In Building Management, outsourcing is the norm. Outsourcing already accounts for more than half of the Building Management / Facility Management market and the trend is for companies to hand over all Building Management to a single partner. But, for the time being, most still deal with multiple providers. For instance, one company for cleaning, another for security, another for escalator maintenance, and so on.
As it is difficult for (internal) managers to control everything that each provider does, “they become a fee-payer”, And that is exactly the first big challenge of building maintenance: the lack of control. But what are the causes for this lack of control? And what are its ramifications? the lack of control stems from three factors:
The first contributing factor to the lack of control is a lack of personnel. Building Management companies are often understaffed. The facility maintenance serving the core business is a priority, but everything else is seen as a “cost”. Therefore, companies lack people focusing on building management or on collecting, analyzing, and auditing useful data for building maintenance.
The second factor is the lack of systems. Even if each provider uses software and has a good internal organization, there is rarely a system that centralizes and integrates all information. Therefore, it is very difficult for the manager to keep track of what each provider is doing, obtain up-to-date information, have an insight into pending work, and cross-reference data.
Lastly, processes fail. That is, even when there is some awareness of Building Management, and there is a system to enter data into, there is no well-defined process. For example, there may not be well-defined information collection points. Or the team does not always record the opening and closing of tasks. The result is unreliable information that is almost always out of date.
Building Management lags behind other sectors, including facility maintenance, both in digital maturity and technology penetration. While there is no shortage of options, there is a lack of digital skills, and it is not a priority for management, which focuses on cost reduction.
Smart platforms, capable of integrating with a plethora of tools, are one of the most disruptive options for the sector. By bringing all the information together, they allow you to regain control of daily operations. But that’s not all. There are two other major challenges in building maintenance, which influences and are influenced by this lack of control: lack of time and lack of appreciation. Both can significantly improve with the help of technology.
The constant lack of time leads to a lack of control. On the other hand, as there is never enough time to implement control systems or processes, Building Management is even more time-consuming than it should be. Here we already start to enter a loop of inefficiency and disorganization, which brings its own consequences.
Since there is no time to do all the tasks or control processes, it becomes impossible to demonstrate results. “What cannot be measured cannot be managed”, as we have so often heard. Since you can’t demonstrate results, or prove that Building Management influences the company’s bottom line, management continues to neglect it and insist on cost-cutting. It is this cycle that leads to the “cost-cutting” and “lack of prioritization”
Ironically, cost-cutting may be costing them dearly. With an appropriate Building Management tool, the manager can control the monthly cost of maintenance, the expenses with reactive maintenance, insert information about what he invested, the return he obtained, and even the assets depreciation. Over time, he can get an idea of the useful life of each piece of equipment and predict whether it will need to be replaced or serviced.
Put another way: systematic data collection brings predictability. with that predictability, we already know when we have to replace that piece of equipment. we can plan maintenance much better and reduce the number of reactive maintenances. But always keeping the same number of preventive maintenances”.
For the customer, it’s also much better. “You have to demonstrate that the maintenance was performed – when, by whom, and for how long – and that it was performed according to the maintenance plan”. This makes it much easier to demonstrate the service provider’s work and highlight the Building Management’s role in increasing the building’s value. The latter is one of the main trends in Industry 5.0, which is looking more humanized.
“We need a synergy between systems, people, and processes”. Having said that, there is no shortage of reasons to embark on a digital transformation and reverse the current scenario. It’s time for building maintenance to stop being an inglorious battle!