By Aleks Sheynkman
Director of Engineering
The broad scope of facilities management makes it a hard position to define. Where a Sales Manager is directly responsible for managing the performance of salespeople, the functions of facilities management go far beyond “managing facilities.” As a result, it’s often difficult for companies to maximize the advantages of a good facility manager.
But what is the importance of facilities management? To truly understand what a facility manager does, what they’re responsible for, and what effect they have on a company, it’s best to break down their scope of work. That means taking a closer look at the four main pillars of facilities management: People, processes, the building, and technology.
The foremost objective of a facility manager is creating an accommodating work environment for employees. This serves many broader goals, including attracting and retaining top talent, improving efficiency and productivity, and creating a positive workplace culture. Facility managers provide employee support in many ways, including:
- Coordinating desking arrangements
- Managing employee directories
- Facilitating moves and space utilization
- Handling emergency planning
Facility managers serve as a bridge between the workplace and the employees working within it. Whenever issues of accommodation, safety, or comfort arise, it’s up to the facility manager to solve them.
This applies upward, as well. Facility managers are responsible for providing vital planning data to the C-suite and determining the long-term approach to workplace optimization. Their everyday interaction with the workplace sheds light on true costs and competitive advantages at the employee level.
What are the functions of facilities management without a process to govern them? Establishing processes brings order to the workplace. Order creates a system of expectations, which breeds organization that positively impacts the way people utilize the workplace. The workplace runs on a multitude of processes, including:
- Submitting a work order request
- Reserving space within the facility
- Checking in guests and visitors
- Emergency action planning
Facility managers serve the dual role of identifying governance areas and adapting processes to cover them. Whenever a new situation arises, it’s up to the facility manager to create order from chaos and building a repeatable framework for handling that scenario again in the future.
Developing processes is also where the scope of facility management expands its reach. New processes may involve different departments, employees, assets, fixtures, and spaces—all of which connect the many aspects of the business.
Facilities upkeep and improvement
As the name implies, facility management is largely rooted in facilities upkeep and improvement of the physical building. It’s the most common answer when asked, “What does facility management include?”
But this is also the most robust scope of expectations for facility managers. It involves not only tending the building, but cultivating partnerships, future planning, and asset management. Some examples of this broad range of responsibilities include:
- Finding and maintaining vendor contracts
- Repair, maintenance, and building improvement
- Workplace cleaning and décor
- On- and off-site property management
If it has to do with the physical building, it falls within the facilities manager’s realm. Facilities are the second largest expense behind the workforce—it’s the job of a facility manager to turn the workplace into a competitive advantage, instead of a cost center. It’s about ensuring facilities meet the needs of the people using them.
More important than ever is the need for facilities managers to understand and use technology. Workplace management systems aggregate data, which drives crucial decisions about how to run the business and shape the workplace. Identifying and implementing the right technology is a chief responsibility of facility managers.
Integrating physical technology typically falls on the IT department. However, facilities managers are the first and last word on how they’re selected, used, and leveraged. Some examples of what this looks like in a modern setting include:
- Researching IoT devices based on data collection needs
- Integrating IoT devices into everyday facilities processes
- Determining the cost, ROI, and advantage of smart technologies
- Using aggregated data to better understand the workplace
Using an Integrated Workplace Management System (read more on what is IWMS software), facility managers can collect and analyze data from networked technologies to get insights about the workplace. This fuels better decision-making on how to optimize the work environment for the people using it.
It’s important to note that not all office tech relies on data collection. Access control systems support safety, while automation tech streamlines processes. And while there’s a data component to any networked device or software, the true benefit of most tech is in its function. It’s up to facility managers to understand and leverage this function for optimal ROI.
Putting it all together for facilities management
Facility managers support workers directly and indirectly. They establish processes for order and organization. They’re charged with upkeep and improvement of the facilities themselves. They create complex integrations to leverage data for success.
When you put these four functions together, they paint a picture of what facility managers really do. Broadly speaking, their focus is on optimizing the workplace to support every aspect of the business it touches. But on a deeper level, it’s about giving the company a steady foundation for success.
Keep reading: Selecting the best facility management software.