Building Operating Management

Beyond the Numbers

By Edward Sullivan, Editor   Facilities Management

One of the most important benefits of good metrics — ones that are clear, direct and credible — is their value as aids to communication. But as much as metrics can help to deliver a message — to top management, business units or others in the facility department — they also put a facility executive’s communication skills to the test.

Remember the old adage, “garbage in, garbage out”? To avoid that problem, it may be necessary

to educate employees entering data into the system on how that information will be used and why it matters.

It’s not only at the data-entry stage that numbers can go bad. A business unit head looking at facility performance indicators or a CEO comparing company numbers to industry benchmarks need to understand how to use the data and how not to use the data. Metrics that are misused can be worse than no metrics at all.

Getting good numbers and using them effectively may also require negotiation. Maybe headcount data isn’t being captured in a way that makes it useful in a facility-related metric. Or maybe the facility executive needs to go back and forth with business unit leaders to identify metrics that matter to that business unit. Or maybe the metrics provide leverage in negotiations with the CFO on a budget increase — or at least no decrease.

Philosophers differentiate “necessary” and “sufficient.” A seed may be necessary to grow a plant, but it isn’t sufficient; the seed needs water, soil and light. A metric is like that seed, and good communication is part of what makes it sprout.


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  posted on 4/1/2006   Article Use Policy