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Key Components of Integrated Facilities Management (IFM)

Integrated Facilities Management (IFM) is a holistic approach to facility management that encompasses coordinating internal and external services, space optimization, and sustainability management. By optimizing the entire facility and streamlining its operations, IFM empowers organizations to generate savings across their real estate portfolios.

While some organizations attempt to keep facility management budgets low by deferring maintenance and avoiding costly improvements, these short-term solutions inevitably cause more expensive problems down the road—like asset failures and operational inefficiencies. Between redundancies, bottlenecks, and poor visibility into asset data, facility management is a core business operation brimming with opportunities for significant savings. Integrated Facilities Management helps you tap into these opportunities by improving access to relevant facility information.

But just what is IFM? What’s being integrated, and how? Is it simply a modern maintenance system? Even IFM providers themselves are vague about the specifics, making it unclear what this approach actually entails.

In this article, we’ll clearly define IFM and its scope, then lay out the specific components and capabilities an IFM solution should provide.

What is Integrated Facilities Management (IFM)?

Integrated Facilities Management is the combination of technology and processes that centralizes and streamlines facility-related operations including maintenance, space optimization, project management, sustainability management, and real estate management. While maintenance tends to be IFM’s primary focus, it’s important to recognize the full scope of this approach. IFM establishes a single system for managing and coordinating the services being done across all these functional areas, by both internal and external teams, spanning an organization’s entire portfolio.

IFM offers a unified, replicable system for assigning and overseeing services done by internal and external teams, optimizes the costs associated with assets and services, standardizes the invoicing process, and helps coordinate both preventive and reactive maintenance work. But it also sees each facility as part of a larger location strategy, and aligns facility management with the organization’s goals.

Functionally, Computer Aided Facility Management (CAFM) software is the main tool that facilitates IFM. It serves as the hub for your organization’s maintenance data, including each asset’s maintenance history, past invoices, and other relevant documentation. With meaningful connections to your other IWMS or Store Lifecycle Management software, such as your lease administration and project management solutions, CAFM also helps you make more informed decisions (such as avoiding costly repairs you aren’t responsible for) and track work in the right places.

But since IFM encompasses the whole facility, it goes beyond the capabilities of CAFM and responsibilities that would fall to facility managers. McKinsey positions space management, occupancy analytics, real estate management, and sustainability management within the scope of IFM, and these require additional technology and processes.

To effectively manage an office space, for example, an organization needs space management software that allows them to test and plan scenarios, using space utilization data to forecast demand for space and find the best configurations to meet a particular business goal. A retailer won’t use space management software like an office-based organization, but for them, IFM might include optimizing store layouts, which they may test and validate using site selection software.

Given the savings opportunity presented by a more holistic approach to facilities management, many organizations are considering whether or not to implement IFM. If that’s you, here’s what to look for as you research solutions.

Core components of IFM

Since IFM spans multiple software categories and workflows, you’re not necessarily looking for a single solution. There are certainly individual vendors (like Tango) that provide everything you need, but whether you use one vendor or several, you’ll want to evaluate which combinations of tools provide the IFM capabilities that are right for your industry and your organization.

Maintenance history

IFM can improve facility management processes by increasing visibility into asset and service data, enabling you to quickly make informed maintenance decisions. Many organizations don’t even have a database of all their assets, let alone all the work orders, invoices, costs, and documentation associated with each one. Modern CAFM solutions should serve as a one-stop-shop for everything there is to know about each of your assets, so you can see things like:

  • Purchase and installation date
  • Service date and details
  • Service provider (both employees and external vendors)
  • Lifetime cost
  • Service Level Agreements (SLAs)
  • Relevant maintenance regulations

With this information at their fingertips, a facility manager can make decisions about how to move forward with maintenance work and identify larger problems. But before they start assigning work orders and signing invoices, you probably want them to know if that work is something you’re actually responsible for.

Lease data integration

With any maintenance service, whether it’s for an asset or infrastructure (like a burst pipe or roof repair), your IFM solution should import and track lease data, so you know who’s responsible for maintaining it under your lease. Your CAFM software needs to show an asset’s Net Present Value (NPV), its projected lifetime value, as well as Not-to-Exceeds and other relevant clauses from your lease.

This can be particularly tricky with equipment leases, which are often buried in the terms of your facility lease and not explicitly defined as leases. Without insight from your lease department, your facility manager may assume you own an asset like a forklift that came with the facility, when in fact, you’re leasing it from the building owner, and they’ve provided specific maintenance guidelines.

Especially with more expensive services that have a long-term impact, it’s also important for facility managers to have some visibility into your location strategy. If a lease is coming up for renewal, and you don’t plan on staying in the building, you don’t want to replace assets or infrastructure that will benefit the next tenant more than you. Keeping facility managers abreast of your plans for a location could completely change their decision to repair, replace, or defer, saving you tens of thousands of dollars in unnecessary maintenance. And the inverse is true, too: if you plan on staying in a location as long as possible, you don’t want your facility manager applying band-aid solutions instead of replacing assets and infrastructure you expect to receive most of the benefit from.

Intelligent work order routing

Often, when employees notice problems, the process of creating a new work order, tracking down the relevant information, and routing it to the right person is so complex or unclear that it delays the actual work. And with numerous steps and handoffs involved in every work order, this paperwork can easily interfere with core services and emergencies alike. Integrated Facilities Management addresses this bottleneck by simplifying the entire work order process and intelligently routing work orders to appropriate stakeholders.

Modern CAFM solutions like Tango Maintenance simplify work order management by both centralizing the relevant data you need to make decisions about your assets and enabling you to establish criteria to automatically assign work orders to the right people—whether they’re an internal employee or external contractor. As each step in the work order is completed, the software routes the data to the next person, ensuring that facility-related work is as straightforward as possible.

Streamlined invoicing

Invoicing is an aspect of facility management that should be straightforward and efficient. But it  often involves so many layers of approval and back-and-forth communication that it can delay payments, impacting your maintenance budget and other planned work and creating issues with your vendors. If your invoicing process is overly complex or consistently slow, your vendors may opt to prioritize other clients when you need their services most.

This is one of the areas where IFM can enable greater coordination with external vendors, treating them more like part of your facilities team. Tango Maintenance uses an account hierarchy that gives your external vendors the limited access they need to create invoices in your internal system. They can follow your format, and you can configure Tango to send the invoice to the right people in the right order, so everyone signs off and your vendors get paid in a timely manner.

Preventive maintenance scheduling

Most maintenance should be like any other regular facility service: scheduled. Preventive maintenance uses manufacturer guidelines, government regulations, work order history, and your company policies to replace parts and service equipment before it breaks. While reactive maintenance leaves you scrambling to work through costly asset failures, preventive maintenance lets you plan around them, giving you time to alter operations, prepare backup equipment, and ultimately minimize downtime.

Some reactive maintenance is inevitable. Breakdowns and emergencies are bound to happen. But preventive maintenance drastically reduces reactive maintenance. The problem for most organizations is that keeping up with preventive maintenance is a headache in itself, because every asset needs its own schedule. IFM simplifies preventive maintenance by automatically generating service schedules for each asset. By staying on top of your routine maintenance, you help your assets perform better and last longer, while keeping the disruption to your operations minimal.

Occupancy analytics

Occupancy analytics is still an emerging category, but most office-based organizations have at least adopted some tools and strategies for examining how their space is being utilized—like badge scan data or office reservations. Ideally, you should have IoT sensors like Light Detection and Ranging (LiDaR) strips and blurred vision cameras, which can track space utilization in real time. The more data you collect about how people interact with your office, the better equipped you are to optimize that space around your goals.

For example, you may find that due to your current hybrid workplace model, 30% or more of your current workstations are unoccupied throughout the week. This excess space could be repurposed into something else, or you may even be able to downsize your real estate footprint. Perhaps you’re currently renting a storage container, when you have all the storage space you need right in your office.

While each of your disparate spatial data points gives you a glimpse into the larger picture of your facility’s space utilization, without a centralized solution to store and analyze it all, you’re stuck jumping in and out of multiple tools to piece it all together. Space management software can often incorporate this data in some practical ways (like how Tango Space can use it to create live floor plans and forecast demand), but for IFM, you’ll likely want to analyze this data in ways that help you plan your space around your goals. That’s why we built Tango Portfolio Strategy, giving large organizations the visualization and portfolio planning capabilities they need to align the way they use their space with their broader real estate strategy.

Even retailers should consider occupancy analytics to be a core component of their IFM. While they aren’t optimizing employee space utilization in the same way, they do want clarity around how foot traffic moves through their stores so they can plan accordingly. If particular aisles or entrances are consistently congested, that can directly impact the customer experience and deter sales.

Scenario planning

You can’t optimize your facilities without the ability to test and validate ideas about how to use their space. Scenario planning is a must-have IFM capability that enables you to explore “what-if” ideas and experiment with possible configurations. At Tango, our tools use AI to find every possible configuration that meets your parameters, so you always see the options that best achieve your goals.

Sustainability management

Utilities are vital to your daily operations. They’re also an expense most organizations overspend on. IFM needs to include optimizing your consumption of natural resources. Your utility provider may give you some data, but for a holistic view of your utility use, you need to manually extract and track information from multiple sources. A dedicated sustainability management solution like WatchWire by Tango automatically brings all this data to one place, and gives you tools to visualize, analyze, and optimize your use of natural resources.

This aspect of IFM is especially important for organizations with goals or regulations around renewable energy production and carbon accounting, and it helps you contextualize your environmental impact while discovering opportunities to reduce costs.

Implement IFM with Tango

Tango is an IWMS and Store Lifecycle Management provider with a range of solutions that support your Integrated Facility Management processes. Our tools connect in meaningful ways with each other and your other IFM components, helping you increase visibility into your facility operations and unlock valuable new capabilities. Whether you’re taking your first steps toward adopting an IFM approach or looking to improve your existing IFM system, Tango has the tech to get you there.

Want to see what Tango 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.