What should technical schools be teaching in facility management classes

Blogs

Share your ideas with other facility professionals.

What should technical schools be teaching in facility management classes

  • Comments 26

I am on an advisory committee for a technical school's facility management classes. I am reaching out to this forum to get practical input on what the school should be teaching as part of its courses for new entrants into the facilities management business. Please give me your feed back.

  • The "skill" that seems most lacking in the facilities department is an understanding of finance.  Life cycle costing of equipment, ROI, NPV, the cost of money, etc.  

    Most FM decisions on purchase of new equipment, replace vs repair, and other things seem to be made by instinct or "gut".

    Being able to speak money not only lets a FM make better decisions, it also helps them to sell their plans to upper management.

  • I would highly encourage you to look at IFMA's core compentencies and think about developing a degree program around those areas.  The IFMA Foundation Director of Academic Affairs would also be a great person for you to contact.    --- If you need his contact information, please let me know, I would be apply to pass Charlie Claar's contact information on to you.

    IFMA also accredits degree programs in FM, which will also add value to your program.

    I would also stress the importance of systems (HVAC, lighting and electrical) understanding.  -- and also agree with the LCC, ROI, NPV comment stated by Ryan.

    I wish you the best in the program developmment!

  • I agree with the above statements especially the IFMA's core compentencies, but would also emphazize the basics of electrical and HVAC.

  • I agree with the ideas posted previously.  They need to learn how to align facilities issues with the organization financial and strategic goals.  Budgeting, capital planning, replacement and renewal, financial decison methods.  The FM professional needs to be able to talk the language of the CEO/COO/CFO.  

    Within the O&M staff there is generally technical competence, initiative and dedication to maintaining the facility.  Many of the staff, however, do not relate to the business issues that drive decisions which may seem at odds with the staff's goals and perceptions.  The O&M mindset is to solve the immediate problem.  Facilities Managers and supervisory staff need to get out of the basement, central plant or back of the lot offices and be part of the overall discussion on how the business operates.  

    I agree with idea of following the IFMA Core Competencies.

  • I think the question should be, "what do we not need to teach" as there are so many things that FMs and as in my case a Facilities Coordinator that you really need to know, much of which comes from years as a tech in facilities repair.

    I would strongly suggest a very good project management course as well as a mini "MBA" because those yearly budget sessions can get rugged, of course the skills to set up 5-10 and 20 year plans help there.

  • The ability to manage time and prioritize projects. The energy management concept of PUE. *Contract negotiation.* Vendor management. Basic power, HVAC, data, waste, plumbing, real estate, accounting, organization, HR and management terminology and concepts. Ensure they have a background that alerts them to how much they don't know, gives them the hunger to find out, but never leaves them totally in the dark. I would also stress asset management skills. Everything is an asset from the blades of grass to the CEO's desk to the transformers that make it all possible.

  • My suggestions:

    "How to Get What You Want Out of Engineers 101".

    It's pretty easy to get engineers to design something. It's another thing to get EXACTLY what you want. A FM doesn't need to demo a new product or technology not already part of their daily lives UNLESS you're shifting gears. Having (15) different 4' FL lamps types is just one example of many.

    A FM had better have buy-in on the new lighting control system (as an example) and it's operational limits, etc.

    I could go on and on w/ that one...

    "Why Commissioning Pay$"

    There's a systematic way to commission and it DOESN'T start when equipment is ready to start! It starts VERY early on and can end up being perhaps the best investment a FM makes/suggests relative to the return.

    When an FM runs parallel to a commissioning agent, they can learn and peel ideas and tweaks from the interaction and develop a sense for root cause and get away from applying quick "fixes" that their buddy might have taught them. Learn to understand long-term consequences of decisions and how the water/gas/electrical/et cetera bills are affected.

    "Why Subs That Commission Their Own Systems Don't"

    Your commissioning agent, by definition, ought to be as independent as reasonably possible. Your commissioning agent knows building systems and how to coordinate their design and install and start-up. Forget the operating savings they can introduce, often times, their expense can be justified during the construction process. Your commissioning agent really works for the FM group - making the FM group's lives better is why they exist. Your subs have a funny little thing called warranty - that's often their means for running functional testing.

    "The Cost of Not Considering Costs"

    As Ryan C. noted above, finance is a big deal. Cheap isn't always and often times Cheap cost 2-3 times what "the real value" could have cost. Rarely do I buy cheap - very rarely. I look for value in every move I make. I like buying value once. and opposed to paying for cheap and I mean "paying for it"!

    I have to get back to work now!!!

  • It would be nearly impossible to teach someone everything they need to know about building systems in a class room, so keep the courses broad and focus on concepts and terminology, the rest will have to be OJT. I would stress leadership and personnel management, I accomplish very little by myself, my staff and crews make me look good, without them I would fail; make sure they understand that. IFMA core competencies are very solid starting point.

  • I agree with the above statements but would recommend that the class cover some safety from OP/SOP to creating Safety/Start UP plan for facilities operation after the lose of power to natural disaster.

  • All of the above suggestions are great! Personally having over 35 years experience in the FM community, I've noted that one of the most glaring shortcomings of our educational system is teaching people how to write and how to make presentations. FMs need to know how to communicate their great ideas to others, expecially senior management.

    Another consideration is the use of technology tools. We have been implementing IWMS solutions for over six years and most of the FMs I talk with don't even know what "IWMS" stands for. Besides payroll and utilities, the largest expense for a company that the FM is responsible for is real estate costs; how much space do we have? are we using it efficiently? do we have a good on-boarding process? etc. One university on the east coast has picked up on this and are actually using the system that we support, CenterStone, in one of their classes.

  • Most enjoyable inputs...nothing to add except strong customer service skills must permeate communications, workflows and projects.  Many FM measures are useful only to the back room; those that your stakeholders value are essential to know and fulfill.  Add this to the above comments, add the IFMA competencies and listen to practitioners!

  • I already posted one but here's another:  Supervision and Management.

    We spend a lot of time training and educating our trades people in their respective trades.  We know that education is an important part of mastering a trade.

    Then we take a good trades person, promote them to supervisor and expect them to just know how to do it.  Supervision is as much a trade as any other and businesses should be doing a better job of training people to do it well.

  • I'm in the same camp as Mr. Buchanan.  Yes, all the technical skills are important.  Yes, being able to talk C-level language is important (as well as the ability to communicate successfully at all levels).  

    But, being able to actually spell, use correct punctuation and grammar, and being able to represent yourself and your organization professionally, in all forms of communication is, unfortunately, becoming something of an archaic art.  

    I have seen far too many business proposals, or product / technology assessments, or emails to vendors that seem to have been written hastily and carelessly.  Regardless of how good the underlying thoughts are, poor presentation diminishes them.

  • I agree with all of the above but a course in basic Project Management is critical.  A lot of people have the title of Facility Manager but have very little to do with HVAC, plumbing, etc. Although very important to have a basic knowledge of those tasks, most have facility projects and little emphasis is placed on managing a project efficiently.  

  • I agree with all the previous comments and would add think about sustainability and LEED in regards to all areas.

Page 1 of 2 (26 items) 12