4 FM quick reads on Facility management
1. Facility Managers Offer Advice About Winning Approval For Facility Projects
Today's tip from Building Operating Management: Follow these facility managers' advice about winning approval for facility projects.
- Tim Pennigar, project manager, engineering and operations, Duke University Health Systems: "Get the accountants to become roofers." Pennigar recommends going beyond simply putting proposals in the language of finance. That's a must, but you should also get the financial folks to help you write the proposal and vet your numbers before you ever think about walking into the boardroom.
- John Balzer, vice president, facility planning and development, Froedtert Hospital and Community Health: "Do not assume that more is better." Balzer says he can guarantee you that is not the case, when it comes to handing in a proposal. "The biggest piece of advice I can give, especially to those starting their career, is to be very specific and to the point, and to focus on measureable data," he says.
- Bob Holesko, vice president of facilities, HEI Hotels & Resorts: "Show a project's curb appeal and do your own PR." Holesko tells a story about how an article appeared on the front page of a local newspaper with a photo depicting a crane delivering a new HVAC rooftop unit to one of his hotels. "Now, I can say to the financial people, 'Remember when we had that crane on the front page of the paper?' That's free advertising for the company. Anytime you have a crane showing up, get photos. It makes you look good."
- Jim Cooke, national facilities operations manager, Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc.: "Don't go back for more money until you can prove your last project is successful." Cooke says that, even if a project demonstrates more modest results than you expected, don't hide those results. Instead, explain the specific reasons why that project wasn't as successful as you might have thought, why it's actually still a success in the grand scheme of things, and the specific reasons why this proposal is different.
2. Make The Financial Case For Additional Facility Staff
Today's tip from Building Operating Management: Facility managers can boost their chances of getting approval to hire new employees by making the financial case for additional facility staff.
Making the case for an increase in staffing is one of the more difficult proposals facility managers may have to write. That's especially true in a down economy. But it's not impossible and the case should be made on a financial benefit basis, just like any other facility proposal.
"In the case of staffing, you make the case that adding a body will save us X," says John Balzer, vice president, facility planning and development, Froedtert Hospital and Community Health. To do that, though, you have to have pretty detailed numbers of how that will happen. Will you be able to complete a higher percentage of preventive maintenance, which allows equipment to stay in service longer? Will you be able to offer better facility customer service to make building occupants more productive? Will you be able to start a new service or make an existing one (like a BAS) more efficient? It's important to building the answers to those questions out of data.
Another tip is to compare your organization to others, especially those you know your financial folks admire. "This is why your network is important," says Stormy Friday, president of The Friday Group. "Show what other organizations have done and what's working for them in regards to staffing."
Increased staffing may be a back-up plan if a facility equipment proposal doesn't pass or if a facility is aging. For example, Bob Holesko, vice president of facilities, HEI Hotels & Resorts, says that for hotels that haven't been renovated for a while, and thus need more maintenance, "that's when I have a good shot at getting another body."
3. Use Hard Data About Benefits To Justify Funding For Facility Projects
Today's tip from Building Operating Management: Use hard data about benefits to justify funding for facility projects.
While showing the downside of saying “no” to requests for funding for facility projects is important, the real hay is made with hard data illustrating the benefits — financial and otherwise — to the company of saying "yes."
"Understand the benefits to the business," says Alan Whitson, president, Corporate Realty, Design & Management Institute. "Quantify those benefits, and then 'dollarize' those benefits." Whitson adds that it's critical to know and understand the financial terms, such as discount rate, cost of capital, hurdle rate, investment horizons, etc. And then know your organization's thresholds and parameters for those metrics, and which are most important. Always relate back to those metrics.
John Balzer, vice president, facility planning and development for Froedtert Hospital and Community Health, gives an example of a new work order service. The idea is to show how customer service would increase from x to y, and what the financial impact of that would be. "It's a little more challenging, but with specific measurements, which are necessary, showing a monetary return can be done."
Showing that monetary return (or hurdle rate, if your organization prefers) is often easiest with energy efficiency projects. Still, as sophisticated facility managers know, building the proposal in terms that show dollars and not kilowatt-hours is the tack to take. Know your organization's acceptable return rate, but understand that it may not always be set in stone. Finding rebates from the utility or the government to lower that ROI, is one way to make your proposal more attractive.
So is adding soft benefits to the proposal. That is a legitimate strategy, but you certainly don't want to hang your hopes on soft gains, say the experts. Jim Cooke, national facilities operations manager for Toyota Motor Sales, USA, puts it like this, in reference to a recent proposal for photovoltaic panels: "We know and you know there's social value, but we can't quantify it. It is another piece for customers to recognize that we behave responsibly in terms of sustainability."
4. Justify Funding By Showing Risks Of Delay On Facility Projects
Today's tip from Building Operating Management: Facility managers can justify funding by showing the risks of delay on facility projects.
For an out-of-budget-cycle project funding proposal, presenting a feasible risk/reward — or put another way, benefit of the project versus cost of doing nothing — is the key to success. There are as many ways to show risk/reward as there are project proposals. So facility managers, based on the relationship they've established with their executives, must determine what resonates the most. But some general rules do apply, ranging from making the case from the risks of doing nothing to the black-and-white financial figures.
For one, poor infrastructure can have a negative effect on how the public perceives an organization. Tim Pennigar, project manager, engineering and operations, Duke University Health Systems, says that because Duke University Health Systems get a lot of funding for research, a major component of his proposals is showing how catastrophic it would be to have a failure in, say, a roof over a research facility. Donors may not be so willing to contribute in the future, and Duke University Health Systems loses some of its prestige as a research institution.
"Our job is to keep buildings out of the way," says Pennigar. "If we are out there problem-solving, we're not useful. Our job needs to be problem-avoiders. It's one thing to lose a roof on a warehouse, it's another to lose one over a research facility."
Still, showing the risk to losing inventory in a warehouse is another way to calculate risk. "Point out how much the inventory in the warehouse is worth," says Alan Whitson, president, Corporate Realty, Design & Management Institute. "Then point out how much the inventory in the warehouse is worth if it gets wet." Along those lines, Bob Holesko, vice president of facilities for HEI Hotels and Resorts, says a key component of his proposals is showing that the buildings themselves are valuable assets. "We need to protect the building as an investment," he says.
Other risks of doing nothing, like increased insurance premiums — say, for not installing sprinklers, says Jim Cooke, national facilities operations manager for Toyota Motor Sales, USA — and the cost of business disruption are also a hugely important pieces of the risk calculation. "We can demonstrate the cost to the organization if we lose business," says John Balzer, vice president, facility planning and development for Froedtert Hospital and Community Health. "If we're out of service, people will seek other options and you may have lost a customer for good."
Be careful not to use the risks of doing nothing as scare tactics, say experts. It's important that these risks are rooted in reality. "You don't want to be the boy who cries wolf," says Holesko.
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