Facilities Management

Facilities Management


This is a top-heavy industry, in which the bulk of the revenue flows to a small number of very large firms, and a very large number of establishments are small operations. Many of the businesses in this industry consist of only a self-employed proprietor, and of those that have a staff, there are usually not more than five employees.

Facilities management includes many different responsibilities. For instance, health and safety, especially fire safety, are key concerns for facilities management because neglect of these issues can threaten lives, property, and all operations at the facility. Management needs to ensure that fire exits are clearly marked and unobstructed. Fire doors, elevators, escalators, and automatic doors must meet code requirements. Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguishers, and sprinkler systems must be maintained, inspected, and tested routinely. Management must keep records and certificates of compliance. In addition, housekeeping staff needs to be trained to post warning signs when floors are wet and to report hazards such as carpets that have come loose. The specialists who serve this function are among the nearly 26,230 health and safety engineers, who have at least a bachelor's degree and must be licensed. Some are fire prevention and protection engineers.

Security is another important concern at all facilities. At prisons, of course, which account for a percentage of the revenue for the industry, this is the paramount concern. Management must furnish and maintain security cameras, alarm systems, locks, and keycard systems, responding to alerts when security has been breached. Staffing and training of security guards and some other functions, especially information security and procedures to reduce employee pilferage, may be the responsibility of the business occupying the facility. Specialists in this field are known as security managers or chief security officers. Some have a bachelor's degree in the field, but many learn through long-term experience in a related job.

Also included among all other managers are the specialists who plan for recovery from disasters, a concern related to safety and security. A careful facility manager arranges for safe offsite storage of important paper and computer records. It is also helpful to have continuity plans in place for emergency measures such as running vital equipment during a power outage or temporarily relocating work following a fire or flood. Disaster recovery consultants help with this planning.

Cleaning is a perpetual responsibility. Cleaning crews must be hired, trained, and scheduled to do their nightly chores, as well as replenish bathroom supplies and respond to spills during the day. Other cleaning tasks occur at longer intervals, such as maintenance of drains and clean-out of roof gutters. The grounds of facilities also require seasonal maintenance tasks such as lawn mowing, leaf raking, and snow plowing. The parking lot needs to be re-striped every few years. Administrative services managers may handle these functions. About 300,200 are now employed in the United States. They often manage issues that are less related to facilities than to the businesses within the facilities, such as maintaining and replacing computers, copiers, coffee makers, and other office equipment; keeping office supplies stockpiled; providing moving services; and supervising clerical and administrative personnel.

Facilities managers must also deal with allocating space for the organizations under the facility's roof, and this may require planning for architectural modifications in collaboration with architects, interior designers, contractors such as carpenters, and sometimes industrial engineers specializing in safety and efficiency. Managers may use computer-aided drafting to communicate with these design professionals and related technicians.

Energy efficiency is a growing concern for facilities managers, who can reduce expenses by finding more efficient ways to provide heating, cooling, refrigeration, ventilation, and lighting. Energy auditors are professionals who measure the energy inputs and outputs and recommend strategies and hardware upgrades for achieving greater efficiencies. Some energy auditors come from a background in engineering, with a bachelor's degree, while others have less education. Several organizations offer courses and certify these workers. The Department of Labor presently does not collect information on the number of energy auditors, but the Association of Energy Engineers has more than 18,000 members.

Facilities managers also have to call roofers, plumbers, electricians, and other maintenance workers to deal with minor everyday problems such as leaks in the roof, stopped-up drains, and burned-out lights. Because these jobs and so many other services that facilities use are contracted out, there is a need for administrative services managers who specialize in contract administration. Accountants and various clerical workers, perhaps working for an external service company, help facilities managers handle routine business transactions such as collecting rent, paying taxes, and meeting payroll.