New Year’s Resolutions for the Facilities Professional
SAN FRANSISCO, CA – Facilities Professionals have much more on their minds than keeping their cell phone nearby at nights and during the weekend. While answering urgent calls from security to learn of water leaks and building problems during all hours of the day and during each day of the year is important, preventing such problems preemptively is more important. Building maintenance, air conditioning, electric power, and lighting are all part of the job, so when management add additional responsibilities such as safety, security, and environmental consciousness, planning, budgeting, and goal setting can, on surface, appear to be just…more to do.
To separate the mandatory from the mundane, begin by listing your organizational priorities. What is the current status of your core systems? Are there any immediate concerns carried over from 2009? What business functions has management identified as priorities? How does your budget correlate to any needs you may have?
After analyzing such questions, Facilities Professionals can deduce their New Year’s resolutions. A starting place might include the following:
1. Crystallize departmental roles and responsibilities. You’ve purchased the safety equipment, but who is responsible of inviting staff to the CPR training classes? Commonly Facilities Professionals are asked to complete tasks that overlap with other departments. Headaches are common during such periods as communication can be challenging and balls might be dropped. Begin by understanding a given project in its entirety, meet with all involved parties, spell out the roles and responsibilities, assign tasks, and follow up for accountability.
2. Outsource. Outsource. Outsource. Facilities Professionals are frequently under-staffed. Thus, in order to adequately manage all tasks and avoid the midnight call reporting a sprinkler-head activation, relying on outside professional is vitally important. According to Atkin and Brooks, authors of Total Facilities Management, 3rd Edition, outsourcing is propagated due to organizations having a lack of internal resources, a lack of expertise in a certain area, or organizational pressure to keep costs down. Facilities Professionals should cross-reference their priorities with their existing consultants and evaluate their level of satisfaction. Additionally, make it a resolution to add to your list. Where else can you use help? Analyze “if then” situations. If we expand and I need to re-order disaster kit supplies, who do I turn to?
3. Adopt a standard reporting structure. While management may not have asked for such, adopting a standard report for department and management’s use will help ensure your new resolutions and goals are managed, tracked, and achieved. Your internal scorecard should include a snapshot of each area for which you’re responsible. You should have a status report for each facility function, optimal state, budget analysis, concerns, current focus, etc. Anyone, irrespective of their facility management experience, should be able to understand and interpret the report. This will go a long way toward explaining cost overruns, the need for additional resources, and why you need more help. If you don’t paint the picture for them, stressing the fact that you’re overworked and under-paid won’t be understood, nor will it be addressed or modified.
Planning is essential to much more than avoiding stress. Planning during the “down time” can add comfort, security and ease during the “up time.” Thus, when asked by management to implement your national Automated External Defibrillator (AED unit) program , you’ll be available to do so and see the responsibility of such an effort as a compliment to your management ability, not a laborious task for which you’ll have to add to the never-ending list of to-do items. Organizing 2010’s priorities and building your New Year’s resolutions (goals) should be a rewarding and relaxing experience.