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18 June 2018
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Facilities management professionals are often treasure troves of building information. 

Credit: istock

10 July 2017 | Jay Pearlman

Facilities management professionals are often treasure troves of building information. 

But as they retire or move to new positions, they take with them years of data about the complex inner workings of your buildings. 

Even though you likely have a plan in place for training new people in your processes, there may still be knowledge gaps. If your training approach is based on gaining experience on the job, give your new hires – and your department as a whole – an advantage by shifting the way you look at knowledge. Consider the following five ways to address the loss of FM know-how.

1. Focus on data as your solution for preserving the knowledge your FMs hold today

At its heart, the campus and component information that makes your experienced FM so valuable can be viewed as data. While data itself is not a solution to this knowledge loss problem – as facilities management experts are critical for understanding and applying this information to real problems – viewing knowledge as data is the first step to creating a system for retaining information. The next step is to categorise this data in a way that can be usefully applied.

2. Transfer facilities data into digital tools

By inputting your facilities data into work order tools, CMMS systems or information management technology, this data can be applied by anyone to operations and maintenance processes. This input process is time-consuming initially, but the rewards are worth it in the long-term. Although a digital tool cannot replace an FM, it can give these workers the ability to easily access necessary information. 

3. Put a plan in place for maintaining and updating facilities planning information on a consistent basis

A hotchpotch approach to updates and renovations is often what makes it so hard to perform campus-wide maintenance. When each of the facilities meets a different standard, using different components, FMs can be slowed down by the need to visually confirm which parts they’re working with. Through systematic documentation performed as facilities change, FMs ensure that new staff can easily access component information as it is needed. 

4. Shift FM roles toward a focus on managing digital interactions

The FM field is facing a significant challenge in finding skilled labour to replace exiting professionals. Housekeeping and custodial professionals, for example, are seeking alternative work with better hours, more money or less demanding labour.


By shifting your facilities management roles to positions based in managing digital interactions with systems, you can address some of your turnover and the lack of new skilled people coming into the field. While it may seem like a small change, equipping staff with technology solutions – think apps for ordering replacement HVAC fans or displaying equipment status to workers on the opposite side of campus – can make the job more appealing to a new generation that may not have previously seen the facilities management field as a fit.

5. Recreate your approach to hiring and training personnel

As you shift your training focus toward more data-based digital work, your hiring and training approach will need to adapt, demanding greater flexibility from facilities departments and managers. But this shift to managed data will provide productivity benefits that can help the entire department to add new levels of value to the overall institution.