Optimizing Your Facilities Management Workforce Through Automation

By: Bill Bub, Vice President of Operations

Automation is one of those ubiquitous concepts that seems to have a place in nearly every industry, down to the most specialized niche. No matter who you talk to, whether it’s a tech-savvy service provider or a C-level executive, the benefits automation can provide are on the minds of many in the facilities management (FM) space and beyond.

On the flipside, the word automation can sometimes have a different connotation: some facilities management professionals may be apprehensive about automation because they assume it means their jobs are doomed. While automation certainly stands to streamline various processes and procedures, facilities teams can rest assured that they will not be wiped out and replaced with robots anytime soon.

In fact, facilities managers and their teams often reap major rewards as a result of automating activities such as managing workflows and dispatching repair requests. Here are just a few ways automation can optimize your FM workforce and contribute to greater organization-wide success.

Work Order Management Gets a Whole Lot Simpler

We are living in an increasingly paperless society—some retailers don’t even accept paper money these days. And though it might sound risky to entrust your files and work orders to a cloud-based system, the industry’s top vendors use platforms that can protect your data from harmful security threats.

Instead of toggling back and forth between disjointed programs and spreadsheets—or worse yet, between scattered notes and Post-Its—an integrated FM solution allows you to store everything you need in one place. It also means all your key data points and project details are never more than a few clicks away, whether you’re in the office or at a job site.

Access to Real-time Data Enhances FM Visibility

Beyond lightening your paperwork load, automating work orders from the moment they’re generated to the time they’re closed out means that every update, issue or potential delay is captured in real time. For example, thanks to updated interactive voice response (IVR) tracking and geo-fencing technology, technicians don’t even need to clock in anymore. Location-based sensors can detect when the tech arrives on the scene, and this information is uploaded into the FM portal. If you’re a facilities manager overseeing hundreds of stores nationwide, these up-to-the-minute insights are invaluable and can save you and your team considerable time and money.

Independent Service Providers (ISPs) Enjoy Efficiency Gains, Too

Truly advanced FM solutions providers will look out not just for their clients, but for the ISPs that make up their network. Automated platforms serve their needs as well, and allow ISPs to track work orders and make adjustments on their end. While most providers charge “tech fees” for using their platform, only a few do not, allowing users to access every aspect of their portal free of charge. This encourages growth and enables ISPs to scale their business more easily and efficiently, so they can focus on providing exceptional service.

Each of these benefits is important in its own right, but when combined, the positive effects of automation become even more pronounced. In addition to improving integration so systems run more smoothly and enhancing facilities managers’ knowledge of key data points, an automated FM solution gifts facilities professionals with something we all want more of: time. It allows them to shift focus from time-consuming tactical tasks to ones that facilitate meaningful strategic outcomes—and that’s a win for the facilities team and the organizations they’re a part of.