Cross Functional Skills Every Facilities Manager Needs
How often are you asked to do something that you are fairly confident is not in your job description? Or perhaps you have worked in the FM industry for a number of years and have noticed that job specs have widened over time. A couple of decades ago, if you were a Facilities Manager, you typically only dealt with facilities management, and the same was true was other functions such as Finance, IT, Project Management, and so on. There were clear functional silos and boundaries.
However, in recent years there has been a big shift as professionals are being expected to have skills and knowledge from other functions. What has caused this shift? First and foremost the economic crisis of 2007/2008 caused widespread redundancies and for business continuity it was imperative for those employees who remained to fill the gaps and work cross functionally. Furthermore, as work becomes more transient, and the career more portable, individuals are seeking ways to be more marketable – and having a broader skill set is one way of achieving that.
From a Facilities Management perspective there are some key skills from other functional areas that most professionals will be expected to have:
You may have responsibility for the FM budget and therefore you will need some solid finance skills such as knowledge of accruals, prepayments, forecasting, depreciation, and so on. Perhaps you work on transformational projects and are involved in the production of business cases. In that event you would need to be able to produce various financial models and analyses such as cost benefit and break even. Most organisations have a finance team and therefore you may find they do some of this work or can be contacted for support. However, my experience has been that in most cases this is now decentralised to the FM team as they are the primary stakeholders of the services.
Some organisations have dedicated project management teams, and if you are looking to run a project you should get assigned a PM from that pool. However many don’t have that dedicated resource and therefore the facilities manager will need to run their own project. Of course in this scenario it may not be expected for a strict PM framework such as Prince 2 to be utilised, but you will almost certainly need to know the fundamental project management techniques.
FM has not escaped the abundance of new technology that is positioned to provide business transformation. A successful facilities manager will be looking to deliver strategic business benefit, and one of the ways to do that is through things like automation, Internet of Things, big data and so on. Therefore having a good grasp of new technology and how it could provide business benefit is paramount.
Working beyond the facilities management function may seem daunting, but it also broadens a professional’s skill set and prospects. Many will see this as a way to make their role more challenging and interesting on a day to day basis.