Facilities management  departments within organizations that own or lease buildings are an integral part of the strategic direction of the organization.  Too often, top executives don’t consider the importance of facility management when making real estate, capital improvement, or organization and staffing decisions.  In many cases, facility management organizations view themselves as service organizations that will respond according to the strategic moves of an organization after real estate , operational or construction decisions are made with little or no input from them.  Many facility management organizations do not believe that they are strategic to the organizations they serve. This article will provide you, as the facilities manager or executive, some recommendations for elevating the status of your facility management department.

Recommendation 1 — Set Annual Objectives and Goals for Your Department that are Communicated to Executive Management.

Each year, you should meet with your boss to review a number of topics to establish a foundation for performance for the next year.  These meetings are important for setting the course of facility management activities for the year subject to changes during the year.  The results of this annual meeting should contain such items as:

  • Overall goals and objectives for the Department that may cover such areas as major construction and equipment acquisitions installations, environmental projects, energy management goals, budgetary goals, customer satisfaction, benchmarking, human resource development.
  • Once the overall goals are provided, specific goals, objectives, and measures may be  provided for various subset areas such as  finance, operations, customer focus, and goals for each group in your facility management department.

These objectives and goals should directly relate to the overall mission, vision, values, and philosophy of your organization.  Keep in mind that goals and objectives should be achievable.   Top management, if they see these goals and objectives, will know that your organization has an understanding of the overall organization strategy, direction, and productivity needs.  They will be interested in knowing more about the activities and accomplishments of your facility management organization.

Recommendation 2 — Make Your Facility Management Department Accountable and Visible to Top Management by Providing Reports.

You, as a facility manager or executive do,  a great job for your organization but do not or minimally provide high level reporting to management summarizing accomplishments and measurements of performance during the year.  It takes time to prepare these reports and people do not like to “brag” about themselves or their organizations.  However, top managers and executives in organizations need to understand he breadth and extent of the impact a facility management department has within their organizations.  It is in your and your facility management department’s  best interest to provide monthly or quarterly and annual reports to promote management’s understanding of this impact the facility management organization has within the overall organization.

The monthly or quarterly reports will cover such areas as performance to key performance indicators, budget variance performance, issues that need to be addressed, path forward projects, and accomplishments.  By providing this information, you are elevating the visibility of your organization to your boss and he or she can easily realty this information to others.

The annual report summarizes all the significant activities accomplished during the year. Such a report may have such topics as, a depiction of the goals and objectives relating to the past year,  maintenance operations accomplishments, custodial operations accomplishments, landscaping services, energy management accomplishments, environmental activities, safety accomplishments, customer satisfaction surveys and interview results, benchmarking results, budgeting results, capital renewal plan and results, and key performance indicator performance. By including graphs and pictures in these documents, it adds to the appeal of these documents.  A well written annual report provides the top executives of the organization a reference guide as to what is going on.  They may only want to “drill down” to certain areas of their interest but the body of the report indicates that you have covered  everything that is important.

Recommendation 3 — Have Alignment Meetings with Your Boss on a Periodic Basis.

Having bi-weekly, monthly, and or quarterly meetings with your boss provides you the opportunity to go over the report you have just submitted.  Topics to be discussed also include a reaffirmation of your and your department’s roles and responsibilities, a discussion of the needs of the building occupants or the various departments interacting with facilities, readjustments in reporting formats or key performance indicators, initiation and validation of  path forward projects and action item lists.  It is good to send a brief follow up document providing the areas covered from these meetings.

Recommendation 4 — Involve Your Organization with other Departments within the Organization.

Meeting with other Department Heads within your organization on a periodic basis goes a long way to contribute to their satisfaction with your facility management services with respect to their department.  These departments may have unique needs and service requirements that your facility management organization needs to know about and respond to.  Knowing what issues these departments have and your willingness to respond and report progress to them goes a long way for these departments to feel connected to your facility management department.

In some cases, you can meet periodically with these organizations and develop an informal “service level agreement” with them if their needs are significantly different from the needs of the rest of the organization.  Having alignment meetings relating to your facility management organization’s performance with respect to their departmental needs and reporting these results in your reports to your management also elevate the status of your facility management organization.

Recommendation 5 — Provide Extra Services that are Recognized and Valued by Your Organization.

The Facilities Management Department has connections and relationships throughout the entire organization.  Offering to help in ares such as strategic planning, disaster recovery planning management, emergency response, providing input , design and review within the design and construction process, interfacing with the real estate acquisition and leasing process, are examples of activities that can elevate top management’s perception of the facility management department and provides you and the facilities management department a voice relating to the strategic activities of your organization.

Extra services also include providing customer satisfaction results both from surveys and in depth interviews with the departmental users of your services.  Have the respondents attest to their satisfaction with the various types of services the facility management organization provides and their level of satisfaction with specific buildings or areas within the building infrastructure (e.g., elevators, restrooms, kitchenettes, copy rooms, etc.).

Have you or members of your staff join committees and cross functional teams to integrate the facility management program within the fabric of your organization.  Such efforts are seen by top management as contributing to the facility management organizations’ status as an integral strategic or tactical member.

Recommendation 6 — Seek to Improve Your Organization Using Quality Techniques and Programs of Excellence that are Recognized In Your Industry or Profession.

Recognition programs within your profession for you or your facility management organization elevates the status of your department within your organization.  Recognition can come in the form as awards from nationally recognized organizations such as IFMA, Malcolm Baldrige, BOMA, APPA and  others.  Participating in a and reporting successes in quality programs such as Six Sigma, Malcolm Baldrige, Kaizen, ISO-9000 continues to elevate the status of your facility management organization in your own organization.

Implementing these four recommendations will go along way to elevating the status of you and your facility management organization’s status as a strategic player within your organization.  They also, provide your organization  a comprehensive understanding of what the facility management department does and how it integrates with other aspects of the entire organization.  Your facility management organization will be asked to participate and will be the “go to” organization to serve and provide help relating important aspects of the organization’s business.  Implementation of these recommendations will improve the organization’s perception of the facility management organization and will foster more cooperation and inclusion within higher levels of your organization.