By December 6, 2010 0 Comments Read More →

Building Tours: Make them about more than just architecture and construction

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Building TourI've been on many building tours held through FM associations and while they are popular events for Facility Managers, often out-drawing the learning seminars, I think we often miss the most important thing about Facility tours and visits.

Usually, the focus is on the architect's vision, construction, materials, flexible furniture layouts, energy efficient elements and most recently, sustainable features.

Don't get me wrong, these are all important, but now many Facility Managers are involved in building new facilities? Most spend their time managing existing facilities and occupants.

Instead, more of the tour and related presentation should focus some attention on the Facility Manager, not the just the Architects. How about learning some of the following things:

  • What CMMS / CAFM system they use and whether it works for them?
  • What the call center / work order process is?
  • Whether they measure occupant satisfaction and what they do about results?
  • Do they have a building newsletter and what does it look like?
  • How do they get occupants to participate in sustainability initiatives?
  • How the facility manager does procurement? What is in-house and what is subcontracted?
  • How they manage suppliers?
  • How is their capital renewal/deferred maintenance funded and how do they develop the plans and make the business case?
  • What are their furniture and layout standards and what issues do they have in maintaining control?
  • How do they handle moves and reconfigurations?
  • What issues they face and have solved or are still working on?
  • What kinds of communications does the Facility Manager do with occupants, colleagues, landlord and superiors?

Each of you will have your own areas where you want to learn more and be able to apply it to your own situation.

At a recent building tour where the Architect spoke, I found the FM in the crowd and discussed the new facility with him.

It turns out there were some very interesting features that the Facility Manager was able to explain along with some features that looked good but were a nightmare to manage and clean. In fact, in looking at those features - a high interior glassed in conference room with Pigeon droppings (yes, those pesky birds were finding their way into the facility) that took special equipment and lots of time to clean  - we realized more and more participants were trying to see what we were looking at. Immediately we stopped looking rather than draw attention to a sticky problem the FM was trying to deal with. This small insight I received from talking with the FM is something I wouldn't otherwise have learned from the formal presentation and it reinforced my view that Facility Managers must have more input into building design.

These types of operational issues are things we should be learning about through our colleagues since they help us understand issues and other ways of doing things. What works and what doesn't and how we can improve what we do.

Each of us has a strong interest and background in a certain area, yet FM is a broad based profession with many different elements. Learning about other areas, particularly how to solve 'business' issues is increasingly important to success.

In fact, don't just wait for your local association to set-up a building tour. Try knocking on the door of the Facility or Property Manager who manages a building you admire and interrogate them until you know what they do that you should be doing or how to avoid problems, like the Pigeon issue I described above.  It should be a two way street, so share your approach, issues and success with them as well, since it's a two way street - that's how we enhance the profession.  Buy them a coffee or lunch if you have to - and you'll develop your network at the same time.

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