What is building management?

Building management is a subcategory of Facility Management that refers to the operation, maintenance, and repair of a property. The aim is to keep the building in the best possible condition to continue to fulfil its purpose. It can refer to both the management of commercial buildings, for example shopping centres or office buildings (building maintenance), and the management of residential buildings or condominiums (residential maintenance).

What does building management encompass?

Building maintenance management includes very different services. First, there are very technical services, such as lift maintenance or the fire protection system, known as “hard facility management“. Then, there are services focused solely on the comfort of users, such as cleaning, landscaping, or signage, known as “soft facility management”.

In any of these areas, building management needs to take two very important aspects into consideration. The first is, of course, the financial aspect – the operational costs, maintenance contracts, and even administrative expenses. The second is the environmental aspect, namely energy waste, carbon emissions, and other measures to increase the energy efficiency of the building.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of everything that building management encompasses:

  • building cleaning and façade cleaning
  • building equipment (HVAC, lifts, sensors, generators, etc.)
  • electrical systems, plumbing, and energy costs
  • building structure (doors, roofs, windows, etc)
  • exterior of the building (gardens, terraces, accesses, surveillance cameras, etc)

Building Maintenance Management: how to do building maintenance

As in other areas, all the usual types of maintenance apply: reactive maintenance, preventive maintenance, and predictive maintenance. Reactive maintenance is the most rudimentary, while predictive maintenance focuses on the availability and reliability of equipment. In other words, it focuses on maintaining the usual operation of the building at all times.

Predictive maintenance is closely linked to condition monitoring and IoT. Smart technology, on the other hand, makes it possible to decrease energy waste and make buildings more sustainable. In the future, it is exactly this technology that will promote building automation and finally give way to “smart buildings”.

Examples of IoT in buildings

  • HVAC sensor: allows turning on and off the air conditioning or heating at the optimal time (for example, turn on half an hour before the room is needed, or turn off when it is not in use);
  • motion sensors: allows you to know which spaces are being occupied or not (for example, to know how many people have used the toilet and to know when it needs to be cleaned)
  • access control: limit access to certain restricted areas of the building through fingerprint readers or ID cards.
  • smart locker systems: monitor asset usage, provide intelligent delivery options and to cut traditional locker management costs.

Software for building management

By using a Building Management System (BMS) or Centralised Technical Management (CTM) software, you can bring together all the building systems in a single software (HVAC, security, lighting, and mechanical systems). This allows energy expenditure to be better controlled and costs to be minimised, as well as providing more functionality, comfort, and safety for the users.

In addition, the smart technology we mentioned above can connect to a Building Automation System or an Intelligent Maintenance Management Platform (such as Infraspeak). Bringing all building information together in the same software, or a digital ecosystem that encompasses all the applications you need, has several advantages:

  • better management of scheduled, pending, and ongoing work;
  • better monitor the assets’ entire lifecycle; 
  • adjust supply chain and stock to actual needs; 
  • record all service contracts and SLAs; 
  • control building maintenance and operating costs in real time;
  • access data, statistics, and automatic reports.

Types of building maintenance management

Faced with so many different services, there could not be just one management model. Building maintenance models fall into three types:

Concentrated model

In this model, building maintenance is managed entirely by in-house teams. Following this model requires companies to have tools and technicians capable of ensuring maintenance. Considering all the services that Facility Management encompasses, this has huge challenges and operational costs for the company. Not only in manpower and equipment, but also in consumables and logistics.  

Fully unbundled

The opposite of the concentrated model is the fully unbundled model, where maintenance management is handled by an external service provider. Even if other providers need to be hired, the administration has only one point of contact. However, it has clear disadvantages: loss of control, loss of data, and a possible increase in costs as the provider can apply margins to all the services it hires.

Mixed model

The most common model is the “mixed model”. Control of Facility Management and contract management remain in-house tasks, perhaps even with an in-house team of technicians. At the same time, the more specialised tasks are performed by external suppliers (outsourcing). Approximately 88% of companies outsource facility management. On average, 23% of tasks are assigned to external providers.

Best practices in building management

  • Mapping the assets

Identifying and mapping assets properly makes the team’s job easier. This makes it much simpler to understand where the next work order is or where the breakdown was reported.

  • Consider the equipment’s entire life cycle 

To ensure the availability and reliability of all equipment, it is important to consider all stages of the asset’s life (planning, procurement, operation and maintenance, and disposal). In the planning phase it is crucial to understand the users’ needs, the design criteria, the quality, and maintenance costs they will have throughout their life.

  • Create economies of scale

Another good practice in building management is to try to acquire equipment that is compatible with other existing equipment, which makes operation and maintenance easier. Not only does it reduce the number of spare parts that must always be in stock, but it also allows you to optimise the training of technicians.

  • Adapt to IoT

If the aim of building management is to ensure that buildings remain in good condition and continue to fulfil their purpose, then don’t stand still in time. Installing IoT-connected devices and renewing the building is definitely one of the best practices of facility management.

  • Communicate clearly and transparently

Clear and transparent communication with the users of the space is necessary to understand their objective (e.g., “have light in all spaces”) and subjective (e.g., “increase the brightness in the corridors”) needs.

  • Assign responsibilities and establish an SLA

Since the mixed model is the most common, it is necessary to define internal and external responsibilities to avoid conflicts. It is important to establish communication channels and have an SLA with specific performance indicators.

Read more about the importance of communication in maintenance and Facility Management with customers, employees, and suppliers [free guide]

  • Train employees

It is essential to train technicians and employees in the use of equipment and safety systems. Many managers invest in equipment that the staff does not know how to use correctly, which has a negative influence on building management and ROI.

Building management and building maintenance are demanding fields full of peculiarities. Regardless of the management model you prefer, a maintenance management system or similar software is essential. It enables you to manage all contracts, monitor staff efficiency and management effectiveness — and keep the building in the best possible condition for many, many years.