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Facility managers share their facility management best practices

Facility managers share their facility management best practices Photo

FACILITY MANAGEMENT BEST PRACTICES - We’ve gathered facility management best practices from hundreds of facility managers across the globe and compiled a list of the 10 best tips, whether you are a seasoned facility manager or you’re completely new in the field and need help getting through your first 100 days managing a new facility you’re sure to find a helpful tip or two.

Facility management as a field has evolved at an immense speed since the spring of 2020, and with the many changes that are still happening in the way we use our workplaces it doesn’t look like the changes are anywhere near finished. This leaves the question, what does facility management best practices look like in 2024?

To help you, we’ve looked through testimonies, tips and posts containing helpful advice from hundreds of facility managers all over the globe, and now we’ve created a list of the top ten facility management tips to help you in the first 100 days of managing your facility.

  1. Walk the building and find out what you’re working with

Get a good understanding of the current situation in your building. What does the status quo look like? What condition are the different tools in? And where does your organization want to be?

These are all questions you need to be able to answer.

One tip we heard from facility managers over and over again was to commit the first 30 days to making as few changes as possible, focusing on no cost and low cost optimizations, while making sure you listen to what all the different stakeholders have to say.

In short, because all facilities are different it is recommended that you take time to familiarize yourself with the new facility you are managing. What seems an obvious upgrade on day one might prove to have been wholly unnecessary by day 30.

Even in a typical office building with few technical needs, what is needed for one set of employees might be vastly different from what is needed by another set of employees.

“A very simple one that often gets overlooked: Physically walk the facility, including mechanical rooms daily. It will help you identify what is normal noise, smell, temperature etc. and what is not. I discovered a water main break using this method.” — Building Engineer, Chicago.

  1. Review the facility compliance

Compliance has become a huge part of facility management, and there’s no way around it.

This is true to such an extent, that even if you are past your first 100 days in a new facility, if you haven’t done so already, you should do a ground up compliance review first chance you get. 

The review should include general building maintenance processes and protocols, safety, security, business continuity and real estate.

As most facility management policies are spearheaded by local, national and global safety related governing bodies like OSHA, NFPA and building/construction code, you can use the information they provide to build a strong foundation when you need to communicate your findings to various stakeholders.

“Building a good relationship with your internal compliance team [is important]. They’ll help keep you abreast of long standing [requirements] and new requirements, critical for your clients and general facility operation.” — Facility Coordinator, Jamaica.

Additionally, if the facilities you are managing are of an older date, compliance in some areas will probably have fallen wayside, which means this can be a quick way to build trust with company stakeholders.

  1. Maintain the status quo

For the first 100 days you shouldn’t be expected to make huge changes unless your facilities are literally on fire. Instead you should focus on maintaining the status quo. Let your team as well as your direct reports know that you plan to see what works and how it works before you start changing things.

For your team it will give them a sense of ease, and you’ll get to build a relationship with them before you start making drastic changes to their workday, and for your direct reports they will most likely be very happy to know that everything that’s been working so far will continue to work. 

And if there’s something that absolutely does not work, they are going to tell you the minute you say you won’t be changing anything, at which point you can come up with a plan to fix the issue in question.

“Let the things that work keep working and focus your energy on areas your predecessor didn’t focus on. That should give you a few easy wins without a chance of messing up a system users actually like.” — Facility Manager, Unknown.

  1. Understand your users

While it isn’t limited to the first 100 days managing a new facility, managing relationships is a hugely important part of working in facility management.

And for most facility managers, this task has two facets. The first is managing your team, the second is creating a good relationship with users/customers, which in essence boils down to adopting a customer success mindset.

In essence, as a facility manager you are providing a service.

“The best facility managers are obsessed with their occupants, ensuring that they are comfortable and that they don’t notice all the work that goes on behind the scenes to keep them at that comfort level.” — Facility Engineer, Florida.

  1. Form good relations with your teams on the ground level

You may have an idea of what your overall facilities strategy will look like, but you’re never going to successfully run any facility if you don’t have a good relationship with the people who deliver services on the ground level.

Spending the time to form a good relationship with maintenance workers, receptionists, cleaning staff and catering up front, can save you a lot of headaches in the long run.

“Never, ever sleep on the janitors/cleaners and secretaries/assistants. Those are absolutely your gold mines for figuring out what is going on in the building.”— Facility Manager, UK.

  1. Document everything

Getting into the habit of documenting everything is going to help you get a good start, but it will also be a huge time saver in the future, and you’ll be doing future facility managers a service at the same time.

To begin with, make a list of every piece of equipment in your buildings, where it is located and when it was last upgraded/serviced, and scan any manuals so you can link to a digital version in case you ever need it.

This will save you every time you receive a repair or work order, and having access to maintenance history will give you a better idea of what is worth repairing and what should be replaced.

“Generally, invest time in the admin side of stuff (maybe make it someone's job to complete the info). Once you've done the original set up of all your RRT, folders and nested folders, you will find the future much easier.” — Facility Manager, Unknown location.

  1. Find out which vendors you have, and which vendors you need

A good way to make sure you have the right vendors is to make a list of every vendor the organization has dealt with in the past two years. You can usually get this information from finance, you don’t need invoices or amounts - just start by getting the names.

Afterwards you can use Google and a phone to figure out what they offer, what they do for you, and start building a relationship.

Choosing the right vendors isn’t just about selecting the ‘best provider of X service’ out of a range of competitors, it’s also about choosing the right vendor types to support the type of work you want to do, and the kind of work you don’t want to do.

“Partner with a good janitorial vendor to keep you out of the cleaning business, partner with a good catering vendor to keep you out of the restaurant business etc. This will let you focus on all the other important pieces of your day to day operations.” — Business Developer, Detroit.

  1. Investigate your regular expenses

Especially for facilities that have been running for years, there’s a good chance that some regular expenses have been growing unchecked, not because anyone has been neglecting their duties, but because it is impossible to stay on top of everything at once.

Spending $2.75 per roll of toilet paper isn’t unheard of, and if you stumble across an overly inflated expense like this, it can usually be fixed with a simple call to your provider, which means, spending a day looking into your regular expenses could bring down your supply cost by quite a margin.

  1. Get an overview of your contracts

There are likely already a number of contracts related to managing the facilities you are operating which have been signed by your predecessor.

While you shouldn’t be looking to change them within the first 100 days you should get a complete understanding of them, how many there are, what they relate to, and when they expire or are up for renewal.

This information can become crucial as many contracts are up for automatic renewal.“Keep a spreadsheet with every single contract relevant to your work along with renewal dates and links to the actual contracts. This will save you so much time.”  — Facility Manager, UK.

  1. Take action!

Getting caught up in planning can be a trap in itself, especially in the beginning. Making sure to actually do something within the first 100 days of managing a facility serves two purposes.

It gives you something to point to when reviewing your first quarter in the role, and often getting something done will provide a little clarity on how your plans will look. It doesn’t have to be big actions, often a little duct tape and WD40 is enough to get the ball rolling.

“Don’t get caught up in planning everything before you start acting. Sometimes it takes doing something wrong, before you can get it right.”— CAFM Specialist, Denmark.

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