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Relationship Between Corporate Real Estate and Facilities Management

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist
SpaceIQ

French fries and ketchup. Football and tailgating. Fall weather and hot cider. Some things fit together naturally and become associated that way. In the business world, one of the best examples of this phenomenon is between corporate real estate and facilities management. It’s hard to have a conversation about one without the other, and both affect each other. Companies that understand this relationship will succeed in cohesively managing their facilities and their greater real estate portfolio.

What is facility management in real estate?

Facility management is a function within corporate real estate. The objective of a corporate real estate manager is to oversee the portfolio of a company’s properties. Each property within the portfolio needs its own oversight, which falls to a facilities manager. It’s best to think about this relationship at-scale: real estate is the broad focus; facilities are the narrow focus.

While real estate management is important for the company’s mission and financial outlook, it’s driven largely by facilities management. For example, a company’s property portfolio may consist of several locations, but the weight of each location depends on how it’s managed. If some locations are well-managed, they’re assets on the balance sheet. If others are poorly run, they become drains on revenue. In this way, it’s important to practice good fundamental facilities management, to ensure each property in a portfolio is an asset to the company.

Two sides of the same coin

Instead of thinking about corporate real estate vs. facilities management, think about them as two sides of the same coin. High-level real estate decisions trickle down to individual facilities, while facilities management insights power broader decision-making at the real estate level. Additionally, problems at one level can affect decision-making at the other. This relationship is important for both corporate real estate managers and individual facilities managers to keep in mind.

Scale matters

What to expect in corporate real estate facility management depends on the scale of a company’s real estate portfolio. An organization with one or two properties has different considerations and challenges than a company with dozens of properties. The scale of individual facilities matters, too—as does the prospect of owning vs. leasing.

For example, the decision to consolidate from 20 properties to 18 is much less significant than the decision to slim down from four locations to three. Similarly, budgeting for facilities upkeep across a portfolio becomes more complex the more properties there are and the more complex those holdings are. This necessitates the expansion of both corporate real estate and individual facilities’ teams. Scale plays a big role in oversight, which plays an even bigger role in decision-making and direction.

Facilities management impacts real estate costs

As mentioned, the biggest relationship between facilities management and corporate real estate is cost. Most real estate expenditures happen at the facility level (aside from property acquisition). There’s upkeep and maintenance, repairs, remodeling, renovations, improvements, and any other cost associated with facilities. The sum of these costs is reflected on the bottom line for that specific facility, which then becomes a line item for corporate real estate at a higher level.

A corporate real estate manager looks at property holdings and their costs and asks a simple question: is the cost attributed to this facility justified? If it costs $2.4M annually to operate a facility and that facility only produces $2.8M in revenue, a real estate manager may decide the cost of operation isn’t worth it. Rarely are examples of this cut-and-dry, however. Generally, there’s significant cost-benefit analysis that goes into real estate decision-making at the corporate level. What matters is that a real estate manager has concrete facts, figures, and costs to base their analysis and assessment on.

Ultimately, the more efficient and productive facilities managers are in keeping up a property, the better that property looks on the corporate balance sheet.

Micro to macro: facilities to corporate real estate

The relationship between corporate real estate and facilities management is an important one for businesses to recognize. It’s the bridge between micro and macro; the company’s everyday operations to broader company goals. What happens at the facility level affects a company’s real estate strategy, and strategy decisions affect how facilities operate.

It’s essential for facilities managers and corporate real estate managers to work together in their respective capacities. Together, they can drive efficiency and cost-effective operations, while pushing the company in the direction of its goals. Companies that unify corporate and facility strategies will position themselves to drive more efficient, focused operations.

Keep reading: How Agile is Your Real Estate?

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What is BIM in Facilities Management?

By Katherine Schwartz
Demand Generation Specialist
SpaceIQ

Buildings are getting smarter and so are the technologies used to govern them. One of the most prevalent pieces of technology businesses can deploy today is Building Information Modeling (BIM). What is BIM in facilities management? It’s the next step in digitization of facilities, to glean quantifiable information from physical environments. Everyone from architects and contractors, to facilities managers and maintenance technicians use BIM. Today, BIM is a cornerstone for smart buildings, office IoT build outs, and all-around better facilities management.

What is BIM and what can it tell us?

BIM is a process-driven technology used to map and quantify the physical aspects of a building. BIM is part of everything from building design, to construction of a structure, to facilities maintenance. The core objective is simple: quantify as much of a building as possible and use that data to inform better decision-making about how to manage facilities.

The simplest introduction to BIM for facilities managers is through digital twins. A digital twin is a 3D digital replication of a physical building and the baseline model for a BIM record. A digital twin allows a facilities manager to identify different elements of a building, isolate them for their information, and understand the needs of both that specific element and its relationship to peripheral systems.

There’s virtually no limit to what BIM can tell us about a building. As machine learning folds into BIM software, computers are able to tell us more about our buildings than we could ever hope to learn looking at schematics and blueprints! It’s why BIM is now a mandatory requirement on UK public sector projects and will be mandatory for all German transportation projects by the end of this year.

BIM as a function of facilities management

BIM’s role in facilities management is to provide quantifiable insights. How much money is X costing you within the framework of facilities maintenance? What is the service record for Y this year? If you make an upgrade to Z, what will the ramifications be to peripheral systems?

BIM lets you look into a true-to-life model of facilities and parse information on an as-needed basis. It’s one thing to look at a balance sheet and see costs and figures associated with facilities—it’s another to look at a building model and see, specifically, what those costs equate to and how they manifest.

Companies broadly apply BIM today is because it’s useful at every phase of facilities upkeep. It provides proactive insight into vital systems and can model the effects and changes affiliated with upkeep, repair, or improvement. In a practical sense, it delivers real-time insight into how facilities currently operate, right down to the system level. Finally, it’s a system of record that integrates with vital management software to drive data-backed solutions. It’s a useful tool for facilities managers at every level of decision-making.

How does BIM benefit facility managers?

The results of BIM for facility managers are undeniable. Researchers have spent decades developing BIM to aid building managers as they seek to reduce costs, improve building ROI, streamline operations, improve employee engagement, and prevent problems from arising. Here are some of the ways, specifically, that BIM benefits facilities managers on a day-to-day basis.

  • Generates cost savings in facilities upkeep, maintenance, and improvements
  • Improves project efficiency and expedites delivery time for results
  • Reduces safety risks and clashes, which lowers passive change orders
  • Offers greater predictability for facilities maintenance and upkeep
  • Improves the visibility and oversight of facilities managers in everyday upkeep
  • Provides a system of record and visibility for vital systems within the building
  • Integrates with facilities management software and systems to automate processes

BIM goes beyond facilities management, too. The information and modeling provided by BIM help facilities managers communicate needs and expectations with contractors and craftspeople. BIM facilitates total management of a building across diverse teams. Anyone can glean robust information from the powerful data of a digitized building and its systems to provide better, more efficient, targeted results.

BIM matters in the future of smart workplaces

As buildings become smarter, they’ll continue to produce information that’s relevant to BIM. Every IoT sensor provides contextual data points that factor into the ecosystem of a building. Someday soon, BIM will be able to replicate a real-time dynamic picture of a building, from the infrastructure down to the people within it. And, with each new data stream aggregated into the greater BIM schema, facilities managers will have that much more information to work with as they strive to create the best possible management approach.

Keep reading: Breaking Down BIM Facility Management Software

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How Can Facility Maintenance Reduce Costs?

By Katherine Schwartz
Demand Generation Specialist
SpaceIQ

Facilities are a source of ongoing costs for any business. Aside from the lease itself, facility upkeep requires no small budget and even the best planning can’t account for every cost that’ll arise throughout the year. Most businesses accept the cost of facilities outright, which is why they don’t always see opportunities for facilities maintenance to save money. How can facility maintenance reduce costs?

There are actually ample prospects for facilities maintenance cost savings if you know where to look. Too many stakeholders only look at the balance sheet and see the cost of facilities maintenance in the expense column. What they’re missing is the offsetting value of good facilities maintenance and opportunities to consolidate some of those costs into even more value. Here’s how.

What are the largest maintenance costs?

The simplest way to identify cost-saving opportunities is to identify the largest costs associated with facilities upkeep. What (or who) are you spending the most money on, and what are you getting for that price? Approach these expenses from both a cost and a value standpoint.

Let’s say 26% of your facilities budget went to HVAC this year—more than a quarter of your total spend Dive deeper. How much of that was standard, proactive maintenance vs. repair costs or emergent expenses? If you find that 86% of your expenses went to proactive costs, it signals good value, despite the high allocation. Conversely, if a significant portion of your costs went unbudgeted, it signals inefficiency and opportunity to explore cost-saving options. Perhaps a newer, more efficient rooftop HVAC unit?

Comb through your maintenance expenses, first by cost, then by value. Opportunities for expense reduction will quickly start to stick out.

Explore cost-saving opportunities

As you start to identify inflated expenses, ask yourself: how can facility maintenance services be improved around these expenses? Approach specific costs from as many angles as possible to determine viable options to reduce expenses. Some examples include:

  • Update: Will an upfront investment equate to long-term cost savings?
  • Automate: Can you reduce maintenance costs by reducing labor or man hours?
  • Integrate: Is there a different vendor who can do this at a lower cost?
  • Consolidate: Is this a task you can bring in-house to do more affordably?

Again, consider cost and value. Can you reduce the cost associated with maintenance to save the company money? If so, great! If not, is there a way to maintain this cost but derive more value from the expense? Explore opportunities from both angles.

Five ways facility maintenance can cut costs

One of the ways facilities maintenance can create more value for a company is by reducing peripheral costs. There are many ways facility maintenance can cut costs associated with operation. Explore the following:

  1. Good HVAC upkeep can reduce the prevalence of Sick Building Syndrome, which keeps employees healthier and prevents lost revenue caused by an informed workforce.
  2. In the era of COVID-19 and agile workplaces, facility sanitization and upkeep can help maintain employee health and wellness, which reduces lost time in transition.
  3. Facility maintenance of an office IoT ensures broader data collection capabilities, which results in better space utilization and improved cost efficiency.
  4. Proactive upkeep of facilities prevents larger, unexpected repair costs from entering the fold. This serves to reduce the long-term cost of ownership of facilities.
  5. Proper maintenance of grounds can reduce the prevalence of hazards or obstacles that might otherwise impact employee safety and create legal fees or medical expenses.

The value of good facilities maintenance extrapolates into numerous potential avenues of cost savings and even revenue generation. Facilities touch every part of operations, which correlates upkeep to both cost savings and generation. It’s even reasonable to say that good facilities maintenance equates to better productivity, thereby justifying maintenance costs as a contributor to revenue.

Maintain facilities with a cost-conscious mindset 

Think about the cost of facilities upkeep as a variable you can manipulate. In some cases, you can reduce expenses through a more efficient approach to generate direct cost savings. In other cases, the cost of maintenance may not change, but the value increases as the methodology changes. In either case, the business benefits.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that facilities maintenance costs are non-negotiable. Likewise, don’t strive to cut costs across the board simply for the sake of lowering the burden on the balance sheet. Take a cost-conscious mindset and approach facilities maintenance with strategy. Where can you get the most bang for your buck? Where are there opportunities to trim the fat? Most important: how do your decisions affect facilities beyond the cost of upkeep?

Keep reading: Does your business have a facility maintenance plan?

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How to Write a Facilities Maintenance Job Description

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist
SpaceIQ

Scalability is an obstacle for many companies, not only when it comes to production and fulfillment, but for staffing as well. One area in particular that’s difficult to staff is facilities maintenance—often because businesses aren’t quite sure of who to staff or in what capacity. They start writing a facilities maintenance job description and stop because they’re not sure what responsibilities they’re hiring for.

There’s a broad scope of qualified facilities maintenance professionals out there to choose from. The question is: who brings the most value to an in-house team? It doesn’t make sense to hire a plumber when you could call any one of a dozen nearby. Instead, you want to bring multifaceted talent in-house—someone who can tend to the many everyday needs of facilities, to keep them running smoothly.

Here’s how to write a facilities maintenance job description, to attract the type of professional your facilities deserve at the helm.

Why hire facilities maintenance personnel?

First, ask yourself what your general need for facilities maintenance is. The decision to hire an in-house maintenance professional or build out a team hinges on several key factors:

  • Consistent demand for facilities maintenance
  • Cost savings generated by hiring staff
  • Convenience associated with on-site staff
  • The shift to an integrated management approach

As a company grows, facilities demands tend to scale along with it. The decision to bring on a facility maintenance manager or build out an in-house team should support the continued success of the company. For example, an on-site handyman can resolve a basic electrical problem within the hour, while outsourcing this task might take an entire day or more.

Consider the reasons behind hiring facilities maintenance personnel as you begin the search. When you understand the objective, it’ll be easier to describe the position and communicate expectations to candidates.

Describe the position and expectations

What are the main roles of a facilities maintenance manager? What do you expect from facilities maintenance personnel on a day-to-day basis? These are the most important pieces of information to put into a job description, because they set the tone for applicants. While the job title might be what attracts them, discerning candidates will read the job duties to know exactly what they’re applying for. Here’s what to include:

  • A sampling or broad list of daily, weekly, monthly tasks
  • Delineate any special tasks or duties that require advanced knowledge
  • Information about the role as a standalone position or part of a team
  • Describe chain of command and who the hire will report to
  • Mention software or systems candidates should be familiar with
  • Physical demands of the job, such as lifting heavy objects
  • Describe the business and size/type of facilities

Facilities maintenance is a broad description. A detailed breakdown of the specific position, duties, and expectations casts a more defined net out into the ocean of potential candidates. The more information provided, the better the applicant pool will be (theoretically).

Set qualifications (and be specific)

One final important part of writing a good facilities maintenance job description is to be specific about qualifications. This applies to companies large and small, especially in sectors where special skills, knowledge, or training are important. Ask potential candidates for the following:

  • Formal education (ex. Bachelor’s Degree in Facilities Maintenance)
  • Certifications (ex. SMC certification from BOMI)
  • Memberships (ex. IFMA Membership)
  • Specialized training (ex. journeyman electrician)

Establish qualifications for applicants to narrow the scope of who you’re looking for, and to make sure individuals you interview have the baseline capabilities to do the job you need them to. For example, if you need a repair technician to oversee your expanding IoT network, post a description with specific education, training, and certification surrounding smart buildings and the IoT.

A sample facilities maintenance job description

What should your final facilities maintenance job description look like? Here’s a basic sample:

Description

Facility Maintenance Professionals are responsible for basic maintenance and repair of the facility, including interior, exterior, and vital systems (HVAC, plumbing, electrical). Individuals should prepare to field work request tickets through a CMMS and respond to the general everyday needs of facilities upkeep. New hires will work as part of a three-person team, responsible for upkeep of 15,000 square feet of traditional commercial office space.

Basic Duties

  • Drywall/plaster repair and painting
  • Furniture assembly and relocation
  • Changing lights and/or fixtures
  • Plumbing repairs, replacements, installation
  • Carpentry repairs and installations (doors, shelves, countertops)
  • Minor repair of electrical devices
  • Facilities safety inspections
  • Concrete and asphalt paving inspections and repairs
  • Grounds and security maintenance (fencing, gate arms and gates)

Expectations

  • Maintain tools and equipment in clean, safe, working order
  • Adhere to all safety requirements and wear proper Personal Protective Equipment
  • Respond to emergency situations to ensure employee and facility safety
  • Comply with OSHA and other local, state and federal regulations
  • Adhere to organization and facilities department policies and procedures
  • Build relationships and demonstrate a high level of cooperation

Qualifications

  • High school diploma or general education degree (GED)
  • 2 years facility maintenance experience
  • Familiarity with CMMS ticketing system
  • Valid state Driver’s License
  • The ability to lift and/or move up to 100 pounds

Keep in mind, this is merely a basic example of a facility maintenance job description. Your description should be specific to your company’s needs, your unique facilities, and your hiring objectives.

Focus on building a maintenance team

Whether you’re hiring your first in-house maintenance staff member or your 50th, keep scalability in mind. The purpose of hiring these professionals is to ensure the continued smooth operation of facilities. Hire qualified staff who can work together and cooperate as a unit. After all, the success of your in-house maintenance team is directly evident in the upkeep, maintenance, and efficiency of your facilities.

Keep reading: Get Familiar with a Facility Maintenance Plan

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How Can Facility Management Services Be Improved?

By Katherine Schwartz
Demand Generation Specialist
SpaceIQ

No matter what area of business you’re in, innovation is the key to staying ahead. How can you do what you’re already doing…but better? Look at every new smartphone iteration or the annual release of vehicles and you’ll see the same concept, continually refined. But it’s not only products that benefit from constant improvement. Companies need to look inward, too. For example, how can facility management services be improved? What value do they have?

Facilities management is one of the largest segments of operation for any company—largely because there’s a tremendous amount of work involved in the maintenance, oversight, and optimization of facilities. Because it’s such a broad area of focus, there’s also significant opportunity for betterment. It’s up to companies to identify these opportunities and embrace them.

Even if you’re following facilities management best practices, there are still avenues for improvement worth exploring. Here are a few of them.

Use software to enhance capabilities

How can facility management reduce costs? This is often the first question on any real estate manager’s mind. The trick is to reduce costs without disrupting the balance of a well-orchestrated workplace. To do that takes data and the tools to dissect and analyze that data.

Investment in an Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS) or Computer-Aided Facilities Management (CAFM) platform is a step in the right direction. The numerous resources and features associated with these systems gives facility managers deep insights they can use to drive beneficial change.

This includes at a vendor management or in-house service level. Imagine the ability to route support tickets to the right craftspeople in real-time or the ability to track work orders and invoices to vendors against an SLA. Beyond this, features like digital twins bring tangibility to management services for capital systems—everything from traceable work histories to advance notification of upcoming maintenance or service requirements. Software does what no single person can in the quest to streamline facilities management services.

Automate and delegate where possible 

There are so many functions of facilities management that it takes an entire team to oversee them. This is an opportunity for improvement in and of itself. How can you use automation to improve delegation or to reduce or eliminate labor-intensive tasks altogether? Again, software plays a fundamental role.

Automating facilities management services serves two purposes. First, it saves costs by reducing labor hours. Second, it narrows gaps in execution to reduce or prevent mistakes. Whether it’s invoice generation, support ticket management, or reporting of key metrics, automating these tasks is invariably more efficient and effective than spending significant manpower on them.

For those tasks that do need human oversight, delegation is an important step toward better efficiency. When there’s no question in who, what, where, when, why, or how, there’s efficiency and thoroughness in execution.

Practice integrated facilities management

We’ve talked at length about integrated facilities management: the consolidation of outsourced services to a select service provider(s). More and more, this is something for companies to consider as they look for ways to optimize their facilities management services. Compact SLAs, better rates, consolidated invoicing, and a single-source solution for broad facility needs are all reasons to integrate services.

Integrated facilities management also makes it easier to continuously optimize and improve facilities services. As standards evolve and change, it’s easy to collaborate with a single service provider to adapt to them. Consider an event like the coronavirus crisis. Would you rather communicate new standards to a dozen vendors or two primary partners? The simplicity and convenience of an integrated approach makes it one of the smartest ways to streamline facilities services administration.

Audit facilities management practices

As companies seek to improve facility management and the administration of vital services, it’s crucial to have an auditing process in place. How do you know if the changes you’re making are worthwhile? What evidence do you have that the new way of administering facilities services yields ROI? Auditing—especially against metrics, goals, and benchmarks—is a great way to justify change to facilities oversight. Auditing is also a critical part of any continuous improvement process.

Always look for opportunities to innovate

Best practices in facilities management are ever-evolving. The scope and purpose of facilities changes on a daily basis. The role of facilities is constantly involved in a tug-o-war between employees, company stakeholders, and analysts. This is all to say that facilities management is both a complex practice and one rife for innovation at every level.

It all circles back to the core question: how can you do what you’re already doing, but better? It’s a question facilities managers need to ask themselves diligently. There are numerous ways to improve facilities management services. It’s worth it to identify them and pursue strategies and initiatives that have real benefit for employees, operations, and the company as a whole.

Keep reading: Why is Facility Management Important for Productivity?