Hard FM vs Soft FM: Reaching Goals in Facilities Management
Why does soft and hard FM matter? Getting to grips with Hard and soft facilities management is essential in running a cost effective and efficient business. Understanding how to categorise these distinct facilities management tasks is important in helping property and facility managers keep on top of business activities effectively.
- What is hard FM?
- What is soft FM?
- What are the key differences between hard and soft facilities management?
- What is the crossover between soft and harm FM?
- What are the goals of hard FM?
- What are the goals of soft FM?
- How can businesses manage soft and hard FM services?
- How can CAFM help you manage soft FM and hard FM?
What is hard FM?
Hard Facilities Management focuses on the physical elements that make up a facility or building. These are the tangible, structural components that contribute to the functionality and safety of a space. Key examples of hard services include:
- Lighting, electrical, and mechanical.
- Heating, plumbing, and gas.
- HVAC systems.
- Preventative maintenance
- Fire safety systems.
Essentially, hard facilities management activities need to maintain the structural integrity of a building—this is especially important with regards to remaining compliant and meeting the latest health and safety regulations.
What is soft FM?
So, how is soft FM different? Soft Facilities Management deals with the people-centric and service-oriented aspects of facility management. It revolves around enhancing the overall well-being and comfort of your building’s occupants. A few examples of Soft FM are:
- Landscaping and decorating.
- Cleaning and housekeeping services.
- Mail management.
- Pest control.
- Waste management.
What are the key differences between hard and soft facilities management?
The main difference between these two types of facilities management is that hard services relates to the physical elements of the building, whereas soft FM is more human-centred. Together, these two components streamline facilities management, ensuring building safety, comfort, and aesthetic.
The reason it’s important to understand these two components is because it can help you better determine a holistic and effective facilities management strategy.
What is the crossover between soft and hard FM?
Both of these FM activities are a vital in ensuring the health, safety and level of comfort of a building and its occupants. Whilst hard facilities management is generally considered to focus on the building, it also affects the day-to-day wellbeing and safety of the people within it, similar to soft FM. Although maintenance (such as electrical) is a hard service which affects health and safety, soft FM services, like cleaning, also play a major role in keeping people safe. Therefore, both hard services and soft services should be factored into your annual budget and plan. Every business will have different priorities, so to find out the best way to approach hard and soft FM, you should start with your goals.
What are the goals of hard facilities management?
Hard and soft facilities management have slightly different goals which you should bear in mind when building an FM strategy. Hard facilities management activities aim to:
- Ensure compliance and help you meet safety regulations.
- Add value and extend the lifecycle of your properties.
- Avoid equipment downtime.
- Implement preventative maintenance to cut costs.
- Prevent accidents in the building.
What are the goals of soft FM?
On the other hand, soft services are more focused on:
- Boosting the wellbeing of your buildings’ occupants.
- Improving overall comfort.
- Enhancing aesthetic and functionality of your buildings.
- Making workplaces more pleasant and comfortable.
So, to better manage these FM activities, you need to outline your key goals and develop a cohesive strategy.
How can businesses manage soft and hard FM services?
Deciding how to manage soft and hard facilities management can be tricky, especially since there are so many different approaches.
Total facilities management
Total facilities management, or TFM, means that you employ one company for all your hard and soft services. At first, this sounds like a great idea because it brings all your FM activities together in one comprehensive bundle. But, unfortunately, there are a few drawbacks to this approach. By putting all your eggs in one basket, so to speak, there is more risk involved. For example, if you outsource all your FM services to one organisation, you risk losing your business overnight. The financial status of your service providers could change at any moment, meaning your business could lose money and brand reputation.
Let’s not forget the collapse of Carillion which had a devastating domino effect on the supply chain and the businesses they worked with. This incident now acts as a cautionary tale to those looking for TFM solutions. With all this considered, perhaps total facilities management isn’t the best way to manage hard and soft facilities management.
Outsourcing multiple contractors for hard and soft FM jobs
On the opposite end of the spectrum, you could hire multiple contractors to take care of hard and soft services individually. This is known as a single-service model. Of course, in this scenario, you are spreading out the risk by outsourcing to a range of different contractors. Additionally, it offers advantages as you have the flexibility to choose specialised service providers proficient in either hard FM or soft FM, ensuring an enhanced level of quality and consistency.
But the issue with this approach is that it can lead to a lot of paperwork. By outsourcing to lots of independent suppliers, you end up having multiple contracts and endless invoices. As you can imagine, staying organised can become rather challenging, potentially leading to time-consuming sessions sifting through paperwork to keep everything in order.
Safely storing documentations and tracking actions is an essential part of facilities management, particularly in remaining compliant. FMs have used spreadsheets as the go-to facilities management tool for a long time, but they can become easily outdated and can be tedious to update. This is why facilities management software, like Computer Aided Facilities Management (CAFM), has become a popular method for managing soft services and hard facilities management.
How can CAFM help you manage hard and soft FM?
CAFM systems can help you schedule hard facilities management activities ahead of time using a PPM planner. This can help you implement planned, preventative, and predictive maintenance tasks with ease.
Visibility of buildings
Facilities management software gives you total visibility of your scheduled maintenance activities, as well as your sites, properties, and assets. With Elogs CAFM, our integration with Prosure360 also means you can manage your suppliers and contractors effectively.
By logging jobs on the CAFM system and creating work orders, hard facilities management activities and soft services are far easier to track. There are also features that allow you to upload store equipment photos, creating work orders for technicians and other service providers.
Boost energy efficiency
FM software can also help you improve the energy efficiency of your buildings by offering robust tools for data collection, analysis, and reporting. This ties in well with hard facilities management goals as it aims to extend the lifecycle of your properties.
Manage compliance documentation
Through advanced reporting tools and audit trails, Computer Aided Facilities Management is a great way to monitor and manage all your compliance records. By centralising data storage, facilities managers can easily track and update compliance documentation, ensuring that all regulatory requirements are met promptly.
Using a CAFM system can help you store all documentation and job requests all in one place, making it a single source of truth for your business. This makes it easy to manage and track multiple jobs and oversee suppliers. Ultimately, CAFM software makes managing soft and hard FM simple and straightforward. Ready to simplify facilities management?