FM as a strategic planning function
Facility management (FM) is a strategic planning function critical to an organization’s competitive advantage. It follows therefore that for facility managers and building owners, facilities maintenance issues can feel like a headache that never goes away.
As we probably well know, facilities are the largest investment an organization will make. This can be problematic when many facilities reach the end of their lifecycle. Once such problem is known, organizations have to decide whether to use resources towards repairs, updates and renovations instead of embarking on a new construction project or procuring new equipment. It is a balancing act.
It is crucial we understand that facility management has a critical role in contributing to these organizations and by extension the built environment. This mindset is important as the belief in the practice of FM will no doubt affect our thoughts about it.
FM practitioners either as facility managers, service providers or consultants have to constantly demonstrate the value they bring or ensure focus is on matters that are so essential to organizations for the profession to be considered as a business partner providing or assisting in developing the right strategy.
Many factors play out when considering and designing a robust strategy. These factors may come in the form of existing challenges such as funding, staff shortages, knowledge gap, shifting priorities, time, lack of data and technology. For facility managers, funding is the no.1 challenge and to overcome this in the best possible manner, if at all, requires robust planning.
Much of the challenge of funding lies in the failure of leadership to fully understand what they do and how they do their maintenance tasks. People, whether occupiers, employees or visitors, expect everything in a building or workplace to be perfect.
That everything just magically happens because the lights are working, floors are cleaned and they come in and turn their computers on. They think that it is the norm and this becomes a double-edged sword because, for the most part, the maintenance team works in the background. Another challenge is the hiring and retaining of qualified staff who have the skill set to manage, maintain and operate systems.
The key element in demonstrating the role of a strategic partner is to have a clear understanding of the needs of the organization and its business objectives. This requires an objective perspective to help define areas of emphasis and make balanced decisions based an impact.