Strategic Facility Planning Success Hinges On Taking It Seriously
We know that Steve Jobs left a legacy at Apple where the benefits from careful attention to strategic planning are institutionalized in the corporate culture. By the same token, facility managers who create an organizational climate where facility strategic planning is taken seriously also find the results of their efforts provide a compelling argument for its relevance.
A disciplined approach to strategic planning is key. Here are some things that have to be done.
- Commitment to Understanding the Corporate Business Environment. Daily operating pressures often overshadow the need for facility managers to focus on the bigger picture of how their company functions in the global marketplace. The need for environmental scanning as a core component of strategic planning forces facility managers to research and analyze business-related information they otherwise might consider superfluous to performing the facility management function.
- Commitment to Forecasting Future Facility Requirements and Establishing Goals and Objectives to Meet Them. Strategic planning requires fortitude and commitment to thinking outside the traditional facility management comfort zone by looking into the future. The scenario planning component dictates that facility managers "gaze into a crystal ball" to brainstorm potential scenarios and develop a set of action plans for each. It is a stretching exercise for facility management organizations because they have to discuss situations that may never happen, but have the potential to alter the course of events.
- Commitment to Empowering Facility Management Staff. Strategic planning cannot be accomplished in a vacuum by one individual or group within a facility management organization. The staff development aspect of strategic planning is one of the most significant benefits as it creates a natural atmosphere to foster growth. Because facility management staff are armed with corporate business information and are encouraged to address the impact of business and market changes, they develop a sense of empowerment with respect to how the organization will function and be measured in the future.
- Commitment to Allocating Resources in Response to Priorities, Milestones and Metrics. Instead of typical "fire fighting" to contend with the daily uncertainties of facility management, strategic planning provides a framework for allocating resources based on priorities, milestones, and metrics. While the content of these components may change when environmental scanning determines a shift in strategy is necessary, the basis for decision-making remains constant.
- Commitment to Top-Down and Bottom-Up Approach to FM. Strategic planning serves as the link between corporate senior management and the facility management organization. It provides a basis for communicating how facility management supports the company to achieve its vision and strategy, as well as demonstrating the organization's flexibility and agility to change direction when necessary.
The effort and pay back for facility management strategic planning receives a resounding "yes" from seasoned professionals. They support the notion that successful FMs need to continue to develop and communicate a clearly stated strategy — with the proviso that the strategy is not static, but nimble. Strategic planning is eminently relevant to facility management.
Stormy Friday is the founder and president of The Friday Group, an international facilities services consulting firm. She previously served for three years in the appointed position of director of facilities and support services at the Environmental Protection Agency, responsible for more than 4 million square feet of laboratory and office real estate. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.