No matter what area of business you’re in, innovation is the key to staying ahead. How can you do what you’re already doing…but better? Look at every new smartphone iteration or the annual release of vehicles and you’ll see the same concept, continually refined. But it’s not only products that benefit from constant improvement. Companies need to look inward, too. For example, how can facility management services be improved? What value do they have?

Facilities management is one of the largest segments of operation for any company—largely because there’s a tremendous amount of work involved in the maintenance, oversight, and optimization of facilities. Because it’s such a broad area of focus, there’s also significant opportunity for betterment. It’s up to companies to identify these opportunities and embrace them.

Even if you’re following facilities management best practices, there are still avenues for improvement worth exploring. Here are a few of them.

Use software to enhance capabilities

How can facility management reduce costs? This is often the first question on any real estate manager’s mind. The trick is to reduce costs without disrupting the balance of a well-orchestrated workplace. To do that takes data and the tools to dissect and analyze that data.

Investment in an Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS) or Computer-Aided Facilities Management (CAFM) platform is a step in the right direction. The numerous resources and features associated with these systems gives facility managers deep insights they can use to drive beneficial change.

This includes at a vendor management or in-house service level. Imagine the ability to route support tickets to the right craftspeople in real-time or the ability to track work orders and invoices to vendors against an SLA. Beyond this, features like digital twins bring tangibility to management services for capital systems—everything from traceable work histories to advance notification of upcoming maintenance or service requirements. Software does what no single person can in the quest to streamline facilities management services.

Automate and delegate where possible 

There are so many functions of facilities management that it takes an entire team to oversee them. This is an opportunity for improvement in and of itself. How can you use automation to improve delegation or to reduce or eliminate labor-intensive tasks altogether? Again, software plays a fundamental role.

Automating facilities management services serves two purposes. First, it saves costs by reducing labor hours. Second, it narrows gaps in execution to reduce or prevent mistakes. Whether it’s invoice generation, support ticket management, or reporting of key metrics, automating these tasks is invariably more efficient and effective than spending significant manpower on them.

For those tasks that do need human oversight, delegation is an important step toward better efficiency. When there’s no question in who, what, where, when, why, or how, there’s efficiency and thoroughness in execution.

Practice integrated facilities management

We’ve talked at length about integrated facilities management: the consolidation of outsourced services to a select service provider(s). More and more, this is something for companies to consider as they look for ways to optimize their facilities management services. Compact SLAs, better rates, consolidated invoicing, and a single-source solution for broad facility needs are all reasons to integrate services.

Integrated facilities management also makes it easier to continuously optimize and improve facilities services. As standards evolve and change, it’s easy to collaborate with a single service provider to adapt to them. Consider an event like the coronavirus crisis. Would you rather communicate new standards to a dozen vendors or two primary partners? The simplicity and convenience of an integrated approach makes it one of the smartest ways to streamline facilities services administration.

Audit facilities management practices

As companies seek to improve facility management and the administration of vital services, it’s crucial to have an auditing process in place. How do you know if the changes you’re making are worthwhile? What evidence do you have that the new way of administering facilities services yields ROI? Auditing—especially against metrics, goals, and benchmarks—is a great way to justify change to facilities oversight. Auditing is also a critical part of any continuous improvement process.

Always look for opportunities to innovate

Best practices in facilities management are ever-evolving. The scope and purpose of facilities changes on a daily basis. The role of facilities is constantly involved in a tug-o-war between employees, company stakeholders, and analysts. This is all to say that facilities management is both a complex practice and one rife for innovation at every level.

It all circles back to the core question: how can you do what you’re already doing, but better? It’s a question facilities managers need to ask themselves diligently. There are numerous ways to improve facilities management services. It’s worth it to identify them and pursue strategies and initiatives that have real benefit for employees, operations, and the company as a whole.

Keep reading: Why is Facility Management Important for Productivity?

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Jonathan writes about asset management, maintenance software, and SaaS solutions in his role as a digital content creator at Eptura. He covers trends across industries, including fleet, manufacturing, healthcare, and hospitality, with a focus on delivering thought leadership with actionable insights. Earlier in his career, he wrote textbooks, edited NPC dialogue for video games, and taught English as a foreign language. He hold a master's degree in journalism.