The Functions of Facilities Management
13/08/20 | Rebecca Drewett
Behind the growth and development of many businesses are a variety of facilities management functions. These activities ensure companies stay up-and-running, key processes are established and maintained, and that staff are always working in an optimal environment.
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The definition and scope of facilities management can be boiled down to organising the people, places and processes within a building environment, with the overriding goal to create the most welcoming environment for employees and boost the productivity and efficiency of the business as a whole.
This broadly covers the functions of FM and the responsibilities that FM professionals bear. However, it’s impossible to do justice to the scale of the duties that this diverse industry covers in a single sentence, or its power to change workplaces in ways that directly impact productivity.
That’s why in this article, we will explore in greater detail the various functions of facilities management, the organisational objectives that these fulfil and the roles and responsibilities that FMs fulfil on a day-to-day basis.
Understanding the functions of facilities management
The universal nature of facilities management can make it hard to truly nail down the scope of work it is responsible for. To make this more digestible, we’ve divided it up into 5 overarching categories:
- Maintaining & optimising facilities
- Streamlining processes
- Supporting people
- Managing projects
- Integrating technology
1. Maintaining & optimising facilities
First, as the name would suggest, a core function of facilities is ensuring these facilities remain in an optimal condition at all times.
This will encompass everything from regular cleaning and decoration of the workplace to provide the best possible environment to staff, occupants, customers and more, to carrying out both routine maintenance and reactive repairs throughout the facilities.
This requires up-to-date and accurate classifications of the various assets throughout the facilities. Without a robust CAFM system to collect and store this information, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep track of when they need to be serviced or replaced, preventing businesses from unlocking the benefits of proactive maintenance.
As well as this, FMs will also be responsible for understanding the layout of a property and how to best utilise the space. This is critical in optimising the usage of the building as a means to manage costs and to ensure that certain areas are not oversaturated with activity (which is particularly relevant in a post-Covid-19 environment).
Furthermore, the upkeep and improvement of facilities will also incorporate the need to find and maintain relationships with relevant vendors and future planning for the development of the business over time.
Effective facilities maintenance helps to ensure that:
- Assets are serviced on a frequent basis, minimising the occurrence of breakdowns and extending their lifecycles
- Any spills, blockages and similar incidents can be immediately reported, prioritised and responded to in order to protect health and safety and present a welcoming environment
- Any inefficiencies with assets are quickly identified and responded to, in order to reduce any drain on costs this would cause
2. Establishing & streamlining processes
By introducing processes into a day-to-day working environment, FMs help make days more efficient and more predictable for everyone involved. This FM function is built around adding order in a potentially chaotic workplace environment, and setting expectations for employees about what they are meant to do in certain situations.
Processes that FM professionals can introduce and uphold in the workplace may include:
- Work order requests
- Employee sign-in/sign-out of work
- Task management
- Meeting reservations
- Checking in guests/visitors
- Portering management
- Stock control
- Mailroom practices
It is also the responsibility of FM professionals to adapt and evolve processes in-line with the changing nature of the business or workplace environment. If a new unforeseen situation arises, they should analyse what occurred and implement a framework for managing that scenario in the future.
3. Supporting people
The core role and responsibilities of a facilities manager is to create an accommodating work environment for all employees. When people are comfortable while they work, they are happier, will develop stronger bonds to their company, and will typically be more productive.
Conversely, a poor workplace environment will frustrate employees and inhibit their performance, as well as potentially negatively your ability to recruit and retain staff long-term.
More and more FMs are recognising this responsibility and are looking at innovative ways to differentiate their environment and simultaneously contribute to the culture of the company. It is about improving the whole ‘customer experience’, from when an employee walks through the door in the morning to their departure at night.
As well as making employees happy, FM services should also work to empower employees and help them take control of their own daily objectives. This could involve a streamlined system to track their tasks throughout the day, or a communal system for employees to flag any issues they identify to the FM team, such as our own Adhoc Tasks app.
It is not simply about the here-and-now as well, as facilities managers will also provide key strategic data to company executives and assess the workplace frequently for any opportunities to make the environment more comfortable and appealing for staff, visitors, customers and more.
From coordinating desk and seating arrangements, to effective climate control solutions and water management throughout the building, maintaining staff wellbeing and happiness is a vital responsibility for any FM professional.
4. Managing projects
Overseeing budgets and making sure deliverables are achieved by deadlines is a critical function for FMs to keep a handle on. Be it a one-off, short-term development or a project that will extend for many years, FM professionals will be responsible for ensuring that these stay within budget and that every task is completed and noted.
Another key aspect of project management is overseeing the work of contractors and subcontractors brought in to support the project through to completion. Ensuring that these groups are on-site, have the correct permits and certifications, and are accurately tracking their times is vital for overall cost management.
Through a tool like FSI’s Contractor Portal, this helps FM professionals fulfil responsibilities such as:
- Giving contractors all the information they need to do their job effectively
- Keeping a contractor database up-to-date and well-administered
- Ensuring that security and safety protocols are consistently met
- Receiving product updates and checking that tasks have been signed-off once fulfilled
5. Integrating technology
Finally, the fifth function of facilities management for this article is the implementation of technology within the organisation and how it is integrated into established infrastructures.
This has become an increasingly important aspect of an FM professional’s role in recent years, especially through the evolution of CAFM/IWMS solutions like Concept Evolution, with the capacity to influence all objectives of facilities management. While it will typically be an IT responsibility to implement any new technology itself, FMs will often have the first and last word on how it is selected and employed.
A modern example of this is the rising involvement of the Internet of Things (IoT) into everyday facilities processes. The IoT is imbuing objects with wireless network connectivity, allowing them to send and receive data, as well as interact with each other like never before.
Devices communicating across a global network, such as automatic monitoring of water temperature fluctuations or real-time climate control adjustments, can greatly enhance the workplace and make life more comfortable for employees. It is the responsibility of FM managers to therefore:
- Understand technology such as this and how it operates in the workplace
- Assess the costs required and whether this aligns with the benefits that the company will gain in return
- Embrace the potential for change rather than overlook opportunities for innovation
As the role of technology in FM becomes increasingly paramount in this digital age, harnessing this technology has become a central function for the facilities management industry worldwide.
Enhancing your facilities management functions
We hope this has increased your understanding of the various functions of facilities management and the role that each performs in overseeing facilities and making workplaces as comfortable as possible for the people within them.
Of course, considering the universal nature of facilities management and how it applies to all environments, be it a hotel, hospital or factory, the precise responsibilities that an FM is likely to undertake will be shaped significantly by the type of organisation they represent. Nevertheless, here we have provided an introduction to the core facets that typically underline an FM professional’s critical role.
At FSI, our support for FM functions goes far beyond software. What sets us apart is that we offer benefits from a value-added perspective, not just a product perspective. We work closely with our clients to understand how our system can be specifically configured to meet the exact needs of their organisation.
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