You are a head executive at your organization and responsible for multiple departments. One of which is the Facilities Management Department and you are having growing concerns about this department as you are experiencing problems and complaints that need your attention.  The following checklist organized by various categories of problems provides a list of preventive and corrective actions you need to implement to resolve these facilities management issues and improve the performance of your Facilities Management Department.

 Lack of Control of Your Facilities Organization

When your organization lacks control, these measures and recommendations will help you resolve facilities management issues relating to a lack of unity of direction, control of facilities related costs, and the level of satisfaction and expectations of the building occupants and visitors.

  • Hold periodic operational meetings with your facilities team to reaffirm responsibilities, identify facilities management issues, discuss path forward projects, establish measureable expectations, and to provide deadlines for deliverable results.
  • If you have not done this, establish budget responsibility to your facilities organization and have them prepare monthly budget variance reports for your review and be prepared to discuss budget performance and variances where appropriate. This will help you identify facilities management issues where budgets performance is poor.
  • Develop informal service level agreements with your Facilities Management Department that delineates the scope of services and delivery expectations.
  • Have the Facilities Management Department conduct an annual client satisfaction survey to rate the occupants’ level of satisfaction with facilities related services and the building infrastructures and areas they use or occupy. Solicit comments from the respondents to develop action plans for resolving relevant complaints and follow up on these action plans.
  • For larger facilities organizations, have them submit to you an executive annual report that contains such items as operational accomplishments by department, client satisfaction surveys, accomplishments in such areas as building maintenance, custodial operations, landscaping, environmental responsibility, quality program efforts,energy, mailroom operations, shipping and receiving, benchmarking with other organizations or through an facilities association such as IFMA, APPA, or BOMA, completed and future capital renewal and improvement projects, and key result performance. You can use this report for forwarding to other executives and departments to keep them apprised of the  Facilities Management Department accomplishments and also to keep the facilities organization motivated to continue to improve.

 Poor Facilities Management Issues

Facilities management issues relating to poor training, inaccurate self perceptions of management style, poor work motivation, and problems arising from not having a back up plan when employees leave the organization contributes to poor productivity and service.  The following actions alleviate and prevent these facility management issues.

  • Require the Facility Manager or managers to get appropriate management training in those areas where weaknesses are perceived is an important factor in preventing facilities management issues.
  • Require the Facility Manager or managers to have a 360 review from their co-workers and employees to get valuable feedback relating to how they are perceived and the bad and good qualities they have.
  • Obtain an outside review of the facilities program and building infrastructure from a qualified consultant who views themselves as proactive and positive change agents and not as auditors out to criticize someone. Such consultants can motivate the Facility Manager and managers to change and to get credit for accomplishments relating to these consulting efforts.
  • As a last resort, if the Facility Manager is not performing, terminate the person but do so in a humane and positive way and solicit a firm that helps these terminated employees find work more suitable to their capabilities. Make sure that the poor performance is appropriately documented before beginning termination procedures.
  • Have a good succession plan in place with internal or external candidates for all key positions in the facilities organization. Such a plan includes training and mentoring programs for the more junior employees who will eventually become candidates for promotion and advocates of best practices preventing future facilities management issues.

 Lack of Responsiveness on the Part of the Facilities Organization

Facilities management issues relating to the perception that the facilities organization is not starting and completing work on time creates dissatisfaction and undermines the perception of the effectiveness of the facilities organization.  The following positive measures will improve responsiveness and timeliness of work.

  • Through your work order management system, measure how long it takes to respond to and complete work orders by type of work priority category. Examples of work priority items are emergency work, urgent work requiring corrective action in one day, routine repair requiring a week to fix, and preventive maintenance. Link monthly performance results to key result areas that will have an impact on individual performance reviews and bonuses as well as reported organizational performance.
  • Sometimes, facilities management issues are due to a lack of critical parts retained on site, slowing down performance. If your organization does not have a critical parts inventory that is updated, a stock-out may have an effect on adequately responding to critical repairs and maintenance.
  • Having an inadequate combination of skill sets with your full-time maintenance staff on site may require additional training to achieve a multi-skilled work force. At least annually, take an inventory of the skill sets needed to perform the work required (i.e., welding, plumbing, carpentry, furniture repair) and determine what specific types of training are needed for your staff. If you have a multi-skilled workforce, sometimes having back-up subcontractors available to do work is a solution if the workload presents a capacity, skill, environmental, specialized equipment availability, or safety issue. Do not overuse subcontractors as “per call hourly rates” are high relative to using the in-house work force. The key is to optimize the balance of in-house labor and subcontractors to insure cost effectiveness.
  • As each facility staff member gets work assigned to them, they must be given a sufficient amount of work orders to accomplish work for the day. This assignment establishes an expectation for them each day to complete work and if not, discuss why the work is not done with their supervisors.
  • Discuss priorities with the occupants who order work. Communicate guidelines to the personnel authorized to have work requested for the different levels of priorities to be used. This will contribute to a positive perception and expectation of the Facilities Management Department with respect to work responsiveness.
  • Have maintenance personnel provide notes to the requesters relating to the status of work including when the work was completed. Sometimes requesters are unaware of that work is completed and may issue a complaint not knowing this.

Poor Customer Satisfaction

Facilities management issues directly relate to the occupant’s perception of the the quality of the facilities related services provided and their perception of the condition of the buildings they work in.  The following measures will help you acquire a better understanding of this level of satisfaction and provides a foundation for action plans to manage and make improvements to work processes and the service levels.

  • Develop a customer satisfaction survey to measure, (1) customer satisfaction relating to various categories of work performed such as plumbing, restroom cleaning, electrical and lighting services, and (2) customer satisfaction relating to various facilities such as the administration building, the library, the recreational room, Building 100, cleanrooms, laboratories, and data centers. Ratings can be on a scale of 1 to 5 for example. Ask for comments in the survey and provide a drawing for a prize for responding. After obtaining results from the survey, develop an “action plan” spreadsheet to track corrective progress for people assigned to follow up. Report the results of the action plan to management is key to reducing facilities management issues.
  • Conduct in-depth interviews with some of the major people in your organization who will have a lot of influence on the overall organization’s perception of the facilities organization. Many times, you will find out that the results of these interviews will indicate satisfaction or dissatisfaction that does not show up on surveys. Again, an action plan should be developed from this feedback. Without an action plan these types of facilities management issues will persist.

Poor Work Quality

Facilities management issues relating to work quality basically mean that there may not be a formal program in place to improve work processes, provide better leadership, report work results, make proactive inspections to identify problems relating to the facilities, inspect work as and after work is completed, or treat facilities personnel properly.  The following are some measures and programs that will help you improve work quality.

  • Have your managers and supervisors conduct proactive work inspections of the facilities and the completion of specific projects. Proactive work inspections reduce the times when the occupants have to submit a work order. Facilities are improved or fixed before the building occupants complain.
  • If you have a large facilities organization, implement quality programs such as Six-Sigma, Kaizen, ISO-9000, and Malcolm Baldrige as a foundation for achieving excellence. Each of these programs have strengths and weaknesses and require further investigation to see which programs are right for your organization. Just make sure that the cost and efforts of implementing these programs do not offset the benefit.
  • Poor work quality also may result in a lack of training which will require on the job, Internet, and/or third party training.  Training promotes multi-skilled, motivated, and promotable employees and solves these facilities management issues.
  • Conducting root cause analysis is another process to identify mistakes, failures, and issues, and to analyze them and to develop methods to minimize these facilities management issues from happening again.  Develop a root cause process and to formalize the process of identifying and analyzing problems and developing processes and training as part of your process improvement program.
  • Document and or flowchart major work processes so employees have an understanding as to what is expected of them.  Accountability is a strong tactic to reduce facilities management issues. Such flowcharts and procedures establish work responsibilities, provide the correct sequencing of work activities, and define the deliverables and results expected. Having a technical library or databases will also be a source of  information readily available for your facilities personnel. Some of this information can be accessed through a web portal reducing the amount of paperwork.  Updates can be made without reprinting volumes of information.

 Poor Environmental and Safety Responsibility

Facility management issues relating to environmental responsibility and safety have become extremely important to organizations providing and receiving facilities related services.  Building occupants are more attuned to environmental issues and can be very vocal when they see environmental issues or problems.  The following measures will help improve environmental and safety responsibility for the employees and occupants of the buildings.

  • Good alignment with your Health Safety, Security, and Environmental Department or personnel in charge of these functions is important to insuring the safety of building occupants, the protection of the environment, and compliance to environmental laws and regulations.  Having alignment meetings with these personnel to define responsibilities, discuss issues, and to seamlessly prevent or solve environmental issues are important.  In the absence of these environmental support organizations, having a third party environmental professional conduct reviews will mitigate risks, minimize regulatory violations, and will support the comfort and safety of the building occupants.
  • Weekly safety meetings should be conducted including presentations and/or videos of safety topics.  Make sure that your employees sign a sheet that they attended these meetings. Assigning this type of accountability is a good strategy to reduce facilities management issues.
  • On the job safety training techniques should be provided to each employee working in situations where safety procedures or personal protective apparel and equipment are needed.  Safety training should also relate to the use of equipment and in some cases, training for equipment operation requires the employee to be certified such as in the use of forklifts and hoists as an example.
  • Consider developing a “Safety Committee” to seek out potential safety issues relating to the building and grounds.  This committee will be used to document the identification and resolution of these hazards.
  • Designating a “safety coordinator” on site either full-time or part-time (as a collateral responsibility) to insure implementation of safety practices may be appropriate.
  • Using third parties to examine or test various aspects of the safety program and building equipment and systems may be useful and in some cases, these third parties are required to inspect and certify safety areas such as fire safety systems, fire extinguishers, food preparation facilities, and gas lines.  Make sure that these inspections are documented and appropriately followed-up on and reported to management.
  • For your facilities organization, a safety manual is a must.  This manual needs to be updated and employees need to read and sign that they have read and understand these procedures.
  • A safety incentive program goes a long way to promote safety and reduce costly safety related facilities management issues.  Relating awards, bonuses, performance reviews that have safety as a component are important parts of an excellent safety program.

Excessive Commercial Liability

Facilities management issues can be prevented if liability is properly mitigated through insurance.  These measures help insure that risk is mitigated through effective insurance coverage.

  • Your organization has an insurance policy that protects your organization from excessive risks relating to loss due to negligent performance on the part of your employees and others on your site.  However, many facilities organizations do not have an effective or any liability clauses in their contracts to subcontractors and when they do have these clauses, the insurance requirements may not match the indemnification and insurance terms and conditions.  Sometimes the the insurance coverages provided by the subcontractors on their insurance certificates do not match the contractual requirements in the your contracts to them.  In a worse case scenario, working without a contract with a subcontractor may negate the coverage provided by the subcontractor on the insurance certificate.  In these cases when liability exists, your organization may need to seek legal proceedings with the subcontractor who may not have the resources to remedy the liability without insurance coverage.  It is important to have an effective contract drawn up by your attorney to insure that  the insurance requirements in the contract match the insurance certificate requirements.
  • Keeping a file of insurance certificates for your organization’s subcontractors is a must to resolve these types of facilities management issues.  In many cases, subcontractors fail to send your facilities organization an updated insurance certificate on an periodic basis and many of the different types of coverages on the certificate have expired.  Keeping a spreadsheet of these certificates including the coverage periods for the different types of coverage is important. Notify the subcontractor before some to the coverages expire.
  • Maintaining an accurate warranty file also makes it easy to seek remedies for correcting problems on equipment and assets.

These are overall facilities management issues relating to how you can improve the organization’s facility management program.  Beyond these issues and remedies, it is important to implement the measures listed above in a positive people oriented way and to provide awards, recognition, and praise when the facilities organization implements these items.  After all, great facilities organizations are completely dependent upon its employees.  Treating people with dignity, positive reinforcement, and respect will provide a foundation for excellent performance ultimately reducing facilities management issues.