Facility Manager

What does a facility manager do?

Facility managers oversee the management of an organization’s physical assets, including buildings, plants, equipment, grounds, HVAC, IT, and lighting, to name a few. Some aspects of a facility manager’s responsibilities may involve non-physical matters, such as security, safety, and regulatory compliance.

In terms of an organization’s structure, the facility manager acts as the main head of all activities relating to facilities management (FM). They handle strategic planning related to these activities and coordinate with other departments to achieve their primary objectives. Common FM tasks include maintenance, cleaning, improvement, and business continuity, all with the ultimate goals of reducing waste, increasing efficiency, and ensuring safety.

In some cases, facility managers may handle operational level tasks, working together with maintenance teams to support business reliability through both routine and unplanned maintenance tasks.

The precise duties of a facilities manager will vary by industry. Manufacturing processes will require more oversight for heavy equipment, safety, and mechanical maintenance, whereas a building management scenario would involve a wider spread of cleaning and general maintenance tasks.

Responsibilities

  • Make sure facilities and equipment are operating properly and efficiently
  • Create and manage vendor contracts
  • Maintain FM staff, including maintenance teams, cleaning crews, and IT personnel
  • Ensure compliance with safety standards, building codes, and other regulations
  • Coordinate with c-suite executives and leaders of other departments
  • Maintain a budget and manage inventories
  • Plan for business continuity and improvements
  • Plan for and respond to emergencies

Traits

  • Communicates effectively with maintenance personnel, department heads, other managers, third-party vendors, and contractors
  • Demonstrates strong technical knowledge of a wide variety of facility processes
  • Understands all relevant regulations and standards and keeps up to date on changes
  • Remains organized in the midst of numerous processes
  • Calmly responds to emergencies

Who should hire a facility manager?

A large organization with many layers of management would likely employ a facility manager, especially if maintenance and operations start pulling too many resources away from core processes.

Manufacturers, commercial offices, residential properties, hospitals, warehouses, retail stores, and any other industry that has physical facilities can benefit from dedicating personnel specifically to FM. A facility manager would handle the upkeep of their physical assets and allow the company to focus its existing staff on performing their regular tasks.

When determining whether to hire a facility manager, companies should answer these questions:

  • Are key staff members spending large amounts of time resolving maintenance issues?
  • Are maintenance needs causing significant interruptions in core processes?
  • Is repair work a frequent necessity?
  • Are maintenance tasks handled on a highly reactive basis?
  • Are you managing multiple maintenance contracts?
  • Would hiring extra staff specifically for FM actually reduce costs?
  • Is there budget for extra management staff?

Companies who answer “yes” to any of these questions would likely benefit from hiring a facility manager. The end result of doing so would be improved efficiency and greater reliability within the organization’s processes.

What are different types of facility managers?

The exact role a facility manager plays depends on the industry and application. Some types of facility managers include the following.

  • Plant facility manager — Plant facilities involve the upkeep of heavy machinery. Often, this will require detailed preventive maintenance planning and the management of multiple maintenance teams.
  • Office facility manager — Facility management for office spaces tends to involve cleaning and hardware maintenance, though HVAC, plumbing, and electrical work may also be needed. These latter tasks are frequently handled through outside contractors, and the facility manager will have to manage those contracts.
  • Building facilities manager — In apartment complexes or commercial buildings, facility managers often oversee HVAC, electrical, plumbing, building maintenance, and groundskeeping.
  • Public works facilities manager — Facility managers working for city governments will be in charge of maintaining roads, parks, recreational areas, and government buildings. Many of these city maintenance tasks needs to be handled efficiently in order to make sure city works can continue supporting the population.

What certifications are available for facility managers?

Those seeking a position as a facility manager can prove their abilities with the following certification programs:

  • Facilities Management Certificate (FMC): Offered by Building Owners and Managers Institute (BOMI) International, the FMC designation requires the completion of three classes designed to train professionals in facilities management. Candidates gain a comprehensive understanding of how to keep facilities operating optimally.
  • Certified Facility Manager (CFM): The International Facility Management Association (IFMA) certifies facility managers to help them stand out in their field. The certification process involves a lengthy exam that covers numerous competencies. In addition, the IFMA also requires a combination of education and industry experience for this certification.