Risk management: What can a facilities manager do to reduce the risk factor?

Remote facilities management

Every product you invest in, every service you outsource, carries some level of risk.

But what exactly do we mean by risk?

It’s when a situation is exposed to some level of danger. That level can be anything from minimal to extreme, where a risk is very likely to manifest itself.

So how can you possibly ‘manage’ risk? It’s easy to assume that if risk is evident then it’s best to plan for the worst-case scenario. But that’s crisis management – a post-event reaction to an unfavourable situation.

Managing risk means you’re minimising dangerous results if a risk was to become a reality. You’re reducing the potential impact on the facility you manage.

The first step in risk management is identification.

This can be a daunting task, especially when you consider trying to identify risks stemming from both internal and external sources.

We’ve put together a brief summary of some of the risks that your facility might face. It’s by no means all encompassing but it’s a good starting point!

For more in depth guidance you can visit resource centres like this one by the Institute of Risk Management.

External risks

Financial: Could a change in finances impact upon facilities management? The answer, most likely, is yes. Budgets may have to be reassessed and certain outsourced services may become no longer viable.

Also consider how an external risk could cost the organisation financially – time and time again we see companies save potentially thousands of pounds because their facilities managers invested in clever security systems that prevented damage from intruders or environmental causes.

Strategic: Does your facility need to stand out from competitors’ facilities? If so, there is a risk that a change in your competitor’s strategy and approach to facilities management could pose a risk.

Hazards: Your facility may face extreme or low level risk from hazards such as bad weather, changes to roads and access or council policy changes.

Internal risks

Health and Safety: This will, of course, be the primary concern for Health and Safety officers or the individual who is given the weighty role of ensuring health and safety is up to scratch. However, it is equally a concern for facilities managers who need to manage risks impacting on the wellbeing of those on site.

Employees: The equipment that you choose or the services that you outsource to will often have to be managed or used by employees on site. This involves some level of risk.
Consider: you opt to have a high-quality security system installed and monitored, but you need to provide security system access to select team members within the organistion. Could this leave the security system vulnerable to internal attacks? You can find out more about inside jobs in our blog: Security from the inside, out.

The next step is to plan your risk management.

Risk assessments – they may not be the most exciting aspect of risk management, but they do ensure you fully consider the possible risks of facilities management for each site. You can find examples of risk assessments on the Health and Safety Executive website.

Next, find solutions that work for you.

Once you’ve established what risks your responsibilities face and you’ve analysed the level of the risks posed, you’ll be in a position to start management of the risks.

In some instances the level of risk will be high enough to instigate a change. For example, consider you look after a facility that is located within half a mile of a river. If that river has a history of bursting its banks or has the potential to do in the future (likely, with the recent flooding experienced across the UK) is it necessary to put flood prevention and management controls in place.

Look outside the box!

Indeed when you’re looking to establish a viable solution consider all the options available to you. In our previous example of flooding, it could work exceptionally well if you put a remotely monitored system in place that could alert keyholders, maintenance engineers and yourself of a flood as soon as it starts. That way damage will be minimised as the problem won’t go unidentified overnight or longer.

In fact it’s essential that you weigh up the necessity of putting a plan in place to help minimise serious risks, which includes proactive and reactive procedures. Part of risk management is knowing how to reduce the impact of risks as they happen too.

Do you have any more tips for risk management? Or are you struggling to find a solution to some of the risks your facilities face? Leave us a comment below; it would be great to get a discussion going on the topic!