Facility Manager  What They Do

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dotA facility manager is a person who manages a facility, be it a factory, an office building, a hospital, a recreation center or an entire university campus.

The manager ensures that the facility meets the needs of the people who work in and around it. The manager also ensures that the facility is suited to the work being done by the people, whether it's talking on telephones or running forklifts.

dotFacility managers have been around for a long time, but it hasn't been until the last decade that they've had this title. They used to be called physical plant administrators because they were in charge of all the physical aspects of a building and its operations.

dotFacility managers are an important part of their organizations. They help make the most of an organization's buildings and resources.

"The facility manager's job is to provide adequate facilities for the company to meet their existing goals and to provide strategies for companies to meet their changing business goals," says Kreon Cyros, a retired facility manager.

dotThe responsibilities of a facility manager vary from job to job, and over time. "Facility managers supervise numerous aspects of a company's facilities, including security, architecture, computer systems, telecommunications, interior design, real estate acquisition, mailrooms and more," says the International Facilities Management Association.

dotHere are just a few of the responsibilities a facility manager might have:

  • Planning for the facility
  • Doing financial forecasting and drawing up facility budgets
  • Leasing and getting rid of real estate
  • Buying furnishings and equipment and hiring contractors
  • Overseeing facility construction and renovation
  • Looking out for health, safety and security
  • Monitoring environmental health
  • Overseeing building operations, maintenance and engineering
  • Planning and managing the use of the space

dotA facility manager may also supervise a good-sized staff. All this responsibility makes for a busy day.

"A typical day for a facility manager is pretty unpredictable. You can find yourself giving a presentation to the CEO on a cost-saving project at 8 a.m., and within the hour be on the roof of a building, figuring out the best repair for a storm-damaged air conditioning unit," says Joseph Valencic, an independent consulting facilities manager.

dotFacility managers need an unusual combination of skills to do this job. Much of the job requires technical engineering skills for understanding how buildings work. At the same time, these managers need business skills to deal with budgets, financial forecasts and real estate management.

dotEven people with both of these sets of skills still need to have good people skills to make everything work, say experts. A facility manager may deal with hundreds of people per month.

"My day involves a lot of contact with people, ranging from the customer who is trying to describe their needs to the contractor or tradesperson who transforms the ideas from plans to reality. The principal requirement of this job is to be a good people person," says Sam Ragusa, a facility manager.

dotThis is not an entry-level job. It takes time to learn everything involved in the job and to gain the necessary experience. Many facility managers begin as engineers, building managers and assistants before moving into this senior position.

dotFacility managers must be mobile in order to get around and inspect their facilities. "With some companies, you must be able to stand on your feet a lot and lift 35 to 40 pounds," says Faye Smith, a facility manager with a property management company.

dotWhile many facility managers are employed by large companies or organizations, experts say the trend is towards hiring facility managers as independent consultants. These freelance consultants work with a number of clients at a time.

"Companies are beginning to outsource their facilities management so contract management may become the future role for facility managers," says Cyros.

At a Glance

Manage buildings and other facilities

  • Do everything from picking furnishings to planning for future facility needs
  • Both people and technical skills are required
  • A facilities manager may deal with hundreds of people per month


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