The IFMA (International Facility Management Association) defines facility management as “a profession that encompasses multiple disciplines to ensure functionality of the built environment by integrating people, place, process and technology.” In other words, facility management ensures that everything inside a facility including people, space and assets are working together harmoniously to improve efficiency and effectiveness.
According to the definition by ISO (International Standards Organization), “organizational function which integrates people, place and process within the built environment with the purpose of improving the quality of life of people and the productivity of the core business.” In addition to operations and maintenance, FM can also minimize organizational risks, influence employee retention/engagement and provide support to mission-critical assets of an organization.
What is covered under Facility Management (Scope)?
FM is generally considered as a management function that only involves physical buildings and assets. While physical management of the facility and assets is part of FM, it also encompasses other resources and services such as security services, staff management and ground maintenance. FM covers facilities and almost everything inside and treats ‘the whole’ as a living being.
The ultimate goal of a facility manager is to ensure that all the entities are working together to achieve organizational goals, whether it be improving productivity, reducing costs or gaining a competitive advantage. The ultimate goal of FM remains keeping people alive and safe, while its scope includes:
- Emergency preparedness
- Operations and maintenance
- Property management
- Technology management
- Quality management
- Project management
- Human factors
- Leadership and strategy
- Hospitality management
- Finance and business
- Environmental sustainability and stewardship
Why are Facility Management Systems so Important?
According to key findings of a research conducted by Software Advice:
- Only 9% participants were using ‘proper’ FM software
- A large number of participants were using ineffective or outdated methods to manage their facilities
- Around a quarter did not have a facility management system in place
- Another quarter was still using the old pen-and-paper methods to manage their facilities
- 37% of educational facility managers had a FM system in place, while 28% office and 35% health care facilities had no system in place
- Keeping accurate records is considered the biggest challenge by 35%, because of their current methods
These facts highlight the importance of using a dedicated facility management software, which helps catalog and solve issues and document outcomes. This helps reduce costs related to managing things manually using traditional methods and improves efficiency. The key benefits of using a ‘proper’ FM software include:
- Space optimization
- Better efficiency
- Data collection and reporting
- Better planning and business continuity
- Accurate records
- Better insights
Types of Facility Management Services
FM can be divided into two main categories i.e. hard and soft facilities management. Hard FM encompasses services related to physical structures and other systems such as structural maintenance, fire safety, elevator maintenance and plumbing. Soft FM involves services that may overlap with property management such as security services, cleaning and pest control.
Both hard and soft FM have two operational levels i.e. strategic/tactical and operational.
Strategic roles act like a foreman and work with other departments, customers and clients. Operational roles are responsible for carrying out FM tasks, which are carried out using their expertise, skills and on-ground knowledge. Facility managers can achieve FM goals by ensuring:
Fire safety covers all aspects related to preventing, containing and extinguishing fire and moving people out of a facility safely when disaster strikes. This includes escape route planning, designating fire wardens, installing and maintaining smoke detectors/fire extinguishers, keeping maps and maintaining and inspecting escape doors.
Optimal and efficient use of space is an important element of any FM plan, which requires careful planning using a CAFM (Computer Aided Facility Management Software). The cost of a facility management software depends on individual business requirements, the scope of services and other factors such as the number of facilities.
FM software enable facility managers to deal with large amounts of data, leverage their existing IT investment and access powerful reporting. Effective space management and migration ensures that facilities comply with regulations, are prepared for all types of eventualities and can deal with movements and staff count increase/decrease.
Environment, Health and Safety (EHS)
EHS covers creating and maintaining workplaces that are environment-friendly, sustainable and promote a safe and healthy work environment. Examples of EHS roles include ensuring sufficiently clean air and a reasonable carbon footprint. Facility managers also need to keep track of environment-related regulations and ensure compliance.
Manned security falls into both the security infrastructure and FM. Different areas that come under security services include security camera operation and maintenance, central alarm systems inspection, key cards tracking/repairing and creating SOPs for employees. Retail businesses also include merchandise protection and security tags in this discipline. Company’s facility managers/employees can also interface with an outsourced security agency and develop plans to follow.
Maintenance, Testing and Inspections
Hardware and building maintenance, testing and inspections range from things as small as smoke detector monitoring to elevator system maintenance. The discipline encompasses routine inspections, timely repairs and coordinating with vendors to ensure everything is operating optimally. The ultimate goal of the discipline is to maximize the lifespan of equipment, reduce cost and improve organizational efficiency.
Cleaning is probably the first thing that comes to mind when people think of facility management. Cleaning is not only important from an aesthetic point of view, but it also affects the morale of employees and visitors as they perform better in a healthy work environment. It’s common to outsource specialized roles such as window washing, grounds-keeping and janitorial roles.
Business Continuity/ Failsafe planning
Business continuity or failsafe planning is another important subset of facilities management. It’s essentially having a Plan B in place if some disaster such as an earthquake or even power outage strikes. The facility managers can mitigate such problems by working with other departments to create failsafe plans and training employees to follow them.
Operational tasks range from routine administrative matters to software issues employees might be facing. Timely resolution of such operational or day-to-day issues not only improves productivity, but also improves morale and employee motivation.
While transportation might not be part of the facility management plan of every company, it’s important for facility managers of large facilities and enterprises. It includes planning and implementing different modes of transportation such as buses, funnel shuttles and taxis for moving staff and equipment in and around the facility.
Although the roles and responsibilities of a facility manager vary by department and discipline, the ultimate goal is common i.e. to increase efficiency, reduce cost and waste and maximize the functional life of equipment. These are also the end goals of businesses that help improve staff productivity and ROI. Keeping track of changing regulations and properly documenting/reporting inefficiencies allow facility managers to access facility management performance and identify operational areas that can be improved.