A new research report from the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) identifies industry patterns to look for, skill sets to develop, and places to allocate resources.

Developed from a trend-forecasting workshop involving a panel of industry experts and broader industry research, “Facility Management Forecast – Exploring the Current Trends and Future Outlook for Facility Management” identifies 10 key trends:

Externally driven (dictated by societal and other factors)

1. Sustainability's continued growth in importance and prominence worldwide. Organizations have begun to incorporate sustainability into business goals and culture, and within the profession, it has moved from an emphasis primarily for new construction to influencing existing-building operations.

2. Increased opportunities and challenges presented by complex building systems and controls. The industry can leverage new technologies to better manage facilities, but it also needs to ensure adequate training is in place to educate practitioners on new systems.

3. Problems stemming from aging building stock—difficulties compounded by the global recession. As facilities and mechanical systems reach and exceed their expected operating lives, significant issues of “repair or replace” must be addressed.

4. The increasingly critical role of facility managers in business continuity after a disrupting event.

Internally driven (derived from within the profession)

5. Challenges and opportunities presented by the increasing quantity and complexity of data available through new reporting protocols. More facility departments are able to convert raw data into usable and meaningful information.

6. The increasing importance of finding top talent. Recognizing facility management often is not the first choice of today’s graduates, the profession will need to increase its branding and outreach.

7. The growing desire to improve the recognition and perceived value of facility management within the corporate hierarchy. Many have achieved success in this arena through careful alignment with their organization’s mission and by emphasizing facility professionals’ role as managers of significant assets and enablers of an organization’s mission, vision, and values.

Organizationally driven (derived from corporations and organizations housing facility departments)

8. The need for an evolving skill set to accommodate expanding expectations of facility management. While the technical aspects of facility management generally are well-understood, an increased focus on business acumen requires facility professionals to think and act strategically and to communicate their positions in the language of chief executives.

9. The growing recognition that facility management contributes to the health and well-being of building occupants, thereby benefiting efficiency, productivity, and profitability.

10. Changing work styles. Facility management increasingly faces challenges posed by open-work-plan arrangements, differing hours of operation, and varying occupancy rates and densities—all of which impact power use and other considerations.

“The 2011 ‘Facility Management Forecast’ presents what we see as the critical issues facing the profession,” IFMA President and Chief Executive Officer Tony Keane, CAE, said. “It not only serves a needed strategic-planning purpose, but also highlights areas the industry needs to pay attention to. With advances in technology and the growing recognition of sustainable practices, being aware of the trends in this report is critical to the success of the FM professional of the future.”

The report was developed in partnership with Business Integration Group and VFA and is available for purchase online.