The facility manager's position is unique in that their role encompasses a broad spectrum of challenges and concerns, each equally as important as the next. Facilities management is a demanding profession that requires a diverse set of facility manager skills in order to be successful. The consistent professional, interpersonal and even emotional demands that FMs face on a daily basis seem to fly from all directions.
With this set of facility manager challenges growing exponentially, it becomes more and more important for the FM's organization to have a solid foundation, built on quality employees, superior data and adaptability. Without relevant data, today's facility manager lacks the tools to properly develop processes to solidify this foundation, much less build a sound "house" around this foundation.
Given the benefits, flexibility, and availability of the relatively low-cost web based Facility Management software systems of today, it is surprising how many organizations have still not adopted these systems for themselves. Information, and building processes around this information, is critical to the wellness of any company. The utilization of the proper FM software, therefore, is essential for effectively managing facilities. Many of today's organizations, both large and small, face the same challenges. We have compiled a list of some of those most widely faced challenges, as well as how proper utilization and benefits of a facilities management software system can aid you in tackling these tasks.
The challenges of efficiency and cost control measures are nothing new to facility management. What has evolved is the growing realization that past cost cutting approaches may have actually harmed productivity and the ability to produce quality products/service. Considering both are critical to an organization's success, and even survival, in this increasingly competitive market, companies must devise new money saving processes that do not sacrifice productivity.
This realization has put facilities managers at the forefront, increasingly seen to be a major part of the solution. Facilities, as well as its employees, are now seen as critical strategic assets, not simply costs to be controlled. This new line of thinking has required a shift in how every aspect of a company is run. Every great FM recognizes that knowledge is power, the driving force behind every success story. By moving away from antiquated communication systems such as email, fax and phone, and adopting a software system built specifically for your needs, FM software systems eliminate redundancy as well as human error. Sharing real time information through a common platform with outside vendors, such as maintenance software, keeps the line of communication open, automating what jobs can be automated and leaves less room for question.
Extending The Life Of Existing Assets
Since saving money is of great concern to every company, spanning every market, it stands to reason that extending the life of current assets should be considered. In order to address this issue, companies are turning to software solutions such as asset and maintenance management. Through the use of asset management programs, organizations have the ability to create and track work orders for maintenance activities, as well as automate regular maintenance work orders for continued building and equipment maintenance.
Asset management software provides you key information such as what assets you have, where they are, how they are used and how often repairs and maintenance are needed. This valuable information helps management determine the life of existing equipment and the cost effectiveness of maintaining said equipment. Comparing actual repair histories by equipment and asset type, as well as by geography and manufacturer allows you to make informed decisions as to when the cost to maintain exceeds the cost to replace. Should the most cost effective solution be to apply preventative maintenance techniques, gathered data will help you determine the proper proactive maintenance plan, automating these work orders so that critical equipment receives proper care before epairs are needed. The savings in maintenance far outweighs the cost of downtime should a piece of critical equipment fail.
Engaging Your Workforce
One of the biggest challenges most companies face today is attracting new, skilled workers. And since new-hire employee costs equate to between $5,700 and $8,900 (that's BEFORE training), maintaining this new talent is as great a concern for the company's overall health. This knowledge has caused a shift in focus, from things to people, with the cultivation of a motivating, engaging and productive work environment a major goal.
Critical to the success of creating this productive, engaging work environment is to recognize that a majority of the candidates in today's workforce are accustomed to the use of technology, with the ability to obtain the information they need rapidly, from almost any device. This generation of workers is accustomed to open and flexible workspaces, with collaborative teamwork and mobility a necessity. Today's workforce is made up of a diverse group of individuals, each with their own work style.
Through collaboration with HR as well as building healthy relationships with the employees, the FM has the ability to determine how to create the inspiring work space that provides every employee the tools they need for maximized productivity. Space management software provides the FM with the tools and real-time knowledge to not only know how the space is being utilized, but with the floor plan capability to adapt and make changes where necessary. For those companies that have adopted a mobile environment, both in and out of the office, room reservation software (and mobile apps) allows employees to reserve meeting rooms, collaborative spaces, as well as quiet desks. And with a cloud-based system, this can be done anywhere, anytime. Need to place a work order? Recent studies indicate that the number of work orders more than doubled once an online maintenance software system was installed. This staggering number is a perfect example of how, given the proper, easy to use tools, employees will utilize them. Users have the capability of checking availability of services as well as the status of their requests. And since these tools are cloud-based, every user can feel confident the information they are receiving is up-to-date, ensuring the entire organization runs efficiently.
Space Occupancy Management
Aside from employee cost, the space your organization occupies is one of the largest portions of a company's total annual costs. Therefore, managing the space you occupy and ensuring every inch is properly utilized is one of the best uses of your efforts. With a space management system, you can visualize usage and vacancies, calculate efficiency and effectively develop relocation plans and implement employee moves to save both time and money. Should it be determined that your current space is inefficient, the data you have gathered from your space management software will aid you in determining exactly what you need out of a new space. Couple this with a move management software system and you can plan exactly how much space you need to ensure no assets are wasted. This data and planning eliminates the information roadblock often found amongst varying departments, allowing each to plan their portion of the spatial move.
With the shift in workplace thinking, facility managers find themselves strategizing the efficiency and productivity of every aspect of their organisation. Key to every business' development and success is creating and operating a facility that supports innovation, employee satisfaction, productivity and favourable public perception. The facility manager is central in this development, with both short and long term value of equal importance. Today's FM must develop strategies and processes built around the certainty that customer/worker demands, as well as technology and functionality, will change dramatically over time. With this in mind, many facility managers and their organisations are adopting FM software solutions designed specifically for their needs, with the knowledge that these systems will serve and grow with their ever-changing challenges.
Editor's Note: This blog post was originally published in March 2014 and has been updated for accuracy and relevance