Let’s face it. Facilities Management is an extremely broad profession. We all have different industries and fields. That said, even those of us within the same industries have different facilities to manage, which all require different levels of maintenance. But, there are four key things that all facility managers must know in order to be successful in their career.
4 Things That All Facility Managers Must Know
Get a CMMS
A CMMS, or computerized maintenance management system, is a must. This is more commonly a web-based tool, which provides FMs with a user interface (UI) that allows them to manage work orders, track labor and material costs, forecast budgets, control inventory, manage assets, etc. The key benefit with a good CMMS is not that it just does all of this stuff (obviously that’s great). The best part is that you can easily print out any number of reports to show stakeholders, giving them a clear picture of how you are running your department. Assuming you are excelling at what you do (and why wouldn’t you be?), these reports will depict visual and numerical representations about how amazing you are. My CMMS of choice is FacilityDude. The UI is easy to work with, it’s fast for all users, and they have an app (which makes opening and closing work orders a breeze).
Learn to Communicate FM to Others
We live in the shadows. Heck, many facility users really don’t realize we exist until something breaks and they need us. That said, I cannot over-state the importance of learning how to effectively communicate with your stakeholders, customers, and (most importantly) senior management. This is a fine line. If you’re really good at what you do, you will maintain and repair everything before anyone really feels any pain, correct? However, it’s also very hard to convince senior management to increase facility funding if they aren’t seeing the need (i.e., seeing things breaking). The key here is to figure out how to communicate with your senior management by telling them about everything you are doing to alleviate their pain through operations and maintenance. Then, paint the picture for them about what it would look like if they didn’t have you as the FM. Don’t be annoying about how often you do this, but do it every chance you get.
Learn to Learn
All facility managers must know how to learn. Our built environment is ever-changing. In fact, the speed at which technology changes is increasing and it’s making it difficult to even keep up with what is available. Couple that with the obsolescence of existing systems we currently manage (making it tough to find repair parts) and FMs can definitely find themselves behind the power curve. What’s the solution? Unfortunately, there is no easy button. I trust that by being a facility manager, you are drawn to challenges. Think of this as another challenge that you can master. All it takes is a love of continual learning and an effort to improve. Constantly seek new knowledge, experiences, seminars, training, etc. It will only make you better. The added benefit? The more you learn, the more valuable you will be to your current employer and you will most likely be able to leverage that into compensation increases or promotions.
Network With Others
Like most business units, excelling in facility management really does come down to who you know. First, being able to network within your current organization will be key to your success. Understand who makes the decisions, who the key stakeholders are, who your end user is, and who will help you achieve your goals. Get to know them, build rapport, help them when they need it, and ask for help when you need it. Follow through on your promises and help them accomplish their goals as they help you accomplish yours. This will pay dividends in your career.
Second, build relationships with other facility managers. This will help you in your current job by giving you a sounding board when you have questions that other managers within your organization won’t be able to help you with. Other FMs can also help you when you’re looking to take the next step in your career by recommending you for jobs and being a reference for employers when you get interviews.
Finally, network with subcontractors, vendors, and professional service providers. They have a wealth of knowledge and are (for the most part) more than willing to help you when you need it. Give them business, recommend them to other FMs, and act as their references when they look for additional work. Again, this will pay dividends when you need a favor. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship, so respect them and they will respect you.
So, those are the four key things that all facility managers must know. To be sure, this is a complex and ever-changing industry. It is easy to feel overwhelmed at times, but please always keep these four things in mind. As we work together to bring value to our organizations and build the facilities management profession, remember that you are never alone. Reach out for help to other FMs when you need it. I’ve never met one that wouldn’t be willing to help.
As always, if you have questions or comments, please leave them below. I can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks so much for reading.