When it comes to asset and maintenance management, there may not always be a flashy reward for having the basics in place—but on the day when you need those basics in place the most—you’ll definitely see consequences if your processes aren’t up to snuff.
Recently, I participated in a tabletop scenario workshop, hosted by IFMA Boston that tested even the most confident and seasoned facility manager. We were broken into groups of eight, and within the scenario we were faced with a hypothetical, disastrous day. I’ll set the scene:
“The business we worked for owned a 15-story building. Our offices were located on the 4th through 15th floors with tenants on the 2nd and 3rd floors. The first floor consisted of retail shops and a small food court. It was a hot August morning when we arrived at our building. The weather report was for temperatures reaching 100 degrees, and it was already 80. We could not wait to get inside and feel that cool air conditioning. It was 6:58 am.”
What could go wrong?
Once inside the building, we immediately realized that the air conditioning had not come on earlier in the morning to cool the building to a working level. After some troubleshooting, we soon realized the fix would require outside services, which could not arrive for another 2 hours and 30 minutes. On top of that, the building’s chief engineer called in sick, and the assistant facilities manager had to bring his children to work. To add even more chaos to the scenario, our team ran into numerous other issues throughout the day, exacerbated by the broken chiller and extreme heat, including:
- Trash contamination due to failed pickup from night before
- An elevator that got stuck with passengers inside
- New employee interviews scheduled in a space with no working air conditioning
- An executive presentation to new investors scheduled in a space with no working air conditioning
- A health inspector visit
- Employees calling in sick and others leaving work with illness
- Worried tenants concerned about the building getting closed
What’s your maintenance management strategy and communication?
With each new challenge, it became glaringly obvious that an effective maintenance plan needed to be in place, and it was crucial to have the building’s data readily available. For instance, when was the last time the chiller or the elevator was inspected? Was there a scheduled maintenance plan in place? With my chief engineer out sick, how could others get access to the data he was in charge of? With the temperature in the building out of control, who should be alerted? How were we going to pull data on which floors were affected the most? What about communication with building tenants or employees that had already arrived to work? Effective communication between all stakeholders as well as access to the building’s data was necessary to minimize chaos.
Luckily, my team during this scenario was collaborative and creative. We approached each new challenge with three priorities in mind:
- Effective communication
- Providing excellent tenant and client satisfaction.
Our major takeaway from the experience was that we must always be prepared and have a plan. Access to our building’s data was critical, and having an effective maintenance management strategy—and being able to communicate what that strategy is to all involved parties—was key to making it through my “disaster experience.”