Posted on 08/29/2016
By Chris Glanzman
So, you’ve taken the first steps to establishing an ongoing facilities capital planning program. Once you’ve gathered facility condition data, established a process and developed a capital budget for next year, what should you do next? Based on our experience working with facilities managers, there are a few key things we recommend:
How well capital spending is aligned with strategic business goals can dramatically influence an organization’s ability to deliver on its mission. With a structured and consistent approach to prioritizing capital needs, using consensus-based criteria that support defined strategic objectives, you can effectively align capital spend with organizational goals. You can put in place intelligent decision-making and planning about facilities that will fully support the organization’s plans, aims and mission.
You need to know what those goals and plans are. Then you need and your team need to move from reactive – responding to issues on a day-to-day basis – to proactive, planning and budgeting for projects that will address long-term as well as short-term problems. Instead of managing without a plan, you’ll manage strategically, with the big picture and the whole organization in mind, and a planning window that extends beyond the next few weeks or months.
When preparing to make the transition, you’ll need a plan to change to a strategic, long-term way of thinking. But remember not to underestimate the challenges this represents. Suspicion and caution will be a huge component – remember that you are rocking the boat. It may even require corporate structural change in how you’re organized and manage your portfolio! You’ll need to hire appropriately to help manage the growth. Above all, have a change management plan in place before embarking on this journey!
A key success factor is the ability to prioritize mission-critical projects. If you can demonstrate that your planning and budgeting takes the organization’s mission into account, you’ll win every time. We go more in depth on this subject during this Prioritizing Capital Projects webinar.
Perhaps the most overlooked success factor in any capital planning program is communication. Remember that what’s important to you and your team and what’s important to your stakeholders may only overlap in a very limited way.
When you communicate to the stakeholders – whether they be financial decision-makers, other executives or leaders of your organization, or the building users – you need to think about their needs and interests, and provide them with information that will be useful and appropriate to them.
You also need to think about HOW to communicate – executives may need brief, powerful bullet points and clear charts to look at, given their lack of time, and they may want to receive that information on a longer timetable, perhaps a monthly email. Building users may want more frequent updates with greater detail about what’s happening in the facilities they occupy every day.
So once you take your program to the next level, how does your organization stand to benefit? One significant way is lower costs. For example, you can avoid emergency repair premiums by planning ahead to address problems. This reduces the need for emergency repairs, with higher costs for things like non-standard work hours, special orders and overnight shipping. Planning in advance means you can increase efficiencies in a variety of ways: solicit competitive bids, reduce relocation costs, minimize facilities shutdowns, and avoid duplicate purchases and overbuying. You can also avoid the financial, legal and reputational impact of business disruptions, code violations and failure to meet environmental
When you enhance your capital planning program, there are benefits for you and your team as well. You gain credibility, which helps to get your funding requests approved. Your profile is raised – you and your team are seen as making valuable contributions and you become known as someone other departments can partner with to accomplish organizational goals. You can gain a seat at the executive table – by demonstrating that you understand the organization’s goals and are working to make the facilities support and not detract from those goals, you will be brought into meetings where issues are discussed and decisions are made. Finally, you will be recognized and respected as the subject matter expert in facilities, real estate and/or operations, and you’ll be called upon to share that expertise with others across the organization.
Have a plan for how you’re going to manage change. The shift from tactical to strategic thinking requires everyone to see the benefits of this new approach.
Alignment with the organizational mission is key. You need to demonstrate that you and your team understand the organization’s mission and goals. And you need to prioritize and plan projects that support those goals.
Take advantage of the data and tools that are available to you. These days, it’s a no-brainer to leverage technology and information – they will empower you and your team!
And finally, it all takes time. You’re moving to a long-term strategy, and your expectations (as well as those of others) need to be in line with that. Stay focused on the end game!
Want to learn more about next steps, like how to properly prioritize capital projects? Watch this recording on Prioritizing Capital Projects