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The history of facility management

Facilities management (FM) started as little more than janitorial and caretaker services during the 1970s, involving building maintenance and cleaning. Cost cutting by businesses in the 1970’s and 80’s led to the outsourcing of non-core services such as lighting, heating, plumbing being outsourced to facility management companies.

In the 1990’s services such as property management, space planning, relocation were added, and in the 2000s business processes including payroll and human resources were added to the service list. These ‘integrated facility services’ gained increasing market share over individual service providers. The FM market has gradually increased to a very broad sector encompassing building, staff and business services in the present day.

It now comprises “a mix of in-house departments, specialist contractors, large multi-service companies and consortia delivering the full range of design, build, finance and management”, according to the British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM).

FM is still evolving and becoming more complex as companies seek to add more services and revenue to contracts. There is not even universal agreement what exactly FM covers, or doesn’t cover. Almost every facilities, or facility, management organisation has its own definition, which reflects the diverse nature of the sector. There was no single route of evolution as different countries and companies added services according to local demand and capabilities.

In some countries facilities management evolved out of property/real estate companies, others from service providers.

Facility management is now generally divided into hard and soft services:

Hard services

  • Building structure maintenance
  • Air conditioning
  • Energy and water management
  • Lift and escalator
  • Lighting
  • Fire safety
  • Plumbing and drainage
  • Decoration and refurbishment

Soft services

  • Cleaning
  • Security
  • Car parking
  • Pest control
  • Waste disposal
  • Recycling
  • Catering
  • Furniture and equipment
  • Information systems
  • Printing
  • Document management
  • Reception services
  • Space management
  • Grounds maintenance

The definition of facilities management by CEN, the European Committee for Standardisation, which is ratified by BSI British Standards (EN15221-1: 2006 Facility Management — Part 1: Terms and definitions), is:

“Facilities management is the integration of processes within an organisation to maintain and develop the agreed services which support and improve the effectiveness of its primary activities.”

This has also been adopted by all EU member states, including BIFM and Euro FM. The CEN definition of FM classifies facilities products into two categories:

  • Space and Infrastructure: eg design, construction, occupancy management, building operations, maintenance, furniture, equipment, cleaning.
  • People and Organisation: eg health services, catering, event management, hospitality, security, safety, human resources, logistics, office supplies, document management, accounting.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) simplified the range of activities defined in the standard BS EN 15221-4 as:


  • Catering;
  • Cleaning: internal and external, pest control;
  • Document management;
  • Front of house;
  • Maintenance: internal and external;
  • M&E: air conditioning, fire alarms, lifts, lighting, UPS systems;
  • Security;
  • Staff welfare & facilities;
  • Telecoms;
  • Utilities;
  • Waste management;
  • Workplace management.


  • Administration, asset registers, records, archives;
  • Business continuity and risk management;
  • Compliance;
  • Contract management;
  • Corporate social responsibility;
  • Sustainability;
  • Customer management;
  • Financial services;
  • FM Team;
  • ICT;
  • Networking;
  • Performance management;
  • Procurement;
  • Strategy;
  • Workplace.

Real estate

  • Occupational and financial strategy;
  • Asset strategy and management;
  • Transactions;
  • Capital projects;
  • Business agility;
  • Leasehold management;
  • Operating cost management.

The oldest association for FM companies, the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) was founded in 1980 and now consists of 24,000 members in 10‚Äč4 countries, who purchase more than US$526 billion annually in products and services (IFMA).

The European FM market alone is now estimated to be worth €640 billion and ranging from 5-8% of GDP in individual countries, while the global market is estimated to grow to $US1.3 trillion by 2018 (ISS, 2014).

The trend in the mature markets — led by the UK — is for a progression from single services, to bundled services and further to integrated facilities management. This offers wider scope of services provided and longer-term contracts, which add value and are driving better quality and economies of scale (pwc, 2014). In turn, this is also increasing the demand for outsourced services where specialist expertise is required


BIFM. Facilities management introduction. (link, accessed 12 Sept 2016)

Euro FM.

FMA Australia. 2012. Facilities Management. Good Practice Guide. Melbourne, Facility Management Association of Australia. ABN: 57 003 551 844.

ISS. 2014. Perspectives on the FM market development. ISS White Paper.

pwc. 2014. Facilities management. A quiet revolution.

Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. 2013. Strategic facilities management. RICS guidance note.

Key account management

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