College Planning & Management

JAN 2013

College Planning & Management is the information resource for professionals serving the college and university market. Covering facilities, security, technology and business.

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Facilities MANAGING A SSE TS The Future of FM Professionals Is there reason for concern about the future of our profession? BY PIETER VAN DER HAV E R ECENTLY, I ASKED MY students to visit FM organizations — with representation from higher education, school districts, patient care, and hospitality. What they determined and reported was not totally surprising to me, but provided ample reason for disappointment and worry about our profession. The students agreed that it is not an easy task to find FMers who are comfortable sharing their knowledge and experiences with FM students. Most FMers did not return calls. None were even willing to talk with or schedule meetings with students who stopped by unannounced. I know that we are all busy, but come on, if you have an effective FM organization, wouldn't you want to blow your own horn, especially with those who represent the future? Confessions of FM Professionals The students learned that the majority of organizations whose leaders they were able to interview either had no semblance of a CAFM system, or were only using one as a work-order issuing system. Only one had anything resembling an effective PM program and system. The rest were simply operating on a "baling wire and duct tape" philosophy — putting out fires. The closest some came to a PM program was the alleged scheduled replacement of fi lters. Judging by the appearance of some of the return air vents, one might question the effectiveness of that activity. Only one organization had a well-planned and documented capital planning process in place. As we did years ago (but eventually improved upon), the management team gets together once a year to identify those items that should/must be addressed the following year. These determinations were made on mostly anecdotal information, with little reliable data upon which to base recommendations and priorities. In at least one of the interviews, district administrators relied on input from school principals, who might not necessarily be the most reliable sole source for such information. I can attest that I have personally seen situations where the head FMer operated essentially under that same model. Consider a Business Model It appears that not all facility professionals are managing their departments like a business. This is unfortunate, since we are supposed to be business managers — making sure that the assets that we are directed to manage continue to serve the missions of our organizations, exceeding their respective life expectancies, and to 8 COLLEGE PLANNING & MANAGEMENT / JANUARY 2013 do so in a safe, effective, and efficient manner. There are several factors that make me somewhat truculent on the subject: 1. There is a commonly held consensus that, in the next five years or so, nearly a third of current facility managers currently in the marketplace will be retiring, or otherwise leaving their positions. 2. An increasing numbers of employers, including the federal government, are starting to require that facility managers hired in the future must have at least a bachelor's degree in facilities management, or equivalent, before being considered. 3. Individuals currently employed in the up-and-coming ranks of facilities management in those organizations may thus not be automatically considered for a promotion to a senior-level leadership position. I am concerned. Those organizations that do not yet require an FM-related degree for future applicants could very well end up promoting an individual from inside the organization who did not necessarily learn from the best role model, extending the probability that bad habits will be perpetuated. It is not all that long ago that this was the rule adhered to by higher education as well as other FM organizations. (The hotel FM manager interviewed had only recently been promoted from the position of grounds worker. He had not received nor was he scheduled to receive any training in what it means to be an effective FMer in the hotel business!) Those organizations that will be looking for candidates with such a degree do not appear to be doing enough to groom promising inside employees, or to support them in acquiring a degree from an accredited institution. Is it possible that their bosses are looking over their shoulders with a bit of paranoia? Some CEOs appear not to have accepted the undeniable reality that FM is a major part of their financial statement, perpetuating the myth that FM is an unfortunate byproduct and liability. They now have a golden opportunity, as churn is beginning to occur in senior FM ranks, to get involved in the long-term success of their organizations by making FM part of their organizations' business strategy. This includes finding the right candidates for future openings in the FM leadership. CPM Pete van der Have is a retired facilities management professional and is currently teaching university-level FM classes as well as doing independent consulting. He can be reached at WWW.PLANNING 4EDUCATION.COM

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