Expect the unexpected is a phrase that can be used to encapsulate a key aspect of a facility manager’s day-to-day. Although there’s a finite number of challenges we face every day, some days it can seem infinite especially when Murphy’s Law takes effect. Prioritization and anticipation are two primary actions that can hold the key to keeping your building in excellent condition. They help identify these issues and lead to executing the most efficient and effective ways to overcome them.
Let’s dive deep into common facility management issues that you will encounter and the ways to deal with them.
Expectations vs. Reality: Doing more with Less
What you visualize in your mind how your facility should look and function can be dramatically reduced to the bare minimum due to budgetary constraints. You’re expected to stretch out your given budget as much as possible, which you’ve come to learn over the years, is never enough. So what can you do?
Be organized. Before you let your imagination run wild and get in the clouds, audit your facility with a quick status check. This will bring you up to speed in terms of prioritization. Once all of the information on your building has been downloaded and absorbed, you will have a better grasp of what needs to be done from an immediacy standpoint. Whether it’s as small as restocking supplies or as big as deploying roof, electrical, or plumbing related maintenance, it’s important to understand in great detail the condition of your facility and building.
Be communicative. Implementing a seamless flow and systematic method of internal communications between you and your team will keep you updated with the latest information. This will strengthen you and your team’s workflow, productivity, and efficiency. As trite as the oft-quoted saying goes, teamwork DOES make the dream work.
Data is king: Importance of record-keeping
Keeping and protecting accurate records is one of the most important challenges you’ll face. Tracking and processing data can be daunting especially if your facility/office is housed inside a sprawling, state-of-the-art building. Managing such a space means you are responsible and in charge of a lot of different systems both old and new and if you do not have reliable data about each and every component of every system, you can become sucked into a time-consuming and expensive problem. For example, this can be an HVAC issue where missing documentation of its maintenance record prevents you from knowing when the next service should be scheduled, forcing you to commit to a money-wasting premature service or one that is overdue, potentially resulting in costly damages.
The simple but diligent solution here is to create a tracking method for all service and maintenance work. Though it may seem stiflingly administrative, once a system is in place, the process will be simple and you’ll gain better insights, be able to see service patterns, and help you expeditiously anticipate potential problems with clarity.
Be a bean counter: Manage your budget
Nothing reveals incompetence in black and white terms more than being unable to answer a question regarding your department and team. So in a scenario where you are part of a monthly budget meeting and you’re asked what you can do to reduce operational costs, you better damn well have an answer. Otherwise, you have just given key leadership from various departments the impression that you are not managing your facility efficiently. A key method of managing your budget goes back to the importance of record-keeping. Tracking your inventory and negotiating more attractive rates in exchange for long-term partnerships with contractors and vendors is a proven method. This long-term strategy will not only help save you money but also show company leadership your ability to manage and maximize your budget. As we all know a large chunk of operational budgets are spent on energy consumption so an energy assessment of your facility is highly recommended. This will help you learn where energy is unnecessarily consumed in your building and enable you to take appropriate action such as having a team member scan your building and shut off any unused lights or electrical equipment.
Choosing the Right Vendors
Outsourcing facility maintenance work has long been an economical choice for facility managers. It’s a fiscally sound move proven to save you money. However, not all vendors deliver the same quality of work. So how do you know you’ve chosen the best? Be investigative. Find out if a vendor’s team have a high turnover rate, if they conduct background checks for their workers, what their training process is, etc.