Best Practices

Importance of Metrics in FM Best Practices

How are you measuring up? Whether it is school report cards, performance plans and reviews at work, sports box scores, physical attributes (weight, height, 40 yard dash), we often create social norms or something like the bell curve around a lot of these metrics. Arguably many of these are not accurate or effective measures of who or what’s best.

For instance, I don’t see how the bell curve at school is a good norm. My best teacher says if he’s teaching the subject well, and the student is putting in the work they’ll get the “A” because they earn it. His challenge is getting students wanting to learn. Creating that desire to learn makes him an exceptional teacher.

So how do we get our business to get straight A’s? How do we get our employees wanting to perform better, and  finding new ways of doing things? How do we become a best-in-class company that is looked to for its’ best practices?

Concept image of a lost and confused signpost against a blue cloudy sky.

Having proper metrics is “one” important element to doing so. Depending on the industry there are a plethora of metrics that can be utilized. But how effective are they really being utilized? Are they meaningful and clearly related to what you want to accomplish? Are they simple enough for everyone to understand and relate to? Do the metrics support the right kind of learning environment?

It’s one thing to be using metrics to manage your own business. But benchmarking others to find those with the best measures, and presumably the best practices is a completely different matter. Here’s why I would not recommend spending too much time or resources on external benchmarking.

Benchmarking pitfalls:

  • Calculation parameters can vary for same titled metrics.
  • Companies compared in a peer group have many differences that may cause the measures to differ beyond their best practices.
  • You can spend a lot of precious time and resources learning how other people do something, only to find out (or not find out) that the context of their situation is different.
  • Benchmarking is a distraction. Focusing outside the organization takes away from the attention needed inside it.
  • When you do finally find a benchmarked perceived “best practice”, you are simply playing catch up. What you perceive to be the best only shows that someone else figured out how to make it even better, which is what should have spent your time doing in the first place.

Benchmarking context:

  • Don’t spend a lot of time doing it. Doing it right consumes a lot of resources, which is better spent internally finding ways to do things uniquely better.
  • If you have some broad measures that are easily available, use them as a guide to see if you are in the ballpark. If not, think of how it might affect your priorities.
  • For Facilities Management, there may be some broad metrics that you can effectively compare yourself to others like, energy consumption, work order costs, and janitorial costs. You need to find some way to standardize this such as typically by measuring p.s.f. (per sq. foot).
  • From my experience, if you have multiple buildings in multiple locations, the most effective benchmarking you can do is across your own portfolio. This allows for the necessary standardization and ensures that you are comparing apples to apples. Plus you can pinpoint problem areas in your own operation, and things like where to spend limited capital dollars on improvements that will have the best ROI.

Here are some simple FM benchmark comparisons for you to consider making across your portfolio:

  • Energy consumption will help identify retrofits with the best ROI.
  • Water consumption can also identify problems and potential improvements.
  • Janitorial cost/sf.
  •  sf / employee.
  • FM cost / employee.
  • Supply costs / employee.
  • Parking costs/sf  and/or parking costs / employee.

Building

Here’s why good internal metrics and measurements are necessary for any company to be successful:

  • Will help you make fact-based decisions.
  • If you can’t measure it properly, you can’t manage it properly (for the most part).
  • Using metrics is the most effective way to ensure that you can achieve your goals.
  • Effective way to break down goals into actionable steps that you can make into programs and create metrics around.
  • If done right, can be motivational, and give employees rallying point.
  • Can be a catalyst for change.
  • Ensure quality assurance, and help with measuring steps in a process.
  • Can understand customer and employee perceptions.

Here’s how to create your Best Practices based on Metrics:

  • Focus on outcomes. Focus on results achieved and not steps taken.
  • Limit the number of measures. Concentrate on those with the greatest impact.
  • Measure current performance. Establish a solid baseline to start from.
  • Link metrics to strategy and clear specific goals.
  • Look ahead, not just back. Think about metrics that predict results.
  • Make metrics visible and accessible. Motivate people by being transparent and communicating them effectively.

I recommend using a balanced scorecard with your metrics, for a number of reasons:

  • A balanced scorecard covers the important areas of customer, employee, internal company, and personal targets or metrics.
  • It is simple and easy to understand (of course, depending on the actual measures you use for each).
  • Two of the most important areas that don’t receive enough attention are customer perception metrics and employee perception metrics. Happy employees make for happy customers, which makes a successful company.
  • The metrics can be cascading – i.e. company, division, department, individual. This ties them nicely to the corporate strategy.
  • Puts more of the focus on serving the customer, especially if the internal measures are around quality and/or service rather than financials.

Metrics are vital for establishing best FM practices, so always keep in mind:

  • Simple is best – less is more.
  • Tie metrics to strategy & goals.
  • Communicate them well – make them motivational.
  • If you benchmark, do it internally more so than externally.

About jfgrayiii

Co-founder/CEO @mentionmapp. Former West Coast editor & contributor with @BetaKit. Keeping humanity in stories about technology. Always curious. @grayspective

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  1. Pingback: Key Attributes for becoming Best-in-Class in Facilities Management | BuiltSpace - January 27, 2014

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