Facilities managers tackle critical issues every day in the face of a host of obstacles. Considering the multitude of distinctive elements they must bring together, this should come as no surprise. Diligence and flexibility in handling every aspect not only defines their success, but that of the entire company as well. While the vast majority of facility operations are being asked to do more with less, when asked if performance and quality expectations were also being lowered for facility operations, the answer from the industry was a not-too-surprising “No” What was somewhat surprising is the number of companies looking to implement new approaches and new technologies to address the challenges.
"Businesses — both large and small — must devote a considerable amount of energy and capital to ensure their facilities are properly maintained and ready to meet the challenges of the future"
While the central task of facility management is to keep a company’s physical properties operating smoothly, it also requires the flexibility to adjust to the fresh demands of an ever-evolving world. Facility managers also need to remain alert to trends that will affect their responsibilities.
We’ll look at eight of the big challenges that facility managers need to overcome.
A juggler’s hat
Most facility mangers face the common challenge of having to wear a juggler’s hat – metaphorically speaking. Anyone who has worked as a facility manager knows how problems can weigh on you over time. In this managerial role, you have so many responsibilities, varying from ensuring that the facility and grounds under your domain are safe and functional to meeting an array of federal and state regulations and compliance standards. Keeping all of these potential problems and tasks under control ranks up there as one of the toughest challenges a facility manager will face. Whether you are new to the field or a hardened veteran, one way to stay on top of your duties is to incorporate the help of facility management software.
Beyond helping you juggle and track the various issues that arise, Facility Management software also helps with asset tracking, reporting, invoicing, document storage, issuing work orders, and inventory management. Computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) now available are pivotal for both preventative maintenance and proactive maintenance facility management approaches.
Cutting down costs
The next major challenge Facility Managers face is the issue of controlling costs. In a lot of companies, facility managers are constantly asked to save the company money and help increase revenue. Of course, if you cannot control costs, then this is a moot point. Increasing the life span of equipment (such as boilers and HVAC systems) and properly tracking inventory and assets are two ways you can achieve this goal.
Another, often overlooked way you can control costs is through energy conservation. As machines get older, they become energy hogs if not properly cared for. Take care of equipment so it (and your budget) doesn’t get fat and bloated!
Aging inventory systems
The third challenge is dealing with aging inventory and grounds. As time passes and equipment and building structures age, they begin to wear out. This will eventually lead to breakdowns and issues with structural integrity. Preventative and proactive maintenance go a long way to prolong this, but inevitably, machinery will need to be replaced. This is the same with roofs and other structural features. Proper budgeting and planning for upkeep of these will help to soften the blow and keep them from draining corporate revenues.
Changing regulatory and compliance standards
For a facility Manager, staying on top of regulatory and compliance standards can be another tough challenge. Taking time to keep abreast of leading industry changes and improvements, and ensuring that you (and your staff) set aside time and the budget for continuing training in new improved ways of compliance is key. This can include attending workshops and seminars or even working toward online certifications. Stay informed and you won’t have to worry about this particular challenge.
Meeting eco friendly policies
In the face of soaring energy costs and growing concerns about the environmental impact of existing industrial infrastructure, facility managers are increasingly tasked to find ways to shrink their companies’ carbon footprint and to adhere to the company’s eco friendly policies.
High on the list of environmentally related priorities are finding better ways to manage waste and to consume less energy overall. Lifecycle sustainability has also become a more significant consideration in making purchasing decisions.
Threats and breaches in security sharply increase a facility managers’ concerns about the security related responsibilities of their jobs. This forces them to focus on the importance of emergency preparedness. In many organizations much remains to be done regarding emergency evacuation procedures.
Very few organizations have a proper disaster recovery plan in place and only a handful of facility managers know that they are the department responsible for emergency preparedness planning. Bringing the organization up to speed is therefore a very challenging task faced by facility managers today.
Pressure to perform highly with few resources
It is common to find an organization that wants to make the best out of the few resources present. A facility manager then faces pressure from everyone in the facility to perform at high levels. With few resources, he has to find the most effective way to perform. This can be very challenging as he will be limited by resources he has to work with. Abundant resources will allow for exploitation of different aspects present in the industry and improve service delivery. However, with limited resources facility managers are often limited to what the organization can afford thus service delivery is altered.
Facility managers have a million things to do every day. There are budget meetings to attend, vendors to consult with and emails to answer. Besides this there are employees with questions, management concerns and issues that need to be sorted. And all this needs to be done before end of day! Managing time therefore becomes a big challenge for a facility manager. Technology is one thing that can help manage a wide range of locations, spaces, services and assets critical in today’s fast paced world.
Planning and prioritizing tasks and the way you work is the other way to stay on top of the game.