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Our 2023 Sustainability Report is now available. View Here

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Facility Management Explained: A Modern Guide to Building Operations

Facility management is the combination of processes that organizations use to oversee and coordinate the assets, people, services, and utilities associated with their buildings. Depending on the scale and complexity of the facilities you need to manage, this often encompasses several distinct tools and multiple roles within your organization.

While the importance and general value of effective facility management apply to every industry and type of facility, the exact components, benefits, and challenges depend on the facility and how it’s used. For example, facility management for a retail store has plenty of overlap with managing an office or industrial facility, but an office will likely focus more on coordinating the people within it, and an industrial facility may have greater emphasis on managing assets, security, or compliance.

Facility management can significantly affect your daily operations and various performance metrics, so it’s worth evaluating how well your organization is equipped to handle it and whether you’re keeping up with modern capabilities. Most facilities have substantial opportunities for improvement and cost savings.

In this article, we’ll walk you through:

  • The components of facility management
  • The benefits of effective facility management
  • Common challenges with modern facility management

Let’s begin with the business areas facility management includes.

Components of facility management

What facility management encompasses depends on your industry, the types of buildings you operate, and to a degree, who you ask. Traditionally, facility management has narrowly focused on operations that relate to the management of a facility’s space, people, services, and utilities. Some definitions now include more portfolio-related processes like real estate strategy, capital program management, and lease administration, but these more appropriately fall under broader terms like Integrated Workplace Management Systems (IWMS).

Here are the main operational areas that fall under facility management, how they may affect your organization, and what it takes to manage them successfully.

Maintenance management

Facilities maintenance is a major concern for every organization, regardless of their industry or building type. In an office, maintenance problems like burst pipes or HVAC failures can make entire floors or even buildings unusable until they’re resolved. In an industrial plant, equipment failures can be catastrophic—but at the very least, they disrupt production. And in a store, maintenance issues can harm the customer experience, lose sales, destroy products, negatively impact employees, and more. So it’s vital to resolve them quickly and prevent them when possible.

Unfortunately, maintenance management is often rife with bottlenecks and information gaps, which can easily lead to delays and increased costs. To keep expenses low and minimize the disruption maintenance causes, organizations need tools and processes to:

Utility management

As employees and/or customers use your facilities throughout the day, it can often feel like you have little control over your utility costs. But by monitoring consumption patterns, investing in more efficient solutions, and implementing utility-related policies, facility managers can lower costs and identify anomalous usage—which can also help detect maintenance issues before they cause greater problems.

Specialized technologies can open the door to other improvements as well. Tango Energy & Sustainability by WatchWire, for example, uses direct integrations with energy providers to detect peak usage hours and help you avoid them, helping you secure the lowest rates. Tango also automatically brings your data from utility providers into a single database (with screenshots of every bill), making it easy to analyze trends and forecast demand, so you can create more reliable budgets.

Space management

For office-based organizations, space management is one of the main areas where facility management offers an opportunity to reduce costs and improve efficiency. And since the popularization of the hybrid workplace has led more organizations to look for ways to downsize their real estate portfolios and optimize their office space, this aspect of facility management has become both more complex and more critical than ever.

Your office needs to facilitate the work employees do every day, and for them to be productive and work effectively in your building, you need to ensure you have the right mix of spaces for each department and type of work activity. And to optimize the use of your facility, you also need visibility into space utilization, so you can identify excess square footage and either repurpose it or downsize your portfolio. As employees, teams, and departments get assigned to new locations and the employee population changes, facility managers also need to coordinate these moves, adds, and changes.

All of this planning and coordinating typically takes place in dedicated space management software, like Tango Space. This single solution serves as a hub for all your spatial data, enabling you to see how various spaces are being used while giving you the capabilities you need to plan, test, and validate other configurations and scenarios.

Office reservations

Office reservations, sometimes referred to as desk booking or office hoteling, is a subset of space management that focuses on coordinating the use of a workplace’s shared resources. This can include things like meeting rooms, workstations, neighborhoods, amenities, parking spaces, lockers, or special equipment. Employees need convenient access to book the spaces and equipment they use throughout the day, and employers need visibility into how these resources are being used, so they can ensure everyone has what they require.

Visitor management

Visitor management is the subset of space management focused on the experience guests have when visiting your facility. Even though they’re only temporarily using your building, visitors use your workplace resources, too, and employers need visibility into how they contribute to demand for space.

Depending on your processes, visitors may also need to fill out paperwork, coordinate with a host, and print a guest badge. Some workplaces expect administrators or receptionists to facilitate the visitor experience between other duties, while others choose to automate the process with dedicated solutions like Tango Visitor.

In our free ebook, The Check-in Checklist, we cover the essential visitor management features modern workplaces should consider implementing. Get your free copy.

Benefits of effective facility management

Facility management is a background operation that tends to receive little attention, and organizations often take an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach to their facility management systems. They may be cumbersome or convoluted, but as long as your facility manager can hold everything together, what’s the point of making changes? The reality is that the larger your operations, the more beneficial it becomes to optimize your facility management processes.

Here’s what can happen when you manage your facilities well.

Reduced real estate costs

In recent years, many employers have found that hybrid work models have enabled them to dramatically reduce their real estate footprints, with some experts estimating that companies can reduce the associated costs by as much as 50%. Larger companies have saved hundreds of millions of dollars. But these savings are only possible with responsible space management, where employers have visibility into their space utilization and can accurately understand their demand for space.

Space management doesn’t just reduce costs by empowering you to reduce square footage, either. When you can identify excess space, you can repurpose it for other goals. Perhaps you can avoid renting a storage container because you already have enough space you’re not using. You can also explore your possibilities for growth with scenario planning and put off the need to acquire a larger space.

Improved productivity

When your employees can consistently access the spaces and resources they need to get work done, they’re going to be more productive. A quality reservation system can help workers find alternative spaces that meet their specifications and coordinate reservation schedules with the colleagues they need to collaborate with. And whether you operate stores, offices, or industrial facilities, minimizing asset downtime and efficiently coordinating maintenance work ensures that employees spend less time working around maintenance issues.

Increased asset lifespans

Poorly maintained equipment doesn’t last as long or perform as well. Reactive maintenance (waiting for equipment to fail before replacing parts) inevitably leads to more significant breakdowns. Parts fail, and then larger components fail when the equipment continues operating. Scheduling maintenance in advance replaces parts before they break, keeping larger, more costly problems to a minimum.

Greater employee satisfaction

By managing your space well, you ensure employees aren’t “swimming upstream” against your facility when they need to work. They don’t have to fight for office resources or work out of inconvenient spaces. When something breaks, they can easily initiate work orders and trust that maintenance will go smoothly. All of this helps create an environment where employees feel like your facility empowers them to do their best work.

Better customer experience

Nobody wants to shop or eat in a facility that feels broken down or poorly managed. Problems with checkout aisles create delays and congestion. Equipment failures can render menu items unavailable. And heating or cooling problems can make your store uncomfortable to visit. You can’t prevent issues altogether, but with effective facility management, you can keep them to a minimum and reduce their impact, leaving you with a more consistent, higher quality customer experience.

Challenges with modern facility management

While there are significant benefits to quality facility management, many organizations aren’t equipped to do it well, or only have tools and resources to be successful with some facility management processes. Here are a few of the greatest challenges we see organizations face with facility management.

Visibility into space and assets

Many companies don’t even have their assets inventoried, let alone an organized database with each asset’s key documents and data, like manufacturer warranties, maintenance history, lease information, associated costs, and compliance regulations. This makes it impossible to make informed decisions or efficiently plan preventative maintenance. And it becomes harder to notice breakdown patterns that could indicate larger problems.

On the space management side, many workplaces only collect the most rudimentary spatial data: badge scans and manual walkthroughs. These data points offer extremely limited glimpses into how your facility is being used, and they don’t provide enough information for you to make decisions about better ways to plan your space and manage your facilities. To find excess space and identify space management issues, you need occupancy sensors that track more specific space utilization metrics in real time, so you have a holistic view of how your workplace is being used throughout the day, week, month, and year. Only then can you accurately assess where you can afford to reduce square footage or where there’s more demand for space than you can accommodate.

Tango Space establishes a single source of truth that brings together all of the spatial data you collect at all of your locations into convenient dashboards you can analyze and monitor—in the same place you plan, manage, and optimize your space.

Coordination between internal and external teams

Increasingly, facility management services like cleaning and maintenance are delegated to vendors and specialists. This is often more affordable than keeping someone on staff full-time to facilitate these activities, but it can also be a requirement for equipment leases, warranties, or compliance regulations.

The challenge for facility managers and their teams is that third parties may not be authorized to use internal communication channels, which leads to multiple lines of communication and poor documentation of vendor interactions. These communication breakdowns can create delays, fray vendor relationships, and lead to bottlenecks where only certain people know how to schedule particular services.

Tango Maintenance lets you grant third party vendors limited access to your maintenance software, so they can create invoices in your format, communicate with your team, and even receive work orders.

Budgetary constraints

When it comes time for budget cuts, facility management is often one of the first operational areas organizations reduce. You can get by with outdated facility management systems and limited resources, but over time, this inevitably introduces larger problems and creates significant inefficiencies.

To make matters worse, by not investing in facility management, you’re missing major opportunities to save in other areas. For example, you may have to rent or purchase additional square footage because you couldn’t see that you already had the space you needed, or you might need to replace equipment years earlier because you put off routine maintenance.

Disparate utility data

Across your portfolio, you have numerous regional utility providers, and they each send bills and data in different formats. It’s extremely tedious to collect this data in spreadsheets, but without a tech solution to do it for you, that’s the only way you can holistically analyze your energy consumption. To make matters worse, this data often includes errors like billing period gaps, duplicate billing dates, and overlapping billing periods, which obfuscates your actual energy consumption and costs.

Data consolidation and automated auditing are two of the main reasons organizations turn to Tango Energy & Sustainability by WatchWire. Tango connects directly with your utility provider accounts and automatically imports your billing data, bringing it all into convenient dashboards you can visualize and analyze. As it imports your data, Tango also checks for common errors and alerts you when you need to take a closer look at a bill. With accurate data and advanced analytics capabilities, you can set and monitor progress toward energy goals, create reliable budgets, and manage your energy consumption more effectively.

Manage your facilities with Tango

Tango is a leading provider of IWMS software. Our suite of highly configurable facility management tools were each designed to optimize specific components of your facility management processes.

Tango Space empowers you to monitor space utilization, allocate space, plan scenarios, test configurations, and optimize your workplace.

Tango Reserve by AgilQuest equips your employees to reserve all types of shared office resources right from the calendar apps they already use, and tracks each space’s utilization over time.

Tango Visitor provides an end-to-end solution for visitor management, communicating with visitors in advance and establishing a self-serve check-in/check-out process.

Tango Maintenance centralizes your asset data and standardizes your maintenance processes. It automatically routes work orders and empowers internal and external teams to work together.

Tango Energy & Sustainability by WatchWire consolidates utility data from disparate providers and automatically audits that data. Analyze consumption patterns, forecast demand, track progress toward goals, generate reports, and more to keep energy costs low.

Whether you’re looking for a single module to add to your current IWMS or you want a best-in-class platform to tie it all together, Tango has you covered. Want to see what our facility management solutions can do for you?

Request a demo today.


Tango 2023 Sustainability Report

We have released our first Sustainability Report for 2023, marking an important step in our sustainability journey. In the report, we announce our goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030, setting us apart as a pioneer in the larger ecosystem of real estate technology providers.