What started as little more than janitorial and caretaker services during the 1970s, Facilities Management (FM) has now evolved into a major organizational function which integrates people, place, process and technology within the built environment with the purpose of improving the quality of life of people and the productivity of the core business.
However, the true outcome of FM can only be realized if its methodologies and deliverables are designed to the mission goals of the industry sector it serves and nowhere is it more profound than in educational facilities.
Here we attempt to briefly explore elements of FM which could positively impact its application on educational facilities such as university campuses, large schools and research centres.
FM services for educational facilities should adopt a central theme which recognizes that an educational facility is a production house of future leaders, making of responsible citizens and a hub of intellectual data.
As such the facility cannot be viewed as just an infrastructure containing the educational process.
It is rather an integral element of the conditions of learning itself. Any FM model should therefore resonate such a theme.
Key Features of FM Delivery
Some of the criteria that should be considered as key to the design and delivery of FM for educational facilities are but not limited to:
- Specifying FM SOP’s which are activity based allowing student interaction and involvement wherever feasible.
- Specifying a security regime that recognizes the desirability of providing natural, unobtrusive surveillance mechanisms, rather than installing checkpoints and security guards. This minimizes the obstruction to collaboration of minds and flow of knowledge.
- Prioritizing SLA’s, response and recovery times based on student expectations and requirements.
- Specifying a FM communication system which is dynamic, less formal and digitally streamlined for seamless integration with the campus life.
- Specifying a FM software selection and architecture which maximizes digital interactions with students.
- Ensuring canteen and any F&B
- offerings are designed not just on the quality of food and hygiene but reflects the culture of the student diaspora of the institute.
- Specifying deployment of student co-ordinators to serve as a conduit of expression between FM and students.
- Specifying an emergency preparedness program which is based on continual awareness initiatives by engaging students and FM staff.
- Specifying a maintenance regime that:
- Focuses on the instructional areas of the facility.
- Allocates FM resources to support and manage student interaction and shared learning areas including transitional areas between indoors and outdoors.
- Links engineering aspects of the FM to the methods of instructional delivery.
- Incorporates waste management which encourages environmental stewardship amongst students.
- Facilitates energy management by promoting participation of students.
- Provides adequate weightage to soft landscaping so that students connect more to the natural environment visually, aurally, and kinaesthetically to offset any impacts of classroom learning.
Challenges & Opportunities
Some of the major challenges foreseen in delivering a successful FM strategy for educational facilities are:
• Meeting ever increasing expectations of parents.
• Living up to the aspirations of students.
• Increasing maintenance costs.
• Effective integration of technology in FM process.
• Integrating community interaction into the facility environment.
• Choosing the right model for FM delivery from a number of market options namely – Managing Agent, Alliance Approach, TFM and Integrator .