Facilities Management: More Than Work Orders and Service Providers

By: Jason Bishop, Vice President Client Services

If the role of facilities management (FM) was simply to maintain the status quo, FM professionals would have little to do beyond process work orders and complete repairs. But for facilities managers tasked with overseeing multiple sites and locations, work order tracking is only one component of a much larger and more complex operation. Due to their vastly different roles and responsibilities, these nuanced complexities may be lost on decision makers at the executive level, which can lead to a gap in knowledge—and communication—between FM teams and the C-suite.

Leaders often have different needs, but the same goals

Whether they handle a chain of 4000 retail stores or a dozen medical offices, facilities managers of all stripes often face similar challenges.

Successful managers must not only act as the liaison between facilities, employees and third-party service providers to address their organization’s most pressing needs, they must also think strategically about long-term goals and preventive measures that will keep store personnel at each location safe and happy, while also supporting the customer experience. But focusing on the future can be difficult, especially given the high volume of open work orders facilities managers need to process, manage and follow-up on. For many FM leaders, it’s nearly impossible to get out from under a ceaseless pile of work orders and requests. Add reporting responsibilities and administrative tasks to the list—not to mention the fact that many FM teams are understaffed to begin with—and the end result can be downright overwhelming.

While the C-suite wants to see both short-and-long-term goals met, they’re not typically involved in the day-to-day minutiae familiar to most facilities managers. Their concerns lie primarily with the “big picture” stuff—things like hitting benchmarks, optimizing ROI and keeping FM costs to a minimum. Though they want to see their facilities department succeed, they may not be aware of the inefficiencies FM teams face on a routine basis.

An advanced FM platform can bridge the gap

Regardless of their common goals, this difference in perspective can cause a disconnect between facilities managers and the C-suite. The challenge facing many organizations then becomes: How do we equip facilities managers with the tools they need to be efficient, while keeping company leadership abreast of key trends and events?

One way to take significant pain out of the process is by leveraging FM technology. When set up strategically, FM platforms have the potential to deliver game-changing insights that benefit both the facilities manager and their C-suite counterparts.

However, not all FM platforms are created equal—and many homegrown solutions and legacy systems just don’t measure up. A truly advanced, holistic work order platform includes customizable reporting capabilities and easy-to-use dashboards that allow all parties to see the full scope of work being conducted. It can also provide access to crucial data points that inform trends and other actionable items. This enhanced visibility benefits senior leadership and facilities teams alike—CFOs and CIOs can see which benchmarks they’re hitting or missing, and facilities managers can see what tweaks need to be made on the floor that may lead to extra savings.

Increased transparency into FM spend can help save your organization money through better budgeting and forecasting tactics, as well. It can also help mitigate risk and overall ISP ROI, and most importantly, it elevates the conversation around facilities management across your entire organization.

An added advantage? Streamlined communication

Legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden famously said, “teamwork is not a preference, it’s a requirement,” and the now-popular adage has become the rallying cry of employees who understand that some projects require a collaborative approach. In order for multi-site facilities to run efficiently, FM team members need to collaborate not only with each other, but with others operating in different levels of their organization. When deployed successfully, an advanced FM platform can change the way facilities management communicates with the leadership team. And as communication improves, so does your overarching strategy.

In the end, executive decision-makers and facilities managers share the same goals: to optimize processes, improve productivity and boost their organization’s bottom line. With the support of a holistic, technology-driven solution, FM teams are able to transcend the aspects of facilities management that are purely tactical to focus more on strategy. This simple shift in how facilities managers operate can elevate the role of FM teams—and increase their effectiveness— across an entire organization.