FM Services: The Difference Between Soft FM and Hard FM

Hard and Soft FM Services: What's the Difference?

Facility management tasks can be split into two categories; hard FM services and soft FM services. Hard FM concerns services such as maintenance and plumbing, whereas Soft FM focuses on services such as cleaning and catering.

The easiest way to understand the difference between both services is to think about facilities management from a people (usage of facilities) and facilities (structure and physical aspects) perspective:

  • If the service relates to managing the usage of a facility, it is Soft FM.
  • If the service relates to managing the physical aspect of a facility, it is Hard FM.

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Categorising your FM services into these two components makes it easier to keep on top of tasks, especially when managing large facilities or multiple buildings.

Hard FM and soft FM services are both equally important. Under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, property owners have a responsibility to ensure the daily health, safety, and welfare of a building’s occupants. This incorporates FM services such as cleaning, catering, temperature control, ventilation, and lighting.

In some cases, hard and soft FM services overlap, and subjectivity comes into play.

As an example, having a reception to welcome and manage visitors is a soft FM service. Whereas repairing CCTV equipment and a visitor’s electronic entry badge are hard FM services.

What Are Hard FM Services?

Hard FM services relate to the physical structure of the building. They affect the safety and welfare of employees and visitors, and as such, are required by law. In other words, you must have hard FM services; they’re non-negotiable.

Hard FM services include:

  • Gas, plumbing, and heating
  • HVAC systems
  • Lighting, electrical, and mechanical
  • Fire safety systems
  • Building maintenance work

What Are Soft FM Services?

Soft FM services make a building more pleasant, comfortable, and safe for its occupants. Soft FM services include:

  • Grounds maintenance
  • Landscaping
  • Decorating
  • Catering services (including vending machines and water coolers)
  • Cleaning services
  • Pest control
  • Waste management
  • Car parking
  • Workspace management

How to Manage Your Hard and Soft FM Services

There are three popular methods to managing your hard and soft FM services:

  1. Having multiple contractors for both hard and soft FM
  2. Employing one contractor who provides both hard and soft FM services
  3. Having an in-house facility manager and an external team of contractors

Most teams use Facilities Management Software to manage their FM services. It is used to record, plan, schedule, action, monitor, and report on any facility’s management tasks. CAFM can help speed up the managment of hard and soft FM services by:

1. Planning for Building Maintenance

Planned, preventative, predictive, and reactive maintenance tasks can be actioned and monitored. Inspections, audits, and checks can be driven to speed-up FM.

2. Job Logging for End-Users & Work Orders for Technicians

Job logging for the end-user, which converts into work orders for technicians, increases the speed of specific facilities management. Most tools offer the functionality to store equipment photos, warranty specs, and service details in one place.

3. Maintaining an Accurate Asset/Facilities Register

An asset register is central to the delivery of hard and soft FM services. The process involves understanding the location, status, and history of all assets. This drives the visibility and budgeting process. As a result, there is clarity on total costs of ownership (TCO) and return on investment (ROI). Enabling businesses to decide whether an asset should be repaired, replaced, or disposed of.

Some CAFM tools provide tracking capabilities. It involves tagging equipment and tools for tracking and monitoring purposes.

4. Maximising Space Management

Workspace design, seating management, and space management have gathered momentum after the Covid-19 pandemic. All of which help with well-being management and the utilisation of workspaces.

5. Tracking Energy Consumption

Using sensors (IoT), FM software can identify and inform energy consumption by zones and assets. This helps with energy cost savings but also contributes to a more environmentally friendly building.

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