What Is Facilities Management (CAFM): When to Use It, Why, and How

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From warehouses and schools to retailers and office buildings, facilities management is an essential part of ensuring the upkeep of a property in the most efficient and cost-effective manner. Whether a facilities manager choices a manual or automated approach to managing and maintaining a built environment, their goals are still the same; to maximize productivity, reduce maintenance costs, and improve the happiness and well-being of occupants.

What Is Facilities Management?

Facilities management focuses on managing and maintaining a wide range of processes that ensure the safety, productivity, and efficiency of a built environment and its occupants. From groundskeeping and security measures to outsourcing cleaning and maintaining HVAC systems – facilities management encompasses it all.

The various tasks involved when managing a facility include:

  • Asset management and tracking
  • Equipment and building maintenance
  • Project management
  • Security
  • Health and safety management
  • Environmental services
  • Catering and hospitality

Essentially, the tasks associated with effective facilities management (FM) can be broken down into two key areas; hard FM services and soft FM services. The former being associated with physical assets such as plumbing and electrics, the latter focusing on processes that improve the working environment such as security and custodial services.

Although 44% of facility operations still use pen and paper to organize their processes, facilities management is only truly effective when opting for digitized cloud-based tools. Also known as CAFM.

What Does CAFM Stand For?

CAFM is short for Computer-Aided Facilities Management and is essentially the action of performing facilities management with the support of IT tools. These include automated technology such as IoT (Internet of Things) devices and Facilities Management Software.

CAFM is used by facility managers to assist them with the organizing and planning of their facilities management tasks. With the objective being to streamline workflow and improve workplace efficiency.

A leading industry that is embracing the use of CAFM is manufacturing, with 47% of manufactures placing a greater emphasis on the use of IoT devices throughout their facilities.

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Why Facilities Management Is Important for Building Owners

As a property owner, outlining the goals and ROI of facilities management is key. Typical objectives when implementing an FM workflow include:

  • Improving the utilization of building space
  • Streamlining work orders
  • Reducing equipment downtime
  • Implementing a preventative maintenance strategy

A common goal shared by building owners is to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of their occupants. With people spending 87% of their time inside buildings, they want to feel energised and productive about their work. This is key to making sure space is always occupied and people remain happy in their environment.

Why Facilities Management Is Important for Building Owners

In a 2019 workplace survey, 73% of responders said well-managed office spaces were the driving force that helped them perform better at work. While 46% of younger generation employees said environmental factors were a top corporate and social responsibility objective that matters to them.

Although the goals for deploying facilities management are shared across all built environments, some can differ depending on the industry. For instance, the importance of facilities management in schools is to ensure the well-being and happiness of teachers in order to increase student productivity. Studies show that safe, well-maintained school buildings that are free from disruption can increase teaching time and reduce rates of teacher turnover by 25%.

Other built environments that can also benefit from facility management include brick and mortar retail stores, warehouses, storage facilities, and IT office buildings.

By dividing FM tasks into both hard and soft services, they become much more manageable for each building owner to focus on.

What are Hard and soft Facilities Management services

What Are Hard Facilities Management Services?

Hard facilities management services pertain to the physical structure of a building and can’t be removed. They directly involve the safety and well-being of people and, as such, are required by law. Hard FM services include:

  • Building maintenance work
  • HVAC system maintenance
  • Lighting, electrical, and mechanical jobs
  • Ensuring fire safety
  • Gas, plumbing, and heating maintenance

What Are Soft Facilities Management Services?

Soft facilities management services are not necessarily required by law and can be added or removed. These services typically ensure a building is pleasant and comfortable for its occupants. Soft FM services include:

  • Grounds maintenance
  • Landscaping
  • Catering services
  • Cleaning/custodial service
  • Pest control
  • Security services
  • Waste management
  • Workspace management

How CAFM Streamlines the Tasks of a Facility Manager

No matter the building or the type of business, the role of a facilities manager is important. From strategic planning to property maintenance, they’re employed by landlords to carry out the management of a building in the most efficient and cost-effective way. A typical facilities manager is responsible for various jobs such as:

  • Scheduling maintenance and building repairs
  • Handling legal and contractual matters
  • Providing equipment and amenities
  • Being compliant with health and safety regulations
  • Optimizing space management
  • Ensuring the premises is kept secure

With HSE reporting that 1.4 million people struggled with ill-health as a result of a building’s poor health and safety measures, facility managers are also essential for ensuring the safety and security of occupants.

How CAFM software Streamlines the Tasks of a Facility Manager

By ditching a manual approach to facilities management and opting for a more computerized function, facility managers are able to streamline their tasks by utilizing the features of a CAFM. Three essential tools include equipment management, storing third-party data, and maintenance planning.

Equipment and Asset Management

A major benefit of digitizing a facility manager’s processes is being able to track equipment in real-time. This is made possible with asset management tools and asset tagging devices such as RFID and barcode. This helps personnel know where equipment is and when it can be accessed. As well as helping to reduce costs associated with replacing lost or stolen equipment.

Another advantage of incorporating asset tracking tools is being able to highlight and reduce a building’s energy consumption levels. With buildings contributing around 45% of UK CO2 emissions, property managers can install IoT devices in the form of energy tracking sensors to see where they’re losing the most energy. In 2018, energy expenses averaged $0.06 per square foot (PSF) for industrial buildings alone.

Organizing Third-Party Suppliers

Outsourcing jobs to third-party companies is an important task in the role of a facilities manager. The hiring of third-party services will most commonly be for custodial services, maintenance work, and catering services. To make sure that these outsourced jobs are performed correctly, a facilities manager needs to be in contact with each company, meaning contact details need to be shared and communication needs to be an easy process.

Instead of using notes, whiteboards, and spreadsheets to collect third-party data, a CAFM has the ability to store all information in a centralized dashboard that can be accessed at any time and anywhere. After all, the average business spreadsheet contains 90% of errors.

Preventive Maintenance Planning

With equipment downtime costing facilities between 5% and 20% of their productive capacity, an important process in any building is to incorporate a proactive maintenance plan. This enables facility managers to see when a piece of equipment is due for servicing or needs replacing before an incident occurs. Preventive maintenance scheduling is so effective that it has allowed companies to reduce their maintenance bills by up to 70%.

Without a proactive plan in place to carry out building maintenance, facility managers will act in a reactive manner. Although this approach can save money in the short-term, the long-term costs can be disastrous. For instance, a leaking pipe that is left unchecked can cost businesses 1,000 litres of water an hour. Equating to £26,000 over a year.