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Facility Management in a nutshell

Facility Management in a nutshell

Monday 23 march 2020

Management of facilities, real estate and furniture, general services necessary for the smooth running of an organization, Facility Management or FM is not a recent concept, yet it has recently come to the forefront as the hero of our companies. But then... what is Facility Management really all about?
It is difficult to establish a single definition of Facility Management, as there are as many as there are areas of activity for which it can be responsible. It really depends on your sector and the angle you take to address the specific needs of your organization. So some definitions will be very general, while others may be more specific. 
Overall, the key role of Facility Management specialists is to ensure the proper management of all the services associated with a site and its facilities. That is to say, the implementation of a working environment that meets the needs of employees by ensuring compliance with regulations, health and safety standards, as well as cost control and improvement in the quality of services rendered. 
In the second part of the article, we will detail why a Facility Manager must rely on a CMMS (or Computerized Maintenance Management System) solution on a daily basis.

The short and long history of Facility Management

The origin of Facility Management dates back to the early 1900s, a time when scientific management and the growth of office administration - bringing all staff together in one place - was the order of the day. But it was not until 1980 that this component was really recognized and professionalized. 
The first forerunner of FM appeared in the early 1960s with the introduction of the computer in the workplace. In the sixties in the United States, Ross Perot - the founder of the computer data processing company Electronic Data Systems - introduced for the first time the term "Facilities Management", which was then associated with the complications encountered in the management of computer systems and networks. Its scope of the application soon expanded to include the problem of system/modular furniture and office design. 
1970, the end of the glorious thirties and the emergence of the energy crisis made organizations aware of the importance of controlling the costs of using and managing the premises they use for their activities. They are now obliged to rationalize their investments and expenses and to carry out a detailed financial follow-up. At the same time, major office furniture manufacturers are developing increasingly sophisticated and standardized furniture systems. Furniture that was so avant-garde that it did not correspond to the design of workspaces at the time. Indeed, at that time, office managers were responsible for purchasing "desks and chairs" and not system furniture. These manufacturers understood that the market was supply-driven and some of them, such as Herman Miller, decided to get closer to customers who were already aware of the importance of planning and value of space and thus understand the opportunity that these manufacturers were offering them through these new furniture systems. 
At the end of the 1970s, in 1979, Herman Miller decided to create a group of potential users that he would use as early-adopters. At the same time, the General Management of large companies made financial management a priority in the strategic organizational planning process.
Hermann Miller's group, which became the Facility Management Institute (FMI), the spearhead of this field, is thus generally cited as the creator of "Facility Management". Its main objective is to promote FM as a new management science and a professional activity in its own right.
However, it was not until the end of the 1980s that Facility Management fully asserted itself. The birth and growth of outsourcing during this period favored its development. Indeed, it was a period of great change when more and more companies began to subcontract part of their activity to specialized suppliers. This allowed them to focus again on their core business while ensuring the optimal use of their workplace: office buildings, shopping centres, hotels, industries, medical centres, data centres, etc. 
During this phase of great change, an increasing number of professionals began to understand the importance of Facility Management.
The sector has thus been able to structure itself and, over the last twenty years, FM or Facility Management has become a fully recognized profession with players of various sizes ranging from small SMEs to major international players.
And today... what does Facility Management look like? 

Facility Management: services divided into two categories

General services encompass such a wide range of functions that it is difficult to delimit their precise scope, which often leads to misunderstandings. It is therefore important to be able to categorize the different types of Facility Management and to classify the related operations in order to better understand the issues at stake and to be able to define a suitable strategy: internalization or outsourcing of services, choice of partners, budgetary trade-offs, etc.
FM is still divided into two categories: multi-technical Facility Management and multi-service Facility Management. 
Multi-technical is used for everything concerning the maintenance of buildings and installations (premises, lift equipment, security, energy, etc.). Whereas multiservice involves more services for the users of the premises (reception, mail management, reprography, etc.). 

The FM Multitechnic

Multi-technical means the maintenance of buildings and technical installations.

In order to operate, a company needs premises and equipment that are essential for their operation and their maintenance in operational condition. They must comply with legal standards and regulatory controls: the safety and well-being of employees must be guaranteed.

Preventive and curative maintenance of installations is carried out through a wide range of actions including :

  • Site access management: automatic gates, barriers, etc.
  • Elevator management
  • Management of heating, ventilation, air conditioning, air conditioning, etc.
  • Fire detection and safety
  • The routing of networks and backup networks 
  • Regulatory controls, management of safety audits
  • Compliance with environmental standards
  • Energy and fluid management: low, medium and high voltage electricity, wind, solar, gas, fuel oil, water, etc.
  • Works management        
  • Remote surveillance

Management is not limited to the maintenance of the premises but can also take care of the whole "service" part for the company's staff. This is called multi-service facility management. 

The FM Multiservice 

The second part of Facility Management is Multiservice. This area no longer directly concerns the maintenance of technical assets. It encompasses the management and smooth operation of services offered directly to employees. In this category we will find : 

  • Site layout
  • The cleaning of the premises
  • Management of spaces such as partitioning
  • Reception and switchboard management
  • Mail management 
  • Management of meeting rooms
  • The commissary (financial management of the establishment) 
  • Archiving management  
  • Collective catering
  • Reprographic services
  • Maintenance of green spaces 
  • Waste management
  • Pollutant management
A wide variety of services, which if not perfectly mastered, can quickly lead to a decrease in the organization's productivity and demotivate all its employees. 
Therefore, whether it is internalized through general services or outsourced to a specialist, Facility Management must now always rely on a CMMS that provides facility managers and site managers with the organizational framework, resource planning, collaboration between all players, and information sharing, to ensure the proper execution of missions and work.

CMMS, an essential tool for Facility Management 

The Facility Manager must be versatile and possess a wide range of knowledge and skills. Qualifications concerning the management of working environments, the regulatory framework, maintenance, building maintenance and must be able to draw up a budget and monitor it. He/she must be able to answer questions relating to safety and the environment but also master managerial skills. 

Companies also require that he or she must be dynamic, responsible, critical and have good interpersonal skills. Communication with all employees is a key point not to be neglected. A wide range of indispensable skills and competencies requires a gift for ubiquity on the part of the Facility Manager.

A level of demand that can sometimes lead to stress and considerable pressure on the employee, who often finds himself 'on all fronts'. 

Versatile, but at what cost?... He or she is still mainly a human being and can very quickly feel overwhelmed by this immense workload and will no longer be able to meet expectations properly.  

A CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management System) solution will be able to bring a precious help by coming to organize and automate a large part of their work. 

1.  A CMMS for Facility Management

A modern approach to Facility Management is inseparable from the integration of a computer system such as a collaborative Computer Aided Maintenance Management software. 

CMMS will give Facility Management specialists the opportunity to provide their company with adapted and immediate support in line with their economic and organizational model and guaranteeing the optimization of the quality/cost ratio. FM's strategy is thus assured. It will be able to reduce costs and improve staff productivity by approaching all aspects of the company. 

A complete CMMS, offering all the necessary management functionalities, with fluid ergonomics and an easy-to-use logical workflow, combined with an up-to-date mobile application, will give the Facility Manager and his team access to an exhaustive view to organize and optimize: 

  • Management of interventions: prioritization, planning, and monitoring of curative and preventive interventions and new works
  • Task management: recurring tasks and determination of frequencies: from daily to multi-year, estimation of downtime, organization of replacements, etc.
  • Management of sites and associated contacts
  • Equipment management: history and monitoring of the heritage base of the equipment at each site. 
  • Supply management: spare parts ordering and inventory management 
  • Management of real-time statistics: concerning interventions, task accomplishment, technicians' timesheets, downtime of each equipment, etc. 
  • Consultation and sharing of information in real-time: access to information during an intervention, collection and enrichment from the field using QR codes, photos, measurements, etc. via the mobile application

By making it possible to analyze the origin and frequency of a problem, CMMS makes it possible to plan proactive preventive maintenance actions or, at the very least, guarantees faster diagnosis in the event of a new occurrence of the incident.

2.  The advantages of CMMS in Facility Management 

Companies using a CMMS solution will benefit from many advantages, such as : 

  • Increased reliability and asset life: due to long-term preventive maintenance which will considerably increase the life of the installations
  • The optimization of interventions 
  • Increasing productivity: through planning and monitoring employee availability.  
  • Decision-making assistance: for the facility manager, the level of transparency due to access to information will allow him to follow up on the actions of his employees, past and future interventions and thus help him in his coordination and decision-making process.
  • Better Reporting: CMMS solutions allows you to store any type of data (information about sites, customers, facilities, include photographs or PDF documents, etc.) and to have access to asset tracking and history. It is a unique source of information that will allow you to continually adjust your strategy.
  • Improved internal communication: via a CMMS application, the consultation and sharing of information, the entry of a new work request or the follow-up of existing interventions are accessible to all.
  • Compliance with legal standards: safety, standards, conformity, the sites, and their installations follow the regulatory certifications thanks to a maintenance management system that allows maintaining the installations in compliance with the legal standards. 

Integrating a CMMS solution will, therefore, enable professionals to manage a mass of information and have the knowledge necessary to manage the life cycle of facilities, gaining in efficiency and saving time. In addition, thanks to mobility, Facility Managers can work in the field while remaining informed, responsive and able to manage their teams and subcontractors directly from their application. 


Opting for a modern and mobile intelligent CMMS solution for Facility Management is a must to benefit from cost reduction, longer equipment availability and lifespan, increased productivity, improved quality of service to employees, and perfectly controlled budget commitments.

A latest-generation CMMS to open up a new era in Facility Management: it's UNRELENTING!

By the way, our ambition is to offer an unparalleled user experience. Check it out right away: try CMMS for free. Within 2 minutes, the time it takes to create your account, you'll discover what's newest in this category of software.

You can also benefit from a demonstration led by one of our consultants: book a videoconference

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