Traditionally, the C-suite has viewed facility managers as an essential support function, yet one that holds little strategic importance. But as robust data analytics and innovative energy intelligence software (EIS) expand the facility management (FM) industry, facility managers have a more powerful, effective toolkit with which to communicate their value.
The International Facility Management Association’s (IFMA) new report, “Redefining the Executive View of Facility Management,” supports this claim. The study combined survey results from several different sources that questioned the C-suite about FM and operations. The key findings show that there is clear room for improvement:
57% of senior executives said facility issues were not regularly discussed at board meetings
73% said cost is the most important factor in assessing site performance
Annual corporate spending on Facilities, Operations and Maintenance totaled less than 10% of yearly allocation, compared to 82% on employee cost
Importantly though, the report notes that the C-suite is realizing facility management has a role in corporate budgets and planning decisions. Financial executives, IFMA says, are starting to integrate facilities management with human resources, information technology, and globalization in the workplace.
IFMA quoted George Ahn, VP of Smarter Infrastructure at IBM, to help explain: “A majority of companies have shifted their focus to programs that fuel corporate growth — a shift that nearly half of executives agree is best achieved by optimizing their real estate portfolios. This opportunity for increased facility utilization serves to underscore the profound strategic and financial impacts that real estate and facilities can contribute to overall business performance.”
For large enterprises, the new trend of fueling growth through building performance optimization is helping to push facility management into the spotlight. The opportunity to spark a conversation with executives exists–but what can facility managers do accelerate the change? IFMA broke the strategy down into these key actions:
Demonstrate results-driven success by establishing the ability to measure and report on the business impact of FM initiatives. As facility managers do begin engaging executives, it’s crucial to come armed with proof points on why executives should rethink specific operational practices. The IFMA report lays out exactly why those proof points are essential: “FMs who effectively harness cutting-edge technologies to supply dynamic data and powerful analytics to business leaders will have a strong case for their role as strategic partners.”
Implement data-driven technology solutions to deliver real-time data and reliable insight on a site-by-site level that will enable facility managers to influence strategic business decisions.
Improve soft skills, which include effective communication, negotiation and upward management practices.
It’s no longer a question of if, but when executives will place more strategic reliance on facility managers—and as a result, facilities management. By beginning the conversation now, facility managers can get a head start on ensuring the success of their portfolios in the future and simultaneously elevate the value of their function.
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