Over the last decade, the facilities management (FM) industry has experienced a number of seismic shifts. While the advancement of new technologies have shaped the current state of FM affairs, these innovations only represent part of the equation. A subtler, arguably more meaningful shift has occurred slowly but steadily, and that is the evolving perception of FM and where it fits into an organization’s larger strategic plan.
Reports reveal what seasoned FM professionals have known for a long time: Managing one or multiple facilities involves more than cleaning bathrooms and repairing equipment. Rather, it is a critical, strategic component of a business’s overall mission, as well as its bottom line.
Barriers to Strategic FM
In a growing number of organizations, facilities managers are working directly with senior leadership to play prominent roles in their company’s short- and long-term success. There is still a long way to go, as these industry reports also reflect a distinct challenge around the issue of time, or lack thereof. On average, facilities managers dedicate a scant 27 percent of their time to strategic planning. Whereas tasks like managing work orders and completing service requests comprise the bulk of their work.
To elevate your organization’s facilities management from a purely tactical function to a more strategic one, consider incorporating the following measures into your facilities plan.
Partner with a Strategic Advisor to Free Up Time
Although many facilities managers want to behave more strategically, they are hampered by a clear lack of time, support and resources. Working with a strategic FM business advisor can help mitigate the time they spend on administrative tasks, freeing up space for facilities managers to create sustainable plans for strategic growth. Engaging this partner before you start working on specific strategic goals will allow you to more effectively fit FM into the bigger organizational picture.
Push for a Shift in Perception
All too often, FM departments are seen as little more than a vehicle for non-revenue generating expense, leading many of these departments to “do more with less” in an effort to keep costs down. What’s more, when facilities managers are doing their jobs well and everything is running smoothly, their profiles within the greater organizational structure appear diminished.
In order for facilities managers to think, plan and act more strategically, they should strive to elevate the conversation about FM in their organizations. Once other employees and leaders understand FM’s impact on business performance, including the fact that facilities maintenance and related assets are usually the second or third line item on the balance sheet, FM will be perceived as a strategy-driven segment of the larger organization.
Align FM Strategy with Corporate Strategy
When crafting strategic plans for facilities programs, FM professionals should ensure that their goals support the organization-wide goals set forth for the company. Achieving alignment between corporate objectives and FM plans is key to gaining buy-in from other business areas, and it’s a process that requires open communication and access to senior leadership.
Demonstrate How FM Adds Value
Facilities managers are well-versed in the myriad of ways their teams add value to their organizations. The link between FM and value creation may not be as apparent for those operating outside the scope of facilities management. That means facilities managers need to educate their colleagues about the importance of FM and promote the ways their strategic measures have improved not just maintenance-related outcomes, but outcomes associated with larger strategic objectives.
Whether it’s gaining access to senior leadership or engineering a plan that aligns with corporate strategies, a key theme for facilities managers to embrace is proactiveness. FM is most successful when it sparks ongoing conversations with business leaders about the ways these groups can work together toward achieving their shared goals. By being proactive and vocal advocates of their own department’s accomplishments, facilities managers can contribute more meaningfully to their entire organizations.
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