Aug 11, 2021
By Kate Camerlin

What Is Facilities Management?

Facilities management is the process of ensuring that an organization’s environment is functional, safe, efficient, and secure. It crosses many departments and, according to the ISO’s official definition, integrates people, places, processes, and technology to improve employee quality of life and company productivity.

Building management and facilities management deal with all aspects of an organization’s physical space—and because facilities management intersects such a broad range of disciplines, the team usually operates one of the largest budgets in their organization. They’re in charge of ensuring that the buildings and environment are as efficient and safe as possible. This is especially important, as studies have shown that the more employees feel secure and happy in their workplace, the more productive and engaged they’ll be.

What’s Involved in Effective Facilities Management?  

Building and facilities managers need to coordinate closely with many other groups, including the space planning, real estate, and finance departments. Plus, the requirements and responsibilities assigned to the facilities management team are only becoming more complex. For example, facilities managers need to be able to establish clear processes between teams, and they need to be effective at project planning and data analytics.

In fact, according to the International Facility Management Association, there are 11 core competencies necessary for successful facilities management. These include occupancy and human factors, operations and maintenance, sustainability, facility information and technology management, risk management, communication, performance and quality, leadership and strategy, real estate, and project management.

Each of these skills helps the facilities management team make holistic, informed decisions about the long-term strategy for their organization’s construction and renovation projects.

We can further break down facilities management into two categories: hard services and soft services.

Hard Services

Hard services are related to a building’s physical infrastructure. They’re the items that ensure occupant health and safety—and they are often required by law due to hygiene and safety concerns. Hard services include infrastructure that is considered essential and can’t be interrupted. These consist of:

  • Electrical systems and lighting
  • Elevators and cargo lifts
  • Fire safety equipment
  • Plumbing and drainage
  • HVAC and air filtration systems
  • Energy systems
Soft Services

Soft services are focused on keeping the buildings secure and comfortable. Although they’re not essential to the infrastructure of a building, they’re extremely important in creating a pleasant, efficient, and welcoming environment. Soft services include:

  • Furniture
  • Grounds management
  • Waste and recycling systems
  • Document and asset management
  • Pest control
  • Housekeeping

As these two lists illustrate, building and facilities management is a vital function that crosses a wide range of responsibilities. Depending on how large the organization is, there could be multiple teams and vendors involved in keeping the buildings and facilities running smoothly.

So, how do facilities managers keep track of it all? Traditionally, they’ve used pen and paper, spreadsheets, or other manual methods. But as facilities and building management becomes more complex, an increasing number of organizations are using software solutions to streamline and manage these systems and processes.

Digital Transformation and Other Trends in Facilities Management

One Verdantix study notes that the facilities sector is beginning a new phase of digitization. It found that optimizing the use of technician labor and taking paper-based processes online are the next two waves in innovating facilities management.

There are several trends supporting this digital transformation.

Digital Asset Management and CMMS Solutions

Instead of tracking all assets in separately maintained spreadsheets, facilities teams get a much more comprehensive view into the lifecycle of their equipment when they use a single asset management platform—from purchase, to maintenance, sunsetting, disposal, and beyond.

This gives facilities managers insight into the work history of their assets so they can monitor maintenance schedules and better plan for equipment updates or replacements. They have a much more holistic picture of their assets and can refine their asset management strategies accordingly.

Additionally, it becomes easier to perform facilities condition assessments, so teams have a clearer view into how their buildings are performing as a whole—not just how specific assets are performing.

When everything is tracked in one platform, teams can:

  • Manage aging assets
  • Analyze and update corrective maintenance schedules to improve asset longevity
  • Monitor preventive maintenance to prevent issues from occurring
Mobile Apps and Field Service Management

Many asset management solutions also enable smart dispatching by creating rules that automate work orders. For example, work orders can be auto-routed based on details such as location, certifications, and vendor preference. Plus, it is easier to assign technicians checklists when inspecting assets—such as during safety equipment evaluations.

However, if technicians can’t input equipment information from a mobile device, it means they must manually enter it at a workstation later (increasing the possibility of errors or rework). This makes mobile-friendly platforms critical to increasing efficiency. Technicians can update work orders in real time, and they can view assets on a map, order parts, and input data all from their mobile devices.

Often, these mobile-friendly asset management solutions enable vendors and contractors to work directly in the same systems as in-house teams. This means that facilities managers have a better picture of the performance of all their vendors alongside other key business data.

Data Management

Better asset management solutions lead to better data, so facilities managers can more easily make strategic, analytics-driven decisions about their buildings.

When everything is in one place, teams can create dashboards to visualize data and identify trends—including whether work orders are being completed on time, how suppliers are performing, which facilities and equipment are being used, and much more.

This data can help transform facilities operations into an increasingly forward-thinking business unit.

Facilities Management, The Connected Workplace, and OT Security  

Nuvolo Connected Workplace can support your facilities team’s digital transformation in all the ways mentioned above—but it also goes beyond by offering OT (operational technology) security capabilities.

OT security is a new and critically important area for facilities teams. With the increase in network-connected devices like HVAC systems, sensors, and cameras, this equipment is being increasingly targeted by hackers. OT devices can be used as attack vectors into an organization’s network. Connected Workplace can help monitor, remediate, and resolve these issues.

Interested in learning more? Explore how companies like Chevron and Vertex modernized their facilities maintenance and asset management processes. Plus, see how Nuvolo can help you ditch your spreadsheets, get a holistic view of your assets and spaces, and ensure the security of your OT devices.