Grounds Maintenance Is a Key Soft FM Service, It’s Time to Start Planning For It

Use Our Sophisticated Software Comparison Tool to Find the Best CAFM System for Planning and Managing Your Facility’s Grounds Maintenance Tasks.


What Type of Facilities Do You Manage?

Grounds Maintenance and Landscaping are recognised as the most important soft facilities management tasks among CAFM Software buyers (22%). That’s more than waste management, catering services, cleaning services, pest control, and security.

The importance of grounds maintenance can’t be underestimated, it:

  • Improves workplace morale and well-being
  • Increases rental rates for commercial properties such as offices
  • Displays a welcoming sense of professionalism to prospective tenants and clients
  • Helps to align with building laws and regulations

However, a property manager’s priorities shift daily between employee health and safety, energy management, repairs, and workspace management. This makes it common for grounds maintenance tasks to be de-prioritised, especially without a sufficient planning and scheduling system.

So, how can facility managers keep a crucial soft FM task such as grounds maintenance at the forefront of their maintenance management? The answer is through preventive planning, with the help of a CAFM system.

Grounds Maintenance is the most common Soft FM Activity Undertaken

The Importance Of Grounds Maintenance In Facilities Management

Whether commercial, educational, or residential buildings, the efficient planning and management of grounds maintenance has four impactful outcomes:

  1. Delivers a good first impression to visitors, customers, employees, and clients.
  2. Promotes a healthy surrounding environment that improves the well-being of occupants.
  3. Ensures workplace health and safety with tasks such as felling trees that pose a risk hazard and gritting walkways in freezing conditions.
  4. Promotes cleanliness around the building by regularly emptying waste bins and using pest control measures.

Regularly landscaped properties have been found to add 7% to average rental rates for office buildings. While 68% of companies saw increased occupant satisfaction by introducing healthier life into the workplace through landscaping, introducing plants, and utilising natural light.

Grounds maintenance plays an important role for multiple building types, including:

  • Offices
  • Hotels
  • Sports facilities
  • Schools (playing fields, playgrounds, and car parks)
  • Council properties (play areas, parks, car parks, leisure facilities, golf courses, cemeteries, etc.)
  • Hospitals & healthcare facilities

Why Preventive Planning Is Best For Elevating Grounds Maintenance

“Planning is probably the most powerful tool you’re ever going to have in maintenance”. That’s the opinion of former Rolls Royce facility and maintenance expert, Kamran R. Zamir.

In any building maintenance task, planning is the cornerstone of good facilities management. Whether that be to lower emergency repair costs or reduce unplanned downtime. In the case of grounds maintenance services and landscaping, there are multiple planned maintenance options:

PPM is deployed for scheduling equipment upgrades or watering plants in the summer months. Condition-based strategies are used to replace plants when a disease is detected in the soil. Predictive maintenance is used to predict scenarios through advanced sensors and data. Corrective/reactive maintenance is only deployed once a failure occurs, like groundskeeping equipment failing or a tree falling into a car park.

Deploying a preventive approach to maintenance instead of reactive results in a 12-18% cost saving.

Suppose no preventive plan is in place to tackle the upkeep of outdoor property grounds. In that case – whether mowing grass, felling trees, removing litter, or repairing potholes, it can negatively impact those entering and working within the building. Other downsides include high reactive repair costs and a lack of health and safety compliance.

Common Methods to Plan Your Grounds Maintenance Tasks

Paper and Digital Forms

Paper and digital forms are the second most common ways of managing FM tasks. Forms are used to create work orders for groundskeepers and outsourced workforces. Although cost-effective in the short term, these forms are primarily for reactive maintenance

An example would be raising a work order for a civil work activity. For instance, if, on inspection, a block paving has cracked near the entrance of a building, a form is filled out with the job description and then raised with the correct maintenance personnel.

Calendar Notifications

Facility managers responsible for smaller grounds often use dedicated mobile calendar apps. Although this can be a laboured and sometimes overwhelming process to keep on top of multiple tasks, it is a form of planned maintenance.

For instance, regular calendar alerts can be assigned to workers, notifying them to:

  • Empty rubbish bins twice a week
  • Remove litter and debris from car parks each morning
  • Trim hedgerows at the beginning of every April and September

Spreadsheets

32% of facility managers who have used Comparesoft use spreadsheets to manage their hard and soft FM tasks, more than any other form of facilities management type. Spreadsheets have their plus points; they’re cheap, easy to use, and recognisable by most users.

Detailed spreadsheets can be set up to include:

  • Work order type
  • Date of work required
  • Time taken to complete a job
  • Who the task is assigned to

However, there are pitfalls to using spreadsheets. Increased errors, wrong formulas, missing cell data, and a lack of conjoined technology such as temperature sensors and predictive analytics input, see most spreadsheet users shift to a more digital format – like CAFM Software.

CAFM Systems

Computer-aided facilities management – or CAFM – systems provide the tools to track, plan, and manage hard and soft FM tasks in one dashboard. To incorporate a more preventive approach to maintenance, CAFM Software is the key.

The point of using a CAFM system for grounds maintenance is to ensure preventive grounds work is carried out by using contract management, scheduling, job management, and automation features.

In terms of grounds maintenance, a CAFM system can:

  • Automate work orders for groundskeeping and landscaping tasks through time-based or condition-based criteria
  • Assign qualified field workers to attend to groundskeeping duties (whether civil works, landscaping, or repairs)
  • Manage communication with outsourced and third-party contractors through a single dashboard (including payment, work schedules, and equipment requirements)
  • Track grounds equipment location in real-time and set regular servicing schedules
  • Track performance with visual data reporting and live dashboards to better understand when tasks need to be completed and how regularly

Find the Best CAFM System For Managing Your Grounds Maintenance Tasks

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What Type of Facilities Do You Manage?

Prioritising Outdoor Property Services In Facilities Management

There are two reasons why property managers would prioritise certain grounds maintenance tasks over others;

  1. Working within a set facilities management budget: A facility & grounds manager is given a limited budget for the year. This budget covers everything from emergency repairs to outsourcing landscaping duties. If a building’s HVAC system fails, spending would be prioritised on fixing the unit as quickly as possible. Because of this, soft fm tasks such as lawn mowing and hedge trimming may be deprioritised.
  2. To address building management goals: Every building has different goals, whether commercial, residential, or educational. For example, the manager of an office building would prioritise property aesthetics to attract potential new occupants. This means the appearance of the building’s grounds should be welcoming and professional, through regular and planned landscaping.

Examples of Grounds Maintenance Tasks & Planning

Grounds maintenance tasks can be split into two types; planned maintenance and reactive. To understand what tasks are required for your building, it’s recommended to list them all out, accompanied by the frequency of performing that task. Here is an example:

Task

Frequency

Type

Equipment upkeep (oil changes, lubricant, replacing parts)

Yearly/6-monthly

Planned

Seeding and fertilising

Bi-yearly

Planned

Plant care (watering, de-weeding, feeding)

Weekly (spring to autumn)

Planned

Mowing grass

Bi-monthly (spring to autumn)

Planned

Hedge cutting/trimming

Bi-monthly (spring to autumn)

Planned

Tree felling

When required

Reactive

Waste, litter, and debris removal

Bi-weekly

Planned

Pest control

When required

Reactive

Re-filling salt containers

Yearly (between December and March)

Planned

Gutter works (cleaning, repairing)

Yearly/When required

Planned/Reactive

Replacing block paving

When required

Reactive

Repairing curb edges and cracked slabs

When required

Reactive

Repairing/Replacing fencing

When required

Planned/Reactive

Repairing sunken drains

When required

Reactive

Repairing potholes

When required

Reactive

Removing graffiti

When required

Reactive

FAQs

What Is Grounds Maintenance?

Grounds maintenance is the process of ensuring a property’s outdoor areas are regularly tended to, clean, and safe. It includes tasks such as landscaping, hedge trimming, grass mowing, pest control, waste removal, pothole repair and more.

What’s the Difference Between Grounds Maintenance and Property Maintenance?

Whereas grounds maintenance focuses on the upkeep of a facility’s outdoor space, property maintenance encapsulates the entirety of a facility. That means, as well as outdoor tasks such as landscaping and pest control, property maintenance is deployed for indoor tasks such as HVAC maintenance, electric and plumbing works, and energy management.