Process Automation, Cost Optimization, and Digitalization for Enterprise FM Companies

Published on 18 May, 2024

As a large enterprise facility management company offering hard services on a global or regional level, there's a lot more pressure and expectations from your customers.

To deliver what customers expect and win in a tough market, you must differentiate your offering, providing superior value and cost-effective services through innovative technology-driven solutions.

As per a report by JLL, facility management companies are facing massive labour shortages, skill gaps, and possibly smaller budgets today, a trend that will continue to exist in the years ahead. Organizations that quickly embrace process automation, digitalization, and data-led innovation are the ones that will be able to do more with less and come out on top.

Of course, this has to be done right to achieve the desired results.

In this article, we explore the advantages of process automation and digitalization for enterprise facility management companies, important use cases, challenges, and the best ways to implement it within your organization.

The Power of Process Automation for Facility Management Enterprises: Cost Optimization, Digital Transformation & Beyond

Process automation in facilities management is increasingly important as a way to compete in a rapidly evolving landscape, achieve digital transformation, and improve customer experience. For enterprise facility management companies specifically, this can be a game-changer. Here's why:

1. Increased Efficiency and Scalability

  • Enterprise FMs typically manage a vast portfolio of facilities, spread across large geographical areas. Process automation can standardize workflows and automate repetitive tasks across various facility types and locations, freeing up staff to focus on higher-value activities like strategic planning and client relationship management.
  • Automation allows Enterprise FM companies to scale their operations efficiently. As they acquire new clients or expand into new territories, they can leverage automation to handle the increased workload without needing a proportional increase in staff.

2. Enhanced Service Delivery and Customer Satisfaction

Enterprise FM companies compete for business by delivering exceptional customer service. Process automation empowers them to achieve this by:

  • Reducing response times: Automated workflows ensure faster response times to issues, leading to lower complaints and higher satisfaction levels.
  • Improving preventive maintenance: Automation facilitates data-driven maintenance strategies, reducing equipment downtime and disruptions for clients.
  • Providing transparency: Real-time data from sensors and automated reporting can provide clients with greater transparency into the health and performance of their facilities.

3. Cost, Workflow, and Resource Optimization

Cost reduction is a major priority for Enterprise FM companies, especially when managing large portfolios. Process automation offers several cost-saving benefits:

  • Reduced labour costs: Automating repetitive tasks reduces the need for manual labour, leading to significant cost savings.
  • Minimized errors: Automation minimizes errors in data entry, scheduling, and work order execution, reducing rework and unnecessary service calls.
  • Optimized resource allocation: Real-time data from automation enables efficient allocation of technicians and resources, reducing wasted effort and site visit costs.

4. Data-Driven Decision-Making and Improved Compliance

FM enterprises are increasingly relying on data to make informed decisions. Process automation facilitates the collection and analysis of vast amounts of data from sensors, BMS, CMMS, and other sources. This data can be used to:

  • Identify trends and optimize maintenance strategies.
  • Make data-driven decisions for asset performance management and energy efficiency.
  • Ensure adherence to regulatory and environmental compliance requirements.

5. Staying Ahead and Differentiating in a Competitive Market

The FM industry is becoming increasingly competitive. FM companies that embrace process automation can gain a significant advantage by:

  • Demonstrating a commitment to innovation and efficiency to potential clients.
  • Delivering superior service quality and cost-effectiveness.
  • Positioning themselves as leaders in a digitally transforming FM industry.

Process automation acts as a catalyst for digital transformation in the FM industry, and empowers O&M teams to move to proactive approaches, resulting in increased efficiency and cost savings.

Process Automation Use Cases in Facilities Management, Asset Operations & Maintenance

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) refers to the use of technology to streamline and automate repetitive, rule-based tasks. In the FM, asset operations, and maintenance space, RPA enables a range of benefits and use cases:

  • Maintenance Scheduling: RPA can analyze sensor data and historical records to automatically schedule preventive maintenance tasks, optimizing resource allocation and preventing equipment failures.
  • Work Order Management: RPA bots can automate work order generation based on pre-defined criteria, assigning technicians based on location and expertise, and sending automated notifications to engineering teams. It can close out work orders, capture technician notes, and generate summaries of maintenance activities.
  • Decision Support and Analytics: ML algorithms can analyze historical data, technician notes, and sensor readings to predict equipment failures, recommend preventive measures, and provide decision support to maintenance teams.
  • Data Entry and Reporting: RPA can extract data from various sources like emails, design specifications, and manuals, and populate it into FM / O&M software, eliminating manual data entry errors and saving time. It can also automate report generation and sharing with key stakeholders.
  • Inventory Management: RPA can automate tasks like tracking asset spare parts inventory levels, and generating purchase orders for replacements when the stock falls below a certain threshold.

*RPA is most effective for well-defined, rule-based tasks. For complex, challenging situations, human expertise is still crucial.  However, RPA can be a powerful tool for streamlining workflows and empowering FM O&M teams to operate more efficiently and effectively.

Process Automation Challenges for Facility Management Enterprises & How to Overcome Them

While process automation offers significant advantages, adopting and implementing it can come with its own challenges. Here are some of the key hurdles FM companies and O&M teams may face:

  • Cost and Budget Constraints: The initial investment in software, hardware, and potentially consulting services can be a barrier for some companies. Building your own solution also proves to be a cost center rather than an investment. Buying from or partnering with a provider offering subscription-based models and phased implementation plans can make automation more accessible and lower risk for FM companies.
  • Skill and Knowledge Gaps: Implementing and maintaining automation capabilities may require technical expertise or digital skills that technicians might lack. Providing implementation and support, user-friendly interfaces, and comprehensive training programs can equip FM staff with the necessary skills to utilize automation tools effectively. Tech providers can also offer guidance on best practices for process automation in the FM industry.
  • Legacy Systems and Data Integration: Compatibility issues with existing systems and ensuring data quality for automation can be complex. Platforms with integration capabilities can work with existing FM software and legacy systems, minimizing disruption for teams. Additionally, providers can help ensure data quality and accuracy across various systems, preparing the data for seamless automation workflows.
  • Change Management and Resistance: Effective communication and change management strategies are crucial to address your team’s concerns about changing job roles and encourage user adoption of new technologies. This might include workshops and success stories showcasing how automation can enhance human potential.

In Conclusion

Process automation offers a powerful path for enterprise facility management companies to optimize costs, enhance service delivery, and navigate the digital transformation landscape.

By embracing automation and partnering with a knowledgeable technology provider, FM companies can unlock significant benefits and gain a competitive edge in the marketplace. The future of FM lies in leveraging technology to streamline operations, empower staff, and deliver exceptional value to clients for long-term success.

We're keen to know more about your maintenance process challenges and share how Xempla can help through process automation, digitalization, and more useful features / capabilities.

Watch Xempla in action or talk to our expert to know more.