Why IT and Facilities Management Departments Must Be (Figuratively) Joined at the Hip

Information Technology (IT) professionals and facilities managers typically report into separate organizations and for the vast majority of their respective histories, they’ve had very little to do with each other. However, the realities of operating in the modern, highly distributed enterprise are necessitating ever-closer collaboration between two departments – for their own good.

The timing couldn’t be better given there is no question that IT departments are today under significant pressure to justify their very existence. There are many reasons for this but principally, the wide adoption of cloud computing and software-as-a-service (two technologies ServiceChannel knows all too well) are at the heart of the IT department’s predicted demise.Smart Buildings

Ironically enough, facilities play a huge role in challenges for IT departments in that the preference toward off-premise, third-party hosted technologies such as public clouds has been at the expense of technologies under IT’s lock-and-key management inside corporate data centers or, at least, behind the corporate “firewall.”

Changing Face of Facilities Management

FM departments are also under pressure but for the opposite reason. As we’ve written about, there is a strong push within the FM profession to get younger and more technology astute. However, the reality remains that the average facilities manager today is male and in his 50s. Further, these pros were hired and trained with specific skillsets in mind, which did not necessarily include how to leverage high-tech products within their operations.

One key aspect of operating as a modern enterprise requires companies to integrate facilities management more into their core business operations. This means that FM pros have to be more strategic so that they can engage with and impact all facets of their organizations including IT departments.

The successful collaboration between the FM and IT departments is even more critical considering the shortage of tech-savvy or, at least, “tech-comfortable” candidates to fill these new-aged FM positions.

FM and IT Pros: Shared Technology Destinies

There are promising signs of this collaboration happening already within our own customer base. One such area involves the two departments working together on successful integrations of the ServiceChannel facilities management platform into other corporate, IT-managed systems such as accounting systems, databases and other workflow software to achieve cohesive and unified operational efficiency and cost reduction.

Another area of IT-FM collaboration that is rapidly emerging is the Internet of Things (IoT), which perhaps links the two departments most concretely:

  • For FM pros, IoT promises to create a new class of smart equipment and even buildings to make operations easier through automation, embedded intelligence and transparency.
  • For IT departments, IoT creates a number of challenges that they’ll need to address such as real-time information processing and effective security policies enforcement.

As noted in this recent article, the bottom line of these emerging trends is that FM and IT departments have to recognize the common destinies they share and how they need to work together better. The value proposition of a platform such as ServiceChannel cannot be understated in helping these two departments meet these goals.

With each day of experience that FM pros (and service providers) gain on our platform, their tech-savviness increases exponentially. We see this reflected in how many of our customers effectively leverage enterprise mobility for anytime/anywhere work order management as well as site audits and inspections.

That is, they are seeing first-hand how technology can dramatically and positively impact their operations. This may lead to a greater appreciation among FM pros for their IT counterparts, which will have lasting benefits for both departments.

How to Succeed in Facilities Management