Providing workplaces that meet organizational needs and services that support business operations is what FM’s do. Sometimes, however, it seems like that is the easy part. Knowing exactly what to do and how to go about it can sometimes be a challenge. Even more perplexing at times is understanding how well you are doing and what your customers think of your performance. To help us we have all kinds of performance analysis and management systems, balanced scorecards and the like.
Sometimes I think we over complicate it. What we really want to know can be revealed by the answers to a few simple questions. By properly structuring these questions and aligning them with core principles and tools we open the door to knowledge that improves our processes and increases our value. These simple questions and their affiliated processes are the heart and soul of performance management and improvement.
Who do you serve and what do they do? Understanding your customers and stakeholders is the foundation that supports everything you do. Here is a key fact to always keep in mind: You cannot understand your stakeholders if you don’t know what they are concerned about, and you can’t know that unless you ask. So ask. Be intentional about your relationships with key stakeholders. Their business is your business. Learn it. Start to think and talk in terms of their strategies and goals. Demonstrate to them that you both know and understand their business.
What services do they need? Now that you understand their business, ask what services you can provide that will help them be successful. This is your chance to do the expected well and to surprise with the unexpected. While everyone needs the basics you will find customers who need something else, maybe even something they haven’t realized yet. Knowing your customer’s business at a fine level gives you the ability to see their needs from your perspective. Providing options to improve their value demonstrates FM’s strategic importance and leverage.
What is the best way to provide those services? Evaluating your workflow process is a critical step in making sure that your processes are aligned to maximize benefit across the enterprise. Too often we design and evaluate FM processes and workflow from a FM perspective only. Because of the breadth of our reach our workflow processes touch virtually every nook and cranny of our organizations. It behooves us then, to assure that our workflow is efficient, thorough, and well-aligned. Also, FM sometimes needs to be more assertive in driving workflow alignment throughout an organization. Yes, we serve every nook and cranny; but we also are served by many. We need information and process outputs from others to do our jobs well. When we aren’t getting it we have a responsibility to speak up.
How can you know you are doing a great job? Sustainable metrics are the protein in your FM diet. Metrics provide data, knowledge and eventually, wisdom. Metrics tell you what you are doing, how often, how fast, how well, and how efficiently and effectively. Understanding what is important to your organization, how to measure it accurately, how to analyze the data and glean operating intelligence from the data is a core FM skill set. Some of this information will come from your customers, as it should, but only a small fraction. Those who rely on a limited number (usually less than 5%) of survey returns to portray their operational health do themselves and the enterprise a disservice. You should be tracking and reporting basic numbers and trends for all segments of your FM operation as a minimum. You should also be using metrics to investigate operational alignment with key organizational goals, to troubleshoot when necessary, and to help make the business case for projects and initiatives.
What is the best way to organize? The correct organizational structure is the foundation upon which your strategy and execution capabilities rest. Depending on your company’s size, services/product, complexity, geographical arrangement and the market sector you are in, you may elect to provide all services in-house, out task discreet elements, or outsource the bulk of the FM effort. If outsourcing you might elect different providers for different FM elements, or select one provider per region, or even one global provider. The options here are almost endless and most likely more than one will work for you. But some will work better than others. Understanding the service and competitive advantages and disadvantages of the various organizational models and how they relate to your specific requirements and culture are important steps to knowing your best option. This is truly a foundational issue and getting it right is critical. Do not make changes to your structure without a strong due diligence effort to identify risks and mitigation strategies.