'What exactly is a Facility Manager?', commonly called a FM, you might ask. And you wouldn't be alone. As FM for a mid-sized law firm in the Atlanta area, I am asked that question ever time I mention my title. Those who have heard, typically people from middle management or who have worked in with rental properties, are quick to typify FM's by one of their many functions, the one aspect with which they are familiar, but FM's serve in a variety of capacities and Facilities Management is vital to today's businesses.
Facilities Management is a long-standing profession known by many titles, defined by a long list of increasingly important responsibilities in this ever-changing market place, particularly since technology is becoming so prevalent in the workplace. Not only is keeping the pace, technologically speaking, necessary, but also keeping a seamless and invisible integration of these new devices and protocols within the context of infrastructure, while still keeping the bottom line a top priority, is a must. It's a difficult and often under-appreciated position, but it has recently garnered Professional accreditation and it is the kind of job that is often stable and that can be quite profitable.
The daily responsibilities of FM's vary by the company size, market segment and estate holdings, IE- whether the space is leased or owned. Many of the current workforce do not necessarily have FM-related degrees, though accounting and construction management graduates are often sought, but experience in the various aspects are necessary. FM's need a strong background in or understanding of construction practices, local customs and regulations, purchasing, project management, account management and/or accounting experience, HR experience, and a solid understanding of real estate principles and law.
A normal day for any FM might range from vendor contract negotiation, mechanical equipment maintenance/repair scheduling, overseeing construction subcontractors, serving as advisor to the CEO with respect to the lease agreement and providing interoffice relocation support to key personnel. The FM is expected not only to wear multiple hats throughout the course of a day without skipping a beat, but also there is a growing need for them to be able to track their efficiency with customizable FM software. Nearly all of the responsibilities of FM's are related to cost control and are viewed as expenses, thereby they are under constant scrutiny and must be able to back their decisions with data.
Though this might sound intimidating, it is job that can be quite rewarding. Unlike many office jobs, FM's rarely spend their entire days in their offices, and due to the fact that they often support a large group of people regularly it is obvious when that person is a capable, hard-working individual. Universities are following the curve and are now offering various Facilities Management degrees, and there are a growing number of organizations that represent and support the body of FM's. IFMA (International Facilities Management Association) and BOMA (the Building Owners & Management Association) are perhaps the largest and most well known. Through cooperative efforts locally, nationally and internationally these organizations assist FM's in staying on top of relevant issues and provide continuing education.
Look up Facilities Management on the web: IFMA, BOMA, fmlink.com, todaysfacilitymanager.com, wikipedia.com, property management
Don't confuse Business Services advertised as Facilities Management services. These are typically copy services and/or mailroom management, though they will often fall under the supervision of FM's. Property Managers are typically licensed through the state and may be considered to fiduciaries, by state, and they have more income-generating related responsibilities.