Achieving Facilities Management Efficiency: Expecting Standardization

Efficiency is a popular term to throw around because it typically means saving time and energy. Simply put: Efficiency = Profit. The interesting thing about efficiency is that it has a specific definition when used for technology. By itself efficiency is defined as the state or quality of being efficient, but when you talk about efficiency in technology it is defined as the ratio of the useful work in a process to the total energy used for that process. Basically efficiency means that we want to do something better, faster, and sometimes even cheaper.

When we discuss efficiency for managing facilities there are two key components: processes and information. To achieve efficiency we need to have a repeatable process for each task, and each task that we do requires having accurate information available. Implementing these repeatable process is called standardization. Standardization can help maximize interoperability, safety, repeatability, and quality. Being consistent with our actions and handling situations in a consistent manner paves the way for simplicity and efficiency.

So what do we mean when we say “expecting standardization”? We mean that in order to achieve the efficiency goals of managing your facility (ex. save time and energy), we need to standardize how we manage tasks and the staff should be expected to execute these tasks in a consistent way. Now keep in mind this isn’t just the processes we have, doing a task the same way every time doesn’t achieve our goal. We need to standardize the information available for this task and how we use that information. Your facility is a very complex structure that has seemingly endless amount of information available. Training your employees to find and consume this information in a standard way allows them to execute the processes that you’ve put in place – achieving maximum efficiency every step of the way! Having the expectation of a standardized process and information for daily tasks eliminates unnecessary preparation time, making us more efficient.

In the end our formula isn’t Efficiency = Profit, it’s Standardization = Efficiency = Profit.

The Transformation of the Facilities Manager

A few decades ago the profile of a successful Facilities Manager typically was someone that was a technical expert who grew to be a higher ranking manager. The demands’ of facilities today has dramatically changed this profile, now commonly requiring a college degree and years of management experience. By no means are we suggesting that Facilities Managers are no longer technical people, but there is much more of a stress on a managers ability to handle business decisions and to delegate the technical work to skilled employees. What caused this progression? Why do facilities managers need to be more advanced as a manager and (relatively) less technical?

The availability of technical information through skilled workers, technology, and communication allows the modern day Facility Manager to dedicate more effort and time to critical business decisions and deliver higher quality results than ever before. Technical schools are training future-employees to be subject matter experts to be able to handle the complexities that are involved in facilities today. Technology allows us to access a wealth of knowledge faster and more efficient than ever before. Information that use to take hours to sort through is now instantly organized and available on portable devices. Communicating our work and our changes in a facility has always been key to successful facilities management, but in the past we’ve been limited by paper and pencil and paper documents. Keeping managers and staff always up to date not only allows a Facilities Manager to manage better, it makes the entire team more efficient and accurate.

Facilities Management is now far from a one-man show and the focus has shifted to management. How we handle information and resources is what matters, and a good Facilities Manager will absorb the information, process it, put together a plan, and then execute that plan.