Strategic Planning in Facilities Management
By Tunde Obileye
Facilities managers are often reactive – dealing with a lot of issues that occur daily in the management of facilities with little time for Strategic Facilities Planning. Strategic Facilities’ Plan (SFP) is simply being strategic and proactive in the long term. Whilst corporate organisations are different, they all aim to be competitive, effective and provide the best workplace possible for their employees, and facilities management is critical to achieving this. It then becomes imperative that facilities managers should give serious time to developing SFP. As this is so critical, we need to explore how to develop Strategic Facilities Plan.
Strategic Facilities’ Plan has four (4) components – Understanding, Analyzing, Planning and Acting. A Strategic Facilities Plan is more of a “big picture” document and not the day-to-day dealings of specific challenges i.e. how to deal with a leaking roof.
Understanding: To develop a Strategic Facilities’ Plan (SFP), one must understand the vision and mission of the organization, position of the business (not-for-profit organizations may have a different business approach and different vision of ‘success’) and its current real estate asset portfolio; its overall direction and the projects currently underway within the organization; how the business may change in the future; and how those changes may affect the real estate needs of the organization. This will also include having an understanding of services that will be required in the future, what changes are likely to occur with present and future staffing, what new technologies will be needed, the demographics, i.e. age and needs, how space will be utilized, maintenance needs and projected operating costs.
Analyzing: The next step is analyzing in more detail the organizational projections. The analysis looks specifically at the current and future needs and identifies the gaps. This can be done using different tools – scenario planning; SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis; brainstorming with key individuals etc. The goals of these tools are the same – to understand changes and threats that are likely to happen, under which circumstances and how best the organizations can respond by looking at all possible best and worst case scenarios. In conducting this analysis, the SFP should then identify the most likely changes that will happen to the organization in a 3 – 5 year time frame. These elements then form the basis of the Strategic Facilities’ Plan.
Planning: Once the analysis has been undertaken, it should by now be obvious what some of the major issues may be in the future and the anticipated solutions. The planning stage kicks in. The plan should include objectives of each of anticipated challenge, solution, costs, labour, financial risk and what would provide maximum value for the owners. There should also be alternatives to what have been proposed, as well as priorities – for example, what needs to happen to avert future challenges including longer term actions. This has to be subject to management reviews and decisions, alignment to organizational vision as understood by the key stakeholders, and to get financial commitments.
Action: The final output in developing a SFP is taking action, which is implementing the plan. This is when the Plan is broken down into specific projects. The projects will take place outside of the SFP process, and some large ones may even be additionally contracted out. Other inputs include maintenance schedules, operational plans and budgets.