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Facility management is full of pay-me-now-or-pay-me-later quandaries, and the product selection process offers a couple of great examples. The one most facility managers probably think of first is initial cost vs. life cycle cost. But there’s an equally good example involving an investment of hours, not dollars. It’s the question of what role the facility management team should play in the product selection process for new construction, renovation, and retrofits.
The advantages of the life-cycle approach are familiar. Whether it’s the HVAC system, the carpet, or the roof, the least expensive option is not likely to be the one with the lowest long-term cost of ownership. The same basic principle holds for facility management involvement in product selection: Time invested upfront to ensure that the best product choices are made will be paid back in savings of time, money, and headaches down the road.
Admittedly, it’s not possible to generate hard numbers to compare hours invested now to hours saved in the future. But as this month’s cover story shows, plenty of experienced facility managers have found the ROI on leadership in product selection to be compelling.
A Building Operating Management survey shows that many facility managers are already heavily involved in product selection. For example, for almost all product categories surveyed, more than 75 percent of respondents said they were either the ultimate decision-maker or were on the decision-making team. Depending on product category, between a third and half of respondents reported having in-house specs. For preferred vendor lists, the numbers ranged from a third to two-thirds.
If your department is not much involved in product selection, a first step is to get input from your team on products for the next project that comes around. The same holds true for designs. In both cases, a strong facility management presence early in the process will add long-term value to the work being done.
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