Hard and Soft FM Services: What’s the Difference?
In order for a facility to run efficiently and stay compliant with lawmakers, it requires a range of services to be carried out – including the management of both hard and soft facilities management (FM) services. Depending on factors such as the size and location of a building, businesses have a responsibility to employ various FM services to align with legal requirements. As well as properly maintaining and managing a facility to keep its occupants happy. The majority of reasonability comes down to a facilities manager and their service team.
What Are Facilities Management Services?
The key to ensuring efficiency, safety, security, and functionality of a built environment is to employ effective facilities management services. This goes for all buildings, grounds, real estate property, and infrastructure.
Depending on varying factors regarding a building, FM services can differ. They can include consultancy services such as planning of space and asset surveys, as well as security, environmental, and IT services. But, there are two groups of FM services that apply to the majority of built environments; hard and soft FM services.
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.
As well as this, a majority of hard and soft FM services are now required by law. Under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, businesses have a responsibility to ensure daily health, safety, and welfare of a building’s occupants. In particular, facility managers must ensure provisions are made for services such as:
- Toilet and washing areas
- Communal and eating areas
What Are Hard FM Services?
Hard facilities management 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. 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?
In contrast, soft facilities management services are not necessarily required by law and may be added or removed. Typically, soft FM services make a building more pleasant and comfortable for its occupants. They can also make the building more secure. The type of soft services a business needs to employ depends on the type of business and occupant requirements. Soft FM services include:
- Grounds maintenance
- Catering services (including vending machines and water coolers)
- Cleaning services
- Pest control
- Waste management
- Car parking
- Workspace management
How to Manage Both Hard and Soft FM Services
Managing a building effectively via a range of hard and soft FM services can be challenging. Fortunately, Computer-Aided Facilities Management (CAFM) Software can make this task much easier for both facility managers and landlords.
Facility Management Software is a digitalized tool that allows businesses to organise, plan, and manage all FM services in one system. CAFM features enable facility owners to reap many benefits, including:
Planning for Building Maintenance
Planning preventative maintenance can reduce the amount of reactive maintenance needed in the long term. For example, effective maintenance planning can be used to plan routine fire safety equipment inspections and HVAC servicing to ensure these hard FM services are running smoothly. By planning ahead for future maintenance needs, businesses can then reduce the risk of unplanned downtime. Helping increase productivity and enhance occupant satisfaction.
Improving Work Order and Inventory Management
One of the biggest challenges for a facility manager is tracking technician tasks and dealing with red-tape. But, this is mainly prominent due to a lack of management tools available.
Having a robust process in place for work orders ensures that no problem gets missed, no matter how minor. Repairs and maintenance work can be appropriately organised from the moment they’re requested, from start to job completion. For instance, a building’s occupants can raise work requests for the maintenance manager to review. They’ll then assign a technician and get any issues fixed. Supporting information can be attached to work orders such as equipment photos, warranty specs, and service details.
Ensuring Asset Management
Asset management plays a significant role in the successful delivery of hard and soft FM 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 businesses to decide whether an asset should be repaired, replaced, or disposed of.
An asset management module also 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, facility owners can ensure employees and occupants have access to equipment when they need it.
Maximizing Space Management
Facilities Management Software also supports the soft FM service of workspace design, management, and resource planning. Space planning is always a crucial undertaking, but perhaps more so during the Covid-19 pandemic which saw 45% of the UK workforce working from home.
Through data insights and real-time records, facility management tools deliver a better understand of the cost of workspaces and ensure each one is being utilised effectively. This information can help inform strategic planning and move management processes.
Tracking Energy Consumption
Morden CAFM systems enable businesses to track the energy consumption of a facility. With energy usage insights, facility managers can identify which assets 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; a factor that drives employee retention. With 46% of younger generation employees saying environmental factors are a top corporate and social responsibility objective that matters to them.
Both hard and soft FM services are essential to keeping a built environment running smoothly and occupants happy. A key factor in making this possible is through the use of modern tools such as Facilities Management Software, which helps to streamline the management and maintenance of services.
CAFM also enables users 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 tools in place. Therefore minimising the risk of business liability and losses.