What is Facilities Management?

A Complete Guide to Facilities Management

In every industry, organizations worldwide are feeling the pressure to improve efficiencies and do more with less. To meet these challenges, an increasing number of organizations are turning to facilities management (FM) as a way to optimize their operations.

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What is Facilities Management

Facilities management—sometimes called "facility management"—is essentially the science of keeping buildings and their systems running smoothly and efficiently within an organization. It comprises the tools and services necessary to ensure that an organization's physical plant is well-maintained and its employees can work in a comfortable, safe environment.

The facilities manager is responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of an organization's buildings and grounds and the management of the people and equipment within those facilities.

In addition to these operational duties, the facility manager also plays a vital role in strategic planning, budgeting, and customer service.

Facilities Management Formal Definition

ISO defines facilities management as "an organizational function which integrates people, place and process within the built environment to improve the quality of life of people and the productivity of the core business."

This definition emphasizes the importance of integrating people, place, and process—the three key components of facilities management. By bringing these three elements together, facilities managers can create a work environment that is conducive to increased productivity and improved quality of life for employees.

The Role of the Facilities Management Department

As organizations continue to look for ways to improve efficiency and cut costs, the goals of the facilities management department are twofold: first, to make sure that an organization's buildings and property are well-maintained, and second, to ensure that these buildings and properties support the organization's mission and business goals.

To achieve these goals, facility managers must be able to effectively manage a wide range of job responsibilities, including:

  • Building maintenance and repairs
  • Energy management and sustainability
  • Business continuity planning and emergency management
  • Cleaning and custodial services
  • Security
  • Landscaping
  • Parking
  • Event management
  • Shipping and receiving
  • Space planning

Facilities managers also need to maximize utilization when facilities aren't being used—by renting or leasing out space, for example. Particularly in the case of public spaces (e.g., stadiums, convention centers, amphitheaters), they must also be able to accurately forecast future needs and plan accordingly.

In the sharing economy, facilities managers also need to be able to accommodate a variety of users, including those using the space for events or conferences.

The 2 Types of FM Services

There are two main components to facilities management services: hard services and soft services.

Hard FM Services

Hard FM is the term used to describe the physical maintenance and upkeep of buildings and their systems. This includes tasks such as HVAC maintenance, plumbing, electrical work, elevator maintenance, and janitorial services.

For example, a school district might hire a hard FM service provider to maintain the district's buildings and grounds. The provider would be responsible for tasks such as mowing the lawn, fixing leaks, and ensuring that the district's HVAC systems are running properly.

Soft FM Services

Soft FM encompasses all the people-centric services that are necessary to keep an organization running smoothly. This includes tasks such as security, event management, parking, and janitorial services.

For example, a hospital might hire soft FM teams to manage its security staff and parking garage. The provider would be responsible for tasks such as hiring and training security guards, monitoring the hospital's CCTV system, and directing traffic in the parking garage.

This type of facility management also includes things that happen in company offices, such as real estate management, lease accounting, and other tasks performed by people.

The Benefits of Facility Management

There are several benefits to using facilities management services, including:

  1. Increased efficiency throughout the organization
  2. Organizations can free up staff to focus on more strategic tasks by outsourcing the management of their buildings and grounds. By consolidating multiple service providers into one, organizations can reduce the amount of time and money spent managing vendor relationships.

  3. Cost savings
  4. Organizations can save money by consolidating multiple service providers into one and by taking advantage of economies of scale. When the whole operation is more efficient, it can lead to lower costs for everyone involved.

  5. Improved health and safety for facility workers
  6. Facilities management can help improve workplace health and safety conditions by ensuring that buildings and grounds are well-maintained. This can lead to fewer accidents and illnesses, reduced risk, and a healthier workforce overall.

  7. Improved quality of life for employees
  8. Employees who work in well-maintained, safe, and comfortable buildings are more productive and have higher morale. This leads to increased retention rates and decreased absenteeism.

  9. A sustainable future
  10. Organizations that are committed to sustainability can use facilities management services to reduce their environmental impact. For example, by using green cleaning products and methods, FM providers can help organizations save water and energy, and reduce waste.

    When the facilities management team reduces energy consumption costs and invests in green infrastructure, the company creates an overall sustainably built environment.

  11. Revenue growth
  12. When facilities management is streamlined and taken care of, owners and operators can lease or rent out their spaces.

    The ability to create and optimize these revenue streams and cater to each renter or lessee's needs helps facilities managers excel in a vital role in their jobs—finding ways to repurpose their facilities when they aren’t in use.

Make Your Program More Efficient With Facilities Management Technology

Facilities management technology is an essential tool for any organization that wants to improve the efficiency of its FM program. By automating tasks and providing real-time visibility into the condition of your facility, FM technology can help you make your program more efficient and save time and money.

A few different types of facilities management software include:

IoT (Internet of Things) Sensor Platforms

IoT sensors are used to monitor the condition of buildings and systems in real-time, enabling facility management to identify and resolve problems regarding energy use, water leaks, air quality, and environmental health.

Work Order Management Software

A work order management system is designed to help organizations track and manage maintenance requests. This software can create and track work orders, schedule preventive maintenance, and make data-driven decisions through reporting and dashboards.

Asset Management Software

For many organizations, real estate is the second-highest expense after the cost of employees. An asset management system can help organizations save money by optimizing the use of their building facilities.

Computer-Aided Facilities Management (CAFM) Software

Best for companies that need a comprehensive solution, a CAFM system is a tool that can be used to manage all aspects of the facility lifecycle, from design and construction to operations and maintenance. It's a comprehensive solution that can be used for space planning, asset performance monitoring, and environmental and sustainability reporting.

Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS)

The most robust type of facilities management software is an IWMS, which is designed to manage all aspects of the workplace, from real estate and space planning to HR and IT resources. IWMS systems are typically used by large organizations with complex infrastructure.

5 Facilities Management Best Practices for Your Organization

When implementing a facilities management program, there are a few best practices that improve its functionality and maximize its operational value.

  1. Centralize your program with software.
  2. Facility management software plays a critical role in the success of any organization's program. A centralized system provides real-time data and analytics, helping you make data-driven decisions about your facilities.

  3. Recognize and capitalize on industry trends.
  4. Across all industries, there are a few overarching trends facility managers should be aware of:

    • The growth of remote work and flex workforces
    • Focus on climate change, the environment, and business sustainability
    • The rise of the sharing economy
    • Investments in IoT and other forms of smart technology
    • Heightened emphasis on work-life balance and employee experience

    As a facility manager, you can use these trends to your advantage. For example, by implementing policies that allow for remote work, you can save on office space and utility costs. And by partnering with shared workspace providers, you can give employees access to a wider range of amenities and services.

  5. Automate business processes wherever possible.
  6. Automation is essential for any organization that wants to improve its efficiency and optimize its facilities management program. Facility managers can use technological solutions to automate tasks like work order management, asset tracking, and routine support services.

  7. Collect as much information as you can.
  8. Facility managers need to have a clear understanding of their organization's goals and objectives. By collecting data from IoT devices, facility managers can empower themselves to make decisions that will improve the workplace and take care of their buildings.

    This starts with identifying challenges and finding data streams that hold clues to possible solutions. The first step is to quantify as much of the workplace as possible so that you can start testing out potential solutions.

  9. Communicate regularly with stakeholders.
  10. An effective facility management program relies on communication between the facilities manager and other stakeholders. Make sure to regularly share updates, progress reports, and data-driven insights with the C-suite, department heads, and employees.

Streamline Facility Management With Facilitron

Facilitron is a web-based platform that makes it easy to manage your facilities. With Facilitron, you can centralize all of your data in one place, automate business processes, and improve communication with stakeholders.

Whether you're renting a classroom for a one-time event or managing a multi-building campus, Facilitron can help you streamline your facility management program. Schedule a demo today to see how we can help you save time and money.

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