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The Evolution Of Facilities Management

Updated on July 1, 2014

Computer-Aided Facility Management

Before Computer-Aided Facility Management (CAFM) became the standard for all types of businesses, manual facility management became a recognized practice. When offices were divided by free-standing screens and computers were not yet standard equipment, many businesses still realized the necessity of making the most of their available space. It wasn’t until the 1970s when the design of modern offices introduced cubicles to the choices in office furniture and desktop computers became commonplace that the need for CAFM began to grow.

A conference in 1978 hosted by Herman Miller Research Corporation resulted in the founding of the International Facility Management Association, or IFMA, an organization that was comprised of three private industry facility professionals with the challenge of providing businesses with the guidance they needed. The exponential growth of the organization represents the growing importance of facility management in a number of industries today.

CAFM

Image Credit: http://www.manhattansoftware.com
Image Credit: http://www.manhattansoftware.com | Source

Defining Facility Management

Managing a facility, or building, involves the infrastructure of the facility, how much space is inside it, the people who work there and the work that they do. While there are some types of businesses that facility management is commonly associated with, the types of businesses which find it beneficial to optimize their space is also growing. The range of services that a business focuses on varies from one industry to the next. As a result, the offerings in CAFM software programs have grown significantly over the years to accommodate the changing needs. In fact, it has become a highly competitive area as more companies look for ways to operate more efficiently for the purpose of reducing costs.

In 2009, IFMA announced the eleven core competencies associated with facility management including:

1. Communication

2. Environmental stewardship and sustainability

3. Human factors

4. Operations and maintenance

5. Quality

6. Emergency preparedness & business continuity

7. Finance and business

8. Leadership & strategy

9. Project management

10. Real estate/property management

11. Technology

As competition continues to grow among various businesses in the same industries, CAFM continues to be of greater value to businesses looking for ways to get the most from all of their resources while reducing their expenditures. In addition to creating a workplace that is as cost-efficient as possible, their goal must also be to make it one that is safe and effective for each employee working in the facility.

Due to the nature of their operation and the changes that they go through over time, organizations often go through many changes in the layout of their facilities. Commonly referred to as churn, a term that is expressed as a percentage of the overall number of staff moved during a year, today’s CAFM software programs typically address this area of the operation and support it through computer-aided design that optimizes the office layout to accommodate every need. When factors change, such as increasing the number of employees or upgrading to newer, faster equipment, the layout will change to accommodate them. While programs are often used to find the best placement for employees and equipment like, they must also meet statutory requirements related to safety, comfort and proximity to water and restrooms. Other features can be determined according to the preferences of the business as well.

Growth Vs. Cost

The increasing popularity of CAFM software is due to the number and types of companies going up against the competition to experience the greatest growth while cutting their costs. While a great deal of the reasons for changes in space allocation goes towards these two goals, there is also the safety and consideration of the employees to be kept in mind. There are statutory requirements that dictate how much space must be provided to individual staff members and fire safety arrangements that must be considered as well.

To make employees more comfortable and better able to perform their jobs, lighting levels must be taken into consideration along with temperature control and ventilation. Some businesses also extend these considerations to include proximity to restrooms and drinking fountains, vending machines, or break rooms. Every consideration goes towards making each employee more productive through their satisfaction and the accessibility to needed equipment.

The Facilities Manager

The role of a facilities manager is a diverse and important one. They are responsible for the strategies that are put in place and overseeing that they are implemented in an efficient and timely manner. Everyone inside the company must be notified when decisions are made and changes take place, along with the customers who visit the site or are impacted by the changes in any way. Every decision must be compliant and they must consider not only the best use of space but also the impact of specific services, the related cost and the risk to the business.

The facility manager will oversee the implementation of the changes and always work towards creating a safe and cost-effective environment where every employee will function optimally. CAFM software simplifies the process and reduces the potential for error by providing the manager with the best scenarios, addressing compliance, and producing analysis and reports that allow them to view the effectiveness of the changes once they have been implemented.

Facility Management Software

Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/timpatterson/524552297
Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/timpatterson/524552297 | Source

Bringing All The Data Together In A Single Platform

CAFM software brings all the information the facility manager uses daily into one platform for complete and easy-to-read visibility. Email reminders sent to their mailbox when due dates arise ensure that everything takes place fluidly without any area of the operation being neglected while changes are being implemented. Although churn is expensive, moving employees and equipment is often the best way to improve productivity and save money. With CAFM software, the tools are available to visualize the plans that will cut costs and optimize short-term and long-term goals for the operation.

Summary

Although facilities management has been an important issue surrounding businesses for decades, the availability of CAFM software to perform the duties entailed to make businesses more efficient and cost-effective has led to more businesses across a wide range of industries implementing a CAFM system. The ease with which a good software system can help you manage your building makes it a valuable addition to almost any type of company.

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