Facilities management is often split into “hard” and “soft” FM. Hard covers the physical aspects of maintaining facilities like HVAC, plumbing, electrical work, elevators, etc.
Soft focuses on tasks and services performed onsite, such as groundskeeping, security, leasing, custodial services, catering and others. Individual FM solutions can offer capabilities that fall under hard, soft or a combination of both; it totally depends on the platform.
FM helps users schedule and track maintenance tasks such as landscaping, HVAC repairs, work orders, security and more.
Increase operational efficiency
FM facilitates the organization of labor through maintenance scheduling, enabling preventive maintenance (PM) plans that keep your facility in peak condition. It promotes efficient workflows by allowing users to assign work to technicians and monitor work order status through completion.
The human resources side of FM is a significant benefit as well. Rather than requiring an additional scheduling or project management solution, users can create, track and manage all projects from the convenience of a single interface. This reduces task switching, saves you money on additional software and makes your employees more likely to use it since they already have to access FM tasks through it.
Comply with regulations
Safety and security are crucial to the smooth operation of facilities, from rental properties to educational campuses to nuclear power plants. FM helps users maintain a secure, compliant environment through a variety of functions. Some of these include:
- Hazardous waste management
- Remote security
- Onsite security
- Secure financial management
- Ethics compliance
- Labor management
- Information security
- Data governance
- Risk management
Manage your fleet
Many FM platforms offer fleet management functionality to help managers track, maintain and oversee their vehicles. It can be used to assign routes, facilitate communication between dispatch and drivers, track routes, optimize fuel use, record and schedule vehicle maintenance, etc.
Managing an extensive budget for a large facility or multi-site conglomerate can get very complicated very quickly. Facility management software helps users track expenditures, allocate resources, manage budgets, forecast future expenses and make predictions in order to make informed business decisions.
Manage orders and procurement
Does your facility require supplies for its upkeep? Most likely, so it makes sense that many FM solutions offer order and procurement management modules. These can range from document storage of receipts to extensive inventory management features with barcode generation and automated reorder options.
Communicate with contractors, vendors and clients
Have you ever lost an important email from a subcontractor? Or missed one from a client? FM helps avoid these frustrating communication problems by offering contact management, contracts, schedules, invoices and internal messaging.
Support top-level decision-making
Some FM platforms even offer business intelligence tools that include features like reporting, dashboards, forecasting and analytics. These can help users keep a razor-sharp eye on their operations and performance metrics, collect proprietary data, share information via intuitive data visualizations and make better decisions concerning their business.
What Are the Types of FM?
In addition to the “hard” and “soft” categorizations, there are also a range of software solutions that can perform facilities management functions. FM focuses specifically on facility management and may supply other, more broad features as well. Computerized maintenance management software (CMMS) focuses on the maintenance aspect, but may often offer facilities management functions as well. Enterprise asset management (EAM) software focuses on asset management and maintenance, but may offer FM or CMMS features.
Computer-aided facility management (CAFM) is another subset of this type of software that specifically uses AI and the internet of things to optimize facilities management. An even more obscure but still occasionally seen and used term is integrated workplace management software (IWMS) that does basically the same thing as the above solutions, but with a heavier focus on the personnel and people management aspect.
Property management can also provide some aspects of facility management but is more directed at commercial real estate, rental properties and other property-based facilities. Plant management is another type of facilities management solution that specializes in manufacturing, factories, power plants and other production facilities.
All these terms often overlap, and they can be used interchangeably depending on the situation and the publication speaking about them. That being said, they are technically distinct software categories that tend to have their own unique requirements, so make sure to investigate them all when choosing a workplace or facility management solution.
What Do Facility Managers Do?
Facility managers can perform a wide range of duties. At the most basic level, a facility manager is responsible for ensuring that their facility meets the needs of the people inside them. For example, a commercial office building manager’s tasks might involve hiring security, arranging for decorative plant care, collecting rent from office tenants and ensuring custodial services are performed on a regular basis, among others.
This facility manager’s job is very different from a power plant facility manager, whose tasks involve much more safety and compliance, interacting with OSHA and labor unions, overseeing technical staff, training new personnel, and resolving issues that might arise from the complicated process of power production. Both of these hypothetical facility managers will likely find that a facilities management solution streamlines their job immensely, despite the vast difference in their responsibilities. They would also likely not purchase the same FM system, as their needs are very different.
What Skills Do Facility Managers Need?
Because the tasks of a facility manager are so varied, they need a broad range of skills. Some of the skills required of managers are:
- Business management
- Personnel management
- Technology management
- Information management
- Risk management
- Fire safety
- Real estate
- Project management
- Performance management
- Quality assurance
What Is Included in Facilities Management?
The main features of facilities management can include any or all of the following:
- Maintenance management
- Preventive maintenance scheduling
- Preventive maintenance tracking
- Asset management
- Inventory management
- Work order management
- Space management
- Movement management
- Lease administration
- Vendor management
- Business intelligence
Because facility management is such a broad category, no two systems provide the same exact set of features. They are often specialized for specific industries, so identifying which of these features your organization requires is a vital step in selecting an FM platform.
How Do I Select Facilities Management Software?
When selecting an FM program, it’s important to first identify your organization’s requirements from the system. This interactive requirements template can help you understand what each feature does and which ones your organization needs. Many offerings have industry-specific versions or modules to provide the most helpful features, so be sure to keep that in mind on your search.
Once you’ve identified your key requirements, you can compare vendors based on how well their products deliver those requirements. This comparison report will help you consider vendors feature-by-feature to ensure you’re choosing from the best systems for your needs.
After creating a shortlist of best-match vendors, you’re ready to request proposals. This pricing guide can help you get an idea for industry pricing, but most providers price their plans based on which requirements you use, so a direct RFQ is the only surefire way to get an accurate price estimate. Don’t forget to ask for demos and trials of the solution so you can take it for a spin and familiarize yourself with the interface before making a purchase!
Do you still have any questions about which FM software solution is right for you? We’re here to help! Reach out to our team for personalized software recommendations by emailing us at [email protected] or calling 877-692-2896.