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Church Facility Management and Facility Manager Certification

Church Facility Management and Facility Manager Certification

By Dick Cooper

We are out of toilet paper already?  What do you mean the sanctuary is too hot, too cold, no hot, no cold???  We have never had an electric bill that high!!!  The custodians were scheduled to be here last night?!?  Sick child, room 220 STAT!  What do you mean we are over budget???  Who lost their keys again?  Where are those volunteers???

Are these familiar topics at your church?  Unlike corporate facilities, churches are unique places.  We are open almost all the time; days, evenings and weekends.  We need to accommodate newborns to our most senior of members and guests.  Some of our buildings are 80% empty for most of the week only to be overflowing on Sunday.

Who is running the show?  Senior pastor, trustees, elders, councils, staff, congregation; it is dizzying trying to figure out all the constituents we have to satisfy.  Our budgets are based on the sacrificial giving of our members, yet all the ministries are competing for limited resources.

Think about it: managing church facilities is more than just managing brick and mortar.  The required skill sets include planning, scheduling, operations and maintenance, volunteer recruiting, security, budgeting, counseling, empathizing, purchasing, and the list goes on.

Some church organizations have one person who does all of this, often the part-time assistant to the pastor.  Others maybe are part-time but it is really a full time job.  Other churches have a staff of people. However, the skill sets of managing a church facility are still the same regardless of size.

It is so critical we keep our skills and knowledge base current.  The job I am doing today is not the job I was doing 5 years ago.  Aspects of my job are similar, however I use different technology and skills, and my customers require a higher level of service. We must have the proper tools in the toolbox and we must continue to evaluate the tools we have.

Where do you go to get these skills and competencies?  The International Facility Management Association based out of Houston, Texas has been in the business of providing education, research and networking opportunities for 25 years.  In 1987, the Association began defining the core competencies of a facility manager.  Once these competencies were defined, IFMA started to develop training and testing for the Certified Facility Management (CFM) designation.  The first CFM exams began in 1990.

What is the CFM?

  The CFM designation assures professional excellence

  Establishes standards for global professional practice

  Promote the added value of the profession

  Influence the future direction of the profession

What does this mean to you?  If you a looking for a facility manager with a CFM designation you can be assured of someone having the right skills, experiences and competencies to manage your facilities.  Competency areas include:

  Planning and project management

  Operations and maintenance

  Real estate

  Quality assessment and innovation

  Leadership and management

  Human and environmental factors

  Finance

  Communication

  Technology

There are five key benefits to hiring a Certified Facility Manager:

1.  Assurance of quality.

The CFM credential ensures the competency and professionalism of the individual.

2.  Professional standards.

IFMA has led the way in establishing recognized standards of knowledge and skills critical to the profession.

3.  Defines your search.

A solid way to ensure that you hire talented professionals.

4.  Focuses and maps professional development.

All CFMs are required to continue to grow professionally to maintain certification.

5.  Contributes to your competitive advantage.

CFMs are highly motivated individuals who are committed to their profession. Contributing proven experience and comprehensive knowledge will set your organization ahead of the competition.

If you are a facility manager, or someone moving into the field of facility management, the benefits of a CFM for you is:

1.  Distinguish Yourself.

In today's competitive job market, your CFM status puts you ahead of the competition. Certified Facility Managers have proven their abilities and demonstrated their commitment to achieving excellence in the profession.

2.  Invest in Your Future.

CFMs earn, on average, 13% more than non-certified facility managers. Earning your CFM is one of the most important career decisions you can make.

3.  Demonstrate Your Leadership and Initiative.

It's not easy to achieve CFM status. The CFM credential is a tangible sign of your success. Share your expertise and mentor up-and-coming members of your organization.

4.  Advance Your Profession.

Facility managers must be proficient in a wide range of competencies. The CFM program articulates the level of skill and talent required of the profession.

5.  Enhance Your Professional Network.

Enjoy opportunities to network during special CFM events. IFMA chapter members receive special recognition from their chapters.

So how do you become a Certified Facility Manager?  IFMA is the only organization that offers this prestigious designation.  The CFM is a competency-based designation not to be confused with text based.  In other words, you must have skills and experience in the variety of competency areas listed above.  IFMA and many of its local chapters offer classes, review sessions and continuing education courses to deepen your understanding of a particular competency area.  The really great benefit of these sessions is you network with other potential CFM's and can share in their experiences.

Think you are ready?  IFMA offers testing at a variety of venues, such as its annual World Workplace conference.  Almost all local IFMA chapters will host test sessions as well.  Please contact IFMA in Houston at 713-623-4362 or http://www.ifma.org for additional information on testing and study guides.

Now it is test time!  If you were like me the last test I took was an eye exam for my driver's license.  That's when learned I needed glasses.  I was nervous.  The exam questions are taken from real life facility management situations from real live FMer's.  These are not hypothetical questions.  Good luck!

Congratulations!!! You have passed your CFM and are now part of growing prestigious group of professionals.  However, your experiential-based learning is not complete.  In order to maintain your CFM you must continue your education, work the field of FM and keep your skills current and sharp.  Every three years you must resubmit for your CFM, fortunately no more tests.  Your application will include all the activities you have engaged to remain current in your training and knowledge.

Even if you are the Pastor's assistant and facility management may not be your career path, being able to network with CFM's and having access to all the materials IFMA has to offer will allow you to be better prepared and more productive.

Being a CFM and facility manager is more than managing buildings, it's managing and leading people and processes and technology.

Dick Cooper is the Director of Facilities and Construction for the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, KS.  The church sits on 75 acres and has 280,000 square feet.  Cooper came out of the corporate world after 23 years and has been with Resurrection for over three years.  He has been a member of IFMA since April 1986 and a CFM since 1990.  Cooper delights in helping other church organizations and can be reached at Dick.Cooper@Cor.org.

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