Facilities Management: Be On Guard
This article by Jerry Chamness originally appeared in the May 2001 issue of IPI.
During the hot, humid summer of 1982, the state of South Carolina had a freeze.
The state's economy was slowing and budget experts projected shortfalls. Budget cuts were imminent. Hiring freezes were initiated. Staff was reduced. Agency heads scrambled to reduce their operating budgets. And in-plants became even more vulnerable to outside attacks from privatization supporters.
One victim of the state's 1982 budgetary problems was the in-plant at the College of Charleston. Richard Bennet, manager at the time, said closing his operation opened up five personnel slots for the college. Those slots allowed other departments to add much-needed personnel—personnel they would otherwise have been unable to hire due to the hiring freeze.
The in-plant fell victim not to bad management, nor to an outside attack by a facilities management (FM) vendor, but to an unfortunate downturn in the economy.
This year the economy is slowing down once again. And once again the budget experts in South Carolina are projecting a budget shortfall. Again, budget cuts loom and rumors of layoffs spread statewide.
There's probably never been a better time for FM vendors to attack. Their pitches find eager audiences in companies and organizations that are already looking for magic bullets to kill their budget woes.
Budgets are tight and administrators are not just thinking out of the box, they are buying out of the box. FMs are offering packaged solutions right out of the box, with claims of savings, as well. It even sounds good to me. Why should I knock myself out day after day when I can buy service out of a box, for less money?
Paradise In A Box
As in-plant professionals, you know the answers as well as I do. There are no boxed solutions for the myriad services in-plant operations provide daily. Most in-plants were developed to meet the unique needs of their parent organizations. In-plants share a history with their organizations, as well as common goals. You can't buy that out of a box.