Top 5 Facilities Management Challenges – PART 3

Today we will look at Part 3 of our series on the Top 5 Facilities Management Challenges.

Today we are going to look at the 3rd challenge (Remember we are reviewing these in reverse order…to see Part 1 and 2…which are numbers 5 and 4 on the list…go to our BLOG). As a reminder, the research we are quoting from was published by Corrigo, Inc who specializes in work order and time tracking solutions. There article lists the Top 5 Facilities Management challenges based on a survey they conducted of over 1,200 companies.

Challenge #3 Getting more work done with fewer resources

Not a single company surveyed indicated that an increase in work load was the least of their concerns – for nearly everyone, it was in the top three. Given these belt-tightening times, this comes as no surprise. One factor contributing to the increased burden on facility management teams is the reduction in their company’s field technician staffing. This may seem counter-intuitive, but as budget cuts move more work to vendors, the burden of vendor recruitment, selection and management falls to the facility management organization.

According to one property manager, “My biggest worry is finding dependable vendors at reasonable prices.” This sentiment was echoed in various ways by others. “Many of our smaller contractors aren’t around anymore. It’s a lot of work finding new ones, and then the work is just beginning because you have a new relationship to manage, pricing agreements to set up, and a lot of paperwork to get straight,” said a restaurant facility manager.

In addition to on-boarding new vendors, the task of ongoing communications with existing ones was identified as a big part of the day-to-day work load placed on the shoulders of facility managers. “We work with literally hundreds of service providers,” said a facility services director for a government organization, “and on any given day, my team is not only dispatching them, but also tracking their work progress, making sure invoices for completed work match up with work orders – it adds up to a lot of phone calls, emails, and faxes.”

SUMMARY FROM SURVEY

Doing more with fewer resources is not a temporary situation – in a competitive market, you’ll always have pressure to keep operational costs as low as possible. To succeed in this environment, you need tools that extend your reach and productivity.

What Facility Managers are Doing:
• Moving away from ad hoc communications by phone, fax and email
• Sharing a common platform with their clients and vendors to process work requests electronically
• Automating vendor job routing via intelligent systems

COOL SOLUTIONS GROUP APPLICATIONS

  1. I have seen many churches reduce staffing over the past year. Most has been in the area of business/financial administration and facilities related staff. This means that the staff left in the wake of these cuts are having to do more…with less. Less budget…less resources…less money. Yet their organizations expect the same level of work to be accomplished or that their facilities remain in the same, if not better condition. This is a juggling act that is becoming very challenging. I have met with several FM’s that are frankly overwhelmed with the level of tactical responsibilities that are now on their plate which robs them (and their organizations) from their ability to think and plan strategically. They have become “firemen” and not managers. If we need firemen…then we can hire them for far less than the cost of a professional FM…so what do we, as the church, want our administrators and FM staff to really do? Each ministry needs to ask and answer this questions and face the realities and ramifications of their answers.
  2. As I indicated in PART 2, most churches do not have a good system or process for tracking real costs of PM and repair. This also applies to scheduling work of PM, repairs, capital improvements etc. This then bleeds over into how we schedule work orders and our vendors. While I do not subscribe to the notion that e-mail, fax and phone communication is loosing its effectiveness (In fact, I believe we need to pick up the phone more often than sending an e-mail…this is a shift for me). However, I am a firm believer of documenting salient discussions and communications. It is far to easy to get busy and not document what was discussed, what was the agreed upon ETA for the work or the anticipated cost, does the vendor have the adequate insurance and so on. Having a system for documenting vendor interaction that interfaces with your historical tracking is critical for the understanding of the issues associated with your vendors; their performance, their costs and their reliability, their insurance. There are several good tools on the market that we would suggest you explore.
  3. Vendors are going to come and go…particularly in today’s economic environment. What is your plan for interviewing, qualifying and utilizing new vendors? Are you merely going to let your “fingers do the walking?” I like the quote, “Dig your well before you get thirsty.” That applies to this as well. Have a plan as to how you address vendor turn over (or even church members who are doing work that leave the church). Don’t wait until the last minute.

CONCLUSION: Develop, buy or subscribe to a system that allows you to communicate with your vendors (not as the only form of communication) and tracks their ETA, pricing, insurance and performance. Analyze how you will address needing to get more done with less…and if outsourcing is another option that can reduce cost and give you, the professional FM/administrator, the time to be strategic and not tactical. And finally, do not become lulled to sleep thinking that your vendors will never go out of business or stop wanting to serve your facility. Remember, the only constant is change…so be prepared.

Stay tuned for Part 4

Also, if you missed the first 2 posts, check them out on our BLOG.

Does your church meet in a facility (rented or owned)? Do you believe God has entrusted the care and stewarding of those facilities to you (or your church)? Are you proactive and intentional with these efforts? If any of these relate to you, then you need to get your copy of the Intentional Church Series: Facility Stewardship Manual.

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