Every so often a significant book is available for facilities officers that requires significant recognition. Such is the case with The Complete Facilities Manager, in which an actual practitioner provides insights into the profession and what he perceives as important.
The Complete Facilities Manager
Demland, Dan, Kendall Hunt Publishing Company, Dubuque, IA, 2023, 420 pages, softcover, $80.
The field of facilities management is broad, deep, and complex. APPA has published its Body of Knowledge (BOK) for decades, beginning with a moderately sized volume that grew to a four-volume set, followed by an online version designed to keep information up to date. Other organizations and authors have developed similar references containing a great deal of deep knowledge gathered from a wide range of sources, but none has provided a comprehensive introduction to the field of facilities management with all of its complexities and interrelated components. That’s what Dan Demland has attempted to do with The Complete Facilities Manager. To some extent it may be considered unfair to call Demland’s book an “attempt.” It is a valiant effort to demonstrate the industry is more than design, more than construction, more than customer service, and more than fixing things.
So how does this book provide value to the industry?
The Complete Facilities Manager is presented in five parts: value, systems, design and construction, managing, and an appendix. The parts make sense, allowing a business officer to read Part I, Value of Facilities Management, so they can begin to understand what happens through the life cycle of any constructed facility.
Part II, Facilities Systems, addresses the major systems found in most constructed facilities, with a special focus on commercial kitchens, security, technology, and sustainability. This organization makes sense due to the overall complexity of each area and given that security, technology, and sustainability are relatively new and important issues. Each chapter in “Facilities Systems” presents the basics needed for a newcomer to the field to understand the system’s role in the overall facility and a brief presentation of the physical and engineering principles behind its design and operation. From an engineering perspective, coverage of these systems is light, omitting detailed engineering formulas and theories, but this improves readability. That is not to say the descriptions are casual or inaccurate. The diagrams and associated formulas help the reader see how facilities operate in the physical world and demonstrate some of the complexities of how systems work together or potentially fight each other. Demland also provides reasonable references to additional material or standards that drive physical interactions.
More time is spent in Part III, Facilities Design and Construction. This makes sense since Demland is a campus architect and clearly understands the importance of beginning with the end in mind. A poorly conceived facility costs more to operate and maintain, and likely costs more in the end, due to capital renewal construction projects. The author presents the overall design and construction process from an administrative/management perspective and, in the discussion about the Americans with Disabilities Act, provides important figures about required dimensions and the reasons why (this chapter alone sails through at least three university architecture courses). The regulatory chapter, in turn, provides a good history on codes beginning with ancient construction references. The challenge is that so much of facilities falls under local regulatory controls that are enacted through legislation. It’s important to provide any person associated with facilities some understanding of how regulations, through model building codes and other sources, become something enforceable by legislation. Too often, some people involved in a project don’t understand why some facility features have priority over individual preferences. Codes and standards have a growing effect on facilities operations through maintenance requirements, and this chapter should not be avoided.
Part IV, Managing Facilities, addresses several key areas. Leadership covers basic leadership traits and styles such as those described by Myers-Briggs (which are covered in depth at APPA’s Leadership Academy). Other chapters cover project management and project budgeting. But these focus only on initial TCO (total cost of ownership), omitting the other four factors that really comprise most of the cost of any facility (operations and maintenance, utilities and energy, renewal and remodel, end-of-life.)
In Part V, the appendices, Demland provides a deep dive on materials facilities officers need to move quickly through the complex documentation associated with their work (namely, plans and specifications) without overwhelming the rest of the book; the appendices concentrate more on architectural issues than other areas of facilities.
As a book for practitioners, The Complete Facilities Manager has many elements that may be considered superfluous. For example, a facilities leader may not care about the details of HVAC equipment or the differences between foundation types. Obviously, the reader can skip a section where there is little interest. However, the book would have benefited from endnotes or a bibliography for cases where more information on a subject would be helpful to the reader.
But for students or newcomers to the field, this book provides some excellent material in a condensed form. As mentioned above, there are chapters that quickly cover several university courses making it ideal to prepare students for the rigors of the field. However, as an academic text, The Complete Facilities Manager lacks summary questions or problems for students to demonstrate comprehension.
And for administrators presiding over the facilities organization, the book provides a reasonable overview of facility issues related mostly to planning and design, which impact whether projects get started on the right—or wrong—foot.
APPA Fellow Theodore (Ted) Weidner, PhD, PE, RA, NCARB, DBIA, CEFP, is professor of engineering practice at Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, and consults on facilities management issues primarily for educational organizations. He can be reached at [email protected]. If you would like to write a book review, please contact Ted directly.