What is facilities management?
Facilities management helps ensure the functionality, comfort, safety and efficiency of buildings and grounds, infrastructure, and real estate
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Defining facilities management

Facilities management can be defined as the tools and services that support the functionality, safety, and sustainability of buildings, grounds, infrastructure, and real estate. 

Facilities management includes:

  • Lease management, including lease administration and accounting
  • Capital project planning and management 
  • Maintenance and operations
  • Energy management
  • Occupancy and space management 
  • Employee and occupant experience 
  • Emergency management and business continuity
  • Real estate management

Types of facilities management. There are two basic areas: Hard Facilities Management (Hard FM) and Soft Facilities Management (Soft FM). 

  • Hard FM deals with physical assets such as plumbing, wiring, elevators, and heating and cooling.
  • Soft FM focuses on tasks performed by people such as custodial services, lease accounting, catering, security, and groundskeeping.
What is the importance of facilities management?

For people to do their best work and feel engaged in their environments, they need to be in buildings that are safe, welcoming, and efficient. Facilities management has a hand in everything that surrounds the people in facilities and on the grounds. Where they work, play, learn, and live should be comfortable, productive, and sustainable.

Superior facilities management will contribute to your organization’s bottom line, impacting the short- and long-term value of property, buildings, and equipment. Your efforts can be crucial to:

  • Space optimization
  • Guiding capital projects
  • Energy management and maintenance
  • Lease accounting
  • Workplace experience
Look inside facilities management

People spend 87% of their time in buildings. See how to improve your operations to make their lives more comfortable and maximize efficiencies.

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IDC names IBM TRIRIGA a Leader

In its first worldwide Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS) MarketScape report, market research firm IDC highlights TRIRIGA for its innovation, flexibility, functionality, and industry expertise.

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Numbers show the importance of facilities management
30% savings

Real estate is the second-highest cost for an organization and effective space management can result in cost savings up to 30%.¹

80% over budget

The average capital project is 80% over budget and 20 months behind schedule, but adopting capital project management technology can lead to up to a 45% reduction in overall project costs.²

USD 27.5B loss

Employees in the U.S. waste 160 million days per year searching for desks, office rooms and colleagues. That’s a loss of USD 27.5 billion per year nationwide.³

59% less turnover

Companies that rank high in employee engagement have 59% less turnover, 17% more productivity, and 41% less absenteeism.

30–50% savings

A smart building with integrated systems can realize 30–50% savings in existing buildings that are otherwise inefficient.

Facilities management technology

The technology in facilities management includes both software and systems. Vast amounts of data are generated by built environments through Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, wi-fi,  meters, gauges, and smart devices. The most effective solutions enable facilities management departments to make good use of this data by infusing analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) into an Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS). These technologies deliver cognitive capabilities that make computer-aided facilities management possible — so you can analyze and learn from data, enabling you to achieve real-time visibility, perform predictive facilities maintenance, and create more productive, cost-efficient environments.

Functions of facilities management

Across numerous industries and company sizes, facilities managers have a wide range of important day-to-day responsibilities. These managers need to both plan ahead and also be ready for various tasks within any given day. While the manager’s responsibilities often include:

  • real estate management
  • capital projects and planning
  • occupancy and space management 
  • lease administration and accounting
  • workplace experience

... there are also ways to improve the performance of each responsibility that will fill the manager's schedule:

  • deliver operational efficiencies
  • create an environment conducive to productivity
  • find and adopt technological solutions 
  • guarantee regulatory compliance
  • minimize risks to facilities and employees
  • reduce energy consumption costs
  • reduce the carbon footprint of the real estate portfolio
Future facilities management trends

In the IBM Institute for Business Value 2021 CEO Study, 56% of CEOs emphasize the need to “aggressively pursue” operational agility and flexibility over the next two to three years. One implication is that as many enterprises return to their offices, the workplace ideally becomes a destination where employees want to gather and collaborate — connecting safely with each other. And then there is already the need to create a return-to-the-workplace strategy. Learn more from the following blogs.

The move is on to hybrid workspaces. The new workspace in the post-pandemic world will need to satisfy even more needs. Does productivity mean keeping face-to-face working or saving employees commuting time? Have a look at the advantages and challenges of building a hybrid workspace model.

Give employees a better workplace experience. “A great place to work” is being redefined by COVID-19, employee expectations, and technology. That experience can still mean the difference between engaged, productive employees, and a company facing turnover and even more disruption. Learn how to create that new experience.

Facilities management case studies
International Service System (ISS)

See how ISS is transforming the facilities management of more than 25,000 buildings worldwide using TRIRIGA. Specific facilities management examples show the value of IoT as buildings and environments become more personalized, intuitive, and easy to use.

IBM Global Real Estate (GRE)

With the onset of COVID-19, GRE was able to move 95% of IBM’s global employees from the office to home by using our own solutions. Now we’re preparing for the move back to the office, with the ability to monitor adherence to pandemic-related protocols, and to verify health credentials.

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Related solutions
Facilities management software and solutions

Deliver solutions that use data, analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI) to help clients better understand their facilities and make informed decisions.

Explore IBM solutions for facilities management

An integrated workplace management system (IWMS) that can increase the operational, financial, and environmental performance of facilities and real estate.

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IWMS software and solutions

Leverage data to make better-informed and data-driven decisions for intelligent real estate and facilities management.

See integrated workplace management system solutions
 Facilities management resources Building intelligence into buildings

As artificial intelligence is integrated with building management systems and IoT devices, it has the potential to improve occupant experience, increase operational efficiency, and optimize space management and asset utilization.

The activity-based workplace

Explore how the workplace as a destination is changing the way facilities managers are optimizing space for safety, productivity and improved experiences.

Share in the latest insights on building management

Conversations, stories, and opinions from the facilities management community to help you keep up with industry changes.


¹ Research and Markets (Link resides outside ibm.com)

² McKinsey & Company (Link resides outside ibm.com)

³ Senion (Link resides outside ibm.com)

⁴ Gallup (Link resides outside ibm.com)

⁵ American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (PDF, 1.2 MB)