What is facility management? (And management software types)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 13 November 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Facilities are buildings that serve important functions and provide services to organisations and their staff, such as toilets and electrical infrastructure. Facility managers ensure these services are efficient and safe and carry out duties to ensure facilities support organisations effectively, monitoring health and safety, cleanliness and orderliness. Understanding the answer to 'What is facility management?' can help you decide whether to pursue a career as a facilities manager. In this article, we define facility management, discuss its categories, explore management software and review the benefits of facility management.

What is facility management?

To answer, 'What is facility management?', it's the process of managing and maintaining an organisation's estate services. Facilities are the sites and services that support staff and business processes, allowing organisations to conduct business. For example, an organisation's facilities may include IT equipment, electricity, restrooms, furniture, kitchens, car parks and specific services necessary to particular business processes. Facility managers ensure all these elements work together harmoniously and serve their respective purposes while ensuring safety, cleanliness and efficiency.

Related: How to write a facilities manager CV (with example)

Duties of facilities management

An organisation's facilities require facility management to keep them safe, functioning and consistent in terms of quality and efficiency. Managers oversee all aspects of the organisation's facilities and manage a team coordinating and executing important repairs and maintenance. Facilities managers typically require an advanced qualification in a relevant field and managerial experience. Although the facilities team members may not require degrees, they usually undergo technical training. Here are some typical duties of a facility manager:

Cleaning

Cleaning maintains the value of properties, protects the organisation's brand image and keeps staff safe and comfortable. The facility manager might outsource some duties, such as plumbing and window cleaning and employ an in-house cleaning team to regularly clean workspaces and restrooms. Rubbish disposal also falls under the remit of cleaning management. The objective is to maintain a healthy and clean working environment for the workforce. The facility manager oversees the operational processes to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of cleaning services.

Related: What does a director of facilities do? (Duties and skills)

Health and safety

Health and safety is an important aspect of facility management that revolves around keeping staff safe by removing environmental hazards and promoting health and safety principles. The manager conducts initial assessments to determine the workforce's protection, such as smoke alarms or personal protective equipment, and then makes arrangements to ensure working environments are healthy and safe. They regularly check to ensure staff uphold these standards and that the organisation complies with regulations. Managing health and safety within facilities is essential to avoiding regulation violations and any ensuing legal challenges.

Related: What is a HAZOP study? (Plus how to implement one at work)

Equipment inspection and maintenance

Facilities contain equipment and hardware that require inspection and maintenance work to ensure they function correctly and prevent business interruptions. Hardware includes items like lifts, vending machines, air conditioning units, computers, printers, heavy machinery and smoke alarms. Managers coordinate these inspections and repairs and ensure facility staff conduct them regularly by recording the completion of works. Regular maintenance and carrying out necessary repairs extend the life of equipment, saving the organisation money and ensuring hardware are safe and available for use.

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Facility migration

When its business needs change, the service the organisation requires from its facilities might also evolve. Facility migration is an aspect of facility management that deals with changes such as relocation, scaling up or scaling down the workforce. These shifts might occur due to seasonal changes or unexpected economic events, and having a proper management system in place supports these changes. It may also reduce the cost to the organisation. Facility migration requires a solid understanding of relevant regulations to manage changes without disrupting the business or encountering regulatory issues.

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Transportation

Transportation is an important aspect of facility management in some organisations. This may involve transporting employees to and from work if the facility is in a remote location, but it more often refers to transporting items within and between facilities or moving equipment. For example, staff within airports require transportation to move luggage. Managers deal with all the facility's transportation needs, from planning the transport modes the facility requires to implementing solutions and improving the efficiency of transport processes.

Security

Security is a common concern for business facilities. Some facilities, such as government buildings, may require a team of security staff to verify people entering the building through ID cards. Others may only have a burglar alarm system and CCTV cameras. Facility security managers design security procedures for staff to follow to suit the organisation's needs. They also arrange the inspection and maintenance of security equipment, such as central alarm systems and security cameras. For example, if working in retail, other duties may include tracking key cards and protecting security labels.

Fire safety

Managing the fire safety elements of facilities is essential to complying with regulations and protecting employees in the event of a fire. The facility manager plans evacuation routes, ensures fire escape doors function correctly and are clear for access, designates fire safety wardens on different floors, ensures signage is up to date, checks fire safety equipment is working and arranges fire safety training for staff. They may also play an active role if a fire breaks out, such as trying to put it out if it's safe and helping staff evacuate.

Related: The importance of health and safety at work (with tips)

Business continuity

This is a crucial aspect of managing facilities that seeks to prevent lost hours due to interruptions. Anything that might cause productivity to stall falls under the remit of business continuity management, such as a scheduled migration to a new system or a power cut. Managers analyse these potential issues and take measures to minimise or eliminate their impact on the business. This might involve employing reliable service providers or arranging more frequent checks on ageing equipment. They also design contingency plans to keep the organisation functioning during unavoidable events like natural disasters.

Operations management

It takes organisation and meticulous management to ensure the components work harmoniously in facilities like offices and schools. Facility managers coordinate activities, such as room scheduling, food deliveries and help desk management, so the workforce can use its facilities consistently. The facility manager often creates a reporting system using help desks to address issues as and when they arise, for example, a broken vending machine. Operations activities ensure facilities run smoothly and productively.

Related: Operations management: definition and department roles

Facility management software tools

Organisations often use facility management software to boost the efficiency and productivity of their facilities and collect data that inform their business strategies. These tools can help increase their operational efficiency, improving the work environment. Here are some popular software options:

Hippo CMMS

This solution is suitable for industries such as manufacturing, education, retail and healthcare. The software is easy to use and more user-friendly than some other options while offering a set of powerful tools. Organisations use it to plan maintenance, manage work orders and improve safety and regulatory compliance. You can also update the software to stay current with changes in regulations and help maintain compliance.

FMX

This software has a simple user interface and is entirely cloud-based. It's popular among facilities such as schools, manufacturing plants and restaurants, with many well-known companies using it. Customers report enjoying the customer service FMX offers, as they typically receive a response to queries and complaints within an hour. It has powerful reporting and analytics tools to help organisations set and meet goals and make data-driven decisions.

Quick Base

This platform is great for centralising important information, keeping track of assets, managing inventory and scheduling maintenance. It helps facility managers improve efficiency by showing how the organisation utilises assets in real-time. It's a highly scalable application that can easily support organisations through periods of growth and asset expansion. Quick Base is a codeless application, which makes it easier for less technical professionals to operate.

Related: How to become a facility coordinator in 5 simple steps

Benefits of facility management software

Organisations that invest in facility management programs receive many benefits, including:

  • Helping with asset management: Some facilities house thousands of assets, and keeping track of and managing them is essential to extending their value and utilising them effectively. Facility management software can schedule regular maintenance to reduce the likelihood of sudden equipment outages that might disrupt the business.

  • Enhancing decision making: Facilities management software can help organisations make well-informed decisions and support overarching business strategies. The data it generates can help you identify ways to save money or time, allowing you to optimise processes.

  • Helping organisations maintain regulatory compliance: It's essential for organisations to maintain their contractual and legal obligations. Facility management software helps them do this by warning managers of potential liabilities and enabling them to react promptly.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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