Every facility manager is working with a limited budget, and so purchases, repairs, building maintenance and updates have to be carefully considered within the larger framework of the building's overall operation. In large or high-traffic facilities, chances are there are several candidates vying for the same limited capital budget dollars.
The choice of whether to repair, replace or update can be a difficult and sensitive one. Administrators may be keen to upgrade their existing facilities with new amenities that are attractive to the tenants or potential clients. However, one important job of the facility manager is to temper these goals to ensure that essential maintenance and repair activities are covered first.
A difference of opinion
Major capital purchases can be motivated by a variety of factors, depending on whom you ask. For something like an athletic facility or health club, it's in the administrator's best interest to keep up with the latest machinery and equipment as a way of remaining competitive. However, oftentimes, these business-centric motivations grind up against the reality of facility management.
This highlights a key difference between facility managers and administrators - the latter are motivated primarily by business concerns, while FMs are tasked with looking at the details of a facility's daily operation.
"Facilities professionals are being asked to contain costs while achieving maximum beneficial use - that is, to achieve more with less," consulting firm IIE Solutions executive Steven M. Price told Reference for Business.
Fortunately, recent technological developments have provided facility managers with tools that make it easier to state a strong case for maintaining essential infrastructure as a primary concern.
Recent advances in building automation and integration via CMMS dashboards have opened the door for facility managers to take ownership over a facility's operation. Administrators may only see the overall bottom line when it comes to making budget decisions. But data analytics that CMMS provide can offer unique insight into the minutiae of what makes a given building tick.
With these tools, it's possible to demonstrate how much a given piece of infrastructure is costing in maintenance, what factors are influencing energy or water use and how and when major purchases overlap with daily operations costs. It's easy to accumulate a deferred maintenance backlog if you take an out of sight, out of mind approach. However, the transparency afforded by CMMS can draw on benchmark data derived from industry standards to demonstrate key areas of inefficiency that should be addressed.
Fitting it into the forecast
Of course, that's not to say that administrators shouldn't pursue amenities or other modernization purchases. The resource that facility managers bring to the table, however, is an overhead view of the bigger picture. Your facility's budget should be comprehensive, accounting not just for current operational and capital spending, but also looking years down the road to ensure maintenance costs dovetail with future planned expenditures.
Many factors can influence a capital forecast, such as equipment life cycle, changing industry or government regulations and specific needs of the facility or business. The key is to not treat facility management and maintenance like a separate entity, but rather as a foundation on which additional capital expenditures can be built. The benefit of data-driven facility management is that it makes it easy to show how neglecting essential maintenance operations in favor of capital purchases that may bring in short-term financial gains can be detrimental in the long run. Such factors that are important to bring to light include maintenance costs, replacement costs and money wasted due to inefficient energy or water consumption practices.