Have you ever found yourself thinking, “I know what O&M is! Now What?”  What I mean is, you understand the basics of operations and maintenance, but that really doesn’t translate into the specifics of exactly what your facility needs in relation to O&M.  Each facility within a given industry will have a very unique set of requirements for O&M.  Then, when you look at facilities across a wide spectrum of industries, the requirements get much more varied and diverse.  So, how do you determine what your facilities need specifically?

Ask Questions

In order to develop specific processes for your team, you need to understand what your built environments’ end-users expect to get out of the facilities. What can the facility do for them? If you manage a medical facility, your end-users will expect vastly different things and have a different expectation of quality than if you manage a high-end travel destination in the hospitality industry.

What’s the best way to figure this out? Ask.

It really is that simple.  Too many times we try to be the experts that know everything.  Why?  Facility managers are enablers.  We enable every other department to conduct operations in support of the strategic mission of the organization.  So, ask those department heads and managers what it is that they need!

I start with the workers in the facility. First, ask them what they do on a daily basis and how the facility could change to enable them to improve in their job performance. Second, ask them for feedback from customers they serve (I’m assuming the organization has customers who also use the facilities). Next, ask employees for recommendations. I don’t care how great the past facility manager was, there is always room for improvement. Finally, incorporate guidance from your superiors, and don’t be afraid to ask for clarification when it contradicts something you’ve learned from another stakeholder.

Here’s another thing to remember.  Sometimes end-users and bosses don’t really know what they want until they hear it from someone else. Knowing this, I like to steer the direction of the conversation whenever possible. Let them tell you what they need to accomplish in their job and then you make recommendations on how the facility can support that.

And Then?

Now that we know what daily operations our facilities must support, we can tackle operations and maintenance.  Formulate processes and procedures that enable all of your building assets to support the mission of the organization.  By understanding what the mission is, you will understand the purpose of each component of your facility.

Effectiveness is achieved through mastery of O&M processes.  There is no quick recipe for success.  You learn what to do, you implement a plan, and you master it.  As I write more articles, we will get increasingly specific on exactly how to develop this knowledge and implement the best plans for your O&M strategy.  If you can’t wait, however, I’ve laid out the first three things all facility managers should do when they get hired here: https://learningfm.com/facility-managers-must-do/.

Thanks so much for reading!  Please leave any feedback or comments below on how you learned O&M and what it means to you.  I can also always be reached at dan@learningfm.com.  Until next time…

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