Connected FM

FM and ISO: Global Change at a Local Scale

Episode Summary

Today, we are sitting down with Duncan Waddell, Chairman of ISO TC 267 Facilities Management and Managing Director at FM Intelligence Party Ltd., alongside Adam Thordarson, Member of ISO/TC 267 and Director of Facilities Management at Bouldering Project. In this discussion, they delve into the intricacies of the ISO 41001 series of FM standards, shedding light on its pivotal role in defining strategic elements, tactical approaches, and operational delivery to help empower FM professionals to seamlessly align with the demands of their organizations while ensuring their facilities adhere to rigorous global standards.

Episode Notes

Today, we are sitting down with Duncan Waddell, Chairman of ISO TC 267 Facilities Management and Managing Director at FM Intelligence Party Ltd., alongside Adam Thordarson, Member of ISO/TC 267 and Director of Facilities Management at Bouldering Project. In this discussion, they delve into the intricacies of the ISO 41001 series of FM standards, shedding light on its pivotal role in defining strategic elements, tactical approaches, and operational delivery to help empower FM professionals to seamlessly align with the demands of their organizations while ensuring their facilities adhere to rigorous global standards.

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Resources Mentioned:

Episode Transcription

Duncan Waddell: [00:00:00] ISO 41001, which is the base document that people look to. So it's what is facility management all about? How, what does it embrace? And it sets up like many other management system standards that are evolved through ISO. It sets up the foundations of the way in which this profession practices its role, or delivers its outcomes for the demand organization, that is, organizations who require facilities so that people can Are able to integrate and do their jobs for the benefit of the demand organization.

Host: Welcome to Connected FM, a podcast connecting you to the latest insights, tools, and resources to help you succeed in facility management. This podcast is, brought to you by IFMA, the leading professional association for facility managers. If you are ready to grow your network and advance in your career, go to to get started. [00:01:00] Today, we're sitting down with Duncan Waddell, the chairman of ISO TC 267 and managing director at FM Intelligence Party, alongside Adam Thorderson, member of the ISO TC 267 and director of facilities management at Bouldering Project. In this discussion, they delve into the intricacies of the ISO 41001 series of FM standards shedding light on its pivotal role in defining strategic elements, tactical approaches, and operational delivery to help empower FM professionals to seamlessly align with the demands of their organizations while ensuring their facilities adhere to rigorous global standards. Now, let's get into it.

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IFMA's local chapters, industry councils, and communities of practice have opportunities for you to be as involved as you want to be, network, learn, and contribute. Visit to find your group.[00:02:00]

Adam Thordarson: Hey there, Duncan. I'm Adam Thordarson. I'm a Director of Facility Management for Bouldering Project and me and you get to work on the ISO TC 267 together. And I feel really excited to be able to kick off today and talk a little bit about ISO and FM and your experience and all of that.

Duncan Waddell: Thanks Adam, it was great to have you along and you know, get to know a bit about your journey in FM, but also for you to have the opportunity of leading others from around the world as well.

Adam Thordarson: Yeah, it was really wonderful to be able to do that. First, you know, to kick off here, could you. Give a little introduction of yourself, tell us a little bit about your experience, how you got into ISO, how you found yourself involved there.

Duncan Waddell: Sure, Adam, it's been a journey. I'm based in obviously Melbourne, Australia, which you know, but others may not.

And I've had the opportunity of traveling internationally, meeting many people from the facility management world. You know, all parts of the world [00:03:00] and have worked in many parts of the world, either advising conducting learning and development courses, or actually working in the capacity of facility management as a facility management professional.

I came into this field, like many of us, came into the field without any technical qualifications or direct facility management qualifications and It was through my exposure or a number of associations around the world in board leadership roles and management roles that I was able to take my business management experience.

And apply it to the world of facility management. When I first got involved in ISO, the International Standards Organizational Technical Committee 267, which is what we were leading by those acronyms, that particular committee looks after the development of standards and technical reports related to FN.

11 years ago, when the TC was formed, It was on the basis of trying to look to establish a professional base [00:04:00] for facilities management to aspire to. If you take other occupations around the world, such as the legal profession, the medical profession and many others, there is a management system and structure that is common around the world.

It might be practiced slightly differently because of laws and rules and regulations. But in essence, the manner in which tax laws or counting laws or medical laws and rules and the way you go through treatments, et cetera, are basically the same. So what we wanted to do was to have an aspirational goal of setting up a profession called facilities management.

And to that end, It was necessary to, for a set of common rules around the world that was agreed to by all practicing professionals and those within associated industries. So the first thing that was really developed and not in chronological order, but the first thing we did is we developed a management system standard, which is ISO 41, [00:05:00] 001, which is the bedrock.

That's the base document that people look to. So it's what is facility management all about? How, what does it embrace? And it sets up, like many other management system standards that are evolved through ISO. It sets up the foundations of the way in which this profession practices its role or delivers its outcomes for the demand organization.

That is, organizations who require facilities so that people Are able to integrate and do their jobs for the benefit of the demand organization. But we then went further at them. And when I first got involved in FN back in 1986, there were no structures. It was cobbled together. It wasn't structured. So the 41, 001 standard, yeah.

What's the baseline in place. And then we did a whole bunch of others as well. We put in place, how do you write an FN strategy? How do you write an FM [00:06:00] policy? What are the scope and the key concepts and the benefits of facility management? What's the vocabulary that's used in facility management? So those particular documents were all written as the basis of how does a newbie, someone who's coming into the industry, or someone who hasn't practiced with a consistent approach, take on this role and responsibility within their organization.

The other thing is that what's also happened is that facility managers are being held accountable and responsible at a far higher level within organizations. Right through to board level and a suite C suite level, there's a requirement for the facility manager to actively engage and take responsibility for things such as occupational health and safety, risk management, when it comes to the built environment and other such areas.

To do those things in a structured way and to demonstrate that you've done an appropriate methodology to deliver an outcome for organizations, you need to have a structure. [00:07:00] And basically the standards provide the basis for moving forward for someone who's coming into this field either as a new person or if they've been practicing in the past to bring it in line with a consistent internationally accepted way of doing business.

And I do consider that the management of facilities is a way of doing business. It's not just the regular sorts of things that we commonly just think that facility management is related to. It is a management skill first and foremost, and then is applied through the organization, through to delivery of the actual services and the responsibilities that we all have.

Adam Thordarson: You know, something you said there that was really interesting was that this lays down the bedrock or ground rules for new folks coming into facility management. And when we were getting ready for this podcast, we talked a little bit about facility management, the facility management value proposition, and then also facility management as a journey for the individual or pathways of learning and discovering new [00:08:00] things that fall in facility management.

And I mean, 11 core competencies, there's a lot to learn, right. And it's, and it takes a lifetime to, to learn it all. And how does ISO 41, 000 series support that journey specifically for the individual FM, and then also for that organization?

Duncan Waddell: Yeah, good question, Adam. I mean, there's probably a number of ways to do this.

I mean, facility management, as you and I have talked about sets at three levels within a management structure. There's a strategy that's developed. There's a tactical element that must be understood about how to get something done. And then there's the operational delivery side of things. So there's a pretty structured approach to it.

And what 41001 does is it sets out. At each of those management levels, what are the key things that need to be looked at? What are the key things that need to be considered? So it takes someone, the standards take someone on a journey. They take them on a learning journey. [00:09:00] And that learning journey is about, well, what do I need to think about as this relates to the demand organization at a board level and at shareholder level and at an employee level?

How does this relate to getting something actually done? And what's the structure I need to put in place to deliver something? And then it's about how do you get it out itself? So just get on with it and do it. And as a consequence, it's a matter of both things dovetailing into one another so that the journey can be a seamless one, not only for the facility management capacity, but also for those receiving and getting the benefits of a cell facility manager approach.

What this journey does, what the standards do is that I believe that they provide a seamless transition from start to finish. Then reviewed again through a quality control mechanism and then got getting on with the job and adapting things as businesses change, as economies change around the world. So the [00:10:00] journey that we also talk about, Adam, is not only related to how we do our work and the journey that we need to go through, but it's also how do we deal with things around the world.

In the evolutional facility management, so that's a journey in its own right. So if we start to look at even the journey that we've come through since 2020 with the pandemic impacting the globe, you know, it's changed a lot of things. And facility managers in many circumstances were responsible for overseeing.

Elements related to people and the built environment and how they should structure things in such a way to still one, maintain the value of the built environment that was leading to be managed in the short and medium term, as much as working with. The organization, so they act as best it could still operate.

And then finally, but not least is the protection and the safety of people, not only directly impacted by the built environment, but those who [00:11:00] are indirectly impacted such as contractors, third parties, and the like who are in the built environment as well. If you think about where we've come from, and if I think about my career coming from industrial manufacturing into the facilities world in 86, the journey since 1986 to 2023 is significant.

See, lots of things have changed. The way we communicate with one another, respect for one another, I think has dramatically changed and recognition of what needs to happen and how does the building environment play a role in supporting organizations and the value proposition that they're looking for.

Right down through to the things that are naturally being changed today through technology, data, and digitization, as well as sustainability, which is key and forefront most organizations minds at this point in time. Not only organizations, but government as well. So these standards have a major impact, not only at a, at a [00:12:00] commercial level through corporate delivery, but also through the way in which policies are set out and laid out by governments.

What are the rules of input? How best do we achieve things that governments aspire to achieve as well?

Adam Thordarson: Yeah, absolutely. You know, I, in my own experience creating a facility management program or a company, you know, the ISO 41000 standards give me something to reference against, right. It gives me a set of, all right, am I on track?

Am I missing any major boxes? Do I need to reallocate resources? Because I, you know, this is a pretty extreme example, but because I haven't created a health and safety system for my company or so on and so forth, it really helps me track along a consistent path that I know is vetted by an international committee of professionals and other stuff.

And the other thing you said that was interesting here [00:13:00] is. You talked a little bit about environment and technology. What are some of the new standards that, that the group is working on? Can you speak a little bit about them and how they partner with. Kind of the buzzword topics of ESG and technology.

Duncan Waddell: Yeah. Good question. It's funny the YDO corporate buzz language ends up becoming a bit of a drawback and they're all on the back to the facility management role. One of the reasons for that is that. Facility managers are obviously the ones who are responsible for delivering change within an organization.

And, you know, when it comes to sustainability, when it comes to uplifting the use of technology and the like, we need to somehow look, how do we incorporate these things within the way in which facility managers work? So one of the big drivers behind sustainability are the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals.

Generally it was referred to as the UASDGs.

ISO [00:14:00] is committed to supporting the U. N. SDGs, and so what we've done is that we've aligned our standards with the United Nations goals, and we actually are audited on our standards as to what impact our standards have on the key areas that are outlined by the United Nations. And I'm pleased to say 267 has a very high level of engagement across the 17 goals.

And we actually impact across 14 of those 17 goals. So organizations can automatically look to having some engagement and comfort in that the standards being produced already are recognized by the United Nations and across those 14 areas. Now, what's the upside to that? Sorry. Facility managers know that we've already built in the alignment with the United Nations goals, which [00:15:00] means that then the facility manager is able to demonstrate to the corporate that they're reporting to that they are already delivering in line with sustainable goals as outlined by you at the UN.

So that's one important thing. We already deal with things such as energy efficiency. We already deal with things such as looking at raw resources and resource management and waste management. And these things are all built into even the basic 41001 standard. So even though this is a relatively new buzzword, as you call it from a corporate sense, facility managers have been dealing with this for quite some time.

I'm pleased that the standards we currently have published, and are continuing to publish, will recognize the sustainability elements aspired to by recent COP agreements in Europe, as well as the United Nations. I think that just shows that, to be frank, facility [00:16:00] managers has to be on the front foot when it comes to these elements, and are able to demonstrate the compliance through the adoption of standards.

So, things are being done according to... The standards framework basically means you have really adopted an approach towards a sustainable outcome in whatever you're going to be doing. So an important question, Adam, and it's not necessary for anyone to go out and do something different. It's a matter of looking at the framework and then operating within that framework.

That's the important. We don't want standards to be hard work. We want them to be achievable. We don't want them to, we want them to become part of the way people do business. And that's the important thing that they're actually easily applied. And I simply, I'm sure,

Adam Thordarson: yeah, absolutely. Some of you said there about facility managers have already been doing this on the environmental side. Uh, you know, and, and one of the, what came up for [00:17:00] me is, well, yeah, we're a cost center for companies and beyond that, you know, and so we're already looking at utility bills month over month.

We're already looking at energy usage and the cost that comes through and ways to reduce that. And the way I see that standards coming up in TC 267 is. Okay, how do we align what we are already doing on the ground as FMs with best practices globally around the world? And I think that there's a lot of different definitions sort of floating around for DSG and, and there's a lot of different ways to tackle environmentally, uh, conscious initiatives within a demand organization.

And what I've been seeing so far, you know, as I see TC267 develop and the standards that are coming out provides a framework that I can line up, what are the services that I'm providing to this [00:18:00] demand organization as an FMO facility management organization? And am I checking all my boxes? Am I hitting the baseline of services?

Because that's really what ISO establishes is it's the baseline of here's what every FMO should have. And the environmental side of things is a part of that as well. And we have those standards coming out to support that kind of work, which we are, once again, as a newer FM, it's not as daunting. I know in the back of my mind that I've got something.

To align with in the initiatives that the demand organization want

Duncan Waddell: to take. I just wanted to point out that, you know, this world has decided that one of the things that's really frustrating, I think, for the facility manager is that everyone jumps on the budget, everyone, what's the latest tree, what's going on.

As, as you and I have both acknowledged, how many managers have been doing this for a long time. And I also want to pick you up on [00:19:00] a point you said before that we're a cross sector. Yes, we've seen as a cross sector within a corporate structure, there's no question about it. However, I think the thing that needs to be measured is the value that this cross sector provides.

So, in other words, if we can demonstrate the value by putting in certain frameworks and operational procedures, that then makes more meaningful or has a more meaningful impact for the C suite or for the demand organisation in aspirationally seeking to adopt a sustainable future. There is a technical report that we will publish by the end of the year called The Role of EDD in Sustainability, Resilience and Adaptability.

That should be out in November or December of this year. So we recognize that there is the need for this to move forward. And what we've done is we, the research that's been done by that particular group has been significant. And we think that we've got a framework that we can provide to facility managers to [00:20:00] demonstrate the value that they are providing, rather than

So I think that's really important.

Adam Thordarson: Yeah. It's sort of the, the evolution of Envvm. I think that, you know, you did make, you made a good point that it used to be a call center and in a lot of organizations, it's still viewed that way. And what we're seeing is that there's these tools coming out and these frameworks that transform that narrative around facility management towards a Seat at the table and a strategic partner within the organization.

Can you speak a little bit to the technology aspect?

Duncan Waddell: Nope. My view on technology is that everyone wants to be involved in it because it's the shining new toy on the block. The problem is my experience is in the corporate world, everyone wants to talk to it, to adopt it, and to use it. But no one's prepared to fund it.

It's hard for the facility manager to go and get the investment to be made to support [00:21:00] the initiatives that might be available, the opportunities that might be available for them. What we've done is that there will be a report that will be published again by the end of the year on, through our working group that looks at digital data and technology.

And we've identified an overview of available technologies for the facility manager. And we talk about things such as. What is the definition of technology as it relates to facility management? What are the golden thread initiatives? Uh, the asset and facility management application. What's the interfacing requirements?

What's the optimization of systems that can occur? And what are the FM technology drivers? Leave, leave aside the corporate technology platform. What is the FM technology drivers? You know, it's getting to the stage, Adam, where we got to have, we won't have a building information model. I will actually end up with a facility management information model because this whole area that we're involved in is about the combination of [00:22:00] people and the built environment.

So go and look at embracing both those areas and it's significant in its complexity. However, there are systems there to make it easier for us to deliver our outcome. So we recognize that. So the first step in the water for us, first toe in the water for us is this overview document, which will be out by the end of the year.

And then there's a view that we will move on to further exploration of new standards as related to technology and facility management.

Adam Thordarson: Absolutely. You know, and, and I'm a part of that working group. Is working on that technical report. And, you know, personally, my experience has been that, like you said, in the corporate world, it is difficult to sometimes get buy in and also on the same side of the, or on the other side of the coin, starting wherever makes the most sense for your demand organization is the perfect place to start.

Like starting small, starting with those [00:23:00] initiatives, starting somewhere. And, and I've found just in my personal experience. Is that, you know, if I start somewhere with a low buy in, high return technology, I can get a proven kind of track record and use case for technology implementation and further bought in stakeholders and more support on the corporate and from that executive suite.

And I can snowball those initiatives into larger and larger kind of technological initiatives across the organization. And it's. It sort of takes starting where I'm at, right? It's it takes starting with something small and achievable. We're going to run out of time here pretty soon here, but I did want to wrap up or talk here with a question for you, Duncan.

You know, I've only got about six years in the profession, I'm six feet in, I'm, you know, [00:24:00] completely submerged in FM at this point. And if you were going to talk to a service provider in the industry, What would you tell them to get them interested in ISO, to, to wear their hat in the ring, to be part, to be a part of?

Duncan Waddell: Wow. I suppose it's going to depend on the audience, but I'll take the leash from your question. What would I tell them? I'd tell them that they want to have a satisfying engagement, an engagement where bang can be provided to the end user and it's. Demonstrable. And as a consequence, they have the opportunity of a commercial return.

I'd be saying to a third party, you need to get involved. You get out of something once you're put in and you've got to put in first. That's why you, and you pretty quickly realize that there's going to be a return. It'll happen fairly promptly. So. If you get it, you will get it, and that can come from personal satisfaction, it can come from profit, it can come from earning a salary, it can come from working with others and mentoring [00:25:00] them and helping them understand how to do a better job, bringing new people in to the industry and the profession, and it could also help people identify what the journey is up ahead at.

Emily, 10 years time? to use AI to do the work that's been done today? What are the 50 percent of the new jobs that will emerge in the next five years that don't exist to date with the facility management? What are the tasks that will become automated, completely automated, machine reading, all those sorts of elements.

And the only way I anticipated and the world with a like mind and jumping on board. And the way that can happen is through your own association, through your chapter. It can happen through the international states. So there's many ways to participate, but you've got to be willing to put in to get out and to get involved and become such a great deal of personal satisfaction in my opinion, but it also [00:26:00] means that you're helping a profession for the future.

And I think that leaves a lasting legacy for the world and the management of facilities in general. Absolutely.

Adam Thordarson: I couldn't agree more, Duncan. Well, it's been great chatting with you. Thank you so much for the time.

Duncan Waddell: It's always a delight, and you bring a fresh approach and a fresh view, and the future of FN belongs to you it's great to have you involved at the ISO table, and I look forward to seeing you again soon at our next workgroup meetings.

Adam Thordarson: Thank you, look forward to seeing you too, Duncan.

Host: Thank you so much for listening. I hope you really enjoyed this episode, and as always, please don't forget to rate, review, and subscribe to the podcast for more incredible content.