Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Facility Planning - "How to Thrive in the “New Normal”- as written by Barry Lynch

Conceptual Image of "New Normal" in Facility Planning
Submitted by:  Brian Buckley, Maharam, IIDA Georgia Facility Planning and Design Forum leader
How to Thrive in the "New Normal"  by Barry Lynch, Labarre Associates -NCARB, MBA, CFM, IFMA Fellow
On January 18th, Barry Lynch presented his expansive knowledge of Strategic Facilities Planning to the members and guests of IFMA (International Facility Managers Association) at the Crown Plaza in Atlanta.
He notes that as we evolve in the construction and design industry, we are always faced with new challenges and forced to come up with new ways of doing things. Lynch explains Strategic Planning and how processes have altered to become the “new normal” for organizations and facility infrastructure needs. He writes, “Traditional Strategic Facilities Planning focuses on growth. Today Facility Managers need to focus on the other drivers.” Furthermore, Facility Managers are now asking more questions in their planning process; answering questions like; Where You’ve Been, Where You’re Headed, and How to Get There.  Each of these questions is broken down in more detail and analyzes the company from various perspectives that will help FM’s and the organizations they support to plan ahead in times of uncertainty or growth.
Firstly, let’s define SFP- Strategic Facilities Planning is a systematic and continuous process where organizations make decisions about desired future facility infrastructure needs, then determine how future needs will be fulfilled and how success will be evaluated.

This is really an in-depth analysis (and 2-5 year plan) that answers the questions above and must be developed with the input from all department heads in the organization and end users. According to IFMA’s White Paper, this planning strategy follows a 4-step process and each step is defined-

1.  Understanding - requires a thorough knowledge of your organization’s mission, vision, values and goals.

2.  Exploration - of the range of possible futures and triggers is needed to analyze your organization’s facility needs using analytical techniques—such as systematic layout planning (SLP), strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats analysis (SWOT), strategic creative analysis (SCAN), or scenario planning.

3.  Analysis - once completed, plans for potential responses and periodic updates to existing plans in response to changes in the market need to be developed to meet the long-range needs of your specific organization.

4.  Action - planned to successfully implement the SFP. The SFP identifies the type, quantity and location of spaces needed by the organization and contains.

Traditionally companies had a reasonable understanding of their needs and were able to systematically forecast plans for their facilities; the change in the business world is rapid and evolving; including more mergers, acquisitions, technology, available capital etc.  As previously mentioned, the ‘traditional’ method typically has been focused on growth. But there are new “drivers” in SFP that Facility Manager need to add to the equation.

Lynch explains that having a ‘more clearly’ and better understanding of these processes poses new questions for FM’s. In addition to growth; regulation, recapitalization (renewal) and functional obsolescence are all now added into the equation. These key drivers of Capital Expenditures help redefine the planning process model and helps organizations plan for not just growth, but the inevitable uncertainty of the economy.
When FM’s can answer the questions of: where you’ve been, where you’re headed and how to get there, they will position the company in a more solid and predictable future. Going backwards and understanding the company and its past with a solid foundation of information about its facilities will help in the determination of where they are headed. A company may have decreased its size and output due to the harsh economic climate, but may also be re-gaining ground for expansion or recapitalization.  So FM’s must figure out how to get there and develop projects that meet the needs of the company that have not yet been met. The traditional process simply just develops plans that meet needs.
Overall, the responsibilities of an FM  has, like everything else, evolved into a more complex responsibility that helps protect companies assets (capital, expenditures, etc.). These changes ask and answer many more questions and involve more internal people (CFO’s, CEO’s, employees) and external (architects, engineers, consultants) to properly plan an extensive and more detailed analysis of the future needs of a company’s facilities.  

For additional information on this content, please contact Brian Buckley- Facility Planning and Design Forum Rep, IIDA at bbuckley@maharam.com or 678.428.3439.

"Linking Facility Management to the Core Strategies of the Enterprise" –

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