On both a local and a global level, the facility and property management industries are at a turning point. With a worldwide spike in property investment, the facility management market is projected to grow to more than $43.69 billion by 2019. After nineteen years in the facility management sector, I find it very gratifying to see the field grow in this way.
A healthy facility management sector is vital to creating the best workplaces possible. Facility management (or FM) is so much more than just making sure the toilets are clean and all the light bulbs are working. FM practices ensure compliance, promote sustainability, and contribute to overall employee and customer satisfaction.
Unfortunately, FM has been traditionally undervalued and viewed as an “optional extra” for many organisations. Either in an effort to cut corners and save money, or simply because they don’t understand how important FM is, the C-suite tends to put FM in the too hard basket. But things are changing.
Now, with technology opening up the workplace and streamlining our processes, we have the opportunity to maximise the potential of facility management and demonstrate that an investment in FM is the quickest way to a better workplace.
So, FM without the stress: is it possible? The resounding answer is yes. New FM software is the key.
Old FM practices have relied on filling out physical forms, or even just face-to-face information transfer as the primary means of communication.
Because of this, information on instructions and the completion of tasks can fail to reach management or be adequately circulated amongst an FM group. Even with progress in technology, the main software the FM industry uses to track and transfer information is Excel – the same software they used when I first started in the sector!
We live in the information age.
There are 6.8 billion phones registered worldwide… and the Earth has an estimated population of 7 billion people. BYOD (bring your own device) is the latest trend in the workplace, and there’s no better sector to make use of it than in FM.
Using new apps, and making the most of accessibility provided by the Cloud, makes FM services more accessible and easier to manage than they have ever been before.
Let’s look at some examples.
They need FM software to maintain the health, safety, and enjoyment, of everyone on a site.
Often this service is spread across multiple sites in a portfolio. That can sometimes mean catering to the needs of thousands of people at once, including housekeeping services, contractors needed for repairs, and customer bookings.
For one of our clients in this sector, double bookings were a repeated problem due to an FM system that didn’t effectively transfer information between agents. Imagine if instead of a complicated Excel spreadsheet with a list of dates you could just pull out your phone and update a shared calendar through an FM app?
Mobile access gives FM software an up-to-the-minute reporting aspect in a way it’s never been able to achieve before. No more double bookings.
FM is also important in industrial context. Managing health and safety compliance in the workplace shouldn’t be seen as a one off exercise, done and dusted after a waiver has been signed.
Maintaining compliance requires ongoing vigilance, and a reporting system that’s easy to access and understand. Especially as most state governments in Australia have an increasing emphasis on OH&S compliance and fines, it is becoming more and more important to stay on top of your workplace obligations. Streamlining OH&S requirements through software makes it easier to comply – and when it’s easier to comply, it’s more likely that people actually will.
In addition to important compliance aspects, FM software for industry can keep floor plans on file, maintain a barcode “filing system” for any items or equipment used on site, and track staff location and attendance. This is especially useful for the hospitality industry. Improving spatial management and productivity should become second nature with the right FM software on your side.
While FM software might not solve all your organisation’s problems by itself, it will put you in the best position possible to get things back on track quickly and efficiently.
Another major role FM software can play in any organisation is contractor management. Everyone wants to make sure that their interactions with contractors are efficient and stress-free, but keeping an eye on your external services in addition to the day-to-day aspects of work can sometimes feel impossible.
Software can step in to bridge the gap – tracking on mobile devices can tell you that your contractors are in the right place at the right time. Cloud-synced updates could notify you as soon as any vital services are performed. Or, for longer projects, contractors can give you progress updates as phases are completed.
A lot of the software solutions I’ve mentioned above haven’t even been developed yet. The FM industry has been slow to adopt new technologies, and it’s only now that we are beginning to recognise the full potential of the Cloud and the reach of mobile in moving FM into the future.
But things are changing and new innovation is happening every day. An investment in FM, and in FM software, is an investment in the future of any organisation.
Alsco would like to thank Kristiana Greenwood for this article. She is the Founder & Director of FMinnovations, a facility management software company operating out of Melbourne for 19 years. She has a great passion for the facility management industry, and hopes to educate the wider community on the importance of FM and how FM can meet new business challenges through smart, advanced software tools.