In any building, the foremost objective of facility management is to provide a conducive environment that enables building users to gain the maximum benefits from being in that space. Achieving this objective requires a skillful administration of certain functions to optimize the four major areas of facility management—people, place, process, and technology.
Facility management that successfully incorporates the functions discussed below can deliver greater flexibility and sustainability in most facilities and in the organization as a whole. These functions work to ensure that every major area of facility management is covered, thereby promoting efficient and smooth business operations that are not being frequently interrupted by a string of technical or operational difficulties.
Furthermore, these functions help to ensure that key activities in the built environment stay up and running, that key processes are established and maintained, and that all stakeholders are always working in an optimal environment. That said, what are these functions and how do FMs use them to manage the four areas of FM?
Whether a building is designed for work, living, or play, facility managers strive to support people on their premises by creating an accommodating environment for everyone.
When it comes to supporting people in a building, a vital function of facility management is a well-planned and executed customer service strategy. Getting this right enables FMs to provide a consistent and enjoyable experience for all stakeholders throughout their stay in the facility.
Note that providing better support to people starts with understanding what their exact needs are. While some of these needs will be generic—like the need for healthy buildings through adequate safety and health, protection from fire hazards, and clean indoor air—other needs will be specific, like desk allocation and space planning. Furthermore, options like providing a help desk to receive and address inquiries can give facility managers key insights into additional steps to take and reveal opportunities to improve the facility even more.
Place (or Building)
Maintaining and optimizing the physical structure is a core responsibility and concern of facility management. The aim is to keep the physical structure running optimally at all times. This is a core function of FM that is typically achieved through proactive and strategic maintenance management programs.
Maintenance management covers a range of activities—everything from regular daily cleaning to more specialized equipment and system repairs. Every inch of the building is considered through a robust maintenance management plan. Doing this helps provide the best possible environment for staff, visitors, occupants, and customers, by creating safe and functional buildings.
In addition to ensuring that everything with physical assets and equipment is running as it should, facility management oversight will also identify areas for greater efficiency and potential cost savings. Another operational challenge that facility management handles is that it works to ensure compliance with regulatory laws and requirements.
No organization can thrive without laid-out processes. Processes provide structure and vital information; they also help boost efficiency and get work done faster, always to the same standard. Facility management regularly utilizes several processes to avoid inefficiencies and chaos in buildings. This function is a broad one that encompasses several activities within FM, especially:
- Financial management—budget planning, control, and execution. This has always been a critical function of facility management.
- Work order management—creating, assigning, and monitoring service requests.
- Vendor management—from contract management all the way to vendor performance measurement, etc.
- Monitoring and standardization of workflow using resources like SOPs, maintenance checklists, and more.
- Emergency planning.
- Workflow management—recruiting new members into the maintenance team, recommending and arranging training programs and continuous learning initiatives, etc.
The above processes are just a few of the ones that FMs employ in the typically busy modern facilities that we have today. Facility managers that get these processes right are empowered to create stability, efficiency, and balance in their buildings.
When done right, technology has the capacity to positively influence every area of a facility. Thus, the integration of technology is another key function of facility management. It’s safe to say that every area of facility management today can benefit from technological innovations.
However, in deploying technology, it’s important to mention that there are almost endless options out there, and not every innovation is applicable in every facility. First, the facility manager needs to research what is available and be clear on whether a new solution will usher in improvements or simply cause more problems. Problems with implementation and execution easily occur as a consequence of poor planning and inadequate change management. Once the facility manager can establish the benefits, integrating new solutions into established infrastructures will usually optimize established processes and the efficiency of all building systems.
Some solutions that facility managers rely on include:
- Computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS), IWMS, advanced maintenance technologies (e.g, predictive maintenance), and more.
- Innovations like automated facility management.
- Building automation and control systems.
Considering the diverse nature of facilities, be it a school, hotel, healthcare establishment, or factory, the precise way that work is done will be significantly influenced by the type of organization in question. Nevertheless, the above discussion shows the core functions that typically provide a framework for facility management’s critical role in the built environment.
By streamlining people, place, process, and technology, facility management can improve the overall operational efficiency of virtually any establishment and help to keep day-to-day operations running seamlessly.
Bryan Christiansen is the founder and CEO of Limble CMMS, is a modern, easy-to-use mobile CMMS software that takes the stress and chaos out of maintenance by helping managers organize, automate, and streamline their maintenance operations.