Outsourcing Is Not the Only Way to Stretch FM Budget

  February 3, 2015

Doing more with less, or even doing the same with less, gets ever more challenging as budgets are whittled down year over year. For some facility departments, this may lead to a hard look at outsourcing strategies. But there are other strategies out there to stretch FM department dollars beyond cutting personnel.

Energy management is of course one of the primary strategies to implement, but facility managers should be careful to reinvest the funds from energy savings back into utility or building renewal needs, and additional energy reduction projects. That way the savings will continue to roll in and lower operating costs, and this can help to justify the staff positions necessary to pull off those projects, says Peter Strazdas, associate vice president of facilities management at Western Michigan University.

At the university, Strazdas has used other strategies, such as keeping energy costs in the summer down by consolidating summer classes into as few buildings as possible. Not only does this lead to less space to have heat or cool, it also leads to savings in lighting, cleaning and maintenance.

There is a fine line to walk between squeezing savings out of the facilities and still meeting customer expectations for the space. In higher education, for example, as the onus falls more and more on students and their families pay for their education, they in turn want more accountability and benefit for that investment. As customer expectations grow, Strazdas says that facilities departments should close the "expectation gap" by being clear about what level of service they are able to provide.

Being realistic and honest about what service levels are possible with the available funds will prevent customers from setting their own expectations and creating misunderstanding.

Ultimately, says Strazdas, "Metrics' and 'measures' are the words of the day. You can't improve if you don't know where you are at. In this day of numbers, the customer can appreciate the data and employees needed to celebrate improvement. If you don't have a dashboard with your key performance indicators, you better start soon."

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