In pursuing more optimized business operations, companies are leveraging their in-house facility management teams to focus on developing strategic initiatives and processes. With limited resources, organizations are turning to Integrated Facilities Management (IFM) service providers, along with their resources and industry knowledge, to manage their facilities. Companies are tying project management, facility management, and real estate management onto a singular service provider. This centralized management system ensures greater visibility into the company portfolio and higher levels of service quality consistency.
However, companies must evaluate the market of the facility management industry. There is a multitude of niches and competitive advantages that arise in this professional service. Therefore, sourcing the right IFM service provider will connect effective professionals in facility management with the facility management needs of companies. The following questions will provide a sound basis for evaluating a potential service provider against the leading trends and topics within the IFM industry.
Does your company have specialization in any particular subcategories?Some IFM service providers position themselves in the market as subject matter experts in one or more subcategories. Either through their resources or experience, specialization could be a crucial function if there is alignment with a buyer’s needs. For example, an industrial organization may be more engaged with a potential service provider who specializes in fire inspection services over others. Because of the stringent level of regulations and standards for fire safety in both testing & inspection and capital improvement, this may be a mutually beneficial partnership. Meanwhile, a service provider with a strong market presence in foodservice may appeal to companies in the hospitality industry. Being able to align within the operations of a business could result in efficient use of the facility space and real estate.
On the other hand, specialization may narrow the possible scope of work for that IFM service provider. Their resources may be limited to the areas that they specialize in, or they may not provide a sufficient level of service and quality to other subcategories. These downsides could mean that the in-house facility team taking on additional roles besides their strategic initiatives. Specialization can have both favorable and unfavorable consequences, so companies should follow up to ensure that their entire scope of work for facility management can be handled by their potential IFM service provider.
What percentage of your company’s services is self-performed versus subcontracted?Building upon the previous question, it would be crucial to understand the ratio of services being rendered by that IFM service provider against its subcontractor network. By performing those support services in-house, an IFM service provider can produce cost reduction opportunities and streamline facility management services. Self-performance allows IFM service providers to provide the requested services without managing their own suppliers or leveraging mark-up rates to compensate for the services rendered by their third-party service providers.
Not only does self-performing work orders lead to reductions in costs, but it also compels service providers to be directly responsible for the completion of those work orders. To maintain sufficient service level agreements, this could also lead to a commitment to safety and higher standards of quality. By holding IFM service providers accountable to the self-performed work, a higher proportionate level of self-performance can result in the overall better service experience.
What is your company’s approach to providing facilities services?The strategy and direction a company can take facilities management are vital to developing the right project plan and facility management initiatives. Companies that take into account the available data in a client’s portfolio can leverage the potential to improve building performance. Furthermore, another direction facilities management service companies can take is being technology-forward. For example, many companies adopt a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) to help identify the best time to order inventory and how much to keep in stock. Overall, executive strategies by IFM service providers have incorporated outcomes-driven model as essential to the real estate industry.
What is the provided maintenance program?Maintenance programs have many processes, but how they are organized can affect the operations of a company. Proactive and/or preventative maintenance programs are best practices to ensure continuous operations. Meanwhile, a reactive maintenance program could result in stoppage or future service issues. IFM service providers generally fall under the first type of program to ensure quality and consistent maintenance.
Moreover, companies should also evaluate the schedule of their maintenance program. Some companies operate their maintenance program off a metered schedule while others off a calendar schedule. Depending on the needs of the maintenance, it may be important to take run time into account or ensure consistent performance of tasks. As a result, the usage of both resources and funds differ proportionately.
How would you describe your company’s work order capabilities?A functional and efficient work order structure is designed to streamline facility maintenance management. Companies should generally be able to provide a solution to allow for automated work orders and maintenance activities. By keeping track of work order completion, assignment, performance, and results, companies can expand their facilities and maintenance management capabilities. Asset management is another component that will ensure and maintain the quality of assets.
Facilities management is an integrated, organizational function that can determine the effectiveness and efficiency of the delivery of goods and services for companies. Ultimately, companies will need to assess their facility management needs and how these needs best align with their potential service provider. These questions provide one holistic and comprehensive structure for qualitative evaluation, but companies must build on this foundation with their own unique and specific scopes of work. If facility managers are to be expected to take on more strategic roles, quality IFM vendors can provide the support services to that development.