The Unheard Voices of Facility Leaders: Nathan's Revelations from the Front Row
Resolute Building Intelligence is dedicated to solving real-world, everyday building problems with real-time, actionable answers. We transform the vast amounts of data generated by building systems into actionable insights, ensuring buildings operate optimally. At the heart of our mission is our team, who are deeply engaged with the industry to understand the needs and challenges of facility leaders. Nathan, a passionate member of our team, recently attended the @MSBO Facilities Operations Director Conference & Expo, gaining invaluable insights into facility management. Join us as we delve into Nathan's enlightening experiences and visions for the future.
How would you describe your first conference experience?
“Honestly, exhilarating. Just tried to go in as sincerely curious as possible by asking plenty of questions and not thinking twice about extending myself. After the conference, felt like I had nothing left in the tank, mentally and physically, which is not to say it was a negatively draining experience. Quite the opposite. I’m just a full blown introvert, so trying to soak up every ounce of info and meet as many people as possible while being on my A game was, altogether, quite an effort. Overall, can say I was nervous going into it and I know there’s stuff for me to work on, but I felt very empowered coming out of it.”
What were your notions going into the conference?
“Well, I had not much of an idea of what to expect going into the conference. I mean that as far as how receptive or welcoming this group would be, how willing they would be to hear about me and Resolute, et cetera. Swear it was a blessing from beyond because one of the prospects I was cold emailing, in which I referenced me attending the conference, responded a week prior giving me tons of great context. This gave talking-points and some idea of where these folks were at as far as considering, using, and adopting solutions like Resolute. It all came full-circle because I formally met this person during one of the last educational sessions.”
What were your biggest takeaways?
“Well as far as my outlook on the facility maintenance industry, one big takeaway is that FM’s (facility managers), for schools particularly, are stretched thin. Someone said it best that institutions “are cutting people and making titles bigger,” so these FM’s have tons on their plate but often inadequate resources to help them get the job done. It’s often a one or two person show out on their own island, working their tail off just to keep the place afloat.
I think one of a couple things is happening. Either FM’s are giving admin the “we’re good, don’t worry about us, we’ll handle it” treatment OR admin just provides the bare minimum because that’s all they are able to afford due to budget constraints.
Either way, the common denominator is that nobody outside of facilities can fully appreciate the whole scope of responsibilities that go into their day-to-day. You could make that claim for plenty of occupations, but especially facilities. This common theme leads to a breakdown in communication and perhaps a lack of appreciation stemming from ignorance where administrators are leaving FM’s to their own devices, and trust that everything stays together. Given the nature of people in facilities, being hardworking, resilient, and resourceful, the place does stay together one way or another. And as long as things work, there’s no cue to innovate. Solutions geared toward helping FM’s that get presented to admin probably appear as foreign or unnecessary. Even if they drop it off to the FM’s, they don’t have the time to review just anything and everything. I am now getting into struggles relevant to my work, but that’s the picture I can paint based on my what I’ve gleaned from this experience.
Even if these FM’s don’t want to say it for themselves, if they were equipped with the right resources, they could easily have the means to do their job in a way that puts money back into the institution while making their life easier. I know we at Resolute can be a valuable piece of that equation, so it’s funny that I got a lot of blank stares when pitching our solution, which I reflected on. Obviously there’s things I have to work on, but it also doesn’t help that FM’s often don’t have the bandwidth to even consider something like us, let alone onboard and adopt a new process.
So, overall, the lack of innovative adoption comes down to a lack of understanding between players. I’m talking about vendors and admin understanding FM’s, their true challenges, and reason for hesitation. Also FM’s and admin understanding vendors, their solutions, and the implications of those solutions. Those bridges still need work. My eyes have surely opened after spending a few days with these facility leaders.”
What would you say to the MSBO group if you had them all in a room?
“I’ve reached out to several of the contacts I met. Haven’t heard back from many of them, probably because they’re right back to working their ass off. Hopefully that’s the reason. Anyways, I’ll address them like they are right here with us. I would first say thank you for welcoming me with open arms. That type of gesture really allowed me to settle in nicely. Wasn’t sure what to expect coming in and what exactly I would get out of it. That said, I am grateful to have a more intimate understanding of this group’s identity.
Whether you want it or not, it’s just a matter of time until institutions give more recognition to your role after realizing how much value you undeniably provide. We at Resolute know that if this group were to have the right resources, you could introduce unprecedented tangible and intangible value to your institutions. That’s ultimately why we do what we do. We have pinpointed a gaping void of untapped value, but it requires more than just us to fill it. It requires your participation, too.
I thought I knew your responsibilities to a good extent, but there’s way more to it than I expected. As I said, I think I have a better grasp, but definitely better questions after this experience. I will say, and this is not to blow sunshine, but you are the types of workers and people an organization not just wants, but should empower. For pete’s sake, if you just get out of your own way, we could make that happen...only kidding folks. I’d then pause, and whether it’s crickets or hyenas, I’d hopefully be quick enough on my toes to say something like “first rounds on me,” which I have to think would be foolproof. Because if it’s anything I’ve really taken away, it’s that this group knows how to get DOWN. For the record, I was merely a witness, not a participant.”
“As cliché as it sounds, this needs to be a collaborative effort. I don’t think vendors like Resolute can, alone, drive the narrative that data is key to proactive maintenance, which is key to driving energy efficiency. I keep saying “key,” but the key players are the vendors, institutions, facility leaders, and energy providers like DTE and Consumers here locally. Everyone seems to be on board with the idea of energy efficiency initiatives. I think it just comes down to putting our minds together, synergizing, and putting plan into action.”
Nathan's experience highlights the ripe opportunity for innovation in facility management. There are several factors at play slowing technological adoption, but it’s just a matter of time before data-driven tools and the benefits + results they deliver become undeniable. The pieces of the puzzle are all there. We just need to help each other to put it all together.
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