By Lisa Stanley
Facilities management is expanding its global operations footprint, driven in part by recent merger and acquisition activity that is consolidating teams, removing redundancy and streamlining operations. While the goal is reducing operational costs and improving efficiencies, expanding facility management operations is not without its challenges.
Communication Needs to Be Effective and Frequent
Effective and frequent communication at all levels of the organization is key to implementing the changes needed, and often the most neglected function. In a recent conversation I had with a senior FM in a global company, when asked how many people within the organization were key to the global rollout of the implementation of transformational change they were about to embark on, the response was “not more than 5.” Really — for a global implementation? Not surprisingly, there was also no provision for a formal detailed communications plan to accompany the implementation. While a significant financial resource commitment had been made, the lack of commitment to an effective communication plan put this project is a position of peril from the start. This project has a questionable prospect of even marginal success in the future without some significant changes. It’s the details that matter.
The “Brain Drain” Dilemma
Merger and acquisition activity can expand the global reach, and these expanded operations often result in reduced and reassigned staff through both consolidation and attrition. Key management team members become attractive targets to the competition. They have extensive knowledge of current operations and their insight into the internal struggles accompanying change absent effective communication can cause them to question their value to the organization. The accompanying “brain drain” of lost experience and perspective can slow momentum in the short run or longer for global expansion. Best practices includes a communication plan where team members know how they fit into the future plans and how they will be affected, or they can find competitive offers for a career change too enticing to pass up.
Keep the Focus On…
Global facility management operations maintain a focus on resources, processes, and strategy while recognizing economies of scale. Data collected on multiple siloed platforms that don’t communicate present an opportunity to consolidate platforms and information. Best practices include the ability to accelerate and align technologies, providing opportunities for a standardized approach to collecting data and the information derived from it.
This “single source of truth” approach to collecting information both internal to the organization and external with business partners improves the quality of the information derived from the data. It also improves data transparency and data governance — improvements that appeal to the C-suite. While big data focuses on quantity of data, the information derived from it focuses on a qualitative approach.
What About Geography?
The standards-based model for collecting information can also provide for extensions that address regional and local needs, while maintaining a core data approach offering more consistent business intelligence across the enterprise. This approach drives the critical decisions that improves performance at every level of the organization, regardless of geography. Organizations can view standards as being constrained or limiting, requiring a significant shift in the way data is collected — often manually and posted to spreadsheets, and a mindshift. A standards-based model provides a strong and consistent framework for gathering business intelligence globally and more effective benchmarking.
Facility management professionals are expanding services to address an increase in the ability to capture information that is technology based. Energy efficiency, sustainability, space classification, and utilization are just a few areas that can provide analytics that improve the workplace environment, productivity, and reduce expenses. Technology can now harness the energy given off by LED light bulbs to provide internet connectivity. Fully charged electric cars can be connected to an inverter to harness their stored electricity during a power grid failure. It’s about innovation supported by technology that can validate improved performance, whether its building performance based or human performance based anywhere in the world.
Stanley is the CEO of Open Standards Consortium for Real Estate (OSCRE International), a membership-based, not-for-profit organization committed to the collaborative development and implementation of global real estate data standards.
Editor’s Note: On June 15, 2016, OSCRE announced a collaborative agreement with four other international data standards organizations: FIDJI (France), gif (Germany), INREV (Europe), and REDEX (Netherlands) to form the International Real Estate Data Exchange Council (IREDEC). Read more here.