2015 was not only an exciting year for ServiceChannel but one that saw more advances across the facilities management sector. The FM field continues to evolve over a number of strategic, tactical, human and technological factors.
With a highly experienced team with hundreds of years in the FM field serving a wide array of customers, we get a pretty good sense of what the marketplace wants and where it’s going. Our insights come from those with a long history of successfully deploying FM technology like retailers and restaurant chains to those now realizing similar benefits like healthcare, property management and transportation/logistics operations.
What’s Going to Impact Facilities Management
In this season of year-end ‘best of’ lists, here are seven ideas on what we see impacting the facilities management sector.
1 - Benchmarking FM Spend
The first step for many companies managing multiple facilities is simply getting a handle on spend. Being able to capture and report on repair & maintenance (R&M) costs across locations, trades, regions, vendors and more can be an eye opening experience in itself.
However as more companies get a window into their spend, many are now interested in learning if this spend is ‘appropriate.’ What’s appropriate? For example, how does that spend compare against other similar companies or industry standards? Analyzing FM spend against appropriate benchmarks will further empower facilities managers to better control that spend and drive improved performance across their organizations.
2 - Data-Driven Decision Making
We’re seeing more of our clients progressing from only managing operational issues at a granular level, such as tracking day-to-day work orders, and toward using FM-specific analytics to make more broad-based adjustments. Powerful analytics tools increasingly provide FMs (and importantly, other executives) with true, actionable insights that can really move the needle. The value derived from this type of business intelligence will be increasingly necessary to keep brick & mortar stores and any other type of physical locations competing with the likes of online competitors, regardless of industry.
3 - Facilities Data and Business Data
In addition to diving deeper into the data specific to facilities programs, there’ll be even more to learn by investigating the relationships between facilities data with other data that companies either capture now or are beginning to collect and analyze.
Many multi-location brands have a wealth of data being stored in disparate systems, from stats on foot traffic, advertising and sales to other operational data such as inventory levels, lease information, utility/waste/water management and equipment/asset aging.
By using advanced database and analytics techniques, companies will be able to see both facilities’ impact on the rest of their business, and just as importantly, how the rest of their business impacts their facilities. This unification of data analysis will open the door to a wealth of new insights that will support improvements in both the revenue and cost side of any company’s income statement.
4 - Internet of Things
Maintenance and service requests, work orders, emergency calls and any kind of work that needs to be done are people-generated for the most part. Something breaks or stops working, someone notices the problem, reports it and it gets fixed (hopefully!). But what happens until someone notices it? Or if s/he doesn’t? The problem can fester and have an increasingly negative impact, from customer perception to costs.
But a new technology called the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) is driving changes to all aspects of our lives, including those in facilities management. How? As the IoT continues to catch on, equipment and assets will be able to self-monitor themselves and automatically know when they need service or maintenance. And as connected (to the internet) devices, equipment will be able, in a sense, to submit their own work requests and get serviced - before problems occur and negatively impact the all important customer experience. Work orders will be submitted and addressed before companies even realize a repair is needed.
5 - More FMs Go Mobile
The view of the FM sitting at a desk, managing from afar is a distant memory for most. FMs are no longer sitting behind their computer at their desk; they’re in the field working with on-location staff, getting a better perspective on the facilities for which they are responsible. With a focus on maintaining brand compliance and brand uptime across a range of sites, the FM today is typically out of the office and on-the-go.
With more and more mobile capabilities in FM systems, the FM can do virtually everything that s/he needs to do, regardless of location. From managing work orders (e.g., creating, editing, tracking work orders) to conducting site audits and safety reviews (e.g., comprehensive pass/fail, logging issues with photos) mobile phones and tablets are boosting efficiencies, ensuring completeness and reducing issues’ time-to-resolution, all while maintaining visibility across all aspects of a portfolio.
6 - Payment Processing
Getting contractors paid quickly and cost-effectively can have an impact on the quality of service delivered. When your vendors are struggling to get invoices processed by your company in a timely fashion, they may end up being less responsive to your needs.
Payment technology advances are bringing benefits not only to consumers but to facilities management and related functions. For example, as Point of Sale payments move from cash and card to phone (e.g., ApplePay, SamsungPay, ChasePay, etc.) facilities managers will similarly benefit by shifting payments from check to electronic payment for more streamlined and less costly payment processing.
7 - Changing Face of FM
As has been reported by others, the average facilities manager is male and in his late 40s. However, as this population ages, the industry itself will need to attract a younger and more diverse pool of candidates.
Technology vendors will be more important as this new demographic that’s grown up with technology will expect similar tools to support them in their career path. And companies will integrate facilities management more into their core business operations as these ‘new’ FMs will look for a role that can engage with and impact all facets of their organizations.
As economic, environmental and technological conditions continue impacting the evolution of the FM sector, there’s one thing we know for sure. The space will continue to be one buffeted by change. And on our end, it’s one in which we’re excited to keep helping drive the industry forward by supporting all participants in the facilities management ecosystem.