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Trends In Facilities Management: Embracing Automation

Feb 15, 2013

Facility Management and Emerging Trends

Sodexo has published their 2013 report on Workplace Trends. In the report, an entire section is dedicated to FacilitiesManagement (FM) and we’ve consolidated their 6 bits of insight into the evolution of FM. Quoting from the report:

“The survey revealed that:

  1. Facilities are increasingly being recognized as a strategic resource.
     
  2. However, FM has had mixed success achieving strategic alignment with other elements of the business.
     
  3. Large, global organizations face dramatically different challenges than smaller, more local businesses—and they manage their facilities very differently.
     
  4. Financial metrics and cost control continue to dominate FM.
     
  5. Heads of facilities are still buried in day-to-day operation concerns.
     
  6. FM career paths are undergoing significant change, and the FM profession faces a potentially serious future talent shortage.

 

Going further into #5 on the report, it’s noted that “In spite of the widespread belief that facilities is already strategic, the fact is that the average head of facilities spends over 50% of his/her workday dealing with day-to-day operations issues.”
 

This is a particularly frustrating statistic. The move to automation technologies and other forms of monitoring is partly fueled by the desire to move Facility Managers out of the smaller, daily tasks and into the bigger picture as a strategic advisor. Still, Sodexo notes that, “Despite the challenges, we believe the future for FM is bright, as the profession becomes more critical to organization strategy and effectiveness”.
 

So what is the solution? We can’t assume that checking equipment, reading data logs, small-scale maintenance and other tasks are unimportant or irrelevant, but we must divert priorities appropriately. Building and Facility managers should avoid being involved in too many day-to-day activities, such that it may interfere with their role as a strategic advisor. Similar to any business, a CEO “should not” dedicate more than 50% of their time to extraneous issues; they need to stay focused on the strategic development and larger picture (though depending on business size, this may or may not be the case).


The Bottom Line

For a Facility manager, this is where the move to automation becomes a relevant time saver, and automation indeed helps to redistribute lower level priorities. To that conclusion, the report notes, “We believe strongly that the pathway to making FM more strategic is to outsource as much of the operational routine work to third-party service providers as possible. Doing so will free up in-house resources that can then spend less time “fire-fighting” and more time planning and thinking long term”.
 

Going along with the conclusion that a facility manager must take a more significant role in long-term planning and strategy, Temperature@lert is in firm agreement with the benefits of automation, and to that end, we emphasize simplicity in all of our products. Our goal is to remove these simple tasks, and allow managers to dedicate more time to straegy.

At the core, our products are designed to take the weight off of employees (and Facility managers alike) with regard to temperature and environmental monitoring.  We believe that we’re contributing to the future of facility management, in which tasks like temperature monitoring and control are automated and do not require constant supervision. By ‘outsourcing’ these issues, facility managers can indeed dedicate more time to strategic planning, rather than checking paper logs or relying on other employees to record data. The drawbacks of paper logging are well documented, and is really an example of “working harder, not smarter”. Why maintain old school methods, when the "new school" is more effective, more reliable, and also low-cost?
  

For instance, our Sensor Cloud web portal is an all-in-one monitoring suite that eliminates the need for excessive paperwork and/or temperature data on-site. Facility managers can easily access reports and graphs when necessary, whereas the advanced alerts are a nice substitute for day-to-day supervision. With simple installation, Temperature@lert devices take the analytics and data out of the priority loop and into a simple and robust interface that is automatically compiled. Overall, the move to automated systems and operations outsourcing is a growing exponentially, and Temperature@lert is proud to help divert temperature monitoring priorities away from facilities managers and operators.  

 

To help close the loop, “Among the organizations we interviewed during our research, those that were clearly operating more strategically had outsourced for more of their operational activities than the organizations in which FM was struggling to get resources and recognition”.

Looking into the crystal ball, what other strategies are you deploying in the near future for effective Facility Management?

 

For the full Sodexo report, click here


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