Students are often in a dilemma after graduation, what next? Not everyone wants to travel the well-tread path of popular choices. For those with potential, capabilities and ambition there are ‘roads less travelled’ – or career options not very well known but which have huge potential as a successful and rewarding career. One such unique and different branch in higher management studies is Facilities Management.
What is Facility Management?
The term “Facility” suggests that one thing that's designed or put in or established to serve a purpose, which, in general is each of the “Tangible asset that supports a company”. Examples are real estate property, buildings, technical infrastructure, (HVAC), lighting, transportation, IT-services, furniture, custodial, grounds, and different user-specific instrumentations and appliances.
Facility Management operates at two levels:
• Planning and Strategic level: Let’s take an example - a hospitality unit is seeking to trim long-term operational costs of staff. This challenge can move to the facilities department to strategize how to cut costs without lowering the service standards.
• Operational level: In the same hospitality unit there are facility coordinators. They work on predefined processes to ensure that the defined standards of service and maintenance are adhered to.
The planning and strategy devising is an executive level position and executives enjoy the benefits and perks of C-suite employees. The sector offers immense career advancement opportunities where one can work up the career ladder with just a few years of experience. Facility managers are accountable for the management of services and processes that support the core business of a company. Duties vary with the nature of the organization. They specialize in employing best business practices to enhance productivity at the same time reducing operating costs.
This is an extensive field with a varied range of responsibilities, which are dependent on the structure and size of the organisation. Likely areas of responsibility include:
• Lease and contract management
• Space management
• Utilities and communications infrastructure
• Building, grounds and cleaning maintenance
• Catering, canteen and vending
• Health, security and safety
• Procurement of infrastructure
Management studies program in Facilities Management is a unique program that prepares students to become facilities managers in diverse fields. It is a crucial subset of built environment professionals. A Facility Manager looks after the operation and maintenance of any facility, be it a mall, office, hospital, school or residence.
Effective courses in this field are a rich mix of content that is both technical and managerial in nature. A course in Facilities Management is designed to educate and train graduates in any discipline as competent hands-on professional Facilities Managers for all types of complexes so that they are capable of managing all services in their entirety in a global environment complying with international standards.
Students are taught to work on all types of projects ranging from commercial offices, residential, hotel, hospital, and institutional buildings, industrial buildings and infrastructure.
Students need to gain an advanced level of understanding of the facilities management at operational, managerial and strategic levels. They are prepared to understand the key factors, techniques and methods used in facilities management that contribute to effective and efficient property maintenance and quality of life in the building with a view to enhancing user satisfaction & productivity.
Students learn how facilities management requires an intensive business designing, developing a strategy and managing operations of a business so that the people in the business and organization work at their optimal level, and productivity of resources and cost is also optimised.
Facilities managers are engaged in all sectors and industries and the diversity of the work is reflected in the wide range of job titles, for example, operations, estates, technical services, and asset or property managers. They could also be responsible for fire and life safety issues, indoor air quality (IAQ), sustainable operations, energy metering, HVAC system maintenance, lighting upgrades, reduction of maintenance costs, or retrofits and renovation.
Whatever might be the job title, the core range of capabilities is about giving a complete overview of the management so that they make informed decisions. Facility managers are accountable for general operations and maintenance, budget and business designing, and typically even life safety and security. It’s a field which is less explored but, with increasing urbanization holds immense career potential.
(The author is professor Emeritus, RICS School of Built Environment, Amity University)