By Katherine Schwartz
Demand Generation Specialist
Spend more than a day in the corporate world and you’ll quickly discover that standard operating procedures (SOPs) are the keys to success. They’re the backbone every business builds their processes and expectations on—from how to log into the company Wi-Fi to what you should do in the event of an emergency. SOPs can range in complexity and applicability, but none quite rival the grand-daddy of them all: the operation and maintenance plan for buildings.
The operations plan for a building isn’t one single SOP—it’s the cumulative collection of all vital standards and processes. Think of it like the bible for facilities governance. Whether you’re practicing a fire drill or planning to upgrade the building’s HVAC, the building’s operation and maintenance plan holds the answers to important questions: who, what, where, when, why, and how?
Here’s a look at the collection of operations and building maintenance plans that comprise the core SOP for every major business.
Facilities operation plan
A facilities operation plan (FOP) details, at length, the many processes and approaches associated with the management of facilities. It contains everything from descriptions of the building and campus, to sections for different aspects of property maintenance, to standards for upkeep, and beyond. These plans are often dozens of pages—sometimes even hundreds—or split between individual facilities for larger organizations. It sets the expectations, standards, and precedents for broad facilities management.
An FOP will also cover standards and practices for how employees interact with facilities at a fundamental level. For example, this might include an SOP for issuing badges to new employees. It also includes a complete resource guide and information for facilities managers, service departments, vendors, and other points of contact regarding facilities services.
Building maintenance plan
Building maintenance plans are sometimes part of the FOP, sometimes broken out as a separate plan. They focus specifically on the upkeep of a building—from nightly janitorial services, to seasonal groundskeeping, to HVAC, plumbing, and electrical. Maintenance plans offer both preventive and reactive guidance for building maintenance, including schedules for routine service and action plans for vital system failures.
More and more, these plans also include some level of life cycle planning and enterprise asset management (EAM), so companies can anticipate future facility needs. In a digital space, they might have a digital twin of the building or its core assets. These elements blend with budget and SLA plans, discussed later in this post.
Emergency action plans
Health and safety are a pillar of facilities management and thus, deserve specific attention during the planning process. Also called business continuity planning, emergency action planning involves creating specific processes to ensure employee safety and welfare in the event of a catastrophic incident. This involves planning for fire, flood, active shooters, electrical outages, and geographic-specific situations, like earthquakes or blizzards. Emergency action plans identify the threat, provide specific instructions for how to avoid harm, and delegate action to key stakeholders.
Emergency action plans also involve practice planning. They’ll include schedules for things like fire drills, as well as equipment maintenance checks—sprinkler systems, emergency lighting, backup generators, fire extinguishers, and other relevant emergency systems.
Budgets and SLAs
Because building maintenance planning is so extensive and covers so many essential elements of facilities, there’s a need to budget accordingly. Every facet of maintenance costs money, and it’s in the best interests of companies to plan as far ahead as possible for facilities expenditures. As a result, many businesses make budgeting and service-level agreements (SLAs) part of their operation and maintenance plans.
Budgeting plans are the straightforward process of anticipating costs—often quarterly or annually. This ensures companies spend appropriately and have a metric to track facilities spending vs. expectations. Likewise, SLAs provide an accurate picture of what a company is paying vendors for services and the expectation for ROI. Budgeting and SLAs become independently important as companies consider an integrated facility management approach rooted in consolidating the cost of upkeep.
Planning is the backbone of facilities management
Every aspect of operation and maintenance deserves a plan. Good SOPs ensure preparedness in the event of disruption to facilities. Everyone will know what to do and what their responsibilities are.
Where’s the nearest fire exit and who’s the building’s fire marshal? What’s the budget for building capital improvements this year? What’s the process for hotel desk management during the post-COVID-19 back-to-work strategy? Answers to these questions reside in the building’s operation and maintenance plans. And, if they don’t, it’s up to facilities managers to document the standards and practices that make every situation one you’re prepared for in the future.
Keep reading: Get Familiar with Common and Potential Facility Issues