This article provides a practical explanation of facility management. After reading, you’ll understand the basics of this powerful management tool.
What is Facility Management?
‘Facility’ is something that is tangible and that is built or installed to serve a certain purpose. A facility supports an organisation, such as buildings, IT-infrastructure and services, lighting, furniture, and grounds maintenance.
Facility management focuses on how these facilities are being managed. It can be defined as a management discipline that ensures effective and efficient support services for different organisations. It is a function within an organisation that integrates people, process, place and technology within the existing environment and focuses on improving the productivity of the organisation and the quality of people’s life.
Facility managers are the ones who are responsible for maintaining the assets and systems of an organisation and making sure that they all function in a harmonious way.
What are the main categories of facility management?
Within facility management, there are different types of roles. The two main types are the ‘in-the-field’ roles for which relatively low education is required, but a good level of technical training. Then there are the ‘bird’s eye’ roles, which implies coordinating and overseeing services and requires a college degree together with additional certifications or extensive experience in the field of facility management. Within every category of facility management, there’s an ‘in-the-field’ role and a more supervising role. The categories are:
Maintenance of a facility or property is important for the value of it and the face of the organisation and its employees. Cleaning, therefore, is one of the main categories of facility management. This category is all about maintaining a clean environment, the disposal of trash, plumbing and promoting a healthy work environment. Sometimes services are being outsourced to other companies, such as cleaning the windows.
The ‘in-the-field’ role would be the direct maintenance of the facility or property. An overseeing role within this category is about coordinating these services to make the cleaning services as efficient and effective as possible. Also working together with the management of other departments to establish procedures that would minimize excess work, is a facility manager’s task.
Hardware inspection and maintenance
The second category is about inspection and maintenance of any form of hardware within a building. This includes monitoring smoke detectors and ACs in each office, but also the maintenance of a whole elevator system. Also in this category, there will be ‘ in-the-field’ facility workers performing the inspections and repair. A facility manager’s role in this is also to make sure that every inspection and repairs are done on time and to confirm with a vendor. The purpose of this form of maintenance can increase the functional life of the hardware and in the end, could reduce additional costs to the organisation.
Environment, health and safety
This category focuses on the environment, health and safety of the people. This is done by creating and maintaining sustainable, environment-friendly workspaces where safe and healthy working circumstances are being promoted. An example could be, making sure that there’s sufficient clean air quality for the employees and that there’s a limited carbon footprint coming from the facility. Facility workers in this category are responsible for keeping track of environmental regulations on a local and governmental level. They have to make sure that the organisation meets all the regulations. For an organisation, this could also reduce the risk of public scandals, lawsuits or even a shot down due to violations of the regulations.
Space management and migration
Organisations frequently have to deal with change. This could mean that an organisation has to expand or migrate to another location, due to a rise or fall in the number of employees. A reason could be because of a busy or less busy season for the organisation.
Without concise planning and support in the form of Computer Aided Facility Management software expanding or relocating can be an expensive activity. A facility manager working in this field of the discipline should be able to make these changes go smoothly and at the same time stick to regulations.
Security service within facility management is about managing the security infrastructure, which can also include manned security. Security service is the inspection of the central alarm system, prevention of malfunctioning of the system, tracking key cards, maintenance of security cameras and creating security regulations for staff to follow. Within retail, facility managers are also responsible for protecting the products and the security labels.
For larger organisations dealing with transportation, facility managers are expected to help with the planning and implementation of transportation solutions. This can be about the transportation of employees within the facility, such as at an airport, or the transportation of equipment to its planned location.
Fire safety involves all the facilities that are related to fire prevention. Within this category, facility managers are expected to act in case of a fire. They help to contain and put out the fire and help people in the building to move to safety. Fire safety involves the planning of escape routes, making sure that on each floor there’s a fire warden, making sure that smoke detectors and fire extinguishers are working, keeping the maps up to date, and making sure that the fire escape doors are functioning. The facility manager is responsible for the plans and escape routes, regular inspection of the supplies, training of staff and most importantly, alertness.
For a school and offices to operate properly organisation and coordination are required. This involves scheduling of conference rooms, making sure that coffee machines are working and making sure that food deliveries are received in time. Often there’s also a help desk that needs to be managed. A help desk to receive, prioritise and resolve issues. Issues such as problems with software or mechanical issues, such as a not working copy machine or a burnt-out light. The facility manager’s task is to coordinate these services to ensure efficiency and productivity.
One of the most valuable fields within facility management is business continuity. This involves planning for reliable services that prevent a business from losing hours over malfunctions within the organisation. This can be a power outage, migrating to a new system, no access to the server and natural disasters such as an earthquake can also damage a business. Facility managers can come up with a plan B for the business to keep running even when a problem might disturb a business continuity.
The key skills of a facility manager
- Skills to communicate and influence, in person as well in writing
- Analytical and problem-solving skills
- skills in decision-making
- Being able to lead and manage teams and projects
- Team Working skills
- The ability to pay attention to detail, but also to see the bigger picture
- Being commercially aware
- Qualified in customer service
- Skills in organizing, time management and being able to work in complex situations and a high workload
- Skills in and knowledge of IT packages
Computer Aided Facility Management software
Computer Aided Facility Management (CAFM) software supports facility managers in planning, executing and monitoring the activities that involve preventative maintenance, the management of space and migration, managing assets and operational facility services. The implementation of software is also a relatively fast way to reduce spending on facility management. Besides cost-cutting benefits, using software also helps managers to save time on documentation and leaves more time to think about preventive measures. The preventive measures can also help to save money because it reduces the number of defects, repairs and unnecessary replacements of equipment.
Another type of facility management software is Computerized Maintenance Management Software (CMMS). The software is similar to CAFM software but takes a deeper look into the maintenance planning and execution of a company. It contains automated maintenance scheduling and is more focused on preventive maintenance.
Due to an increase in the use of CAFM software and CMMS, it’s of importance for a facility manager to be aware of changes in technology. A facility manager is expected to know his or her way around systems and to keep up with the rapid changes in the software. They should be flexible and able to adapt to these changes.
Facility Management as an academic discipline
Since 1990 facility management has been recognised as an academic discipline. Research on facility management started in European universities and where later on courses from Bachelor levels to PhD levels were established and offered. Some of the early research centres in Europe are the Centre for People and Buildings at the Delft University of Technology and the Centre for Facilities Management in Glasgow.
Currently, over fifty research centres and universities are represented by the European Facility Management Network (EUROFM). Facility management has also extended to other parts of the world. For example, in Sri Lanka, the University of Moratuwa is offering Facility management as an academic discipline in the Asian region by offering a bachelor in Facilities Management.
Benefits of facility management
There are ways in which facility management can benefit an organisation or business.
Complete management and maintenance
Facility management offers a solution for complete management and maintenance of assets, buildings and people working for the organisation
Facility management offers a more cost-effective process for a business. For example, providing a clean and safe environment can motivate employees to work and can lead to higher productivity.
To improve the efficiency of a business, effective facility management services are necessary. As mentioned before, good facility management helps to motivate employees and helps the company to spend more time and energy in day-to-day operations. It also ensures that the company’s assets are in good condition, and the health and safety standards are met, which helps a company to be more efficient.
Management of health and safety requirements
One of the roles of facility management is to meet health and safety requirements within the company’s industry. These requirements must be met, for the health and safety of employees.
Increase in lifespan
Facility management can help to increase the lifespan of a business. If a building or the equipment in a company isn’t properly maintained it could decay faster. For assets to have a longer lifespan and operate accordingly, management of the facilities is of importance.
Now it’s your turn
What do you think? Do you recognise the explanation of facility management? Were you familiar with the different categories within facility management? Why are you interested in reading about facility management? Is facility management what you expected it to be? Are you familiar with one of the facility management categories? Do you have experience in facility management? Do you have any tips or additional comments?
Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.
- Atkin, B., & Brooks, A. (2015). Total facility management. John Wiley & Sons.
- Kincaid, D. (1994). Integrated facility management. Facilities.
- Rondeau, E. P., Brown, R. K., & Lapides, P. D. (2012). Facility management. John Wiley & Sons.
- Roper, K., & Payant, R. (2014). The facility management handbook. Amacom.
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