Facilities Management Training Goes Digital
By Tamara Sheehan
Director of Business Management
When hiring a new mechanic, a garage doesn’t just say “Get to work.” Before touching a torque wrench, the new tech has to prove they’re ready. It’s the same for facilities management training. But it’s not about learning the nuances of the physical workplace. Today’s facility managers (FMs) must learn and understand an entire digital ecosystem.
Executing on facilities management theories and concepts is key. That requires access to and understanding of the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, and integrated software—digital tools at the forefront of facilities management. Educating yourself on them is a natural first step in facility management training.
The Internet of Things (IoT)
The IoT is hands-down one of the most complex and immersive parts of FM training. It covers hardware and software, philosophy and execution, and integration into just about every aspect of facilities management. Using our auto mechanic example, learning the ins and outs of the IoT is akin to learning how to rebuild a transmission.
Few companies are immersed in the IoT. The technology is new and quickly maturing for early adopters, while “wait and see” companies are dipping their toes in gradually. This offers a natural educational starting point: Get familiar with the philosophy of the IoT and the role of the specific devices and systems available to you. As your company’s involvement in the IoT grows, so will your knowledge.
It’s also a good idea to train yourself on the IoT from the top down. Learn broadly about it, then refine your understanding as it touches other aspects of facilities management. For example, learning how your access control system works to limit access is a good starting point. In the future, once you understand the premise and capabilities, you’ll be able to leverage it into different aspects of facilities management.
Finally, pay attention to IoT trends. FM training is an ongoing task, which means keeping on top of emerging trends. Tomorrow’s technologies may easily displace today’s optimal solutions.
Cloud computing systems
Almost everything you do as a facility manager will in some way touch the cloud. It’s no surprise that IFMA training, for the last several years, has focused on cloud computing.
Training should start by getting up to speed on your business’s critical cloud systems—software and services essential to everyday operation. It could be as simple as Slack and Dropbox, or as robust as Salesforce and NetSuite. Gain better understanding of messaging apps, file sharing platforms, conferencing software, and workplace collaboration applications.
No FM training is complete without an introduction to facility-specific software like an Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS) or a Computer-Aided Facilities Management (CAFM) platform. If your business has one, get familiar with it. If not, lobby for one and learn. It’s a must-have in the modern workplace.
Explore workplace integrations
Training yourself on various software and applications isn’t enough. You need to understand the ecosystem they represent. How do these programs intertwine? It could be as simple as sharing a Dropbox file to a Slack channel. Or, it might be as robust as connecting various apps to a central IWMS, which connects to your IoT—enabling end-to-end interaction.
As a facility manager, it’s your job to understand the framework of the workplace. This framework is increasingly digital. It’s crucial to recognize the bridges from the physical to the digital, and how various digital interaction govern the workplace.
In addition to job duties…
A facilities manager’s job description may look the same as it did a decade ago, but the duties and responsibilities are far from unchanged. In fact, in addition to traditional responsibilities, there’s increasing responsibility to pioneer new office initiatives largely rooted in technology.
Maximizing space utilization is still a priority. But now, that means integrating occupancy sensors, dissecting data, presenting key findings to stakeholders, and proposing improvement solutions. Much of this is done through the IoT, cloud systems, and integrated technologies.
Technology is disruptive and has been a catalyst for change in many professions. Facilities management is no exception. For facilities managers entering the field or striving to stay relevant, this is where current and future education should focus. Ask yourself: What technology is available, how does it work, how can I use it, and what problems does it solve?
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