Asset Management

Facilities Management is the term used for the process of managing and maintaining the physical fabric of the asset and managing the use of the asset.

The importance of how your asset will be managed and maintained, cannot be overestimated. Although land and buildings cost a lot to acquire, create or improve, they often cost a lot more in total running costs over (say) 20 years. Those looking  at  taking on a building may assume that it can earn them money just by being let to others. That might be true for short periods of time - and there is no doubt that the first owner of a new building can sometimes make a lot of money - but it is also the case that land and buildings can be liabilities, partly because they cost a lot to run and maintain.

This is because land and particularly buildings are easily neglected. As inanimate objects they tend not to be the focus of very much interest unless something is wrong. They take a while to deteriorate but when they do they quickly become unfit for the purpose for which they were intended. Uncared for community centres and littered parks are eventually abandoned by their users, out-dated workspace and shops are quickly vacated and neglected housing becomes unfit to live in. They cease to be assets.

The key to avoiding this is to think ahead - planning how your asset will be managed to a high standard and ensuring that the decisions that are made when it is built contribute towards a viable and sustainable future for the asset and the organisation running it. After all, once it is built the costs of running a building are pretty much set, so thinking about what will be needed to manage and maintain it at the outset will help to ensure a better design and construction process that can reduce the need for maintenance or make managing the building easier.

For example, large areas of glass may increase the building’s solar gain, reducing your lighting and heating bills. But you also need to think about the cost and ease of cleaning the glass regularly. Centrally controlled lighting, heating, ventilation and security systems may promise better facilities management and reduced running costs, but can require the presence of trained individuals to operate them and can be expensive to maintain or repair. This isn’t to say such features won’t be worthwhile, but you need to identify and plan for their costs before you consider including them in your building design. 

Planning ahead for the management and maintenance of the space will also enable your organisation to make sure it has the skills and knowledge in place to maintain and manage it effectively.

Take a look at Are you ready to see how to determine the skills required and The Build section to look at the design and construction process.

The amount of work involved in facilitates management will differ from asset to asset depending on the purpose of the asset, its size and complexity. Some assets may generate enough revenue to pay for dedicated property management staff if this is required; others may have to rely on  volunteers,  incorporate these activities into existing staff roles, or contract with a facilities management service.

Using checklists (see attached PDF) and conducting a whole life costing for the asset can help your team decide what approach they are going to take to facilities management, and to identify the costs of facilities management for inclusion in an initial assessment or Business Plan.

This process will also give your team time to consider how the building will be designed in relation to facilities management issues such as security (e.g. alarm systems, how access to the building will be controlled), the amount of communal space and shared equipment that will need to be looked after, and so on. But remember every organisation proposing to develop or take ownership of an asset must consider in detail those activities that they will have a legal responsibility for (for example in relation to health and safety or access for those with disabilities), and may therefore need to take specialist advice.  Links to appropriate contacts for the following activities can be found below or you can contact DTA Scotland staff.

Licensing

Specific activities or the equipment associated with them may require licences or permits. Although individual users of assets may need licences and permissions themselves, building owners and managers will also need them to fulfil their duties of care. Playing music, serving food and alcohol, or hosting performances are all activities that have specific licensing requirements.

Health and safety

There is a large body of law on this subject beginning with the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 which sets out the legal obligations of an organisation to its employees and its responsibilities to other individuals such as volunteers and members of the public. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 also place a duty on employers to assess the risk to anyone who may be affected by any work activities, for example in relation to the workplace in general, first aid, storage and use of hazardous substances and fire safety, events and use of equipment. Organisations must also carry out regular inspections, have in place formal reporting procedures and evidence that members of staff, volunteers and users of buildings are both briefed on the policy and practical issues involved.  Attention must be paid to other regulations and legisation, so far as relevant, including the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989, Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998, Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, Work at Height Regulations 2005, Corporate Manslaughter Corporate Homicide Act 2007 and the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005. Helpful information on this is available via a briefing note for voluntary organisations.

Fire precautions

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 sets out requirements for the appointment of a person (Officer in Charge) with specific responsibilities in relation to fire precautions, risk assessments, fire safety equipment and procedures associated with a building's use.
Children and vulnerable adult

If you will be providing space for activities involving children and vulnerable adults, you will need to address specific legal requirements relating to access to areas that they may use and the people involved in providing activities for them. These are set out in The Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act 2007.  The Act enabled the establishment of a new vetting and barring scheme for those working with children and protected adults in Scotland

Disability and access

The Equality Act 2010 requires that employers and providers of services do not discriminate on the grounds of disability, race, religion or belief, age or by association and requires them to make "reasonable adjustments". This is particularly important for community centres that are deemed to be service providers and must therefore comply with the requirements of the Act. With regard to physical adjustments, eg to the building, an access audit is a key tool for ensuring your building or space meets the requirements, that all issues have been addressed and you have taken an informed view of what may be considered "reasonable adjustment" under the Act. You can find a professional access auditor through the National Register of Access Consultants (NRAC), a UK-wide professional accreditation service for individuals who undertake access auditing and access consultancy.

Insurance

Insurance is not just a good idea - sometimes it is compulsory.  It may be necessary not only in relation to the physical fabric of an asset but also its use. Specific insurances may be required over and above those needed in relation to employees, public liability, etc. If in doubt, speak to your insurance provider to ensure you are adequately covered.

Formal agreements with land and building users

Asset owners need to protect their own and others' interests when they make an asset available for use. As an asset owner, your exact responsibilities will depend on the nature of the asset, but it is important to manage the expectations of those using the space and to be clear about the terms on which their use is made possible. This should be done via formal agreements that may take the form of a lease.  What kind of agreement is entered into will be determined by the nature of the asset, the legal structure of the organisation managing/owning it, and the conditions under which that organisation is allowed to make it available to others given their own interest in the asset.

In addition, depending on the nature of the asset, owners may need to agree service charges with users of the space, in addition to rent. These charges will be dealt with in the formal agreements.

The following checklists will help you consider all these management and maintenance activities in detail, and the kinds of capabilities the organisation taking on the asset will need to do the job effectively.

Useful Links

You may be able to reduce energy costs by participating in a group scheme.  To find out more follow the link to Energy Action Group   

There is potential for funding for renewable technologies, insulation, etc via various community schemes.  To find out more go to Community Energy Scotland  or the Energy Savings Trust 

Related Resources

Keystone

Keystone is a quality award scheme that gives information and support to people who run village halls and community buildings. It will help you to make sense of legislation and regulation and put systems in place to keep things running smoothly allowing you to concentrate on providing the best facilities possible.

PDF icon Keystone

Pillars of the Community: the transfer of Local Authority Heritage Assets

Some helpful tips if you are looking to take on a heritage building

PDF icon Pillars of the Community

Asset Management Checklist

This Asset Management Checklist can help your team decide what approach you are going to take to facilities management, and to identify the costs of facilities management for inclusion in an initial assessment or Business Plan.

PDF icon Asset Management Checklist