Matt Wilkie in Downtown Doha,Qatar

What value is there in facilities management?

Facilities management adds value by adding specialist people you may not already have in your organisation.

Matt Wilkie in Downtown Doha,Qatar

A prime example of this is where a company may have multiple locations such as a supermarket chain or high street business. You may have a handy man on location most of the time or full-time. But legislation constantly updates, keeping logs and maintenance visit schedules as well as making sure all contractors are up to standard can quickly become a full-time job in itself.

Facilities management offers tried and tested methods due to access to national and international contractors they are already working with on other contracts. Also the management and training is dealt with as well as able to deliver tailor made packages for your business. For example health and safety guidelines and training methods and procedures are laid down by law in the UK but implementing them can often be time consuming. E.g. method statements for tasks such as changing a light bulb. Everything from the person being a “competent” electrical person down to the environmental disposal of the bulb itself has to be taken care of. Facilities management companies have been dealing with these things for some time already. Its why Facilities management is often done by large and small organisations as it simply removes the headaches of the facilities themselves leaving the business to get on with what it needs to be doing.

The value comes in the fact that the facilities are managed well which reduces replacement and maintenance costs as well as reduces any legal and health risks. Adding to that specialist equipment is often already within the contract meaning that if a “lift” for access to heating boilers is needed for example its made mobile so that its moved to where its needed within its maintenance schedules of the boilers.

I have been in facilities management as well as service and maintenance for most of my life and have seen it develop over the years. From the days where people were responsible for their own health and safety to today where everyone and everything seems to be responsible for someone else’s safety. Environmental issues have become part of the norm and more importantly learning to deal with them and find solutions. Back when I started I remember the solution for the wood skip was letting the local farm houses come and collect their firewood from it. Worked pretty well but wouldn’t be compliant these days. But that’s partly why facilities management has evolved into a business from initially being tasks that have simply grown over time out of things that were often just acceptable.

Not all mind as many of the other routine tasks have been absorbed into centrally organised facilities management that were once localised or left to an as and when basis. Prime example of that is refurbishment programming where it may be that an office would just get painted when it was seen to need it. But sometimes nobody ever noticed it needed doing. A rolling maintenance schedule would now see the painting done every 3 – 5 years or sooner if needed on a scheduled budget. Its costed and built into the maintenance regimes as well as other maintenance programs being adapted to suit. E.g. if there is a new central heating system being installed next month then its painting regime should be delayed until afterwards.

I do however remember working on government contracts with poor scheduling especially during the requirements for “safety glazing” which involved the installation of plastic film to make glass shatterproof at a certain height. Many of the buildings we were programmed and pre-paid to do had actually had their budgets cut and some had even been programmed for demolition. There hadn’t been any facility built into the contract to reallocate the funds or refund. But this is partly down to the way those contracts were written. Most of the facilities management contracts I have worked on in the private sector are based on “annual budgets” that can be allocated or reallocated to other facilities if needed. Internal politics often played its part with governmental work where specific people had allocated specific budgets. Rather than reallocate or pass back to central government they would rather see it spent as it stopped their budget reduction on the following years.

The value in facilities management comes with working out these issues and actually assessing if that budget needs to be spent or not. Rather than leaving it 100% up to people who’s main concern is budget reduction which should happen anyway if they actually lost some of their buildings to demolition.