The primary function of facilities management, whether it be public or private sector, in-house or outsourced, is to support the core business activities of an organisation and to help provide an environment in which a business can achieve its goals. But how does FM actually do this? Here's 5 key areas that you need to consider.
Meeting end-user requirements
First and foremost, Facilities Management exists to service its clients, customers and users. These three terms are often used interchangeably, but there are important differences between the three. For clarity, we’ll refer to them as CCU’s.
The needs of CCU’s are varied and will often depend upon the organisation and its culture. These needs may also change over time as the business develops and society changes.
A well-used example is the trend towards flexible working and the expectations of the ‘millenials’ as they enter the workplace.
A good facilities manager needs to have an ear to the ground and open lines of communication with CCU’s in order to anticipate their needs and provide a service to satisfy them. Customer relationship management, or CRM, is a term often related to sales and marketing but is equally relevant to FM.
Buildings and facilities often account for some of the largest costs to a business, second only to the cost of employing staff. With that in mind, FMs often find themselves responsible for trying to reduce the costs to a business and increasing profitability.
It is important to note, however, that reducing costs should be balanced with providing a quality service. In some organisations, it would be detrimental to the image of the company to have poorly maintained, dirty, scruffy premises, but even in those organisations which don’t rely so much on their image, cutting costs at the expense of service quality can have expensive implications in terms of morale, productivity and staff retention.
Therefore it is down to the FM to find ways to reduce cost without having a negative impact on the organisation as a whole.
This may include creative use of office space, well planned and managed maintenance schedules, or investigating ways to improve energy efficiency across their portfolio.
Maintaining Business Continuity
Business continuity involves ensuring that your organisation is able to continue functioning during times of crisis. Crises can come in all shapes and sizes, from a simple power outage to a full scale natural disaster.
The importance of effective business continuity cannot be overemphasised. Downtime for an organisation can potentially result in:
- Lost revenue
- Disgruntled customers
- Loss of reputation
In some cases, such as hospitals, effective business continuity could mean the difference between life and death.
Facilities Managers can play a huge part in maintaining business continuity and need to be actively involved in formulating, testing and evaluating the organisation’s business continuity plan.
Larger organisations may employ a dedicated business continuity manager, but the FM will still have significant input to the design and implementation of continuity procedures.
In smaller organisations, it is not uncommon for the majority of business continuity planning to fall on the shoulders of the facilities manager.
Ensuring legal and regulatory compliance
There is a huge amount of legislation that organisations need to comply with, and many of these fall within the remit of facilities management. Health and Safety legislation is the most obvious case, but there are plenty of others, including:
- Waste regulations
- Environmental legislation
- Employment law
- Contract Law
The consequences of failure to comply can be severe. Companies can face fines imposed by regulatory bodies, suffer from loss of reputation, higher staff turnover and expensive business downtime.
In some cases, failure to comply with the law can result in imprisonment for those found to be responsible.
Remember that both companies AND individuals can be prosecuted for non-compliance.
Supporting Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
CSR is about understanding the organisation’s impact on the wider world and considering how this impact can be used in a positive way.
CSR can also be good for the organisation’s bottom line. The bottom line is the amount of profit that is realized after all expenses and taxes have been satisfied.
CSR means taking a responsible attitude, going beyond the minimum legal requirements and following straightforward principles that apply whatever the size of the organisation.
In the world of facilities management, CSR is often seen as synonymous with environmental responsibility. It actually covers a much broader scope than this, but it is true that sustainability constitutes a major part of the FM contribution to CSR.
Aside from the environmental issues, FM can also support CSR in a variety of other ways:
- Choosing responsible suppliers (using ethical cleaning contractors who pay the living wage is currently a topical example)
- Assisting with schemes to improve the working lives of employees
- Considering the local community when managing operations and projects (perhaps by using local contractors, for example).
IWFM (BIFM) Qualifications
This article relates to the following IWFM (BIFM) Qualification Units:
- IWFM (BIFM) Level 3 in Facilities Management
- FM3.01 Introduction to Facilities Management
- FM3.03 Customer and Stakeholder Relations in Facilities Management
- FM3.08 Understanding Facilities Management within the context of an Organisation
- IWFM (BIFM) Level 4 in Facilities Management
- FM4.01 Overview of Facilities Management
- FM4.02 Understanding Facilities Management Strategy
- FM4.04 Understanding Facilities Management Support Services Operations
- FM4.15 Managing Customer Service in Facilities Management
- IWFM (BIFM) Level 5 in Facilities Management
- FM5.01 Facilities Management Developments and Trends
- FM5.02 Organisational and Facilities Management Strategy
- IWFM (BIFM) Level 6 in Facilities Management
- FM6.01 Strategic Facilities Management