Facilities Management (FM) is sometimes an under-appreciated area of business...
Facilities Management (FM) is sometimes an under-appreciated area of business...
Facilities Management (FM) is sometimes an under-appreciated area of business and yet for many, property and operational capacity actually underpins the very heart of the company and can be a strong influencer in strategic development.
We are Fasset, a national facilities management and property solutions company that work along side businesses and their internal staff and logistics. Our experience and knowledge means we are well placed to appreciate the scope and scale of the role of a Facility Manager; but also advocate the benefits of outsourcing this element of business to a specialist company who is well versed in the various (and there are many) aspects discussed within this article.
How often does your business involve your Facility Manager(s) in decisions about company strategy, policy or direction? Many businesses overlook them, not deliberately but just because inherently they have not been involved in top level management. Their field of expertise is specialised and perhaps this means that a senior management team don’t necessarily link their value to business strategy. However, as every Facility Manager knows, their knowledge and operational expertise could actually prove invaluable especially in understanding capacity, infrastructure, planning or growth limitations; and even future opportunities for a business.
In order for a Facility Manager to add value, they have to be able to retain and challenge information using a base of knowledge and hard evidence; and it is these elements that could make all the difference.
1. Strategic and Operational Plans. The strategic plan is the corporate bible in terms of where a company is headed. It describes the company vision, goals for the future; and the strategic direction the company will move in to deliver. The operational plans are the actionable steps individual departments must take in order to achieve these objectives. Every Facility Manager should have copies of these plans within arms reach and the documents should be dog-eared to reflect repeated use and reference.
2. Quarterly and Annual Reports. These reports are the companion documents to the strategic and operational plans. Each quarter and at the end of the year, a company reports on its progress towards strategic objectives; as well as how the company has fared in terms of achieving operational and financial targets. These reports provide snapshots in time for a Facility Manager, to learn about accomplishments, trends and opportunities for future FM participation.
3. Financial Projections, Plans and Reports. Nothing makes a Facility Manager sound like an insider more than commercial understanding. To achieve in this area, a Facility Manager must thoroughly understand how the company determines and communicates profit margins, financial growth rates, adjustments to the balance sheet, return on investment; and other financial conditions that impact the bottom line of the company.
4. Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plans. A Facility Manager must be conversant with the details of the company's business continuity plans, how FM fits into the overall plan and how the FM organisation participates in the business continuity management process. Business continuity focuses on risk evaluation and control, business impact analysis; and continuity strategies to ensure complete or partial business continuity. It is therefore crucial that the Facility Manager has an in-depth knowledge of the plans.
5. Merger and Acquisition Plans. If the goals for corporate growth are not organic, but based on acquisition and merger, a Facility Manager must know how and when the company plans on moving forward. For obvious reasons, acquisition and merger plans often are not available for ‘public consumption’, which means a Facility Manager needs to be trusted. Knowing about acquisition and merger plans also gives a Facility Manager the chance to volunteer for the due diligence team that investigates a potential acquisition or merger. As a key member of the team, a Facility Manager can demonstrate FM expertise on how the bricks and mortar of the new company will impact the existing company's bottom line.
6. Product and Service Development Plans. In a product or service-driven corporate environment, researching new products or services in the pipeline gives a Facility Manager a perfect excuse to spend time with department heads responsible for these decisions. Decisions about new products and services also have the potential to affect FM service delivery, making it imperative for a Facility Manager to be proactively involved with the scheduling and timing of them.
7. Regulatory and Legal Issues Impacting the Company. In addition to the regulatory and legal issues affecting facilities management, a Facility Manager must be fully aware of issues that affect the overall company. Everything from health and safety within facilities to employment, environmental and industry-specific regulations should be of concern and studied by a Facility Manager. While it isn't necessary for a Facility Manager to have a legal brief on every issue, it is extremely important for them to have a grasp of the corporate implications on regulatory and legal matters.
8. Information Technology (IT) Plans. It is a well known fact among FM insiders that the corporate IT plan provides a wealth of information about what is happening within the company. Not only does the IT plan describe the technology changes that will be occurring over a prescribed timeframe, it also provides advance notice about changes that will significantly impact facilities management. For organisations that have well established Computerised Maintenance and Management Systems (CMMS) and integrated building infrastructure control and monitoring systems, a drastic change in corporate technology could have a dramatic impact on the performance of the facilities management. At the same time, familiarity with future IT plans allows the facility management organisation to prepare in advance for customer space and infrastructure changes that will be needed to accommodate new computer hardware and other equipment.
9. Real Estate Plans. If the facility management organisation does not have responsibility for commercial property, or is not part of a larger organisation with responsibility for the functions, then a Facility Manager has to have first-hand knowledge of what is happening in this arena. In order to manage proactively, rather than reactively, understand the corporate strategy regarding build/buy/lease decision making, and have a working knowledge of the day-to-day commercial property operation.
10. Corporate Sustainability Efforts. Aside from what the facility management organisation is doing, a Facility Manager should know what is happening on the corporate side with respect to sustainability. For this purpose, sustainability encompasses corporate social responsibility and environmental management. If Facility Managers aren't leading these efforts, at the very least they need to be fully informed about the corporate strategies and goals.
11. Departmental Integration. Being involved at a departmental level can unearth issues, opportunities or restrictions that a Facility Manager prove to be invaluable; offering advice and expertise about strategic initiatives being contemplated.
12. Corporate Procurement. What or whoever is employed to provide services for an organisation a Facility Manager needs to be involved to ensure they are both cost effective and efficient. This is true for both internal and external providers.
13. Benchmarking and Best Practice Applications. Bench marking and best practice gives the Facility Manager the facts and figures needed to back up proposals and deliverables. Senior executives will invariably be interested in a cost-benefit-analysis for any proposal – know your numbers!
14. Corporate Culture. It is vital that a Facility Manager has an understanding of culture so as to be able to appreciate how a change will be received. A company’s culture will often dictate how decisions are made, how individuals behave, how change will be led and tolerated by company personnel and what norms must be followed. It can be the difference between instant success or failure.
The theory is that a Facility Manager has this information at their fingertips and a limitless bank of up to date knowledge and expertise. The reality is that a Facility Manager has a huge scope to research and deliver; and it is never ending.
A Facility Manager needs to understand their facility inside out. They need to observe and inhale the corporate culture. They need to see how individuals interact with one another, where they meet and how they conduct their formal and informal business. Plus they need to obtain and retain all of the corporate information we have discussed. This is where specialist outsourcing really comes into its own in terms of developing and managing projects, compliance and corporate social responsibility targets.