Professional Development: IFMA's Strategic Management Planning Process

Guest Columnist Don Young shares new approaches that may help facility managers reach higher levels of achievement.
Guest Columnist Don Young shares new approaches that may help facility managers reach higher levels of achievement.

Professional Development: IFMA’s Strategic Management Planning Process

Professional Development: IFMA's Strategic Management Planning Process

By Don Young, APR
Published in the September 2005 issue of Today’s Facility Manager

Business thought luminaries David P. Norton and Robert S. Kaplan, creators of the Balanced Scorecard concept said, “Organizations that try to be everything to everybody usually end up being nothing to anyone. At that point the organization has lost its relevance.” To help stay relevant, beginning in 2003, the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) incorporated the Balanced Scorecard (BSC) concept into its Strategic Management Planning Process. Several IFMA board members had on-the-job experience with the BSC and had the foresight to see how it could help focus and align the Association’s resources to achieve better performance. The IFMA staff and volunteer leaders were also eager to learn.

Accountants have done a fine job of quantifying tangible things like production and finance. What the BSC does differently is align and focus the organization’s intangible assets like contributions from volunteers, staff, and information technology. The BSC recognizes that enhancing the capabilities of intangible assets can give organizations an extra lift not previously achievable. It’s a new strategic management system that is as much based on inspiration as on measuring performance.

At IFMA, the Strategic Planning Oversight Team (SPOT) is responsible for developing the Strategic Plan, Balanced Scorecard, and Strategy Map. Volunteer leaders, staff, and members are part of that team.

IFMA’s Strategic Plan has all of the elements of any good plan—strategic competencies, core values, assumptions, SWOT (Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats) analysis, goals, objectives, etc.—but it’s also linked to the BSC. The Association’s vision is to serve as the resource and representative for facility management. The mission is to provide exceptional products, services, and opportunities that support and advance the facility management profession. Everything in the plan and BSC is focused on achieving the vision and mission.

IFMA has four goals—one for each of the four planning perspectives. IFMA’s four perspectives are: Stakeholders (customers), Operational Excellence, People (learning and growth), and Financial. Stakeholders are IFMA’s reason for being, so this perspective is stacked at the top of IFMA’s four-layer strategy cake. It’s the closest to the Association’s vision and mission. (For-profit entities exist to enhance shareholder value, so their BSCs have Financial as the top perspective.)

IFMA’s four goals are:

  • Goal One in Stakeholders is: Support a community that fosters vitality, momentum, and impact for the facility management professional;
  • Goal Two in Operational Excellence is: Anticipate and prioritize the resources required to enhance effective delivery of products and services;
  • Goal Three in People is: Inspire passion for the facility management profession that compels facility practitioners to want to join the IFMA network, engages volunteer leaders, and attracts/retains talent to its staff; and
  • Goal Four in Financial is: Sustain IFMA’s financial integrity to achieve and fulfill its mission.

The objectives are a very important part of the Strategic Plan and BSC. They are declarative statements and calls to mobilize the organization’s resources to make things happen.

In Norton’s and Kaplan’s second book, The Strategy Focused Organization, Strategy Maps are first mentioned. This concept became the topic of book three, Strategy Maps. IFMA’s Strategy Map has proven to be the best planning tool for communicating, educating, and validating the Association’s Strategic Plan and Balanced Scorecard. It’s a representation of IFMA’s strategy and many people grasp concepts better visually. The Strategy Map also provides the missing link between formulation and execution.

As IFMA staff members and volunteers go about the business of the Association, the Strategy Map helps them see how individual actions contribute to the big picture. At the very top of the Map, Long-Term Stakeholder Value is positioned between the Vision and Mission.

Lastly, IFMA is a multi-tiered organization comprised of 17,500 members. The BSC must cascade throughout the organization so more specific BSCs and action plans can be developed. It also drives IFMA’s budgeting, risk management, and training priorities. All the gears must mesh.

However the extension of the BSC to the rest of the organization is not just a one way flow of information. The real beauty of the BSC is empowerment. It gets targeted information into the hands of the people actually doing the work. They know what needs to be done to achieve the desired ends. New actionable ideas, not thought of in the planning process, percolate up from the functional areas back through the organization. IFMA absorbs them like a sponge. SPOT captures these gems for integration back into the planning cycle.

IFMA has made tremendous progress as a result of its strategic planning and the introduction of the BSC. It is propelling the Association to higher levels of performance, with improved quality, satisfied members and good returns on investments. Everyone on the IFMA team knows where he or she is going and the BSC work has become a part of the Association’s DNA.

Young is vice president of communications at the Houston, TX-based International Facility Management Association (IFMA), where he has headed the communications function since March 1989. IFMA is the professional association for facility management with approximately 17,500 members worldwide,

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