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What Is Facility Management?

Jun 29, 2021

Organisations must adequately manage their facilities to stay functional. Proper facility management and maintenance can deliver greater flexibility, adaptability and sustainability for your organisation. It ensures smooth and efficient business operations that aren't interrupted by various technical difficulties. In this article, we explain what facility management is, the types and models of facility management, the primary roles and responsibilities of a facility manager and the core competencies required for effective facility management.

What is facility management?

Facility management (FM) is a process in which an organisation integrates its people, processes and assets to serve its strategic objectives. The end goal is to increase an organisation's efficiency and support its vital activities. Facility management is important for public organisations like schools and governments and private organisations, such as businesses and non-profits.

The Hong Kong Institute of Facility Management (HKIFM) recognises facility management as both a process and discipline. It also affirms the global integrative approach to facility management, promoting the combination of effective people and asset management to improve a company's competitiveness. Furthermore, the HKIFM elevates facility management to the highest professional level, with facility managers playing a key role in an organisation's strategic decision-making.

Types of facility management

Typically, you can split facility management into two areas called hard services and soft services. Here are some examples of these services:

Hard facility management services

This refers to services that are related to the actual systems and structures that make a facility work. They directly affect the safety and welfare of visitors and employees, therefore, they're often mandated by law. Here are some examples:

  • Air conditioning maintenance
  • Lift and escalator maintenance
  • Plumbing and drainage
  • Fire safety maintenance
  • Building fabric maintenance
  • HVAC systems
  • Lighting, electrical and mechanical works
  • Real estate management and leasing
  • Other capital improvements

Soft facility management services

This refers to services related to people, whether they are customers, employees or tenants. Typically, these services make a facility more pleasant, safe and comfortable for the occupants. An organisation can decide if they wish to add or remove any of these services as they are not mandatory by law. Here are some examples of soft facility management services:

  • Cleaning, sanitation and janitorial services
  • Recycling
  • Security
  • Waste management
  • Grounds maintenance
  • Handyman services
  • Pest control
  • Car parking
  • Catering and food services

In order to efficiently manage buildings, you require both hard and soft services. They enhance mental wellbeing and help to maximise business productivity.

Why is facility management important?

An organisation should properly manage facilities for a variety of reasons, ranging from employee motivation to safety. Here are some of the top reasons why facility management is important:

  • Makes work efficient. Having a well-managed facility can drastically increase the efficiency of an organisation. It also enables you to recognise problems before they arise, so you can deal with them as fast as possible.
  • Improves employee morale. A safe and comfortable working environment motivates employees and makes them more productive.
  • Saves cost. Managing your equipment and premises properly reduces maintenance issues and helps you save cost. It also increases the lifespan of assets through proper maintenance and repairs.
  • Improves health and safety. Proper facility management enforces health and safety procedures and drastically reduces the risks of workplace hazards. It also involves proper management of waste disposal to create a safe and clean working environment.

What are the duties of a facility manager?

The duties of a facility manager vary from company to company. Generally, facility managers maintain an organisation's buildings and ensure that they meet legal requirements and health and safety standards. Here are some typical duties of a facility manager:

  • Sourcing and managing contracts and service providers for functions such as cleaning, parking, catering, security and technology
  • Advising organisations on how to increase the facility's efficiency and cost-effectiveness
  • Ensuring basic facilities are well-maintained and performing preventive maintenance
  • Effectively managing emergencies when they occur
  • Supervising employees across several divisions
  • Ensuring that facilities meet government regulations and compliance standards
  • Managing budgets
  • Forecasting the facility's upcoming requirements and needs
  • Overseeing any refurbishments, renovations and building projects
  • Drafting maintenance reports

What are the skills required to become a facility manager?

Facility managers require several skills and competencies to be successful in their job. Here are some of the top skills necessary for a facility manager:

Communication skills

Facilities managers need to communicate clearly the needs and processes to staffs across different divisions. You are also responsible for collecting feedback from stakeholders, identifying the right audience, planning appropriate communication mediums and determining the frequency of your correspondence with others.

Risk management

The facility manager is responsible for emergency preparedness, business continuity and facility resilience. Your primary concern should be the health and safety of the environment and its users.

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Facility managers should take measures to protect the environment while supporting organisational effectiveness and minimising risks and liabilities. They ensure the facilities comply with government laws, regulations and other safety standards.

Finance and business

They oversee and manage aspects of the organisation regarding financial investments in buildings, technology, structures, interiors and exteriors. They also effectively manage the business with staff planning, business planning, lease management, policy and procedure development, cost control and performance management.

People skills

To be an effective facility manager, you must delegate tasks to staff, organise efforts with peers and positively impact all facility users and stakeholders.

Leadership and strategy

Facility managers must lead the facility organisation by successfully guiding the individuals and teams to meet their goals and obligations. You must have a strategic outlook to identify micro-details that would cause issues within the facility organisation.

Operations and maintenance

The primary responsibility of a facility manager is to oversee the operation of the facility. So it's important to have an excellent working knowledge about building structures, systems, interiors and exteriors. This can help you ensure that the systems function efficiently, safely and reliably in a consistent manner according to existing standards and regulations.

Project management

This is a core skill in facility management and is important because of the wide range of projects managed by the facility organisation. Each project varies in scope, duration, complexity and financial risk. The facility manager must be proficient in planning, designing, executing and evaluating small and large projects.

Read more: Important Soft Skills Employers in Hong Kong Look For

Performance and quality

Facility managers must understand and document the needs and expectations of the facility and its services. You must be able to measure the performance based on pre-defined criteria and implement continual improvements regularly.

Real estate and property management

A facility manager can manage real estate as a physical asset designed for people who use them. They also need to understand the real estate practices and principles so that they can implement effective business decisions and strategies.

Facility information management and technology

The facility manager must be proficient in planning, implementing and using technologies that support the daily operations of the facility. You're also responsible for managing and reporting information and securing the facility's information details.

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What are the popular models for delivering facility management services?

Organisations can choose between several available FM models to select the one that works the best for them. The type, size and location of the facility, the business and nature of the organisation and its culture, along with the standards of FM required, can impact their decisions. Here are the five models of facility management services that organisations often employ:

In-house FM department

In this model, the organisation has its own dedicated management team and in-house employees to deliver all FM services. You can observe this type of arrangement commonly in educational organisations and the public sector.

Out-tasked service contract

In this scenario, an organisation has its own in-house team of FM professionals who procure and manage a series of outsourced contracts.

Outsourced managing agent FM contract

In this model, the organisation outsources most or all services through contracts and then appoints an FM company as a managing agent to manage these contracts on their behalf.

Outsourced managing contractor FM contract

This model is quite similar to the earlier model, but it differs in its process. In this case, the FM supplier can deliver services to their client's organisation through a mix of their own resources and a series of sub-contracts.

Total Facility Management (TFM) contract

In this model, the FM supplier delivers all or at least most FM services to the client's organisation. The supplier does this through strategic partnerships, subsidiary companies, joint ventures or in-house resources and aims to provide a total FM solution to the client.


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