Sunday, August 9, 2009

Aligning FM With Enterprise Strategy – Pt. 2

The Strategic Alignment Process

Viewed as a continuum the strategic alignment process differs little from a classic change management process, precisely because that is what it is. Understanding that simple truth helps de-mystify the effort. Some stakeholders will be the same (FM staff, other departments) and some will be a different set of people than you normally work with on change projects (executive staff).

It is also important to recognize where you are in the alignment continuum. Evaluating your organization to determine its current alignment maturity and reaching consensus on this point is notable because it marks the common understanding of your starting point. Understanding the definitions of the various levels provides a roadmap for improving maturity.




Level 1

Ad Hoc

Enterprise / FM strategies and goals not aligned

Level 2


Enterprise commits to alignment

Level 3


Alignment team established, focused objectives determined

Level 4


Strategy alignment, FM value recognized

Level 5


Strategies and adaptation fully integrated

Luftman, J., Addressing Business Alignment Maturity

Note in the model depicted above that Level 3 requires a team approach. It is much more beneficial to engage other leaders as willing co-conspirators early on, as opposed to later engagement. Doing so helps lower boundary hurdles, speeds integration and drives recognition of FM value. Also note that it is at this stage that focused objectives are agreed upon. Agreed upon by whom? By the team, including senior non-FM managers with whom you must integrate and by executive leadership. The former will want to make sure that your alignment goals really do align, that they agree to compromises required to achieve alignment and that their organization’s interests are protected; the latter will look to increase gains to the overall bottom line and assure that balance is maintained.

Early on I mentioned the importance of developing a good understanding of FM and corporate strategies and their resulting goals and objectives. Often times FM’s attention is focused on maximizing value in areas FM’s know best, space utilization efficiency or quality of maintenance for example. Those are by definition good things to do, but they likely do little if anything to align the FM organization with the overarching strategic doctrine of the enterprise. In order to begin the alignment process you must understand the starting point and develop a comprehensive gap analysis.

The gap analysis will identify corporate strategies that are not supported, or may be poorly supported by current FM strategy. The basic premise is this: Filling the gaps forces FM to look beyond its’ own needs and plans to identify missed opportunities that it may not have realized exist. Basically the question to ask is, “What can FM do to further progress on these corporate strategies?” The answers to that question will begin to illuminate opportunities.

Next you will develop FM strategies and goals that support corporate initiatives to which you have previously not been a substantial or intentional contributor. By designing FM strategy and plans in a manner that directly and materially supports key corporate strategies you effectively link the two together, thereby increasing the importance and value of FM to the programmatic and economic success of the organization. An important step at this stage is designing Service Level Agreements (SLA’s) and Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) that relate directly to strategy. These KPI’s will then be reported out to the C-Suite and Board of Directors giving them a direct view of FM performance, value and leverage.

Always an important part of any improvement initiative, Customer Satisfaction is important here as well. “Customer” in this case may refer to executive staff or other internal departments. The point is that after engaging them in the initiative to improve alignment and having developed strategy linkage you must now continually monitor strategy performance and adapt as performance and strategy shifts dictate. In order to do so you should routinely monitor the satisfaction of key stakeholders. By focusing priorities through their lens you will be able to accelerate the value of increased strategy alignment, making continuous changes that demonstrate your attention and agility.

Next week, a case in point.

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