By Tim McLean

Managing the facilities life cycle is second only to people as the largest expense item in enterprises, according to Gartner.1 With facilities and asset management consuming the bulk of their non-payroll expenses, it is no surprise that organizations typically view facilities management solely as a cost center. However, facilities management teams still can play a more strategic role in the success of any business.

Today, organizations are increasingly focused on reducing waste—of both revenues and natural resources—and often establish goals around corporate and social responsibility. At the same time, today’s more advanced facilities management software, including integrated workplace management systems (IWMS) and computer-aided facilities management (CAFM) systems, offer opportunities to deliver significant time, cost, and energy savings that align with and support these goals.


Strategic Opportunities for Facilities Management Teams

From managing work orders manually to tracking asset inspections and maintenance in spreadsheets, the daily operations of typical facilities management teams offer vast opportunities to increase efficiencies. Automating many of these types of tasks through a single system can quickly reduce the hours spent on manual processes. With time savings gained from new operational efficiencies, facilities managers can repurpose employees for higher value tasks that ultimately lead to cost savings.

Another consideration is that buildings consume up to 40% of the world’s electricity, much of which is inefficiently utilized or even wasted. Many companies recognize this and are attempting to reduce costs and become more socially responsible by reducing energy waste. Besides the inherent cost savings, this “green” approach has far-reaching benefits, including stronger community relations, and even an improved ability to attract and retain employees. In fact, a 2012 study by Net Impact and Rutgers University showed that 35 percent of the college students in the study’s survey said they would take a 15 percent pay cut to work for a company committed to corporate social responsibility (CSR).

While it may seem unusual to think of facilities management as playing a strategic role, it no longer has to. Your facilities management team can use modern tools and approaches to save time, decrease costs and support sustainable, energy-efficient practices—effectively elevating your team’s role from a mere cost center to a driver of corporate success.


Embrace Customer Self-Service

Whether a light bulb needs changing or a chiller has gone down, manually processing service requests is time consuming. It often requires handling phone requests, researching customer issues and updating employees and tenants on work order and product statuses. This all carries a high cost in personnel and time.

However, with an online self-service portal, tenants or occupants can enter their own service requests, view the status of their existing requests and receive automated confirmation and status messages. This approach has the following benefits:

  • Allows you to respond more quickly to maintenance requests, which helps to improve overall customer satisfaction.
  • Reduces the amount of time spend managing service requests, saving time and costs, and giving your team more time to find and address issues before your customers do.
  • Avoids prolonged periods for facilities and asset maintenance issues to go unaddressed, saving time, money, and energy—especially in the case of electricity-seeping assets.

With self-service, you can capture critical information in the field at the point of the problem. Self-service gives users the ability to enter requests online while the details of the problem are right in front of them, check on the status of requests without continual phone calls, and receive email confirmation and updates while work progresses. The payback is a faster response to maintenance requests and better data because it’s coming directly from the field and fewer touches by your facility administration group, resulting in lower costs and more time for people to work on planning and analysis. Continuous communication diffuses customer frustration with their issues.


Additional Opportunities for Facilities Management Teams

Embracing customer self-service is just one way facility maintenance management teams can play a strategic role in their company. Facilities can be tuned and adjusted like a musical instruments, and with the right tools it can work in harmony with the rest of the organization to meet your goals. Automating maintenance management tasks through facility management software can tune your operations for success.

Read our blog post Facilities Management as a Strategic Contributor: Move to the Cloud to learn about our first tip in the series, and stay tuned for posts on the next 5 tips to become a strategic contributor. For those interested in learning more, you can find an accompanying white paper here.


Magic Quadrant for Integrated Workplace Management Systems; Gartner; June 17, 2013.