By Shahar Alster
Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder
SpaceIQ

Strategy is important in everything from board games to business planning. In the latter, strategy is often the key to success—a concentrated effort toward a measurable goal. If your goal is to leverage facilities into business success, strategic facility management is paramount. It’s a combination of facility management and facility planning, stitched together with a set of clear-cut outcomes in mind.

Strategic facility management is all about focusing on the long-term. What can you do to your facilities today that’ll pay dividends next quarter, next year, or in the next decade? Applying strategy to facility management gives purpose to the workplace, making it a focal part of broader company initiatives. But, like all strategies, one involving facilities management needs clear motive.

Manage with a set of goals in mind

Strategic facility planning starts with clearly defined goals. What are the broader goals of the company and what role do facilities play? Or, what’s important to your business that’s impacted by facilities. Goals can take many forms. Examples include:

  • Improve cash flow to support the expansion of the business
  • Establish the company as a steward for a cause
  • Attract and retain top-level talent
  • Improve the company’s eco-friendly profile
  • Make the transition to a more flexible, remote work arrangement

Decide what’s important to your business. Then, link it to facility management. For example, if your primary goal is to attract and retain top-level talent, consider the workplace’s role and make a list of strategic focuses:

  • Offer perks that entice candidates to work for you
  • Make your facilities centrally located to a diverse workforce
  • Leverage the workplace as part of company culture

These three goals funnel upward into the greater goal of attracting and retaining top talent. They’re all facility-related, serving as focus areas for workplace improvements. As you hone in on each, the greater goal of luring prime workers benefits. This is strategic facility management—action with a greater goal in mind.

Implementing strategic facility management

Strategic facility management takes discipline to execute. According to the International Facility Management Association (IFMA), there are four steps to implementing a successful strategic facility plan:

1. Understand

Understanding strategic facility management hinges on knowing what elements dictate it. What are your goals? What is the capacity of your facilities to support these goals? Do you possess the resources—time, money, manpower, stakeholder buy-in—to make change happen? Is there a timeline or a clear path to execution? This initial phase helps you take stock of the desired concept, which gives it context. It’s important to understand the strategy before attempting to execute it.

Read: Facility management software ROI.

2. Analyze

This is the experimental and understanding phase of strategic facilities management. By now, you should know the goals and have a comprehensive grasp of the situation, which allows you to turn your attention to the how of executing your strategy. There are several experimental and analytical tools involved in building out a facility strategy. Scenario planning is a big part of facilities management, as is systematic layout planning. A Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis helps qualify certain focus areas. Combined with Brainstorming and Strategic Creative Analysis (SCAN) sessions, ideas for facilities improvement should begin bubbling to the surface.

3. Plan

A strategic facility space plan is built on conclusions formed in the understanding and analysis phases. Once you know what you’re working toward, and the steps needed to get there, you can begin constructing the roadmap. Often, this is the physical plan a facility manager presents to the C-suite for approval. It outlines core facility changes and the reasons behind them. It lays out action plans for making said changes. It puts everything on a timeline, delegates duties, and qualifies the metrics used to measure success. Think of it like a business plan specifically for the workplace—it should be a comprehensive plan detailing the path to success.

4. Act

You have a plan in-hand and approval from leadership. All that’s left is to act. Strategic facility management needs leaders who understand the vision—both at the facilities level and how it contributes to broader business goals. These leaders must execute changes according to the strategic facilities management plan, then document improvements and changes to understand the effect they’re having on the business. As the workplace shapes itself into the asset it’s meant to be, you should measure its impact on finances, personnel, culture, and other metrics that align with your goals.

Make strategic facility management an ongoing focus

What is facility management without goals to focus on? Even after you reach your strategic facility management endpoint, it’s important to continually redefine it. Ask yourself how facilities can improve and lend themselves to larger business goals.

Take the time to consider the ramifications of investing in facilities—whether it’s a monetary push or new strategy. Keep the approach strategic and the outcome is sure to reflect the move toward clear, well-defined business goals.

Keep reading: Innovative ideas for facility management.