Sunday, 17 February 2013

Proving our worth

Proving our worth

Following on from the Workplace Futures 2013 debates of the last week I was thinking about how FM can get its seat on the board – get its voice heard – and prove its worth - to the organisation.  In times of budget cuts and shrinking margins FM is seen as an easy target, a non-front line service that won’t matter to the organisations business goals.

Wrong! – here are 5 steps to making FM strategic:
1. Combine the property strategy with the FM service provision
Most organisations (public or private) will grow or shrink their property portfolios to suit their business.  The FM team need to change their delivery model to adapt to this change.  Supporting the workforce in the workplace change – be it space planning or minimising moves disruption will go a long way to maintaining a productive business.
2.Support the workforce and the changing nature of the workplace
Can FM move itself away from the “Facility Manager” to the “Workplace Manager”?  One manages buildings, the other manages workplaces.  The workplace is changing, there is a higher proportion of home workers, field workers and hot-deskers. - Is this a reason for needing less office space?  Providing workplace support will move FM in to areas of ICT, Fleet, and Regus style services – expanding the role of the Facility Manager.
3. Have a demonstrable effect on the businesses goals
Whatever the business, there will be primary business goals.  If the FM service can measure their impact on those business goals, then they will be directly proving their worth to the organisation.  For example, in Local Authorities this could be local employment, training local people or supporting local businesses.  FM can buy local, employ local people and train those employees.  This contributes to the economic development of the local area – and Local Authorities will see this as a benefit.
4. Provide a highly efficient and modern service
In a constantly changing business environment, any service can ill afford to stand still.  There is no getting away from the need to constantly be providing a cost efficient, lean and productive service.  Either if FM is in house or outsourced – innovating through continuous improvement will keep the service modern and cost efficient and be seen less of an easy target.
5. Award Winning
What could be a better endorsement of your FM service than an industry award.  There are many available – Go for it! and don’t just prove your worth to your organisation – Prove it to the industry.


  1. Hey Rob
    Great first post. Like you, I was at the WF conference and have since been mulling these same issues. I like your concept of a workplace, rather than facilities, manager. I'm wary however about supporting the "seat on the board" argument. Influence, absolutely; position, not necessarily. As someone who sees the potential for FM to contribute toward strategic business growth, I would be inclined to create a position on the board for someone who represents (and strategically leads) the support functions within the business: IT, HR, FM etc. Coming back to the Workplace manager (or Director), I believe this position has a vested interest in all three support functions mentioned above. By executing on a vision to combine all support functions in a way that contributes toward a more effective workplace, I believe there exists the greatest opportunity for impact on company performance.

    1. Simon, thank you for taking the time to read and your comments. Very much appreciated.

  2. Rob, excellent comments here, especially number three - demonstrating value on key corporate goals. I am amazed at how many still think of "Strategic Facilities Planning" as an FM focused proposition. Rather, strategic planning in the FM domain is really business planning. Sometimes the label helps; Strategic Business Planning done by the FM group in concert with its business customers is an inclusive process that puts customer dialogue foremost. Further, it is not a once a year project except in its final stage. Continual rounds of dialogue with customer units (read Customer Relationship Management) that allow FM to see and understand customer issues position FM to anticipate and be proactive. We can be thought leaders and help move the organization forward. That's what C-Suite players do. They communicate, assimilate, strategize, and convert strategy into plans that address business issues. It is never about facilities, it is always about business.

  3. Hi Rob,

    I particularly like point no. 2 as it captures my thinking very well. Whenever I answer the "what do you do?" question, I say that I manage the work environment; I help to make people happier and more effective and I make going to work a better experience.