Monthly Archives: October 2014

Free Facilities Management Training

Free Facilities Management training

I am a strong believer in investing in education, but also I believe if you can’t get the company to invest you should invest in yourself. In this case its Facilities Management training courses which could be extremely valuable to your career path.

Is it real you may wonder well I am about to start a course that is normally valued at £1,500 which has come completely funded. This isn’t going against the grain with my current company as they have invested in other training and membership I have undertaken this year. But would say getting on courses like the BIFM ones may often be overlooked within many businesses due to the costs involved. Yet I have managed to get my course fully funded in the UK and at the same time wanted to offer the ability to do the same for those interested in Facilities Management training. All courses are industry recognised and there is a long list of courses available.

What I will say though is I am not currently listing them as I wanted to see the response from those interested in undertaking training courses. Your commitment will be home study working online. At the same time being aware that you need to complete the course within a 12 month time period. Currently looking at the BIFM level 4 I am doing I expect to be completed much sooner. Not because I am super smart but I have a break coming up shortly where I can do 20 – 40 hours a week. But some people do these courses with 2 hours a week, which you can see why I would be finishing it much quicker than most.

So you need to commit to doing the course and at the same time being a UK resident in full-time employment. It won’t cost your company a thing and if you are a company interested in training for your employees, you can actually have it labelled as a company course. As I have said already I am a strong believer in training but also if you invest in people it adds value to the employees, but also retains them for longer periods of time.

If your serious about getting on in the Facilities Management industry please drop me a private email and we can discuss your interests. But would also like to add its not all for FM managers I have spoken to several people already who are now starting courses as stepping stones on their career path to becoming FM managers or Technical FM Managers. As often people have the ability and skills but need some paperwork to back it up. Or simply looking to gain the processes and understanding to make the next leap in getting on the career ladder.

If you have any questions or want to know more please email me at

Can anyone do asset surveying?

Matt Wilkie Asset Survey downtown Doha Qatar

Its often an expensive mistake when asset surveying is undertaken without the right people involved. Cost cutting often leads to finding anyone available to carry out the task. This creates long-term issues within contracts as often once the data is loaded people don’t update and correct errors.

But it also means your bid could be wrong, pricing wrong, skill sets of personnel wrong. You could end up with a gas engineer going to fix “heat pumps” on an air conditioning unit because someone unfamiliar with air conditioning and boilers has seen “heat pump” and assumed heating means boilers. The list goes on and on as I have seen contracts without HVAC engineers before due to people misunderstanding the difference between HVAC and Air conditioning engineers. When it comes to cost cutting and showing a client savings you could have fallen at the first hurdle by not creating an accurate asset list.

At the same time people should be aware that selling the value of the asset list to the client may actually recover the costs completely in carrying out the survey.  With a good asset list you can predict lifecycle allowing forward budgeting, energy savings, efficiency changes with new equipment, accurate skillset, identification of failures in current maintenance. Statutory and mandatory compliance in fact a whole host of positive data but it needs to be collected correctly in the first instance.

I have seen contracts where people “available” have been put onto carrying out a survey and the end result is many assets are missing, wrong types added, assets named the wrong items, documents produced being eligible and useless. With tight deadlines it can be impossible to correct which is why I recommend using people who specialise in the Asset Surveying field as although sometimes may seem slightly more expensive than using people you have available already. Long term though you will recover that cost and much more due to high quality data.

What are the different abbreviations of lights?

It can become confusing sometimes with the world of abbreviations that the Facilities industry has become. I am not sure if its because of American influence but personally I like words. Not everyone knows every abbreviation but also it can cause confusion when two people can be talking about the same abbreviation unaware they are talking about completely different things. I had this happen listening to two FM managers on a long car journey. It wasn’t until a good 20 minutes had past before they realised they were talking about different things.

Anyway I wanted to share this page with various light types and will at a later date begin to create a directory of Asset types.




L stands for long single turn – therefore has 1 long looped tube


T stands for triple turn – therefore it has looped tubes


Also known as PL-D – double turn – therefore 2 looped tubes


The same as a PL-C


normally known as a Dulux f/Lynx f because it looks like an F shape


same as PL-L


same as PL-S


same as a PL-T


Because it looks like 2Ds back to back

Hope this helps if you find it useful leave a comment also if you will find it useful for photos be added.

What are the top 10 things that reduce productivity in the workplace?


Working on many contracts you get to meet many people but at the same time get to see the common problems people are facing. I wanted to list the problems I believe are some of the most disruptive in the  FM industry currently within businesses.

Outsourced IT

We rely more and more on technology yet we only need a handful of skilled people to keep things ticking over. So why is it we outsource one of the most critical things within a business? I have experienced it first hand and it doesn’t matter which company or which country I am in, you dread calling IT as you know its going to be a long winded conversation where its lucky if you have a 50% chance of getting your problem fixed.

Locally IT people work within the business long-term, as such they understand the software, they understand the equipment and productivity wise they save money. I have yet to see someone in a business plan factor in how much time is wasted by the people within the business trying to get things fixed. Where someone locally would do it in a shorter period of time and with reduced frustration.

Not being listened to

A major problem can be and often is a disconnect between managers and the people they look after. It often gets worse the further the people on the ground are from the people at the top within a business. This means that problems that are occurring in the business can often be ignored, yet at the same time may be noticed by the client.

But its something easily rectified with good communication, when someone feeds you information on a problem actually look into it rather than say you will. The people with the most knowledge on the contracts we face are those people on the ground dealing with everything on a daily basis. If they feel they aren’t being listened to your ignoring one of the most important assets to any business. But also it reduces self worth of the people working within the teams.

Poor recognition

Although its something that often isn’t mentioned its something often felt. Yet it isn’t hard to say “thank you” or praise someone for doing a good job. If they have done something above and beyond what they were required to do putting them forward for a mention in the company magazine or some kind of award is always appreciated.

Excessive paperwork

It isn’t just paperwork but processes as companies become bigger they introduce more and more paperwork. But is anyone actually assessing how much time is wasted and how much value is being created? Because I know myself I may get asked to present documentation on lessons learned or improvement plans. Yet I know many of the things I have written over the years doesn’t even get read. Was it worth doing? It would be if the notes were put into action but if they aren’t or nobody even bothers to write back mentioning the documents it was literally a waste of time and resources.

We are aware that some processes need to be there for legality, health and safety and other reasons. But at the same time do we need them all? can some things be customised from a template covering 180,000 people to contract specific to remove a lot of irrelevant questions and documents? Answer is very likely yes and to the benefit of all.

Nobody asks me!

People know their jobs better than most, if they don’t we are the people that should be finding out what they need for the role. Yet does anybody ever ask the people on the ground what it is they need? Because as companies expand they start to generalise things such as equipment and training. But the people on site may not need either or may need something completely different. Although nobody asks them and yet I could give an example of a site where a single engineer visited once a week for servicing. Who eventually took the contract to 180 buildings on the same site with 12 full-time staff. What support did he need?

Answer is he did it on his own with very little help from the company he was working for. In the end he didn’t even make supervisor for the buildings he brought on board on a contract worth several million pounds a year. He got no recognition and not even a pat on the back. Do you think he would do the same again? Because he could have added multiple other sites to the portfolio but moved from being positive to “why bother”. Not because of his inaction but that of poor management and recognition. He wasn’t after a pay rise but would have liked to be the supervisor (something he was very capable of doing) on the sites he brought into the business. To this day he still works there and still not a supervisor, the contract however has not grown since. Communication is key to business growth but also cost cutting and increasing productivity.

Nobody cares

A social disconnect between shop floor and management can be extremely toxic and something I do try to stamp out where possible. Its often been historical issues when we take over a contract but its something best resolved quickly. I find that people may not even want recognition for anything as they may have worked in the same job for over a decade without anyone bothering them. But is this how a company should be working? The outer rims of a business may be the route into new business but also those people represent us on a daily basis. Injecting value and taking the time to listen to people is something that not only adds worth to people but also creates an environment people want to work within. A company they are proud to be part of and at the same time when they have a grievance you may need to take it on the chin as you are the representative above them within the company, at the same time its good management taking the rough with the smooth.

Silo working

Even I feel like banging my head off the wall sometimes as people move to stop themselves getting involved in tasks that they see as not their problem. But these same people would call you up when they need help with something that you specialise in, more importantly we are one business and as such should aim to stomp out silo working. HR doesn’t deal with Payroll, Payroll not dealing with Fleet, Fleet not dealing with out of hours etc. etc. there will always be overlap and as a good company and professionals we should look to find a solution and not look to create more problems.

Getting paid

I have never heard one person complain about not being paid enough. What I have heard is people complaining about not being paid on time. I for one am a strong believer in making sure people are paid what they are owed when it was promised. Because I know myself I don’t get paid one month I wouldn’t be there the next, so why would I expect others to? Making sure peoples pay is sorted at day one is extremely important and not left for payroll or whoever deals with it to sort it for you. As a good manager you need to keep on top of it and make sure there is no issues especially at the beginning or changeover of contract.

Lack of investment in people

Although its not something pushed forward too much by people I have met over the years there are many people who would have progressed in career with help from companies. But its not always about what people are currently doing but looking at what they want to do in the future. I know working with the Ministry of Defence that may of the people I worked alongside had a broad selection of skills and education backgrounds engineering was the obvious one, but also nuclear energy, chemistry and other courses that weren’t directly work related. But does everything have to be work related to invest in people? For example if someone was studying TESOL which is for teaching English to non English speakers. Would it mean that if time or the course was funded by a company they would be a worse engineer? Answer is no in fact they may be wanting to travel the world and be an English teacher for the next 2 years. But you would by putting a small investment in the person manage to retain them while learning and once they returned from overseas would be the first employer they would look to work with.

Told rather than asked

Something even myself can be quite fussy about, if someone asked me to work late I would probably say yes. If someone demanded I stayed late I would very likely quote my T+C’s and tell them I would see them tomorrow.

Its all about how you treat people as the more respect you give to people the more they give back. I always try to treat people as an equal and well aware its not always  possibly but as the saying goes “we can but try”. Because part of getting people to work better together is breaking down barriers between management and workers. But also being extremely approachable. Doing it this way makes everyone’s problems everyone’s allowing solutions to be found within the group or organisation.

asset surveying handy tips for excel part one

These handy tips aren’t just for asset surveyors but anyone using Excel. But I do find I use most of these on a daily basis as an asset surveyor when manipulating data within an Excel environment. Which is why I am keen to share this information with you.

At first these tips will seem a bit easy if your an advanced user but at the same time if your struggling to get time to learn Excel to a higher level. You will find you’ve just learned 5 new tips in 6 minutes which could save you hours in a short period of time. Every tip is utilised in working with lists within Excel.

The tips are :-

  • Adding a Series of Numbers with the Fill Handle (putting numbers in a sequence one after the other automatically).
  • Continuing a series of numbers or types using the Fill Handle (this is putting things like Fan 1, Fan 2, Fan 3 automatically).
  • How to insert zeros ( 0 ) before any number in Excel (useful for asset numbers such as 004356).
  • How to disable Excel auto number format ( you will find Excel will change things like 1-2 to 1st of February a quick tip will fix that).
  • How to copy and paste by pulling the corner (useful for saving time copying items in mass).

Welcome to asset surveyor

This is a short introductary video for the Asset Survey Co UK channel. I am Matt Wilkie and I have been working in asset integrity, asset surveying and the FM industry for over 20 years.

I aim to share information, hints and tips on not only asset surveying and Facilities Management. But also useful information and tips for things like Excel to help make daily life easier. But also introduce and review software and equipment that could be beneficial to the Facilities Management industry and Asset Management generally.

Condition surveyor available.

I carry out M+E and fabric surveys and although this is a bit of a plug i will also explain what a condition survey is to those who are unaware.

Matt Wilkie Asset Surveyor and FM Manager

When carrying out a condition survey its main focus is in identifying the condition of assets. In the Mechanical and Electrical condition surveys (M+E). This could be identifying things like has the maintenance been carried out and to an acceptable standard. Is the equipment operational and in good working order. How soon would the equipment last before it needs replaced.

Does the equipment sit in or out of scope? E.g. a contract may say all things are in good working order but you discover many items are failing or outside of compliance and regulations. E.g. an electrical isolator may be 50 years old but its replacement would also lead to an entire rewire from where it was originally fed. This needs to be identified as a risk and to be removed from scope or an adjustment in budget to cover its costs.

Fabric is similar because although its not pumps, motors and air conditioning. It does have things like periodic refurbishments and repairs. This means things like mold that can cause paint flaking and health issues are a problem. As well as ground movement cracking walls etc. which can often see written into a contract what is defined as a chargeable crack and what you should expect to absorb within the contract at no extra cost.

All these things affect building a contract for maintenance and as such its a critical part of renewing a contract or setting one up. It gives a realistic view of the business and all its assets as well as identifying any assets that are missing from the system completely.

Matt Wilkie in Downtown Doha,Qatar

What value is there in facilities management?

Facilities management adds value by adding specialist people you may not already have in your organisation.

Matt Wilkie in Downtown Doha,Qatar

A prime example of this is where a company may have multiple locations such as a supermarket chain or high street business. You may have a handy man on location most of the time or full-time. But legislation constantly updates, keeping logs and maintenance visit schedules as well as making sure all contractors are up to standard can quickly become a full-time job in itself.

Facilities management offers tried and tested methods due to access to national and international contractors they are already working with on other contracts. Also the management and training is dealt with as well as able to deliver tailor made packages for your business. For example health and safety guidelines and training methods and procedures are laid down by law in the UK but implementing them can often be time consuming. E.g. method statements for tasks such as changing a light bulb. Everything from the person being a “competent” electrical person down to the environmental disposal of the bulb itself has to be taken care of. Facilities management companies have been dealing with these things for some time already. Its why Facilities management is often done by large and small organisations as it simply removes the headaches of the facilities themselves leaving the business to get on with what it needs to be doing.

The value comes in the fact that the facilities are managed well which reduces replacement and maintenance costs as well as reduces any legal and health risks. Adding to that specialist equipment is often already within the contract meaning that if a “lift” for access to heating boilers is needed for example its made mobile so that its moved to where its needed within its maintenance schedules of the boilers.

I have been in facilities management as well as service and maintenance for most of my life and have seen it develop over the years. From the days where people were responsible for their own health and safety to today where everyone and everything seems to be responsible for someone else’s safety. Environmental issues have become part of the norm and more importantly learning to deal with them and find solutions. Back when I started I remember the solution for the wood skip was letting the local farm houses come and collect their firewood from it. Worked pretty well but wouldn’t be compliant these days. But that’s partly why facilities management has evolved into a business from initially being tasks that have simply grown over time out of things that were often just acceptable.

Not all mind as many of the other routine tasks have been absorbed into centrally organised facilities management that were once localised or left to an as and when basis. Prime example of that is refurbishment programming where it may be that an office would just get painted when it was seen to need it. But sometimes nobody ever noticed it needed doing. A rolling maintenance schedule would now see the painting done every 3 – 5 years or sooner if needed on a scheduled budget. Its costed and built into the maintenance regimes as well as other maintenance programs being adapted to suit. E.g. if there is a new central heating system being installed next month then its painting regime should be delayed until afterwards.

I do however remember working on government contracts with poor scheduling especially during the requirements for “safety glazing” which involved the installation of plastic film to make glass shatterproof at a certain height. Many of the buildings we were programmed and pre-paid to do had actually had their budgets cut and some had even been programmed for demolition. There hadn’t been any facility built into the contract to reallocate the funds or refund. But this is partly down to the way those contracts were written. Most of the facilities management contracts I have worked on in the private sector are based on “annual budgets” that can be allocated or reallocated to other facilities if needed. Internal politics often played its part with governmental work where specific people had allocated specific budgets. Rather than reallocate or pass back to central government they would rather see it spent as it stopped their budget reduction on the following years.

The value in facilities management comes with working out these issues and actually assessing if that budget needs to be spent or not. Rather than leaving it 100% up to people who’s main concern is budget reduction which should happen anyway if they actually lost some of their buildings to demolition.

How to find work as a Graduate Building Surveyor.

As a graduate building surveyor you will often find it difficult to find work due to lack of experience.

Doesn’t mean impossible just that you often have to be more creative and do a lot more work in sourcing companies that will use your skills. Some this may also involve taking a lower salary than you had initially hoped for.

The positive side of this though is once you have your foot in the door it gets easier to get better jobs and contracts and with it your salary would increase.

What I found for myself is that there is a demand at certain levels for building surveyors. For example your local authority generally employ building surveyors for things like the void inspections and problem solving on their maintenance contracts. These roles originally were filled by semi retired guys from my experience. But as I have found over the last decade they are being opened up to general building surveyors. There is in fact a shortage of building surveyors in the maintenance industry. Everyone wants to build!

But its a stepping stone, its easy to get into the role of building surveyor for a local authority and normally working alongside a team so getting familiar with how everything works isn’t an issue. If anything its adapting to a “social” working mentality which is often a lot slower than that of the private sector. Nothing wrong with it as the salaries are below private sector pay scales but getting into the private sector without experience is a lot harder.

I have seen salaries ranging from £22,000 – £30,000 for most housing authorities but would advise going via an agency because if you work it right you can increase the income significantly. For example permanent employees work “flexi time”. You get paid for every hour done which on the average contract I worked was a 60 hour week compared to 37 1/2 hours that a permanent employee work. So you can near enough double the salary.

Adding to that using your own vehicle with millage allowance can also be beneficial to the pocket, although not as favourable as it once was. Working a contract a few years ago I hit the 10,000 mile barrier that reduces your per mile rate within a month. Not good and even at a more senior level within the company they were having staff using trains as their millage level had dropped to the point it was no longer viable to use a car. Because a train ticket is something you can claim back 100%. The rise in fuel costs and the sliding scale had meant using their own cars had got to the point it cost them money to go to work.

Before anyone says “well I have to pay to use my car to go to work!” the region I covered was Norfolk some of Suffolk and up to 90 miles away towards central England. Its not a case of throwing away £20 a week in fuel its literally £200+ going into the tank.

Anyway I recommend trying some of the agencies for work, roam around the web and advertise yourself on a lot of the online sites for jobs including uploading your CV. Because if an agent gets hold of your CV they will also shove it on other system making it easier to find work.

Asset Verification Surveying In Qatar.

The most recent of clients has seen myself currently out in Qatar pretty much covering everything from accommodation and office buildings to buildings relating to oil and gas processing.

Matt Wilkie in Downtown Doha,Qatar


One of the things when asset surveying for verification you start to pick up a lot of things either missed or not in the system for various reasons. But even so still need to be logged even if removed at a later date.

Primarily because if its on the data collection it can be questioned and then added, removed or retained for the project. Each decision has an impact on cost depending on how its handled.

Adding to that even if the client’s list is 100% accurate and everything they say they have is there you have to analyse and compare for the length of contract type. For example if its all inclusive for 5 years will the equipment last that long? Are there spares or replacements that will need to be budgeted for? What type of maintenance regime is being used?

Because every contract I have worked on has always involved some jiggling be it pricing, moving of assets to different budgets or removing or adding of equipment. Which is why gathering the correct data and making sure you have as much of it as possible even if it seems a little irrelevant sometimes is worth the effort if you have the time.

Sometimes there is only time for a specific task e.g. just confirming things are there which I advise making clear to whoever your client is that this is all that will be carried out due to time restraints. Because if you see something e.g. 10 brand new Chiller units replacing 5 old ones due to a company expansion you may flag up that there is new units and an additional building but time for getting all the information such as serial numbers etc. you may not be able to do.

I do enjoy this type of work and also interesting travelling to different countries as you get to see the variance in standards, equipment and the affects of specific regional weather on equipment. E.g. a regular sand blasting in the deserts doesn’t do air conditioning any good and does affect their life considerably. At the same time another area can be heavily affected by sea air causing corrosion of a different kind with the same result. But the timeframes of damage are different which is why I enjoy understanding the differences and how these impact on equipment. Because lets face it a manufacturers guidelines etc. will often not cover these issues due to harsh environments taking things out of scope and warranty.