Creating operational resilience in facility management

Getting ready for the unexpected is not easy. If someone knew what to expect, they could anticipate the event they talked about and are more likely to get an expected outcome. It does make sense, doesn’t it?

In the past year, there have been quite a lot of challenges in terms of severe, adverse and abnormal weather events. Powerful and enduring wildfires ravaged the US state of California and much of the state of New South Wales in Australia. In Texas this year, an ice storm blew through the state including in Germany.

While it would be great if people would just pin all the blame on COVID-19 for all of this. Unfortunately, this is a glimpse into the unpredictable and severe nature of climate change brought upon the world.

A lot is to be talked about when it comes to initiating sustainable operations in organizational facilities and dealing with climate change goes beyond that. Creating operational resilience into most organizational facilities and processes can go a long way towards faster recovery and reducing the impact of such in the future.

What is Operational Resilience and what does it mean?

Operational resilience refers to the processes and initiatives focusing on business continuity management programs. These initiatives are usually focused on limiting risk, exposure, and disruption to building occupants, customers and end-users.

Operational resilience is also beyond just a mere set of activities. It usually requires thoughtful and careful planning as well as coordination between different teams and stakeholders, to ensure everything is accounted for.

What this means is that whenever an emergency arises or disaster strikes, the facilities are capable of either avoiding downtime altogether or there is minimal or at best, negligible disruption to occupants and customers alike.

Operational resilience in the operation of buildings – what is it?

In the context of IT and service disruption, operational resilience is often the most discussed topic. The technology and systems of any organization should be available at all times and the same is true for the facilities.

The buildings owned and operated by the organization are a strategic asset for your organization. They need to be available for the occupants, staff and customers relying on them.

The facility teams are doing part of this in their daily maintenance tasks they often finish. However, they often have little time for other tasks. Probably, they may have some kind of egress plans and business continuity plan put together, but do they know about the time when these plans were last reviewed.

The operational resilience of the facilities can also be affected by factors like deferred maintenance and backward technology, this can hold back planning and response by quite some time. For most organizations, having any kind of plan in place is considered good enough to be considered a worthwhile action.

Achieving a state of operational resilience in the facilities is beyond ticking a bunch of boxes. It requires deep planning and coordination from multiple shareholders and executive leaders. In this matter, the facility and operations managers need to play their role in the planning.

Steps needed to create an operational resilience framework

An operational resilience framework provides the clarity which is needed for fast and effective response whenever an emergency or disaster arises. Experts from a provider of top-class Facility Management Services in Saudi Arabia have indicated the following steps to be taken when making the facilities into this framework:

Documenting crucial business processes

Understanding the building portfolio and which kind of facilities are most critical is necessary. Each building isn’t vital to the operations, hence facilities teams should understand where the planning and resources should be focused.

For instance, the most vulnerable facilities should be identified. Historical data may not be useful when climate can wreak havoc but understanding how things are changing is important. Viewing recent weather data can help facilities team identify where the vulnerabilities are and it can give them an idea of the likelihood of an event happening.

Looking into facility upgrades

After identification of the most vulnerable facilities, it is important to consider what potential upgrades can make the building more resilient to any kind of disasters. An operational resilience facility condition assessment (FCA) can provide an overview of the facilities and asset conditions at a certain point in time.

Capital management software helps take the FCAs a step forward through provision of a current view of the conditions and enabling teams to prepare accurate budgets for facility management needs.

 

Other steps to be taken are implementation of targeted preventive maintenance and making a plan for recovery.

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