Editor's Letter

Oct. 25, 2017

Break Out from Budgeting's Downward Spiral.

November contrasts the all-you-can-eat (but shouldn’t) plenty of Thanksgiving with the scarcity of many FM budgets for the coming year. That scarcity is no small matter for most FMs. When asked by a survey what keeps them up at night, a majority of BUILDINGS subscribers says inadequate budgets and their progeny, deferred maintenance.

Aside from the stress of underfunding, the budgeting process often has the unhappy outcome of reinforcing the idea that facility management is only an expense to be paid rather than an opportunity for efficiency and productivity. If you and your organization approach budgeting as an incremental process in which additions to the previous year’s expenses are the basis for the new budget, that process inadvertently feeds the idea.  

A more strategic approach begins with thorough inventory lists for the facility’s equipment. As noted in this month’s article on efficient HVAC maintenance (page 12), such lists have a strategic role and are not mere catalogs. The lists should include information on the redundancy available if any piece of equipment fails and estimate the percentage of redundancy. They should indicate whether your facility can function without the equipment. They should also take note of equipment complexity, whether particular maintenance tasks can be performed by in-house staff or not, and staff member analysis that includes each individual’s skills, licenses and certifications.

With this information in hand, budgets become more strategic and spending priorities better assessed. If auditors come, you’ll have an immediate platform for the expense discussion.

Facilities spending may still seem secondary to spending on an organization’s revenue-generation mission, but at least you will be more of a partner in C-suite strategy rather than someone who comes, hat in hand, for money to cover expenses.

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