October 29, 2015
A new report claims that there are persistent and well-founded perceptions at boardroom level that facilities management is a support function with little or no strategic relevance and that this poses a serious risk to the discipline. While this may raise few eyebrows amongst those who have been aware of the problem for many years, what is startling is that the report comes from the International Facilities Management Association. The report, Redefining the Executive View of Facility Management, authored by Richard Kadzis, highlights the long reported mismatch between this perception and that of facilities managers themselves who believe they represent an industry that continues to adapt to a changing world and add value to the organisation. Conversely, senior executives see FMs as ‘glorified custodians’ whose performance should be measured in terms of the money they save the organisation.
The report claims that facilities managers continue to miss the opportunities presented to them by a rapidly changing business environment, especially when it comes to demonstrating their value with regard to using facilities as an extension of corporate identity, enhancing the experience of employees and so on. Facilities managers are even failing to apply the information available to them through technology and benchmarking data to demonstrate their strategic value.
According to the report, facilities managers have plenty of opportunities to demonstrate their strategic relevance. It suggests:
- To lay the groundwork for an increasingly strategic role, facility managers must first ensure that their day-to-day tactical responsibilities are handled efficiently and consistently demonstrated and communicated to executives. In developing this foundation of operational excellence, facility managers should strive to improve and streamline workflow processes, develop strong, trusting relationships with executives and facility occupiers and establish a sharp understanding of the business’ strategic objectives and market position, as well as the nuances of the overarching industry. Promoting core competencies in each of these areas sets the stage for facility managers to align FM more effectively with the larger enterprise.
- Outsourcing the FM function also presents an opportunity to elevate the strategic role of facility managers, by leveraging the demonstrated core competencies and expertise of dedicated FM service providers. This shift to a more strategic outsourcing partnership in turn offers facility managers the opportunity to frame the FM function as a key player in operational strategy, and by extension align their FM capabilities with the core business strategy.
- Facility managers can also utilize emerging technology solutions to capture real-time data and robust analytics that further promote the FM function’s value to executives. In an increasingly data-driven business environment, business leaders seek better data to drive smarter decision-making, and facility managers can maximize their strategic value by meeting this need head on.
- Mastery of soft skills — including communication, collaboration, relationship management, and innovation — is crucial for facility managers seeking to improve their strategic relationship with executives. It is particularly important for facility managers to hone their communication skills to facilitate effective and productive interactions with business leaders.