Roundtable: Keeping up with facilities management

What are the key issues, challenges and opportunities facing facilities management teams at today’s HE campuses?

The first in our series, Steve Wright quizzes Nick Hucker, CEO of Preoday mobile and online pre-payment technology.

Q. What new challenges are being faced in facilities management (FM), and specifically within higher education?

Facilities managers across the board are being faced with ever more demanding and tech-savvy consumers, whether in workplaces or universities. In higher education in particular, facilities managers must cater to a wide demographic of stakeholders, from older faculty members down to digital-native undergraduates who expect to do everything through their phones.

Q. Are there general rules for good, effective FM – and pitfalls to avoid?

Nowadays, with a tech-minded student body, it’s important that universities keep pace with wider industry trends. In part, that means offering digital services, equivalent to those expected from institutions and businesses outside academia. 

In terms of pitfalls, it is critical that academic institutions choose the innovations that will benefit them, rather than investing in the latest flash-in-the-pan technology. They should choose those new services that will strategically help to bring in new revenue, while also improving the student experience.

Q. Is technology making FM easier and/or better?

Technology has long had a place in schools and universities, enhancing student experiences and bringing new opportunities. However, it’s not just classrooms and lecture halls where change is happening. More and more universities are introducing digital platforms to their food catering in order to streamline processes for both students and venue operators.

Hull and Strathclyde Universities have both recently introduced pre-ordering apps on campus. These platforms allow students to order and pay on the spot from their mobile phones, whether they’re looking for food while relaxing in the union or grabbing a drink while rushing between lectures.

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