What is integrated facilities management (IFM)? 

Facilities management rarely begins with all vendors, projects, and crews residing inside the same work or flow chart. It gradually incorporates different aspects of business operations as employee engagement and better coordination reveal what a facilities management department should own and where they may allocate internal and external building resources. That’s where integrated facilities management comes in. 

Integrated facilities management is the unification of all facility management contracts and internal strategies under one system and management team. The consolidation simplifies day-to-day operational management and creates better oversight, communication, and efficiency. It’s the next and often final step in the organic growth of an organization’s facilities management structure.

What are the benefits of integrated facilities management?

Integrated facilities management provides many benefits to a facilities management team and operation. The leading benefits are: 

Transparency and Focus – Integrated facilities management processes allow a facility to have a complete view of available teams, maintenance, and work tasks. It delivers structure and agility as all events become planned, known, and visible on a maintenance schedule.  

For example, tasks like roof maintenance/replacement and plumbing are traditionally assigned to different departments and operational budget categories. Without the situational awareness that integrated facilities management provides, a maintenance team can quickly become compromised as projects expand in scope or require more attention. A manager may suddenly have to call in crews from another task or source work crews externally from vendors to complete a job due to a project not being on their radar and falling behind schedule.

A more strategic approach is placing all maintenance needs, vendor management, and services under the same umbrella. A manager will have a clear view of their day-to-day management while simultaneously handling more extensive projects and surprises. This integrated solution helps define known resources and align tasks with current maintenance workflows while keeping agile processes in place. Integrated facilities management’s transparency and focus enable leaders to move teams where needed most without decreasing productivity. 

Streamlining of Work – Consolidation is the defining word of integrated facilities management. Let’s face it; a maintenance department is always in demand. Not only do they handle planned facility maintenance tasks, preventive maintenance, and predictive maintenance, but almost daily, a myriad of responsive work arrives from stakeholders across a facility. Internal teams are the first choice, but sometimes vendors are delegated work through multiple work contracts and agreements. Vendor management can be a difficult task.

Integrated facilities management takes all that paperwork and tries to eliminate it by streamlining processes into single service contractual arrangements based on facility needs. Thanks to integrated facilities management’s transparency and focus, a manager can better define the responsibilities that need to be accomplished and the role external and internal resources may play for continuous improvement. This integrated approach of consolidation leads to informed negotiation and leveraged agreements that benefit an organization’s workplace strategy, operational efficiency, and business plan.

Reduction of Operating Costs – Most internal teams have duplication, redundancy, and double coverage due to a lack of a manager or department’s vision to see how crews respond to and perform work and maintenance. For much of the same reasons, vendors can exacerbate budgetary issues. Integrated facilities management can lower costs with its total work, crew, and departmental view.

With the greater transparency and focus that integrated facilities management provides, efficiency in spending becomes second nature. Managers can immediately spot when budgets are amiss from not streamlining work processes and increasing productivity. Problems like those listed above become actionable insights and are corrected quickly to better align crew work assignment and performance, which lowers operating costs.

Another strong point of integrated facilities management is the collection of all maintenance budgets under one department. A solitary budget is easier to manage than several. This particular feature comes in handy with a vendor or service provider as all billing payments are sourced from one place. Rates are known and don’t fluctuate depending on who is paying whom. Outsourcing facilities management can become a walk in the park.

Considering the above benefits and capabilities is just the tip of the integrated facilities management iceberg. How does an organization develop and adopt an integrated facilities management system and integrated approach? It all starts with good facility management. 

Why is facilities management essential for integrated facilities management? 

A basic definition of facilities management is the day-to-day operations and asset management necessary to ensure a physical environment supports the organization’s needs and core function. It’s a business strategy that maintains company efficiency while increasing productivity, comfort and safety, sustainability, profitability, energy efficiency, and scalability. Most often, it comes in the form of facilities management software, like FMX. 

Facilities management lays the foundation for business growth as it maintains and keeps an organization’s resources in working order.

How to get started with integrated facilities management

As we stated before, organizations never start their lives with integrated facilities management. It’s a process that develops over time as discoveries are made as to how a function of facilities management may be overlapping or managed by one department when it should be the responsibility of another. An example would be the management of vendor cleaning crews. Sometimes this function is pooled inside human resources when it should be an extension of the facilities management team.

As a business scales, it’s a natural evolution for facilities management to become integrated. Growth dictates consolidation and, as discussed, leads to cost savings. But again, it’s not something that happens overnight and shouldn’t be done without much thought, discussion, or planning of asset management or hard service. 

Making changes to an organization’s operations is a big move and impacts departments across the business spectrum. Be sure to explore and share plans with every stakeholder in the chain. Layout a roadmap that conveys integrated facilities management implementation and notes expected KPI’s and budgetary goals that can be attained. Technology can help define a realistic timeframe and ROI. Reports and analytics pulled from facilities management software should be able to demonstrate and show where integration will aid your business platform and financial objectives. 

Summary

There are many rewards to reap from implementing integrated facilities management. It’s a necessary component to scale business operations that streamlines work, provides full performance and employee productivity visibility, and reduces vendor/service provider and facility maintenance costs. When growth begins, research and develop an integrated facilities management plan that compliments current facilities management processes and be on your way to gaining higher efficiency, cost savings, and a better return on your facility management efforts.