The Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of the relevant aspects of competent is:

• suitable, appropriate;
• sufficient or adequate in amount, or degree;
• legally authorised or qualified, able to take cognisance (of a witness, evidence), eligible, admissible; and having adequate skill, properly qualified, effective.

The definition identifies that competence is based on being suitable and appropriate to undertake a task successfully.

Competencies represent the cluster of skills, abilities and knowledge needed to perform a role. That makes them a very useful reference point for employers and individuals alike as they provide a reference benchmark. The individual can measure themselves – ‘Have I the right competencies to apply for this role?’, ‘What areas do I need to work on before I sit that examination?’ For the employer, the development of standard competencies that can be assigned to one or more roles supports recruitment and development, as well as providing a framework for performance management.

One of the keys to success in making use of a competency framework is to ensure that the competences used are both specific and relevant. This presents a particular challenge in the Facilities Management environment, for example, where the nature of the FM role can vary enormously and where the scope of the role is continually evolving and taking on new directions.

In 2014, BIFM launched a new set of Facilities Management Professional Standards that define:

• the key functions (the functional areas) performed by Facilities Management practitioners;
• the main components of each functional area (functional area component); and
• the competencies that are required to be a competent professional when carrying out each functional area component.
The competencies are defined for each FM career level, from a support through to a strategic role.