoxically, FM’s inherent risk aversion is both a barrier to and underlying driver of the mainstream adoption of smart technologies.  A catalyst for the shift from the former to the latter is proposed to be FM’s recognition of the value of IoT for ensuring business continuity.

Check out KEY’s case studies on our application of smart technologies for the management of business critical assets and environments.

Listen to a podcast on the future of smart technologies for risk management and FM from Gordon Mitchell, KEY’s Chief Information Officer.

For more KEY views, updates and insights follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.