Long Range Plan Helps Facility Managers Build Relationship With Finance

  September 19, 2013

Today's tip from Building Operating Management: A long range plan helps facility managers build a solid relationship with the finance department, which can make it easier to justify funding for facility projects that aren't in the budget.

Money may not grow on trees, but if you successfully cultivate relationships with your organization's financial folks, the CFO's office can become just as natural a source of facility funding as the proverbial money treeg. However, it's not likely you'll go from zero to flush with cash in 30 seconds. As Jim Cooke, national facilities operations manager for Toyota Motor Sales, USA, says, "This isn't rocket science, but it sure isn't easy either."

In most cases, an out-of-cycle funding proposal assumes that money is required above and beyond what's included in the annual facility management or capital improvement budget. But facility managers need to start earning their credibility with that annual budget. At the end of the day, their track record for using budgeted money successfully is a huge factor in determining whether they might get more.

One tip in working with the financial folks on the annual budget is recognizing that the annual budget doesn't just cover one year.

"If a facility manager doesn't have a long-range plan, at least five to 10 years, then that's something they need to immediately do," says John Balzer, vice president, facility planning and development for Froedtert Hospital and Community Health. "You have lots more credibility when it looks like you've thought a proposal through rather than being reactive."

That basically means, if a building system is near failure, constantly reminding the financial folks in the budgeting process that aif projects continue to be put offs to be unfunded. [reminding them of what?] Be as detailed as possible regarding how money in the budget will be spent, and show the consequences and risks if a project is put off for another year. "The CFO has a short-term memory,"says Bob Holesko, vice president of facilities for HEI Hotels and Resorts. "It's always important to remind him or her about what you've spent to keep something in service. There's no sense spending good money on a bad system."


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