FM needs to meet demands of master-planned projects

Fatih Kaka, director of Serco Innovation, talks to Angela Giuffrida about the evolution of facilities management in the region, and how Serco is well placed to continue its local domination of the sector.

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By  Angela Giuffrida Published  March 4, 2006

|~|111int200.gif|~|The development of major new freehold communities throughout the Gulf demands a new FM approach, according to Serco director, Fatih Kaka.|~|How long has Serco been operating in the Middle East, and how has it nurtured its business here?

Serco Ltd has been in the Middle East for over 50 years, providing a wide range of services and assistance to Dubai, the UAE and the region, in the field of operational management under a wide portfolio of Serco-branded companies.

Serco has formed several partnerships with other companies in the region to enhance and develop operational facilities management. For example, Serco Gulf — Serco’s joint venture with Istithmar, providing facilities management operations and maintenance.

What kind of needs has Serco identied in the market, and how has the company strived to meet them?

Serco has recognised that an evolving market needs more than just facilities operations and maintenance. There has been an obvious need to provide early expertise, advice and guidance to influence building design in order to improve operational efficiency and reduce maintenance and service cost over the life of the building — thus the creation of Serco Innovation.

Serco Innovation provides facilities management consultancy. It involves operational advice and client support on all aspects of development and business, facility and property management and operations. In gaining an understanding of our clients’ objectives, we build on the client’s vision to structure and develop management and operational strategies and services, in order to minimise facilities maintenance costs and maximise service quality.

Serco Innovation looks at both the project and development with its supporting infrastructure and surroundings, to overcome some of the issues that many projects face or will face post-construction, and during the first years of occupation and use.

The concept of facilties management in the Middle East seems to be taking off. How do you see the industry evolving over the coming years?

We are seeing FM concepts and practises in the GCC evolving faster than other parts of the Middle East, stemming from an unprecedented building boom. The concept of FM has various definitions within a growing market with international influences.

In the coming years, GCC countries will see FM starting to manage multiple city-wide freehold communities. These will require fully integrated management and operational services, working with owners’ associations, centralised service centres, utility consumption management, operational costs and the management of service charges.

The FM industry will need to evolve new solutions to meet these challenges in a changing environment, within a culture and tradition of customer service and hospitality.

Which projects are you involved in?

We work with companies within the public and private sector throughout the GCC. Serco Innovation’s portfolio is extensive and we are very proud of it.

With the market being relatively new, what kind of obstacles does Serco Innovation encounter?

On a daily basis we face a variety of issues, these include a lack of understanding of the facilities management scope, undefined long-term vision and objectives and late engagement.

What does the company do to overcome these issues?

Serco Innovation works with the client in sharing our knowledge and expertise on FM and operational management, enabling the client to develop their project and align it with their long-term vision and objectives. Through our previous success and growing portfolio our clients now engage us earlier as they appreciate this maximises the benefits our early involvement brings.

When it comes to achieving long-term sustainability of building projects in the region, what are the things that developers need to consider most?

Sustainability is not just about the building and its lifespan. Consideration must also be given to the sustainability of the community that is being created. Developers in this region need to consider their future role and involvement over the life of the project, and the balance between a project’s long-term operational cost and the cost of construction.

For long-term sustainability, it’s important that the developer has the vision of the end game, and continues to communicate that vision to the people involved in delivering the project.

What are the key health and safety and environmental issues affecting construction in the region?

Certain key issues we see are: The lack of early recognition of the impact of construction and its environmental and health and safety impacts; building efficiency and long-term energy conservation to minimise operational costs; lack of contractor public health facilities; and pest control. ||**||

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