It’s 2062. Or is it?

For the third and final part of our holiday humour trilogy we move from the past to the future. Content after his New Year dinner and with a couple of glasses of claret on board, ThatConsultantBloke (TCB) is half asleep on the sofa doing his emails when he inadvertently clicks on a link and his video messaging software kicks into life. A silhouetted figure appears on his VDU;

TCB:       Er, hello?

Other Person (OP)          You are through to the Global Institute of Business Infrastructure Management, how may we help?

TCB:       I’m not sure. I clicked on a link in my email about speaking at your conference.

OP:         Yes, I see now. You were very active in the old Facilities Management arena and we were looking for someone to give our members some idea of just how much progress we have made, but also to see if there were lessons that we could learn from history.

TCB:       I’m not sure I follow you. I am still very active in FM.

OP:         Perhaps you are, but you are in 2012 and we are in 2062. That is why you may have problems seeing me as you will be on an old version of Windows.

TCB:       So you are 50 years ahead! My goodness! So how do you guys work with the likes of BIFM and IFMA?

OP:         These were absorbed long since and the GIBIM was formed from them.

TCB:       So you don’t call what we do FM any more then?

OP:         No. No-one really understood what FM was about and, in any case, Facilities was not a good expression. Did you not have a saying “Can I use your Facilities” as a euphemism for the toilet? What credibility could we expect naming a profession after a lavatory?

TCB:       (laughing) Well, the architects always used to say “Here come the janitors” whenever we arrived at a meeting!

OP:         Architects! They have learned their place in the scheme of things now. They do what they are told and we have few problems with them these days.

TCB:       So how do things work in FM, sorry, BIM now?

OP:         It was recognised that managing the business infrastructure, or what you called Facilities, was crucial to business success and that business in general was not competent to be in control of the infrastructure; that was a job for the professionals. Standards were therefore agreed that would be enforced and business could use. GIBIM are responsible for providing those standards worldwide.

TCB:       So how does that work with the clients then? How do they choose the supplier?

OP:         They don’t. They are allowed to use what they qualify for according to their business and their meeting the relevant KPIs. Let me explain: If you are starting a new business you produce your business plan and apply locally to have the plan approved. If your business plan meets the standards then you will be allowed to start up when suitable premises are available. If you succeed and maintain a profitable business and meet all of your BIM KPIs then you can continue indefinitely, but you must keep above the relegation zone. If you fall into that area then you will lose your place to a new business. On the other hand, if your business is very successful and you want to grow, then you compete for promotion to larger or better premises from a business in a higher division that has performed poorly and has been relegated.

TCB:       So business is only allowed to run as long as they meet these KPIs?

OP:         That’s right. It came out of what you will know as HSE. The idea of a Competent Person threw into light the fact that few business people were competent to be responsible for what you called Facilities, especially in terms of environmental concerns. The logical step was to reverse the relationship and have competent people running the business infrastructure along lines that were efficient and contributed positively to the environment and then to allow business to use that infrastructure, but only if their performance was good enough. It was probably the only good thing that came out of the nonsense that you call HSE.

TCB:       But HSE isn’t a nonsense! Well, some of it is a bit over the top, but it’s important stuff.

OP:         Some of the basic principles are correct, but the culture of litigation that it allowed was ridiculous. People have to take responsibility for their own actions. In our world, if you have an accident at work where you are to blame you take the consequences.

TCB:       So what are these KPIs?

OP:         Some are related to general business performance in the relevant field; they have to make profit for example, but in relation to us they have to behave as a responsible client.

TCB:       What does that mean?

OP:         Well for a start they treat the premises and the BIM people that operate them with respect. They will be scored down on issues like damaging the building in any way, abusing BIM employees, failing to observe BIM rules on use of the building and so on.

TCB:       (sounding puzzled) So BIM rules would be things like access control and meeting rooms?

OP:         Exactly! Failure to display your building pass would be a contravention, as would failure to turn up when you have a meeting room or desk booked. And environmental non compliances carry heavy penalty scores; using the wrong recycling box, not turning a device off and so on. Safety failures also are heavily penalised; say you hurt your back lifting something. You will have been given lifting and handling training as a matter of course, so if you do it wrong and hurt yourself, your salary will be docked by the cost of replacing you. Your employer will fail their KPIs as well.

TCB:       Isn’t that unfair under your rules to penalise the employer for the employee’s error?

OP:         I see what you mean, but they have to be penalised for employing an idiot. It teaches them to be more careful about who they take on.

TCB:       So if the clients can’t choose their suppliers, how does the supply side work now?

OP:         The supply side is still competitive in that the people who work in it compete for the jobs. There is a pool of suppliers who provide the services in each country. They take a fixed fee per square metre for supplying and running the services, but they run as not for profit concerns as a public service. There are only the required number of jobs to provide the services though, and competition to win them is strong as they are well paid and much sought after. BIM is a well respected profession these days.

TCB:       And this is global now?

OP:         Well not quite. The EU started it and the Americans and Japan fell in step because they had to. Pretty much all of the old Commonwealth  came on board with the UK and then others get drawn in because it’s where the world trades now; if you’re out you’re out, and that means that no people or goods can move from or to the Alliance countries from outside the Alliance.

TCB:       So what about some of the countries that were causing environmental concerns?

OP:         Well there were some issues about fencing them off, but then sport entered the picture and exclusion was easy.

TCB:       Sport?

OP:         Oh yes. The major soccer playing EU nations realised that excluding Brazil from the Alliance meant that they would not be able to play in the World Cup, and once that happened then the athletics people realised that they could have some of the serial Olympic winners banned and that was that. There was even a move to have the Yanks chucked back out at one time, but that was never going to happen.

TCB:       So what about the Euro Zone crisis?

OP:         Well that was easily solved. We just looked back to the colonial model and when a country got bailed out it was basically bought, so Germany and the UK pretty much own most of the EU between them now. The pound and the mark have parity and all of the EU uses one or the other.

TCB:       You mentioned architects?

OP:         Yes, well the old days of building monstrosities that took months to turn into workable buildings have long gone. Now we have standards for buildings in each usage type and only a certain number of each are built in different sizes in each area so that there is none of the old nonsense of oversupply; we just have what we need. Building stock is changed as and when necessary, but new build has to be to the standard. The only variation is in the external cladding, and here some flexibility is allowed, but only within limits; King Charles saw to that by Royal Decree in the UK and other countries followed suit.

TCB:       King Charles? You mean…

OP:         Yes, he’s still with us. Just. Now about your fee for speaking at our conference: For a half hour slot we would be happy to offer you…

Mrs TCB looks down at the slumbering figure and gently lifts the laptop off him. “I do wish he wouldn’t snore so loudly” she complains to the watching cat….

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