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Facilities maintenance managers face numerous challenges on a daily basis, not the least of which is very few people understand what facilities management is, let alone what it does.

In generic terms, these teams or, more often, individuals are responsible for the efficient running of large multi-tenant buildings, be they commercial or residential.

In practice, facilities managers are unsung heros; ensuring the smooth daily operation of services modern society rarely notices except in the event of a breakdown.

Therein lies the crux of the matter.

Facilities managers must walk a razor sharp line between investor profit and tenant satisfaction, all while juggling vendors and balancing daily disasters.

What do Facilities Maintenance Managers Do?

Facilities management is defined by the International Facility Management Association as:

[sic]…a profession that encompasses multiple disciplines to ensure functionality of the built environment by integrating people, place, process and technology.

Their tasks were officially established in 2009 by a global job task force, encompassing members from 62 countries, as:

  • Communication
  • Emergency Preparedness and Business Continuity
  • Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability
  • Finance and Business
  • Human Factors
  • Leadership and Strategy
  • Operations and Maintenance
  • Project Management
  • Quality
  • Real Estate and Property Management
  • Technology

For More Information:

From this, you can begin to see the problem.

The entire profession, as well as its responsibilities, are extremely broadly defined, which has contributed significantly to the challenges facilities managers face.


In a 2002 publication by the Journal of Facilities Management on Emerald Insight, facilities management challenges were summarized as:

[sic]…issues relating to the following (in diminishing order of significance): inadequate funding, emergency management and business continuity planning, statutory compliance, sustainability and environmental stewardship, keeping up with rapid changes in technology, operational efficiency, identifying and meeting stakeholder needs, maintenance and manpower.

Challenges faced by facilities managers in the Australasian universities


Ideally, facilities management would be involved in aspects of the initial planning phase of any building design, construction, revamp, or modification.

Unfortunately, that is not always the case, and facilities and maintenance managers often find themselves in high-demand situations with minimal infrastructure, supporting data, or appropriate budgets.

In a more realistic scenario, where facilities maintenance has become the fulcrum point in the demand for more sustainable buildings and office spaces, managers must turn to highly-specialized service providers.

These specialized partnerships allow the facilities managers to offload the need for deep expertise and time investment in multiple complex disciplines, enabling them to focus on emerging, cost-effective modernization planning and implementation.


Commitment to facilities planning, especially when sustainability is concerned, can be hard to come by.

A 2014 study, posted by the Building Efficiency Initiative, found that of those surveyed:

  • 75% believed employees should be “actively involved in making work practices more sustainable, but only;
  • 36% indicated they would favor sustainable practices that affect the way they work.”

That finding underscores the actual issue behind engagement; how to implement needed changes on a budget without disrupting the operations of those unlikely or unwilling to adopt new policies.

For More Information:

  • Employee engagement in sustainability: Where’s the ‘easy button’?
Vendor Management

In a 2010 survey of facilities managers across the U.S. by Corrigo, ‘Allocating Work to the Right Vendors’ was listed as #5 on their Top 5 Facilities Maintenance Challenges report.

One chain restaurant facilities manager was quoted as saying:

“Outsourcing work is a given – we know we’re always going to do it to some degree. It’s dealing with the changing amount of work and the churn in our pool of vendors that’s the challenge.”

Of the vendor management challenges most faced, those cited were:

  • Making vendor decisions based on accumulated performance feedback.
  • Recording and comparing information on vendor pricing, and;
  • Maintaining searchable records of vendor certifications.

For More Information:

  • Top 5 Facilities Maintenance Challenges…and a Formula for Success in Challenging Times

Generically, budgeting, whether it be time, financial, or resource, is the most cited of facilities management challenges.

Business budgets, especially for large corporate-controlled spaces, are typically at the whim of investors.

The challenge here becomes the issue of investor confidence.

Where investors are not familiar with a concept, they tend to shy away from the investment, again, particularly when it comes to sustainability and energy efficiency.

In a 2014 interview with Energy Efficiency Markets, Matt Golden, a ‘senior energy finance consultant for the Environmental Defense Fund’, was quoted as stating:

“Right now we are serving up 31 flavors. Every energy efficiency project is something unique. However, investors only eat vanilla. It doesn’t matter if you put a bowl of chocolate ice cream in front of them. All they know is that it’s not vanilla. This forces them to treat every transaction as unique which significantly increases transaction costs on each investment.”

Why Investors Are Wary of Energy Efficiency and What Will Boost their Confidence 

Green Cleaning as a Partnership Solution

A partnership with an engaged and experienced professional janitorial services provider will help reduce the time and financial impact of many challenges facing facilities managers, especially in a matured, investor-friendly environment that emphasizes the quality of worker and customer well-being, consumer confidence, and long-term viability/sustainability, specifically in today’s resource-challenged environment.

An ideal facilities management-janitorial services provider partnership will provide substantial and favorable benefits.

  • The ability to plan and execute long-term service agreements that compliment and adhere to corporate budget requirements.
  • Flexible service schedules and offerings that meet occasional and ongoing facilities needs.
  • Highly-experienced service personnel, familiar with the high-demand requirements of cost-conscious organizations, specifically the need to adapt quickly to business-specific requirements with minimal initial training or ongoing supervision.
  • Operational knowledge to compliment staff skill or personnel gaps, especially in areas requiring forward planning and implementation towards sustainable business practices.
  • Regularly updated information regarding franchisee certification and compliance requirements.



An immediate consideration for any facilities manager seeking a value driven partnership is a business with a proven record of ‘big business smarts with a small town bedside manner’.

To function as a real asset to the organization, the cleaning ompany must possess the same proven level of multi-disciplined experience as the facility manager.

Additionally, the service team will need to execute their tasks with little to (preferably) no disruption to staff.

This all needs to be established in a long-term agreement that facilitates easy customer budgeting while anticipating future growth, and accommodating per-incident requirements without a reduction in service quality or a spike in cost.

Piece of cake.

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Do you need more flexibility in your janitorial services? Maybe it’s time to outsource some of your seasonal cleaning projects.

Vanguard Cleaning Systems of Minnesota can help you consider all your needs and options before you make a move. Download our free guide, “8 Steps to Hiring a Commercial Cleaning Company”