The International Standards Organisation defines Facilities Management as an, “organisational function which integrates people, place and process within the built environment with the purpose of improving the quality of life of people and the productivity of the core business.”

But what does that truly entail in the real world?


What is Facility Management

What is Facility Management?

From a practical perspective, facility management is the way organisations manage their buildings so that users (whether they are employees, customers, or other stakeholders) can get on with their work.

It’s about making sure that everything – from the front doors opening to the utility bills being paid on time – just works. That way, there’s no impact on a company’s operations from its facilities, and everyone gets to work in the safest and best environment possible.


What Does Facility and Building Management Cover?

Many people hear facilities or building management and assume it just relates to the physical aspects of a site, like maintenance, refurbishment and new construction. While facility management does cover those aspects, it also includes a range of other areas, including:

  • Utilities (such as plumbing, heating, air conditioning, and other atmosphere management systems)
  • Fire and security
  • Lease management
  • Space management (including handling relationships with other site users, such as)
  • Real estate (including acquisition, tenancy, and divestiture)
  • Cleaning and maintenance
  • Sustainability planning
  • Business continuity and disaster recovery planning and impact mitigation

The function of facilities management is so broad that many of its roles cross over with other functions, including IT, HR, finance, and operations.


Types of Facility Management

Though facilities management covers a broad range of areas and functions, the practice can be split into two main categories: hard and soft facility management.

Hard facilities, or services, relate to the physical structure of the building, whereas soft services are those that make the facility secure or pleasant to work in.

Hard services include: Soft facilities management 
Heating Window cleaning
Lighting Internal cleaning
Plumbing Security
Fire safety systems Waste management
Air conditioning Catering
Building maintenance Communal spaces
Parking and access Landscaping


How Can Facilities Management Add Value?

Any business that has attempted to operate out of facilities that are not fit for purpose will know the value of having a property that is safe, comfortable, and aligned with its objectives. Facilities management teams have always been critical to delivering that sort of environment – and this has become even more crucial to both employees and organisations in the wake of COVID-19.

But the value of facility management goes far beyond basic health and safety, as effective FM can:

Promote productivity

Research shows that workers that report a positive employee experience have 16 times the engagement levels of those with a negative experience. With engaged employees also more likely to be productive, delivering great EX is critical – and the physical environment is one of the elements McKinsey identified as essential to great EX. Facilities management is central to delivering the sort of physical environment that helps workers stay engaged and remain productive.

Ensure health & safety compliance

Irrespective of where facilities are, local health and safety regulations will require certain levels of comfort in workplaces. Facilities management ensures that all buildings and sites meet the requirements set by regulations and legislation. It can also ensure that businesses are not exposing themselves to costly legal battles or fines for compliance failures.

Extend physical asset lifespan

Maintaining and upgrading buildings can be expensive, but ongoing costs for maintaining the lifespan of an existing asset will always be cheaper than having to build a new facility from scratch. Facilities management ensures that buildings remain useable for as long as possible, maximising return on investment for both owners and tenants.

Cut costs

Having a single function overseeing all aspects of facilities management can help reduce costs by standardising suppliers, having a consolidated view of expenditure, and identifying problems before they impact operational effectiveness.

Automate maintenance services

With commercial and industrial sites increasingly incorporating smart technologies, the digitalisation of facilities management is upon us. Facilities management can play a key role in the automation of maintenance services through its overarching view of all areas of the business that require ongoing maintenance. In particular, its insights can inform the shift from time-based maintenance to predictive maintenance.

Turn asset data into operational intelligence

With ongoing access to all aspects of an organisation’s-built environment, facilities management teams are well-placed to gather data on physical assets. With data analytics, this information can be turned into intelligence that can inform business decision-making, from the running costs of a half-used facility to the suitability of a site for a change of use.


What Is the Role of a Facilities Manager?

If facilities management is the function responsible for delivering a high-quality physical environment, then facilities managers are the people that do the delivery. They need to be builders, managers, communicators, utility experts, relationship builders, behavioural specialists, and much more.

Specifically, a business’ facility management professionals need an understanding of:

  • Finance and business – A well as being able to manage budgets and handle suppliers, facility managers need to know how their costs affect the P&L of the wider business.
  • Operations and maintenance – A good knowledge of the business’ operations means facility managers will be better placed to ensure physical built environments are aligned with company needs.
  • Leadership, communication, and stakeholder management – Facility managers could find themselves dealing with an array of blue and white-collar workers daily, with varying employment relationships with the wider organisation and a range of seniorities. Being able to lead people and understand the various strategies and competing priorities at play is critical.
  • Project management – From dealing with malfunctioning air conditioning to supporting the move to a new office block, facilities managers must be able to juggle multiple projects running simultaneously.
  • Real estate – A company’s physical assets can account for its largest outgoings, so having real estate that meets their needs, while not draining cash, is critical. Facility managers should have a good understanding of the local real estate markets, from key players and regulations to values and rates.
  • Sustainability – Reducing the environmental footprint of a business through its built environment can have a major impact on company ESG efforts.


Computer-Aided Facility Management Software

Purpose-built facility management software can help streamline facility and physical asset maintenance by helping organisations:

  • Optimise operations
  • Improve inventory accuracy
  • Automate work orders, and;
  • Ensure safety and compliance

The best solutions bring all relevant facilities management data together to make it readily available across departments and tools. Plus, using mobile and cloud technologies ensures that everyone has access to the right tools, whether they’re working from an office, the shop floor, or next to a production line.


Facilities Management Trends

What does the future hold for facilities management? Faced with a constricting economy, uneven return to work processes, and ongoing market disruption, it would appear that commercial buildings face a rough future.

However, while many might think this threatens facilities management, it actually presents an opportunity. As companies look to make the most out of their assets and optimise their organisations, forward-thinking facility managers have significant value to add. By increasing their use of data insights, automating where appropriate, and streamlining resources to support business objectives, facilities management functions could help stretched business units reduce costs at a time of uncertain revenues.


Get Started

Accruent's purpose-built facility asset management solutions can streamline your organisation's facility and asset maintenance, helping optimise operations, improve inventory accuracy, automate and maintain work orders, and maintain ongoing compliance.

To find out how it could work for you, get in touch today.