Challenges faced by Facility Management today and the Solutions to them
Maintenance and operations of an asset is an ongoing process which includes facing challenges on a regular basis; the key here is to identifying them and solving them in the most efficient and effective way. Let’s look at few challenges that the Facility Managers (FMs) are facing today and the solutions to them.
Multiple Responsibilities: –
Over the last decade or so, the role of the FM has changed into the one handling series of responsibilities like energy, safety & emergency management, vendor relationships, risk management, security and safety management, data reporting, calculating CAM costs and more as compared to the earlier one which was only about ‘maintaining a building’. The end result here is that of the FMs playing a huge role in increasing efficiency and productivity in order to generate a better ROI. Handling these multiple responsibilities and at the same time keeping a tab of all the potential problems is the biggest challenge the FMs face today. The solution to this is incorporating a facility management software i.e. moving towards the era of IoT (Internet of Things). Besides reporting, capturing and analyzing data such as consumption patterns and attendance, keeping a track of machinery and their performance, giving analytics and insights, etc. this software will also be a key essential for both, preventative and proactive maintenance measures.
Controlling Costs: –
The FMs are under constant pressure to maintain better at a less cost. Few ways that can be resolved is:
- While developing a budget, consider all costs – Variable, fixed, direct and indirect
- Keep a regular track of the inventory and the maintenance costs
- Negotiate most feasible prices with the vendors/suppliers and for annual maintenance contracts
- Make investments in high-end technology for long term benefits
- Move to LED lighting and other energy efficient products
- Upgrade to automated building technologies like solar panels
- Manage energy, water and waste more efficiently, this will help improve the building’s sustainability
CAM Calculation: –
CAM or Common Area Maintenance is basically the maintenance charges that are paid by tenants to a property owner/developer. This is ideally paid on a per sq. ft. basis, based on the area rented out by a tenant. Every building will have a cost associated to the upkeep of the building that must be split between all the tenants, such as the housekeeping, security, diesel consumption of DG sets, repairs and maintenance of common areas, electricity and water charges for the building, etc. The per square foot rate for CAM is usually predetermined in the rental agreement and could be either a fixed number or on actuals which will be determined at the end of the financial year. It is today one of the most important tasks for both property owners as well as tenants, and the FM plays a vital role in determining the actual CAM costs for the year as well as helping set future CAM projections. The FM is the one that must keep an account of every single cost that has been incurred towards the maintenance of the building and then at the end of the year determine which costs must be loaded onto the tenants as part of their CAM. If the FM doesn’t keep a tab of all the costs incurred throughout the year then it could lead to either the property owner losing money or alternatively the tenants over paying the owner. The FM is also the best person to determine future CAM predictions as he would know best which equipment’s, etc. will need more servicing due to wear and tear and where future costs could be incurred for the upkeep of the building. The best way to ensure that this exercise is carried out correctly is for the FM to send out a breakup of all the costs incurred on a monthly basis and tally it with the accounts team or person responsible from the developer’s side to ensure no costs have been left out or entered wrongly.
Inventory Systems: –
The fourth challenge over here is maintaining the inventory systems and its productivity. Over a period of time machinery/equipment begin to wear out which eventually lead to breakdowns or other issues on a mechanical level. Preventative and proactive maintenance will provide aid in prolonging this but ultimately the machines will have to replaced. Pre-planning will help you with this problem, for e.g. you can order some machines in advance based on their estimated lifeline, when they are probably available at a lesser cost as compared to buying them incase of an emergency where the purchase has to be made irrespective of the price as there is a dire need. This will help in planning the budget and not lead to a huge dent in the revenue when such an emergency occurs.
Compliances and Variations: –
An FM constantly needs to stay updated with the regulatory and compliance standards of the industry. This requires setting aside time and budget for trainings for both, himself and team. This will also include attending workshops and seminars to stay informed of the latest processes and policies. There are constant variations as well in the industry, for e.g. the recent one being the era of co-working spaces. Here the challenge is maintaining the diversity of a single area; in this the SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) will be different than other assets as the FM is responsible for both, the space and the brand image. The FMs need to be well equipped with information and expertise for both these challenges.
Time Management: –
FMs today attend budget meetings, consult vendors, and manage concerns and issues, share progress reports via emails, handle emergencies, monitor operations and all these needs to be looked into on a daily basis. In this case the biggest challenge becomes time management. Plan and prioritize your tasks, this will help you not waste your time but also ensure that you address all major problems. Here again, technology will be a huge support as you would be able to manage a range of locations, services and team from one place helping save a lot of significant commuting time. Another way to balance these tasks is through proper team management – Work with digital calendars, this is a good way to monitor the team’s maintenance responsibilities and plan the work/day accordingly. This will also help you in maintaining the man power, once again resulting to low cost and more productivity.