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--> Effective Approaches to Facility Stewardship and Management David G. Cotts Management Consultant As someone who has spent many years in facility management, in both public and private sectors, I would like to review briefly today the ways I believe we are falling short in our stewardship of facilities. I see over 100 facility managers and their organizations in a year through teaching and consulting. Though most people attending the symposium are in the public sector, my observation is that the situation is not much better in the private than in the public sector. Some exceptions are seen in manufacturing areas where there is a direct connection between the success of the business and the condition of facilities. The challenges to facility stewards are not merely questions of money. Of course, we cannot do our jobs without adequate resources. But I think there are other, perhaps deeper, problems than simply inadequate funding. In evaluating the average public sector and average private sector facility management organization, it is useful to consider the traditional functions of management, which includes planning, organizing, staffing, directing, controlling, and evaluating. In planning, the public sector actually may do a slightly better job than the private sector. The private sector especially does not plan strategically to the extent that it should. The Army would never plan anything major without having the engineer present, to cover facilities impacts. In most of the private sector today, however, the facilities people are kept completely in the dark. I believe we could save more money by better strategic planning with facilities in mind than in any other way.
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--> In organizing, I would have to give us all an F—and declining. We are not organized to do the job. We too often are organized functionally when we should be working as teams. Also, we confuse staffing with organization too often. I think we really must deliberate more about how we would best be organized to do our jobs, even in today's tough economic climate. In staffing, we do fairly well, although I believe we are overly concerned about outsourcing and out-tasking. We should be looking at how we can get the best expertise for the money, whatever that source is. If we want a function performed in house, we should be able to prove that the in-house person can do it competitively. In directing, we get high marks. We are very good directors. We know how to work the chain of command. In controlling, we get an A plus, because we are controllers by nature, by training, by education. In evaluating, we do fairly, but are improving. I believe post-occupancy evaluations of major projects are critical. The shortfalls I have described result from a profession that suffers something of an identity crisis. A major subagency of a very large government department asked me to come in and look at their facility management. The fact of the matter is they had little management at all. They had effectively no facility department, and yet they were occupying more than 200,000 square feet of space. I find this failing particularly among organizations that are being downsized. The function of managing facilities is simply disappearing. Our problems clearly result to some degree from a lack of funding, though I will not discuss this topic here. But I will say that, as facilities managers, we do not do a very good job of presenting our case for needed resources. Poor models and practices also cause difficulties. It is true that every agency and company is unique, as we argue all too often. But there are many best practices and good models available. The professional organizations, such as the International Facility Management Association, the Association of Higher Education Facilities Officers, and the Building Owners and Managers Association, should be publicizing them more.
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--> Traditional Facility Management Historically, facilities managers have been trained to fulfill a particular set of roles. They are caretakers and service providers. In the 1980s, they became employee efficiency multipliers. They are now advocates for employee welfare and controllers. Unfortunately, most facility managers also probably do not realize how much they are viewed in their organization as naysayers. They are often not viewed as people who get the job done but as people who say "no" too often. Also, they produce voluminous policies and regulations, particularly in the public sector. The time for change has come. Traditionally, in the federal government, facilities managers have been heavily reliant on central purchasing, on procurement, and on the Federal Acquisition Regulations. These approaches must change, as they have been changing already in the private sector. Today, there are private sector procurement purchasing departments who are customer-oriented. This attitude will have to be cultivated in both public and private sectors for facilities managers to survive. The New Model Facility managers in our new climate must also have the following characteristics to succeed. First, they must understand the business they are supporting and know the language of business. Last evening, I worked with a dozen facility managers on computing internal rates of return as the basis for decision making in their companies or agencies. They should also understand that the director of marketing for the company, the assistant vice president, or the assistant secretary probably obtains a bonus based on some type of business ratio, and they should understand how they influence that business ratio. In the future, government will be managed in a much more businesslike manner. Whether that is good or bad, I will not debate here, but facility managers should envision themselves as business people. Facility managers must be articulate spokespersons. I often see poor writing and speaking skills in my students when teaching facility management at the George Washington University. Facilities managers should seek out remedial training in speaking and writing much more often. Strong communication skills will be needed to carry out this work successfully in the future.
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--> Facility managers also need to view themselves as the environmentalists for their company or agency. This role is additionally a source of visibility and recognition, to obtain support for some other programs. Managers must be good resource obtainers. They should stop trying to run everything and get their people the resources they need to do their jobs. In "flattened" organizations, a manager cannot direct everything. A facility manager must increasingly be an agile purchaser, lessor, and contractor. The best and smartest people should be brought to bear on the job. We have wonderful design firms, architect-engineer firms, and contractors available. In many cases, it makes no sense to try to do the work with in-house staff when that kind of talent is available in private sector firms. A manager needs to be a strategic business planner and implementer and a good fiscal manager. This may not be as true in government as it is in the private sector, but even in the private sector there are facility managers who do not even understand their budgets. The budgets are managed by "someone in accounting." Good facility managers must understand budget patterns and trends to do their jobs. Facility managers must be innovators and "networkers" as well. In addition, they need to be information managers, or better stated, knowledge managers. They are deluged with information. The Management Information System starts with the budget providing the basic knowledge to be a good financial manager. And finally, a facility manager needs to be a survivor. The future will not be easy, but it will be an interesting challenge.
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