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5 Key Priorities Not to Overlook in 2021 FM Planning

As the end of 2020 nears, it’s time for facility professionals to begin planning and setting priorities for the coming year. And after the curveballs thrown FMs’ way this past year between a worldwide pandemic and rapid departure from traditional space management, it may seem overwhelming to begin planning for what’s to come, especially for FMs in the education and government sectors.

Mark Bodenschatz, ProFM, is no stranger to assisting FMs in education and government. He currently serves as Director of the Penn State Facilities Engineering Institute, which offers facility management training to students, as well as governmental bodies like the General Services Administration (GSA). As he looks to 2021, Bodenschatz identified the top five priorities that FMs should keep in mind.

Looking to 2021 and Beyond

  1. The priority for FMs beginning 2021 planning is analyzing their workforce needs. As older generations retire, organizations must ensure they have effective and efficient plans in place to find, hire and train new staff through extensive job shadowing, recording policies and procedures, as well cross-training with other staff. Additionally, FM teams must take a deeper look at their existing team’s skill sets to ensure they have the right knowledge and mastery to succeed with every new challenge thrown their way.

“As the baby boomer generation retires, they often walk out of our doors with decades of knowledge that will take decades to recover, if it ever is recovered. This is not just a facility manager’s problem. It is a systemic problem,” Bodenschatz says.

2. Next, facility managers will need to address pressing safety and security measures. In addition to pivoting procedures to mitigate COVID-19 risk for buildings and occupants, FMs must be adequately prepared to manage the risk in any crisis that could arise.

“We live in trying times. As facility managers, we are responsible for employees, occupants, and visitors of our facilities. Organizational resiliency begins with collaborative teams identifying, analyzing, prioritizing, mitigating, and planning around the threats, risks, and vulnerabilities they uniquely face,” Bodenschatz explains. “Whether it is a pandemic, a hurricane, an active shooter, a fire, a cyberattack, workplace violence, power outages, or any other of a long list, it starts with risk management.”

3. Similarly, facility professionals will need to prioritize cybersecurity in 2021. More and more building elements are automated and internet-connected, and this accessibility brings countless new opportunities for efficiency, but also vulnerability to outside forces.

“Technology breeds complacency. We must not be naïve or lulled to this complacency by the exponential growth of information and capabilities at our fingertips today,” said Bodenschatz. “We need to maintain resiliency of our critical systems and think deeply about how to prevent them from potential attacks.”

4. The fourth main priority that Bodenschatz sees for FMs in the education and government space is revamping their total cost of ownership procedures. He said FMs must use the data at their fingertips to critically analyze not only the performance of current systems, but the potential financial and efficiency impact of new systems to guide their planning processes for the future.

“How do we make good decisions for tomorrow based on the data we have today?” Bodenschatz asks. “We need to be thinking from a total cost of ownership model, which predicts total cost from the gleam in the eye until demolition and disposal of our buildings.

5. The most lofty and forward-thinking addition to Bodenschatz’s list is stewardship. Many buildings today are extremely underused. The future of the FM industry will depend on facility professionals worldwide leveraging all of the varied and in-depth data they have at their fingertips and analyzing it to ensure decisions are being made that maximize efficiency and service life in long-term planning. He adds that FMs should look to leaders like those at GSA–they serve as the best example of going above and beyond with data collection and analyzation to make better decisions for many years down the road.

“FMs must be able to assess these variables and fold them into thoughtful long-term plans for maintenance and capital expenditures, including capital renewal to optimize space use and efficiency,” he adds. “We need to focus on thoughtful investment in our infrastructures that will remain relevant for generations.”

The first step toward ensuring these priorities are addressed is through continued on the job education and training, Bodenschatz says. Keeping your knowledge and skills up to date is critical to ensure facility management teams are providing the best service possible for organizations around the globe. One answer Bodenschatz pointed to is finding training that helps to fill knowledge and skill gaps, while also providing new ideas for FMs to succeed in the future. He stressed that FMs should look to standards, like the ISO 41000 series, and credential programs such as the ProFM Credential Program to provide a framework.

“ProFM provides a good foundation for every one of these priorities,” Bodenschatz declares. “The program bridges all of these categories and helps to reinforce the concepts for facility professionals across many industries.” In subsequent weeks, more FM experts will share their insight on 2021 priorities, as well as others they deem critical. In the meantime, click to learn more about the ProFM credential’s all-in-one training solution.