A number of organizations and websites track facility management (FM) trends; see links below. This overview is based on a review of these and other reports, blogs and websites, building on the common themes. We have identified five ongoing trends and issues, and four facility management trends that appear to be emerging solutions.
Ongoing FM Trends/Issues
Sustainability remains a dominant challenge or trend in facility management, with emphasis shifting rapidly from a focus on cost control, to a more balanced approach that emphasizes the triple bottom line, corporate responsibility, brand and image. Integrated resource management approaches are of increasing interest. Energy management systems will be part of a smart grid, with many facilities generating/contributing; load management strategies will be common place. Water management is emerging as the critical priority as the world gradually accepts the vulnerability of this critical resource.
Risk Management awareness and accountability is both increasing and becoming more complex in response to:
- Our new awareness of the potential of terrorism to disrupt operations and lives.
- Increasing sensitivity to threats related to large scale natural disasters.
- Enhanced awareness of health threats and the related responsibilities of anyone or any facility that congregates large numbers of workers and/or customers.
- Our increasing reliance on data and information for business continuity.
Efficiency and Cost Control pressures and measures have been in place for some time. What is changing is the growing realization that past cost cutting approaches may have harmed our ability to be productive and to produce quality product or service – both critical to success and even survival in an increasingly competitive age. Facility managers are increasingly seen to be part of the solution and facilities themselves are now been seen as critical strategic assets, not simply costs to be controlled.
We are managing the largest collection of aging buildings in modern history – the logical result of decades of growth followed by decades of restraint. Deferred maintenance challenges are becoming overwhelming; we still lack sufficient preventive and capital maintenance budgets to do the job. The weakened state of many of our physical assets is pushing us towards new/replacement facilities we can ill afford and away from facility reinvestment and renovation that could otherwise have been a viable option. Moreover, so much has changed in the way we do business, the way we work and the demands of the consumer that these inflexible, aging facilities are often just not up to the modern job.
Finally, we are all human resource managers (regardless of the level at which we work) and more than ever must learn to cope with the challenges of an aging workforce, cultural diversity in the workplace, demand for increased workplace quality and the need to house a number of different and not always complimentary work styles. Moreover, modern information and communication technology is reducing the need to work at a single workstation – many modern managers and workers are highly mobile.
Emerging Big Picture Solutions
Facility managers are now required to rise above the tactics related to management of their property and participate fully at the corporate strategy level. Buildings and other assets must be developed and managed so as to complement brand, support corporate culture, and contribute broader value to the communities they serve. As a key business element, each facility will have to be conceptualized, created and operated to support productivity, innovation, worker satisfaction and positive public perception.
The facility designer, developer and manager must deliver this strategic value in both short and long term. The greatest challenges relate to the need to maintain flexibility, knowing with certainty that functionality, technology and worker/customer demands will change dramatically over time. Now and in the future, the emphasis will be on maximizing usage and practicality – while adopting every new approach that clearly offers return on investment.
Buildings have traditionally contained a number of separate and increasingly sophisticated systems (heating, security, lighting, waste management, etc.) – building automation systems (BAS). We are rapidly moving towards integration, a single BAS – driven by the need for efficiency, holistic green concepts and the logic of integrated resource management. Building Information Modeling (BIM) creates a virtual information model that can be passed from design team, to contractor, to building owner. Everything is coming together through platform software providing a common portal – Integrated Workplace Management Systems (IWMS).
The final trend is actually the need to effectively address the change imperative inherent in all of the above. Facility managers are increasingly required to handle complexity and the pace of change AND to support others dealing with the same pressures. It is not longer acceptable to simply wait to be somewhat overwhelmed and respond once the industry has come to agreement on new best practices or standards; our competitive environment requires more proactive approaches. Facility managers will increasingly be called upon to anticipate changing needs and to work with building stakeholders to manage with foresight.
Source: Written by Stephanie Simon FMP, CFM. Sr. Facility Manager at PCL Construction [5000+]