December 16, 2020

How a Facilities Management Service Provider Can Help Manage Your Multi-Site Facilities

A facilities management service provider can be beneficial if you have facilities across multiple sites. They can save your company time by handling complicated management-related responsibilities for you. As you learn more about these types of services, you will better understand how beneficial a facilities management service provider can be.

The History of Facility Managers

Picture of Branded Group gear: mouse pad, water bottle, playing cards, t-shirtCompanies started hiring facility managers during the 1970s. The role became formalized in 1980, when the International Facilities Management Association was founded. In the early years of facilities management services, most organizations created internal departments, instead of relying on third-party professionals.

Over the years, this trend changed thanks to the increasing demands of management. Interestingly, at first the role was something that people stumbled into as a career. An example is those who began in maintenance and, then continually added to their responsibilities until they were managers.

Traditionally, training was mostly on-the-job as no formal training programs existed. This has changed and comprehensive training curriculum are increasingly via trade schools and community colleges  with more options likely to come in the future with remote learning the norm..

The shift over the years from in-house to outsourced facilities management is not the only shift in the industry. There have been shifts regarding the types of services most frequently used.

Historically, the focus was on hard facility management services. These include repairing office equipment or maintaining buildings. Now, soft services are including managing the internal post room or proving personnel for the reception are often the priority.

Today’s facilities managers must provide strategic and operational services. This likely influences the increased training that companies want for their facilities managers.

What Is an Integrated Facilities Management Company?

Circle of facility managers on social mediaIntegrated facilities management is commonly abbreviated as IFM. It is when a business or organization chooses to outsource all of its facility services and the related functions to a single provider. An integrated facilities management company is the type of business that provides these integrated services.

Upon hiring an integrated facilities management services provider, you would take several steps. First, you would start by replacing contracts with small vendors with those from larger vendors that offer more services. Second, you would replace manual tasks with technological solutions. Third, you would outsource the facilities management to a single company instead of several.

The idea is that by hiring an integrated facilities management company, you can streamline your operations. You also have more time to focus on your business and save money compared with having an in-house team take care of the same services.

Goals of Integrated Facilities Management Companies

The exact goals of an integrated facilities management company will vary slightly. They will depend on your organization’s needs and the service provider’s experience and techniques. That said, there are some common goals.

These include ensuring your workers are safe, improving productivity, safeguarding equipment and systems (with regular maintenance), meeting regulations and industry standards, and creating comfortable spaces that your customers and employees will want to work in.

The Multiple Challenges a Facility Manager Faces

Challenges Of A Facility Manager - Branded GroupThe many challenges faced by facility managers lead many organizations to outsource this much-needed function. It is difficult for one person to handle the range of responsibilities while also facing these difficulties.

Costs

Facility managers are expected to manage everything while keeping costs as low as possible. This adds yet another layer of complexity to the job, as they must balance out costs with the benefits for management and organization.

Employee Experience

Facilities management services also include ensuring that employees have a positive experience. This helps companies attract and keep top talent, improving employee retention and engagement.

Maintenance

Since the creation of the role, facilities managers have handled maintenance. It can be challenging enough to organize maintenance for a single facility. This becomes even more complicated when there are multiple sites. That is particularly true as the manager cannot always be on-site at every location.

The maintenance challenges extend to figuring out ways to make various resources last as long as possible. These include everything from the HVAC system to production equipment.

Moves and Expansions

Setting up the initial facilities is challenging enough. It becomes even more complicated when there is a move or expansion planned. Facilities managers must keep track of everything in these situations. They must also adapt their current strategies to the new space.

Records

In addition to all of the other responsibilities of a facility manager, they must also maintain accurate and well-organized records. This can be particularly challenging if each site prefers a different method of documentation.

Space Utilization

Space utilization is an issue for organizations of any size, especially large enterprises. In some cases, poor space utilization may cost an organization thousands of dollars annually. One specific difficulty is using different systems for space management. This makes it hard to track and compare differences. Another is not having standard classifications for spaces.

If management at different locations cannot agree on how to define the various types of space, there are even more challenges. There is no way to get an accurate accounting of it, making it impossible to strategize how to best use the space across locations.

Technology Management

Technology can also be a challenge for facilities managers. This is especially true if locations are currently using different systems or platforms for the same purpose. Finding a solution that works for all locations and then making the switch can be time-consuming and costly.

Vendors

Yet another challenge for facilities management is selecting the right vendors for various services. After all, a single person or small team cannot complete all of the responsibilities of a facilities manager on their own.

Most facilities managers start by finding a separate vendor for each need. While this can work, it is not efficient. It also does not take advantage of the previously mentioned IFM approach.

Why Facilities Management Service Providers Have a Bad Rap

Facility team member holding up Inc. 500 award and Great Place to Work for Branded GroupThere are many management services and organizations that take advantage of facility managers. Even so, there are still many criticisms of these services and the providers who offer them.

Common Criticisms

One of the common criticisms is the potential hidden costs from an IFM. Another are the threats to confidentiality and security. Others criticize the lack of managerial control as the service provider will be the main decision-maker. Other criticisms include bad publicity. Finally, another criticism is that outsourcing ties your financial well-being to that of another company.

The Bad Rap Is Not Deserved

If you look at each criticism point by point, each has a counter. It becomes clear that these are not enough of a reason to avoid all facilities management service providers. Yes, bad providers can lead to issues with the above, but good providers with a strong reputation will not.

For example, look at the potential hidden costs. These are easily avoided by choosing a reputable financial management service provider. This provider would and should clearly outline all fees in the contract and have strong ratings and reviews including their commitment to transparency.

The contract can also overcome the concerns about managerial control. It can outline the decision-making process that the provider must follow or limit the decisions they can make.

Avoiding threats to security and confidentiality also comes down to crafting an accurate contract. It would outline penalties for breaking confidentiality and how to choose a reputable provider.

The bottom line is that a few bad apples have given a poor reputation to facilities management service providers. Despite this, there are numerous reputable companies that provide quality services.

The Difference Between Self-Performing & Outsourcing Contractors

Group of facility project managers around an office tableWhen it comes to providing facilities management services, there are two main choices: self-performing or outsourcing. Self-performing is when you take care of the facilities management in-house, either by a designated person or team. Outsourcing is when you hire an external company to take care of it.

Control and Management

Some organizations are hesitant to outsource facilities management because of concerns about a lack of control. Outsourcing does reduce the control your organization has over its management. This may create conflicts or cause concerns.

However, this is not a problem with the best facilities management providers. They will work closely with you as their client to ensure you retain as much control as you want without sacrificing the results that they deliver.

Costs

Self-performing facilities management has greater hidden costs, while outsourcing has greater obvious costs. After all, you pay a company to take care of the management for you. However, the comparison cost is important.

You will typically pay the management provider less than you would have spent with in-house management. Even if you do pay them more, there will be a return on investment in the form of improved efficiency, productivity, and other benefits.

Remember that if you have in-house facilities management, you have to pay someone hourly to work on it. If you offer them benefits, pensions, or other perks, you must consider these costs as well.

Additionally, they are unlikely to have training or experience in facilities management. This leads to inefficiencies. By contrast, a provider’s experience allows them to work more efficiently, boosting your return on investment.

Information Sharing and Confidentiality

Whoever handles the facilities management services will need to know some critical information about the company. You may or may not feel comfortable sharing this, or you may consider it a security threat. As mentioned, this can be overcome by choosing and vetting the service provider carefully.

Perspectives and Ideas

Sometimes, a facilities manager’s responsibilities require them to think outside of the box and get a fresh perspective. This can be incredibly challenging to do when they are self-performing and from within your company. They might be too stuck in their ways and refuse to brainstorm about changes.

By contrast, outsourcing facilities management provides you with constant access to fresh perspectives. Even if you only hire a single manager, they will have a different perspective from your company, providing valuable insights.

This gets even better when you hire a company to provide the facilities management as they will have multiple people offering fresh ideas. Even better, those ideas are inspired by industry experience and seeing what works well with other companies in your situation.

Time Spent

One of the most significant differences between self-performing facilities management and outsourcing is the time spent. The bottom line is that if you perform the tasks yourself or have someone internally do so, it takes time. That is time that they could have spent on another project or task. By outsourcing facilities management services, you save time. This lets your team focus on their most important tasks.

How Outsourcing Facilities Services Can Leverage Your Time

Branded-Group-HVAC-Summer-NewsAs mentioned, one of the biggest advantages of outsourcing facilities services is your ability to put your time to good use. This deserves a deeper look.

Free Up Time for Main Responsibilities

Consider if you take care of facilities management in-house. That means that at least one person from your team will have to leave their regular duties to take care of the facilities management issues. This can take them away from other tasks and make it harder to reach deadlines.

By contrast, if you outsource facilities management, you will need to allocate limited time. There will be the initial process of hiring the provider and ensuring everyone is on the same page. You will then need brief, occasional meetings to keep communication open and ensure you are working toward the same goals. This frees up your team to complete the tasks they were hired for.

You will find it easier to meet deadlines when your team can focus on the tasks for which they were hired. Additionally, you will notice they are using their time better. After all, you hired them for their experience and skills in a specific task. As such, they are likely to do that much more efficiently than they would handle facilities management.

Find Solutions to Improve Efficiency

Outsourcing facilities management services does more than free up your time and that of your employees to focus on other tasks. It also improves your efficiency and time use for regular tasks. This will come via the suggestions, changes, and innovations that the provider makes based on their experience and insight.

As they manage the facilities, they will make various improvements, and many of those are likely to have a small impact on time-savings. For example, assume a facilities management provider creates a single system of record-keeping. Look at what happens when locations share data. Now, your team will not have to waste time reentering data to match their organizational system.

Similar time-savings benefits will naturally result from many of the other changes your outsourced provider makes. Together, these can add up and make a dramatic difference in how you leverage your time.

Other Benefits of Outsourcing Facilities Services

In comparing outsourcing to self-providing, we touched on some of the other benefits of facilities management. It is worth a quick review of those and other advantages:

  • Focus on your core needs.
  • Cost-effective in most cases and can increase your return on investment.
  • Facilities managers have experience.
  • Provides new ideas.
  • Streamlines business operations.
  • Access to vast and varied resources.
  • Delivers consistency.
  • Improved flexibility to adapt to changes within the industry and your organization.
  • No concerns about your facilities manager leaving the job.
  • Provide internal staff with learning opportunities.

Is a Facilities Service Provider Right for Your Multi-Site Facility?

Collection of facility management portrait photosYou are now familiar with how a facilities service provider can help you better leverage your time and provide other benefits to your business. Now, it is time to consider whether hiring one is the right move for your multi-site facility.

How to Tell If You Should Hire a Facilities Service Provider

To confirm that you should hire a provider for facilities management services, ask yourself a few questions. Start by considering if there is a good reason to take care of the management in-house. Even if there is, consider if all the facilities management has to be in-house. Then, confirm that experts are able to handle it more efficiently and could even potentially lower your costs.

Every organization and facility is different. But most facilities will benefit from hiring a facilities service provider.

How to Choose the Facilities Service Provider

You know that you want to hire a facilities service provider for your facility. How do you know that a particular one is the best choice for your organization?

Pay attention to their experience and services. Confirm that the provider offers services that coincide with those that you need. This is whether you are focused on hard services, soft services, or a combination of the two. Ideally, they will have experience with facilities management. This will hopefully include in your industry or in an industry that is closely related.

To alleviate concerns about confidentiality or management, read reviews and testimonials for the service provider. This is also a great way to confirm that they do not have hidden costs and that they do a good job handling the facilities.

Once you hire a facilities management services provider, what happens next? You will likely notice your facilities operating more efficiently. You will also observe that your team has more time to focus on their main responsibilities, helping your facility’s or organization’s bottom line.

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