26 PARTNER IN FOCUS

Photography: Jonas Mertens

Yves Stevens, Marketing & Development Manager at IFMA Belgium

Text: Nienke Deuss

PARTNER IN FOCUS 27

AMBITIOUS PARTNERS IN FACILITIES MANAGEMENT
IFMA is one of facilities management’s best-known professional organizations. When they found themselves looking for a software partner, they soon chose TOPdesk. “TOPdesk’s core business is the heart of tomorrow’s facilities management,” says Yves Stevens, IFMA Belgium’s marketing and development manager.

I

FMA’s headquarters are situated in Houston (USA), but the organization also has considerable influence in Europe. Yves

Beyond the ivory tower

Stevens is not surprised that IFMA Belgium is the organization’s largest branch. “Facilities management’s largest players are in Brussels. The economic climate has really helped facilities management develop here. After all, tighter budgets mean we have to give more thought to structuring company processes, including facilities services.” Despite its considerable growth, facilities management has not yet matured as a sector. “It’s still in its teenage phase,” says Stevens. “It’s a relatively new sector. IFMA Belgium was founded seventeen years ago, but was primarily staffed by volunteers at the time. It’s only in the past five years that we have really developed a strong structure and increased our number of members, contacts and partners.”

THE FACILITIES MANAGER SHOULD BE AT THE CEO’S RIGHT HAND
Yves Stevens - IFMA Belgium

TOPdesk exceeded IFMA’s partner requirements. “Facilities management has so many aspects, from hardcore FM like property management right down to softer aspects, such as services. All these elements are streamlined in the software.” When selecting a package, Stevens was particularly impressed by TOPdesk’s structure and approach. “For me, TOPdesk is the next generation of facilities management software.

excellent opportunities. “I’d rather be a software provider than a car manufacturer right now,” says Stevens. “Car manufacturers are facing ever more complex economic and ecological challenges. Optimizing existing (facilities) processes is a must when budgets are cut, and software is always part of the solution. With the rise of the CAFM, it was only logical for IFMA to look for a partnership with a software provider. “We invite partners to share their expertise at our member events. As a professional organization, we have to

And I don’t just mean the package, but the company’s entire approach. When you visit the office, you see young people in the same space. There’s no boss in the ivory tower. What really stood out for me were the low average age and high levels of expertise.”

Quality over quantity
As an organization for professionals, IFMA has no profit motive. Rather, it is focused on enrichment, which is also apparent in its limited number of partnerships. “They’re not sponsorship deals,” explains Stevens. “We don’t want a wall full of partner logos. A partnership means more to us than just

Surviving the crisis
The facilities branch has continued to professionalize in recent years. The current economic climate offers software providers

secure partners with the right know-how – in service management software, for instance.”

28 PARTNER UITGELICHT

‘thanks for the money, see you next year’. I want to get up every morning and wonder what we can do for each other, so to speak.” Stevens believes that partnerships should not last forever. “At a certain point, your core business will have reached the point where you run the risk of being stereotyped. You don’t want people thinking that your services are limited to a specific branch. You have to invest in something else to keep from painting yourself in a corner.”

opinions on FM. “Many organizations see FM as a necessary evil. We want to show people that optimizing facilities management actually leads to profit. CEOs need to realize that the facility manager should be at his right hand.” IFMA Belgium regularly confers with the other IFMA branches, explains Stevens. “Facilities management is different in every country, so we can learn a lot from each other. FM doesn’t just stop at the border. In my ideal future, we will unite all European branches into a single

FACILITIES MANAGEMENT IS STILL IN ITS TEENAGE PHASE
Yves Stevens - IFMA Belgium

European ambitions
IFMA is trying to change the prevailing

EUFMA organization.”

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