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Process improvement within the FM framework

Processes are an integral part of facility management (FM). To that extent, processes and activities are the actions that provide perceptible or tangible benefits to owners, occupants, tenants, guests and those who work in the facility.

These processes are expected to be value-add mechanisms to the entire maintenance and management systems. However, in order to continue to achieve the expected or desired result, process improvement is usually required either as the need arises or on a periodic basis.

Process improvement may be for the purpose of refining processes and activities that currently add value. This includes simplifying procurement paperwork, simplifying equipment inventory procedure, publishing a new version of the maintenance manual and redesigning inadequate performance standards.

On the other hand, it may also be to eliminate wasted resources and effort since the goal of facility management can be defined as managing a facility where people delight in interacting with the built-environment and its contents in an optimally cost-effective manner. Any task, method or operation that does not support this goal can be described as ‘waste’ if they add nothing of value to the facility and its environment.

When such wasteful activities are eliminated, money is saved and facility management becomes valued for efficiency and effectiveness. Such waste-elimination activities include scrapping and recreating an outdated safety plan, and rectifying dangerous equipment shutdown procedures.

For process improvement to take place, it is advisable to set up a Process Improvement Team (PIT) to identify and investigate problems, find root causes and analyse them, and make improvement to the processes under review. The goal of the team is to effect positive change to the systems that support the work of the facility manager and maintenance team.

Ideally, the team should consist of personnel who either have knowledge of the processes in question or whose daily responsibilities are directly or indirectly affected by the issue(s) being examined. They may be selected from different departments or divisions within the organisation.

The extent to which process improvement is deemed successful or acceptable will depend on how much results are measured. This is necessary as there may be those who believe that the current processes are working and don’t require to be changed.

Others may not think the improvement has made any difference. Whatever the case, the goal of capturing metrics is to demonstrate the positive impact of the process improvement to the overall objective of facility management.

Once their recommendations have been made and implemented, the assignment is generally complete and the team may be disbanded.

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