Have you ever tried to explain to someone what your job as a “Facility Manager” does? When I asked other facility managers in the field, usually their responses are all over the place depending on facility size, facility type, and the experience level of the facility manager himself. Even more interesting were their responses on what type of “tools” they had at their disposal to track and run the day to day operations of their facilities.

n easy way to visualize the running of facilities is to picture a professional football team and their coach. The following 5 categories of football correlate with facilitiews in the following way:

  1. Facility Manager = Head Football Coach
  2. Asset Management Program = Football Coach’s Defensive Team Strategies
  3. Work Management Program = Football Coach’s Offensive Team Strategies
  4. Facility Users Interface Systems = Football Coach’s Special Teams Strategies
  5. Time Management for 60-minute game = Time Management for the faciliy’s “Open for Business”

I am a huge football fan. I was born and raised in Philadelphia and have been and still am a huge Philadelphia Eagles fan. As I am writing this blog, the wall facing me is Eagle green with an Eagles clock on it, an Eagles rug on the floor in front of my desk, an Eagles coffee table and separate Eagles lamp in the corner flanked on either side by two Philadelphia Eagles chairs.

Unfortunately, this year, the Eagles are going through a retooling process. There is a new coach and he in turn hired a new defensive coordinator, a new offensive coordinator, and retained the special team’s coordinator. So now the brain trust of the team must determine the type of football team they are going to become. The coach will set the vision of where he wants to take the team and make sure everyone is on the same page and clear about the direction.

1. Head Football Coach = Facility Manager

Hispanic businessman throwing football

The head football coach is responsible for all activities associated with taking his vision for the football team and converting that vision into reality through the development of his play book which contains the various game plans he will use throughout the season, plays that will be called depending on the specific situation in the game, and the players who will run the plays with the overall purpose to win each and every football game.

As facility managers we are the ones responsible for developing our own playbook of the various facility strategies we will employ to maximize the life of our equipment, ensure the effective and efficient delivery of facility services, and assure the needs of the clients, employees, and guest who use the facility when the facility is “open for business” or as I call it, “Facility Time.”

The head football coach has in his playbook, the strategic game plans to be used by his offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator, and special team’s coach.

2. Football Coach’s Defensive Game Plans = Facility Manager’s Asset Management Plan


In the world of facility management, our defensive strategic game plans are associated with the activities incorporated in to our asset management plan. In football, the defense’s job is to keep the other team from scoring points. They must understand offenses enough to know how to prevent them from scoring. They will have various strategies to employ depending on the situation in the game.

Our asset management plans are to keep assets form failing. We develop various strategies to employ depending on the situation, Preventive maintenance programs, capital budgeting plans, deferred maintenance plan condition assessments, predicative maintenance plans, reliability, engineering, etc. The longer we can make our assets last and not be replaced or repaired, the more money is available for other business uses.

3. Football Coach’s Offensive Game Plans = Facility Manager’s Work Management Plan


In the world of facility management, our offensive strategic game plans are associated with the activities incorporated in our work management plan. In football, the offensive side’s objective is to score points every time they are on the field. They don’t want to waste time or misuse the players (having wrong or underperforming players on the field). They want to as quick as feasibly possible, methodically move the ball down the field and score.

Our work management plans are to assure the facility services required for the operation of the facility are effectively and efficiently used. We want to be able to work on the right thing, at the right time, with the right resources. Included in the work management plans is work planning, work scheduling, work backlogs, work priorities, and skills assessments to identify training needs. Each facility is unique, but the better we prioritize, plan, and schedule the needed work using satisfactorily performing resources, we will be achieving our objective.

4. Football Coach’s Special Team Game Plans = Facility Managers Facility Users’ Interface System

special teams

In the world of facility management our special teams strategic game plans are associates with our user interface activates. In football, the special teams are responsible for transferring the ball to offense in the best field position as possible after it receives the ball from the other team as well as giving the ball to the other team in the worst field position possible to make it harder to score on the defense.

Our user interface is an information exchange system we have in place to receive request from users and keeping the users informed as to statuses. We employ computerized work systems, help desks, surveys, and feedback systems. We want our interface systems to enhance the user experience and not impede it. We want satisfied users and we want our interface system to assure those needs are being met.

5.Time Management for 60-minute game = Time Management for the faciliy’s “Open for Business”


busy fm (1)

Just like a football. Facility manages use different resources with different skill sets to implement their asset management plan, work management plans and user interface systems. Just as in football the goals of the offensive team are different from the defensive team. Just as the goals of an asset management plan (prevent failure/extend useful life) are different from the goals of our work management plan (efficient/effective use of resources). Whereas the goals of our interface system are to keep users informed and satisfied.

Our job as facility managers is to manage these three independent functions, with competing goals and objectives with the resources we have at our disposal. Our job is to train and prepare our team to be on their games during “Facility Time” (the open for business hours and all MUST BE WELL). Yes, in addition to the labor associated, you are also responsible for utilities expenses, service contracts, cleaning, lawn care, and security and you cannot exceed the budget allocated for you (Like the salary cap in football) .

Makes Sense – Now What?

Football coaches always know where they stand, they have a scoreboard. Depending on the score, a football coach will use different offensive, defensive, or special team strategies taken from his overall playbook. They know if at the end of a sixty-minute football game, if they have more points than the opponents, they win.

Just like a football coach, depending on the situation, you also will be using various asset management, work management, and user interface tools to deliver your services. Just like in football we have to stay within the confines of our facility budget. But different from football, we don’t have a time deadline we are working against, nor do we have to have a larger score when the clock hits 0:00. As facility managers we are spreading the use of our resources throughout the operating time of that facility or their Facility Time.


Sound interesting? Want to learn more? I have prepared an Infographic that graphically displays this analogy for you. It even shows you the way I have been successfully using it for the past twenty years to keep score and I call it the “Facility Effectiveness Index”. The infographic explains it and how to calculate it. I gives me a single number to focus on and know if all is running as planned.

Click this link to download your infographic.

I plan on publishing my next three blog post on:

  • Work Management as the offensive plays.
  • Asset Management as the defensive plays.
  • Facility user interface as the special team’s plays.

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Leave me some comments below on how you are keeping score and if it is working or not. Otherwise let’s play ball!