Podcast Ep. 105 Stephen Ballesty

In episode 105 of Asset Champion, host Mike Petrusky talks with Stephen Ballesty about his experience in asset management and facility management, including his many contributions to the IFMA community. They cover the challenges of the built environment, the importance of the ISO 41000 series of standards, and the future of the industry, while offering specific insights and advice on how to take action on ESG priorities. 


  • Stephen’s professional journey in the industry 
  •  ISO Technical Committee for the 41000 series of FM standards 
  • Role of FM in sustainability, resilience, and adaptability 
  • Future challenges for FMs in managing the built environment 

What you need to know: Facility and maintenance takeaways 

Takeaway 1: The importance of global collaboration for facility management 

International collaboration plays an important role in the field of facility management. Stephen Ballesty emphasized the role of the ISO 41000 series as a tool for organizations to enhance the productivity, sustainability, and livability of their built environment. He highlighted the efforts of the ISO Technical Committee 267, which has been working since 2012 and currently includes 51 participating countries. 

“In addressing the global challenges that we all face. The ISO 41000 series provides us with a framework. A framework within which facilities management can demonstrate themselves as the foremost contributor to a more productive, sustainable, and livable built environment for all. And that is the big picture,” he explained. The standards provide context and a toolbox for facility managers to navigate issues ranging from climate change to the circular economy, he added. 

Takeaway 2: Facility management needs approaches that are integrated and sustainable 

Ballesty explained the need to transition from siloed to integrated approaches in facility management, pointing out the importance of holistic thinking and collective responsibility when dealing with the built environment. He also emphasized that sustainability has become a standard practice in the field, with resilience as the current response to global challenges. 

“My advice to your listeners, without borrowing too heavily from Nike because they’ve already used ‘Just do it,’ I would say two things. One is just do something. So don’t wait for what others are doing. There is a lot of good work that can be done, and not only in sustainability, resilience, and adaptability,” Ballesty said.  

“And then the second part of the messaging is, look at integrated approaches. Don’t think in terms of the silos, don’t think in terms of your part of the process. We need to think more holistically as being collectively responsible for managing the built environment. That’s the challenge.” 

Takeaway 3: The role of facility management is evolving in the face of global challenges 

Ballesty highlighted the evolving role of facility management in addressing various global challenges, and stressed the need to prepare for the future, suggesting that adaptability would become the third wave in facility management following sustainability and resilience. He also underscored the value of adopting standards to document and improve organizational practices. 

“If we return to this issue of what are the trends, I think a lot of them are embodied and elevated through ISO standards,” said Ballesty. “And perhaps most importantly in this suite of international FM standards is 4001, our own management system standard, which allows FM organizations to be ISO certified.” 

He concluded: “In addressing the global challenges that we all face, the ISO 41000 series provides us with a framework within which facilities management can demonstrate themselves as the foremost contributor to a more productive, sustainable, and livable built environment for all. And that is the big picture.” 

Asset management insights 

  • Cost reduction remains a key driver in the FM industry, but there is a growing focus on sustainability, resilience, and adaptability. 
  • The ISO 41000 series of FM standards provides a framework for facilities management to contribute to a more productive, sustainable, and livable built environment. 
  • The adoption of these standards has been slow, but they are elevating the role of FM and recognizing the broader agenda of the built environment. 
  • The FM industry needs to prepare for adaptability as the next challenge, following sustainability and resilience. 

Listen to the full podcast here. 

Go deeper. Dive into more episodes of Eptura’s Asset Champion podcasts. 

Breaking down workplace and asset management silos

According to our latest quarterly survey, employees generally visit the office during the mid-week. This fact of today’s workplace has financial and management implications across   teams using a range of different systems and processes.

What does the mid-week spike mean for your asset management, maintenance, and repair teams? Or your security and reception support for managing visitors? As more and more employees return to the office, how are they sharing space? What impact does that have on cleaning the facilities or on controlling building energy costs or managing inventory?

For maintenance teams today, workload ratios are working against them. The ideal ratio of preventive to corrective maintenance is roughly 4:1. But our Q2 data shows a ratio of 4:7.  It means that for every four work orders planned, maintenance is responding to more than seven break-fix or other ad hoc ticket requests.

The problem isn’t data. There’s no shortage of it. It’s being able to make good decisions from it quickly and easily – and automate rote, highly repeatable processes from the information. It’s being able to manage it all across connected workflows.  i.

Between 2020 and 2022, global enterprise data grew at a rate of 42% – a total of 2.02 petabytes, according to Statista. But it’s not the amount that’s surprising; it’s what people aren’t doing with the data.  Just over a third (32%) of all that data  is put to work.  Nearly 70% of enterprise data goes unused, according to IDC research.

Data tends to sit and live across more systems and in more siloes than you may need, often takes too long to process, and can miss the mark in helping justify decisions in today’s rapidly changing world of work.

“Companies of all sizes have been forced to dedicate resources to five, 10, or even 15 different workplace and facility management tools,” explained Brandon Holden, CEO of Eptura, earlier this year. “With reduced budgets and fewer resources, organizations need to shift toward unified platforms that replace individual solutions.”

It’s time to rethink work models and modes

What’s needed is a complete rethink of working models. Gone are the days when business properties were assessed by measuring cost per square foot, cost per use, and customer satisfaction scores in isolation. With today’s range of flexibility, hybrid work patterns, employers need to know how to measure the necessary balance between experience and efficiency, and flexibility and certainty.

“We need to get away from this idea of the binary day in the office versus the day at home,” says Leonie M. Hicks, Workplace Strategy Consultant, Unispace on our Workplace Innovator podcast. “If we could incorporate some more flexibility around the hours worked, I think this would be a way to earn the commute.”

Our 16,000+ customers are experimenting with different work modes and models, and are increasingly adopting integrated technology that connects data and measures how employees use the physical space. More and more facility managers and employees are taking advantage of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automation to help reconfigure offices and other types of workspaces while improving the maintenance of physical assets and building operations.

Worktech is the bridge.

Data helps unlock technology and process siloes to find more balance

Data helps companies right-size their floorplans and real estate portfolio using space planning software to match demand while simultaneously managing the costs of building operations. But one size doesn’t fit all.

Our recent global poll as reported in the Q2 Workplace Index reflects how fragmented businesses are today:

  • 42%: Too much space
  • 30%: Need more information to understand
  • 28%: Not enough space

When data from facility management systems is integrated and harmonized with data from workplace systems, businesses can find the right balance between the function of a workplace and the operation of the building.

See all of our recent data. Get the Workplace Index report now.


Make data the asset that helps you better manage your assets

The days of the real estate footprint being a static asset are in the past. Real estate, facility managers, and building operations professionals today are treating data as an asset. Business leaders need to streamline costs, so it’s not surprising that real estate is a major area for finding savings. But how do business leaders optimize their buildings and workspaces so they’re attractive to employees but less of a burden on the bottom line?

“This idea of improving the efficiency and accuracy of asset management processes and most importantly, decision making, will help everything become clearer so that you can actually make proper decisions,” says Paul Doherty, President and CEO, Digit Group on our Asset Champion podcast.

For facility managers today, being able to shift the balance of maintenance activities from unscheduled to scheduled, organizations can optimize work around building occupancy activity. The right data in the right unified system can help with better manage the full lifecycle of assets – and the get the most life from assets as possible.

Focus on what you need to know and your stakeholders

To assess their spaces in terms of the value they add and the financial efficiency they deliver, employers need multi-layered data points. When faced with opposing demands, what is often missing from the boardroom discussion is effective data to give a clear picture of the success of workplace utilization.

A deeper understanding of employee behavior across all workspaces makes planning for maintenance more straightforward and makes it easier to accommodate flexible working hours and workloads for everyone. For example, if meeting room data shows most meetings tend to end before 4 pm on mid-week in-office days because of flexible work scheduling, maintenance crews can begin planned work earlier. Precise data that shows these kinds of patterns can help. Unify workplace and asset processes and functions with advanced worktech

Mapping data from facilities management onto data from the workplace is powerful. By doing so, businesses will be better able to find the right balance between how the workplace functions and how the buildings need to operate.

With sensors, for example, organizations can get a better understanding of employee behavior. This helps facility managers measure load times in different parts of the workplace. By gaining a deeper understanding of employee behavior, not only does planning become more straightforward, but it becomes easier to accommodate more flexible working hours for everyone.

With digital twins, organizations can model scenarios and situations based on real world conditions using real time data to better manage budgets and better plan for costs that are likely to happen.

Companies can now find a whole range of blind spots — allowing managers to explore, locate, interact with, and report on it all. Within the context of smart buildings and digitally connected commercial real estate portfolios, digital twins help optimize space planning and maintenance decisions faster and better.

Facility and asset leaders need to work closely with front of house leaders to combine data analysis and decision making

By aligning facility management with the same floorplans and utilization data that the workplace and HR teams are accessing, organizations can proactively pause access to floors and redirect desk and room bookings to other spaces to accelerate maintenance projects.

This will help companies efficiently manage their assets and real estate portfolio to match demand, while simultaneously ensuring they create a cost-effective experience to attract people into the office.

Four main functions of FM

The broad scope of facilities management (FM) makes it a hard position to define. The functions of FM go far beyond ‘managing facilities’. A facility manager wears many hats and uses a broad array of technology to support all their efforts and duties.

In the era of hybrid work where employee behavior and building occupancy are dynamic, the duties of FM are more complex than they’ve ever been. The shift to flexible working has made it increasingly difficult for businesses to plan, operate, and maintain workspace and assets effectively. It requires facility management to work together with many different teams within an organization including everyone from human resources to technology teams, to physical security and reception managers, to maintenance and janitorial services. Plus, there are many vendors to manage, track, and coordinate – including when there are department building moves or space reconfigurations.

To truly understand what a facility manager does today, what they’re responsible for, and what effect they have on a company, it’s best to break down their scope of work. That means taking a closer look at the four main pillars of facilities management: People, processes, buildings, and technology.

Function #1: Facility managers support employees

Supporting people is the primary objective of a facility manager. This serves multiple purposes, including attracting and retaining top talent, increasing efficiency, and creating a positive workplace. Facility managers provide assistance with desk arrangements, employee directories, space utilization, emergency planning, visitor management, and more. They also act as a bridge between the workplace and the employees, resolving issues that arise. Facility managers also collaborate with other departments like maintenance, security, and janitorial services to ensure the building is secure, functioning well, and clean.

  • Coordinating hybrid work arrangements for desk and meeting space bookings
  • Managing employee directories
  • Facilitating moves and space utilization
  • Handling emergency planning

Facility managers are the point of contact for addressing employee concerns and ensuring a safe work environment. They handle issues related to building security, fire safety, emergency preparedness, and accessibility compliance. By prioritizing employee safety and comfort, facility managers foster a positive workplace culture and contribute to employee satisfaction and well-being.

They are responsible for creating an accommodating work environment, managing the physical infrastructure, overseeing budget and resources, implementing sustainability initiatives, participating in strategic planning, and ensuring employee safety and well-being. Their multifaceted role is essential in supporting the overall success of an organization and maintaining a productive and enjoyable workplace for employees.

Function #2: Facility managers manage strategic planning, budgets, and building maintenance upkeep

Additionally, facility managers manage and monitor the budget, resources, and assets allocated to facility operations, such as maintenance, repairs, renovations, and utilities. This helps ensure optimal resource management and cost savings. Furthermore, facility managers implement sustainability initiatives to reduce the company’s environmental footprint. Plus, facility managers are involved in long-term strategic planning for facility development and expansion.

“We try to forecast at least five years out to see what needs to be replaced,” says Corey McKnight, a facilities director for the town of Winchester, Virginia, on a recent Asset Champion podcast. “Carpet at the police department, water heaters, chillers, boilers. It’s a never-ending cycle of equipment replacement and repairs.”

McKnight, who has a dual role as both the facility director for the town and director of the parking authority, highlights the importance of considering the lifespan of the assets and the maintenance required over time when planning for their replacement.

“You have to gauge the age of this or how much maintenance have you done on it, over its life expectancy, and then try to figure out over the next five years where is our best value to spend our money,” says McKnight.

Want the real world scoop? Hear directly from experts in FM on our industry-leading podcasts Asset Champion and Workplace Innovator.

Function #3: Facility managers establish processes to manage buildings

In addition to ensuring a safe work environment, facility managers are responsible for establishing processes to bring order to the workplace and buildings. This involves creating a system of expectations and developing processes to cover any new scenarios that arise.

Facility management also involves upkeep and improvement of the physical building.

But this is also the most robust scope of expectations for facility managers. It involves not only tending the building, but cultivating partnerships, future planning, and asset management. Some examples of this broad range of responsibilities include:

  • Finding and maintaining vendor contracts
  • Repair, maintenance, and building improvement
  • Workplace cleaning and décor
  • On- and off-site property management

If it has to do with the physical building, it falls within the facilities manager’s realm. Facilities are the second largest expense behind the workforce—it’s the job of a facility manager to turn the workplace into a competitive advantage, instead of a cost center. It’s about ensuring facilities meet the needs of the people using them.

Function #4: Facility managers support technology integration

Technology integration is critical to modern facility management. Workplace management systems aggregate data to make decisions about how to run the business and shape the workplace. Facility managers research, select, and implement the right technology to collect and analyze data from networked devices and FM software. This data is used to better understand the workplace and optimize the environment for those using it.

Workplace management systems aggregate data which drive crucial decisions about how to run the business and shape the workplace. Integrating physical technology typically falls on the IT department. However, facilities managers are the first and last word on how they’re selected, used, and leveraged. Some examples of what this looks like in a modern setting include:

  • Researching IoT devices, such as sensors, based on data collection needs
  • Integrating sensors, visitor management, access control processes, and workspace reservation systems, into everyday facilities processes
  • Determining the cost, ROI, and advantage of smart technologies
  • Using aggregated data to better understand the workplace

Using an Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS), facility managers can collect and analyze data from networked technologies to get insights about the workplace. This fuels better decision-making on how to optimize the work environment for the people using it.

It’s important to note that not all office technology relies on data collection. Access control systems support safety, while automation tech streamlines processes. And while there’s a data component to any networked device or software, the true benefit of most tech is in its function. It’s up to facility managers to understand and leverage this function for optimal ROI.

Putting it all together for facilities management

Facility managers support workers directly and indirectly. They establish processes for order and organization. They’re charged with upkeep and improvement of the facilities themselves. They create complex integrations to leverage data for success.

When you put these four functions together, they paint a picture of what facility managers really do. Broadly speaking, their focus is on optimizing the workplace to support every aspect of the business it touches. But on a deeper level, it’s about giving the company a steady foundation for success.

Need a more unified approach to FM? Read our detailed guide to integrated facilities management.

How Digital Twins Will Help Bridge Facility Management and Asset Management

As hybrid work has become the norm, facility and asset maintenance leaders are turning to digital twin technology to help them become more cost effective across space planning and asset management, move management, lease management, employee management, and construction management.

But there’s much more to this innovative technology. Digital twins are having a major impact across many areas. Urban planning. Transportation. Biotechnology. Even return to office strategies.

The entire metropolitan city of Shanghai, China, for example, has a digital twin which models 100,000 elements “from refuse disposal and collection facilities to e-bike charging infrastructure, road traffic, and the size and location of apartment buildings,” according to Forbes.

Here’s another example: Tata Consultancy Services used digital twins to serve as a “quantitative aid to explain the current state of the environment and assist in decision-making” for a safe, effective return to office.

And because digital twins are models that capture real-world conditions, they help organizations with risk management. Companies can scenario plan, preventing issues early or even before they even happen.

Continue reading “How Digital Twins Will Help Bridge Facility Management and Asset Management”