Strategic FM Technology Planning. Eric Teicholz, IFMA Fellow

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1 Strategic FM Technology Planning Eric Teicholz, IFMA Fellow Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to walk from here asked Alice. That depends a good deal on where you want to get to, said the Cat. I don t much care where so long as I get somewhere, Alice added. Then it doesn t matter which way you walk, answered the Cat. You re sure to get somewhere if you walk long enough. (Lewis Carroll, Alice s Adventures in Wonderland). The provision of input and feedback to an organization s strategic plan offers new opportunities to align the facility manager with the objectives of senior management. Software functionality that takes into account mission, environmental impact, life cycle cost analysis and risk analysis and mitigation are all of strategic importance to organizations. A strategic technology plan must reflect and effectively communicate the implications of the outcomes, strategies and benchmarks of management s strategic plan. Facility management has traditionally been thought of as a non-strategic, operational support service to organizations to be managed as frugally as possible. New emphasis on regulatory, environmental and health/safety concerns, of major significance to senior management, are changing this paradigm. FM software technology is likewise evolving beyond traditional space, asset and work management to support these new concerns and constraints. New software functionality, for example, makes it possible to model the projected energy life cycle of a building, to identify steps that will reduce its environment footprint, and to estimate the costs associated with energy retrofits. Likewise parametric computer models exist for projected life-cycle capital planning budgets taking asset condition, code, mission, programmatic and other key metrics into account. Such calculations deliver real value to an organization s core business strategy and, as such, are bringing facility management closer to the C-Suite than ever before. This article will discuss how FM technology can support the goals and objectives of an organization as reflected by its strategic plan. 2. Strategic Planning Unlike Alice in Wonderland, a strategic plan defines a specific path and direction that an organization needs to take to achieve specific goals. Every strategic plan needs to address at least three objectives: 1. To clarify the desired outcomes that an organization wishes to achieve; 2. To select the broad strategies that will enable the organization to achieve those outcomes; 3. To identify ways to measure progress (i.e., benchmarks).

2 For an FM technology plan to be strategic, it must address one or more of these objectives either directly or indirectly. The plan should be able to define how specific software outcomes affect strategic components of the plan such as mission, environmental impact, health and safety as well as compliance with government regulations. Specific objectives of the technology plan might include: The determination of the energy used or greenhouse gases emitted in maintaining a strategic asset; The determination of the point at which the cost of sustaining an asset is more than its replacement value; The assessment of risks involved in not maintaining an asset at a certain condition level. A list of prioritized factors (although the priority might change from organization to organization) includes: 1. Mission 2. Health and safety 3. Regulatory compliance 4. Sustainability 5. Completion of ongoing projects 6. New capacity / high ROI projects 7. Organizational Quality FM technology, by itself, is often justified on the basis of providing new data, high ROI often not very high on management s list. To be strategic, the technology must address as many of the above factors as possible. Below are some examples of technology outcomes and how they could impact management s strategic goals: Management Objective Desired accomplishments Strategic goal achievement Strategic resource alignment Success measurement Technology Component Determine organizational impact Determine current status of organization Measure outcomes of investments Develop benchmarks/dashboards 3. Two Software Examples: Condition Assessment and Sustainability Condition Assessment (CA) Condition assessment relates to the determination of the current state of a building or its components. The benchmark most often used when performing such as assessment is the Condition Index (CI) whereby: Condition Index= $ Repair Needs $ Replacement Value

3 The numerator is sometimes expressed as Deferred Maintenance costs. Replacement value is the value of the asset at the end of its useful life. Historically, the assets would be assigned a CI based on importance and used to determine priorities regarding where to spend limited resources. Thus the metric is used for capital planning purposes in determining the amount of investment required to maintain an asset at a certain level or determining the future financial consequences of deferring a facility investment. For the assessment to be strategic, however, additional parameters must be considered for prioritizing which assets to invest in. These might include impact on mission, risk and impact of asset failure, and health/safety issues. With this in mind, many of the software products today use decision support tools to weight the multiple objectives when prioritizing strategic projects. Image courtesy of VFA, Inc. Sustainability With buildings accounting for 40% of all energy used in the U.S., generating 36% of the total CO2 emissions, and accounting for over $200 billion in utility costs, sustainability software that tracks and improves a buildings energy performance is becoming a strategic imperative. Not only will saving energy improve the bottom line and improve an organization s competitive advantage and quality, but there are regulatory requirements that are increasingly imposed on corporate entities just as they already are for federal agencies. Several states, for example, already mandate the use of the EPA s ENENGY STAR rating system as well as require utilities to automatically supply energy data for ENERGY STAR. Performing energy audits and analysis was, in the past, a labor-intensive effort. As is the case with condition assessment, however, parametric

4 models are being employed to infer missing data and to model best practices related to building retrofits suggesting how to improve energy performance. Such software might be used to identify carbon intensive assets, analyze the environmental and financial implications of such assets and provide insight into strategies related to reducing the use of energy and greenhouse gases. Image courtesy of Retroficiency, Inc. 5. Risk-Based Analysis and Mitigation Risk analysis measures the probability and severity if something goes wrong. In the context of FM technology, it deals with the identification of possible harm that might occur to a particular set of assets or processes and determining the impact on the organization s strategic plan. The three issues associated with risk analysis are: 1) what can go wrong; 2) how likely is it to go wrong and; 3) what are the financial and organizational implications if it does go wrong.

5 An organization s mission might impact security, health safety, sustainability or regulatory requirements. If toxic material is stored in a certain facility, for example, then the failure of the tank that stores the material could impact that mission. Besides identifying how likely such a failure is, management would like to know how such a risk can be prevented or at least reduced and what it will cost to invest in the building infrastructure to reduce the risk. To perform such an analysis, the software employed must include data concerning the value of the critical assets that relate to the strategic plan and what are the costs and benefits (ROI) of investing and protecting these assets. There are a number of software tools for performing risk-based analysis of strategic assets. The software usually will assign priorities to the mission objectives (e.g., increasing security, reducing health safety, developing more sustainability business practices, responding and incorporating regulatory compliance) by weighting the mission objectives and using such information for mitigate critical assets. Some software products will evaluate current practices (e.g., related to sustainability) and use best practices to model how to achieve the greatest improvement related to that objective and what it will cost. Besides risk-based analysis software, there are tools useful for mitigating risk. One such tool is Six Sigma (http://www.isixsigma.com), a comprehensive business management strategy that contains metrics to improve strategic business processes that have been determined at risk. Six Sigma calculates a Risk Priority Number (RPN) taking into account: type of failure that might occur, effects of failure, severity, potential cause of failure, likelihood of occurrence, current controls, ease of measurement and the cost impact of failure. Such costs might be determined by best practices or from a condition-based assessment. In this manner, Six Sigma creates a prioritized list of critical assets. Based on available resources or likelihood of occurrence, RPNs can be recalculated until the risk becomes acceptable. 7. Communication Management communication of the strategic technology plan has three primary objectives: 1. The identification of technology objectives relevant to the strategic plan; 2. The support of the strategic plan with specific and relevant outcome metrics; 3. The communication of how the technology plan has dealt with uncertainty and risks. Management must understand precisely how the technology output supports the strategic objectives related to mission, strategy and benchmarks. The connection between asset failure and mission must be explicit. As discussed, the organization s mission will normally impact numerous and sometimes contradictory strategic objectives associated

6 with reducing health risks, reducing environmental risks, avoiding adverse socioeconomic impacts, responding to regulatory constraints, reducing uncertainly, and minimizing economic costs. Management needs data to determine the impact and implications of supporting one objective over another. The approach of defining mission-oriented metrics is probably the best method of building a persuasive case for technology. There will be metrics produced that must be communicated internally to FM and externally to upper management. The data must be accurate and you have to acknowledge and quantify the uncertainty and trade-offs involved in supporting various strategic objectives. The output of the technology analysis should assist management in assessing what might go wrong with the strategic plan, the likelihood of this happening, and the consequences it would have on the organization s mission. 8. Conclusion Along multiple dimensions recent changes in the corporate and technology worlds have brought the functions, capacities and goals of facility managers closer to the strategic objectives of senior management. Reliable structures of communication between the corporate level and facility management has become essential so that facility management software can take into account corporate mission, environmental impact, life cycle costs and risk analysis and mitigation. Such feedback loops will assure that the organization s strategic technology plan reflects and effectively communicates the outcomes and benchmarks of management s over-arching strategic plan. About the Author Eric Teicholz is an IFMA Fellow, a member of the IFMA Foundation s Board of Trustees, the Chair of IFMA s Sustainability Committee and the Foundation s Knowledge Management Committee, and president of Graphic Systems, Inc. (www.graphicsystems.biz). He is the author or Editor of 11 books and a past professor at Harvard University s Graduate School of Design. Teicholz can be reached at

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