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Fit Facilities Management into Your Organization’s Strategic Plan


April 22, 2019     4 minute read

Recently, the facilities management (FM) industry has experienced a series of seismic shifts. While the advancement of new technologies has improved operational efficiencies, it has done so in tandem with the evolving role of FM in organizational strategic planning.

According to global trade group the International Facility Management Association (IFMA), FM now encompasses multiple disciplines to ensure the functionality, comfort, safety, and efficiency of the built environment by integrating people, place, process, and technology. In other words, FM has a significant impact on its organization, especially on employee productivity and customer experience, two critical components driving corporate strategy and profitability.

To elevate your organization’s facilities management from a purely tactical function to a more strategic one, consider incorporating the following measures.

Push for a Shift in Perception

In their report, “Raising the Bar: From Operational Excellence to Strategic Impact in FM,” co-authors IFMA and British trade group Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RIC) identify 10 primary themes preventing FM from functioning more strategically. Among them is the common misconception FM has no strategic value. This is expressed in the analysis as a lack of understanding of what FM includes, its role in an organization, and its benefits. 

All too often, the typical FM department is seen as little more than a non-revenue generating expense, leading it to “do more with less” to keep costs down. Moreover, when facilities managers are doing their jobs well, their profiles within the greater organization appear diminished.

In short, the link between FM and value creation may not be as apparent to those operating outside the team. For facilities managers to think, plan, and act more strategically, they should strive to elevate the conversation about FM in their organizations, and the value一beyond cost reductions一it creates.


Invest in Technology Upgrades

Upgrades to your FM’s technological infrastructure can provide several benefits. Automated workflows and other enhancements can improve day-to-day operational efficiency across your fleet, freeing FM managers to focus more on strategic issues with organizational impact.

In addition, integrating the FM technology platform with finance, sales, marketing, HR, and other business units saves time and averts errors. It also enables FM data to be used more broadly to inform high-level strategy discussions.   


Employ a Total Cost Approach to Your FM Program 

Much of the story is left out if your FM program is evaluated purely by the cost reductions it can absorb. Cost reductions typically diminish program performance elsewhere, resulting in a net program loss.

To properly evaluate the impact of FM performance, interdependencies among its many elements must be considered. For example, a reduction in HVAC preventive maintenance scheduling may result in increased breakdowns一which will cost more to fix一additional downtime, and lost employee productivity or customer visits.

By comparison, a total cost approach is a more holistic measurement methodology that leverages operational efficiencies to deliver the same or a better level of service while creating cost savings that can be deployed more strategically elsewhere.


Align FM Strategy With Corporate Strategy

When crafting plans for facilities programs, FM professionals should ensure their goals support organizational-level strategies. Achieving alignment between corporate objectives and FM plans is key to gaining buy-in from other business areas一not to mention enhanced strategic execution.

This process requires open and regular communication and access to senior leadership, and for many organizations, a shift in cultural norms. Ideally, FM should have a seat at the table during all strategy sessions, reviews, and updates to keep things on course and priorities coordinated.                                       

Although many facilities managers want to work more strategically, they’re hampered by a lack of time, support, and resources. However, partnering with an Integrated Facilities Management (IFM) provider can move an FM program toward a more strategic footing in several ways.

IFM is a holistic approach to FM in which the maintenance and management of systems and processes一and, typically, service providers一are centralized under a single outsourced, technology-centric platform. 

Consolidating facilities and maintenance projects under one contract coordinated by a dedicated account team can facilitate program improvement almost immediately. For example, an IFM solution can free up time facilities teams spend tending to day-to-day tactical operations and administrative tasks. Such on-the-ground benefits are part of IFM’s key value proposition: increasing operational efficiencies, driving savings, and leveraging program data to inform organizational strategy.

Engaging an IFM provider before working on specific strategic goals will enable you to fit FM into the bigger organizational picture more effectively. This is because an integrated solution can help business leaders better understand FM’s impact on business performance一beyond the fact FM is usually the second or third line item under operating expenses. When optimized under an IFM program, FM can serve as a strategy-driven function of the larger organization.


Finally, Be Proactive 

Whether gaining access to senior leadership or engineering a plan that aligns with corporate strategies, a key theme for facilities managers to embrace is proactive behavior. FM is most successful when it sparks ongoing conversations with business leaders about how the groups can work together toward achieving their shared goals.

By being proactive and vocal advocates of their department’s accomplishments, facilities managers can contribute more meaningfully to their entire organizations and their planning for the future.

To learn more about how to fit FM into your organization’s strategic plans, contact NEST today.

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