How facility management outsourcing can save your campus money

As COVID-19 compels higher ed leaders to find new ways to curb costs, some are already seeing the fiscal benefit of partnering with third-party facilities teams.
By: | July 14, 2020
Photo by Tim Mossholder on UnsplashPhoto by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

The pandemic is exacerbating pre-existing financial stressors in higher education—while also unleashing all-new budget gaps from tuition and housing refunds, and potentially costly reopening challenges. For example, will leveraging nearby hotels be needed to support physical distancing in student housing? Can you ensure all campus building filtration systems are up to par, or will some facilities need to “go dark” for the indefinite future?

There are no clear answers, but what is clear is that higher ed leaders need new ways to save money. Already, 800 institutions are experiencing shortfalls of 20% or more in next year’s budgets.

Fortunately, campus facilities often hold a hidden key to value—which you can unlock, with a little help from a reputable partner.

Five cost benefits of facilities management outsourcing

Done right, an integrated approach to facilities management (IFM) can help unlock cost savings while ensuring top-quality campus experiences. The following are key ways teaming up for IFM can support cost savings and campus appeal:

1. Improve deferred maintenance strategy. Postponing repairs to, say, an HVAC system or roof will only deepen the cost of repair or emergency replacement over time. Partnering with an expert IFM team, however, can enable you to strategically assess the state of campus buildings. Using data and predictive analytics, you can effectively prioritize projects and plan for repairs and upgrades in advance. And with a good plan in place, it’s easier to then bundle like-kind projects, potentially inviting volume efficiencies.

2. Put data and technology to work for your facilities. Integrated workplace management systems paired with cloud-based facility management systems give you greater visibility into the facilities that bring your campus to life. From more efficient work order systems to advanced space planning modules, software solutions can help teams mine the data in your facilities for best-informed decisions.

3. Third-party IFM processes can ease compliance and sourcing programs. When armed with the right tools and processes, facility teams can more easily catalog and manage facilities data to support regulatory compliance and monitor sourcing needs. Plus, a larger organization can help absorb the costs of sourcing, such as by using its buying power as a big group to negotiate bulk discounts.

4. Take control of energy management for cost savings and sustainability goals. Providers can help devise and set up energy efficiency programs that can have an immediate financial impact. From simple fixes like upgrading lightbulbs to evaluating and implementing smart building technologies, an energy management program can help reduce costs in the near and long term alike.

5. Consider how a “sharing economy” might work on campus. Some schools have found they may bring in revenue by sharing campus facilities with the outside community. But it can be hard and costly for facilities management teams to keep up with the practicalities. A data-driven IFM partner can help you identify the potential for generating revenue in a campus space—without biting off more than makes sense to chew.

Look for the facility helpers

COVID-19 has intensified the financial pressure on higher ed leaders. But it’s also opening a new door for innovation and partnership.

By welcoming in strategic facilities management partners, your institution can leverage technology and data to reduce costs, improve efficiency and ultimately support a vibrant campus experience.

Kevin Wayer is the president of public sector and higher education at JLL and serves as a member on JLL’s executive team that pursues and executes domestic and international public sector facilities and infrastructure assignments. He also leads a variety of strategic university initiatives including real estate strategy, planning and execution services to higher ed clients worldwide. He can be reached at Kevin.wayer@am.jll.com.