For business managers who work tirelessly every day to maintain facilities, there's an inherent danger to settling for the status quo. If you keep living by the same old thinking, you're going to achieve the same old results. That's why many facilities managers look to fine-tune their approach, searching for ways they can improve and become the best rather than settling for "close enough."
Facilities managers are forced to juggle a number of competing values. They need to optimize space, satisfy workers and retain solid relationships with other senior managers in their offices, all while cutting costs. It can be difficult to prioritize the many goals of facilities management.
There is no blanket answer for how to improve in facilities management. Different strategies work for different companies, and every office is a little different in terms of size, shape and utilization. Nonetheless, all FMs should strive to find best practices for running their particular offices.
Michel Theriault, a management consultant in Canada who has worked on facilities for nearly two decades, says finding best practices and introducing them to a workplace is much easier said than done.
"Do you implement them?" he asked on his blog, Managing the Built Environment. "Do you adapt them? Do you assess whether they will work for you? Do you learn why they are best practices? The notion of best practices is a good one, but you have to attack the concept with a good understanding of your purpose and what you will do when you find them."
That all sounds great, but it can be overwhelming, and it leaves FMs wondering – where to start?
Whether a facility manager is celebrated and seasoned or just an aspiring one, we all know that this is a job that requires continued education and plenty of sage advice, especially when it comes to the question of implementing new technologies.
With that in mind, here are a few tips on finding and implementing best practices in facilities management.
1. Read, read, read
If you want to learn more about facilities management, the best approach is to read about it as much as possible. Find publications on the subject, both in print and online. Read research papers from respected experts in the field. Subscribe to IFMA newsletters and periodically check online chat forums. Soak up as much knowledge as you can from written content. There's a ton of it out there.
2. Go out and ask
If you learn better from face-to-face interaction, there's plenty of that to be had as well. Go to conferences and meet up with people who know the FM game inside and out. Attend seminars and listen to speeches about the topic. If you have questions, don't be afraid to speak up and ask for more information. Luckily, the FM community is close-knit and full of people who can offer advice.
3. Examine others' strategies
When you're in another office building, take a look around and see if you notice any interesting facilities management strategies they have in place. Ask around at other workplaces in your area – how do they use their buildings effectively? Bounce ideas off of other local authority figures in your town who might have ideas.
4. Do more benchmarking
If you're ever in doubt, you can try "intelligent benchmarking" – gathering as much information as possible about companies and their office buildings and comparing theirs to yours. Bring in lots of data, including both statistical measurements and subjective thoughts gathered from interviews with others. Figure out what separates your office from all the rest.
5. Conduct reviews
For more insights on your specific approaches to facilities management within your building, bring in an outside expert who can conduct a review of your company's workspace. When you work every day to operate your building, sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees. Considering others' opinions will help bring clarity to your management approach.
Facilities management is challenging because technology is always evolving and workers are always coming up with new demands. By making an effort to fine-tune your approach using a facility management software, you can stay ahead of the curve.
Editor's Note: This blog post was originally published in September 2013 and has been updated for accuracy and relevance.