Knowing the Difference Between Hard and Soft Facilities Management Services
As a facilities manager or property owner, you’ll be familiar with an extensive range of facilities management (FM) services that can be broken down into two groups; hard facilities and soft facilities.
But, to ensure management efficiency and legal requirements, it’s essential to know the difference between these two categories.
In this article, you’ll understand the difference between hard FM services and soft FM services. You’ll also learn how these can be managed effectively through the implementation of facilities management software. We’ll cover:
What’s the Difference Between Hard FM Services and Soft FM Services?
Hard facilities services pertain to the physical structure of the building and can’t be removed. They directly affect the safety and welfare of employees and visitors, and as such, are required by law under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.
In other words, you must have hard FM services; they’re non-negotiable.
On-the-other-hand, soft facilities services are not necessarily required by law and may be added or removed. Typically, soft services make the building more pleasant and comfortable for occupants. They can also make the building more secure. The type of soft services you need depends on your business type and occupant requirements.
Both hard and soft services are crucial in ensuring that buildings are managed effectively. In turn, they help to maximise business productivity and deliver employee and occupant satisfaction.
Examples of Hard Facilities Management Services
- Gas, plumbing and heating
- Air conditioning systems
- Lighting, electrical and mechanical
- Fire safety systems
- Access systems
- Preventative and reactive building maintenance
- Water treatment services (where water storage tanks are used)
Examples of Soft Facilities Management Services
- Grounds and garden maintenance
- Painting and decorating
- Catering services (including vending machines and water coolers)
- Cleaning services
- Post management
- Pest control
- Reception services
- Waste management
- Building security systems
- Car parking
- Workspace management
- Office relocation management
Can Facilities Management Software be used to Manage Hard and Soft FM Services?
Managing a facility effectively via a range of hard and soft FM services can be challenging. Fortunately, computer-aided facilities management software can make this task much easier – even if you’re managing facilities for a small business (e.g. landlord).
Facility management software is a tool that allows you to organise, plan and manage all FM services in one central system. Such as building maintenance and other processes. Features typically include:
Planning preventative maintenance can reduce the amount of reactive maintenance needed in the long term. For example, you might use this to plan routine fire safety equipment inspections and HVAC servicing to ensure these hard services are running smoothly.
By planning ahead for future maintenance needs, you can reduce the risk of unplanned downtime. This helps with productivity and enhances occupant satisfaction and safety.
Work Order and Inventory Management
One of the biggest challenges for British facility managers is tracking technician tasks and dealing with red-tape. But, this challenge is mainly down to a lack of management software.
Repairs and maintenance work can be appropriately organised from the moment it’s requested, from start to job completion. You or your building’s occupants can raise work requests for the maintenance manager to review and assign to a technician to get issues fixed. Supporting information can be attached to work orders such as equipment photos, warranty specs and service details.
Having a robust process in place for work orders ensures that no problem gets missed, no matter how minor. You can view the progress of different jobs within the facilities management software.
Asset management plays a significant part in the successful delivery of hard and soft facility services. It also goes hand in hand with planned maintenance. The process involves understanding the working condition and location of all equipment. It then informs budgeting processes by helping to determine the total costs of ownership (TCO) and return on investment (ROI) of each asset. Enabling you to decide whether an asset should be repaired, replaced or disposed of.
An asset management module usually consists of asset tracking. This is where you electronically tag equipment such as laptops and tools for tracking and monitoring purposes. By keeping track of assets, you can ensure employees and occupants have the equipment they need when they need it.
Facilities management software supports the soft service of workspace design, management and resource planning. Space planning is always a crucial undertaking, but perhaps more so now during the Covid-19 crisis with just a third of UK workers wanting to return to the office.
Through the data insights and real-time records available via FM software, you can better understand the cost of workspaces and ensure each one is being utilised effectively. This information can help inform strategic planning and move management processes.
Energy Consumption Tracking
A modern software solution allows you to track energy consumption. With energy usage insights, you can identify which assets in the building are using excessive amounts of energy and replace inefficient equipment as needed.
This not only helps to reduce energy costs but also contributes to a more environmentally friendly building; something that contributes to employee retention. 46% of younger generation employees say this is a top corporate and social responsibility objective which matters to them.
Managing Soft and Hard Facilities With Facilities Management Software
Both hard FM and soft FM services are essential to keep your building running smoothly and your occupants happy. Facilities management software helps to streamline the organisation and management of all FM services. Which, in turn, reduces costs.
It enables you to improve workspace utilisation, enhance building safety through planned maintenance, and provide a comfortable and productive working environment. Adhering to regulatory compliance is more straightforward with the right software. Therefore minimising the risk of business liability and losses.
Further reading about facilities management software, including tips on shortlisting and comparing tools, can be found in our detailed buyer’s guide to facilities management software.