How facilities management shapes corporate strategy

Dylan Rogers

Too often, facilities is seen as an afterthought, or as a reactive solution to everyday problems.

From the most unflattering angle, facilities management is viewed as a strain on business movement: slow-moving, expensive, and lacking strategic perspective.

But in truth, facilities management is much more than break and fix. It’s about designing strategic, value-added outcomes for your brand. Effective maintenance reflects deep command of strategy and a nuanced understanding of the values of your business.

For facilities management to have a seat at the table, it’s necessary to have the right knowledge and the right approach to communicating your alignment with overall business strategy.

Facilities management informs brand strategy

A positive brand perception begins with maintaining excellent facilities. But it goes beyond the basic concerns.

Floor care, plumbing, lighting, and climate control are essential. But specific hardware choices at your locations have long-term effects that aren’t always obvious.

Suppose that corporate strategy proposes a plan to convert all entryway pull doors in a given region to automatic doors.

The automatic doors are virtually silent, require no customer contact, and are increasingly fashionable at competitor stores in your city.

On its face, this sounds like an attractive proposal. But with the influence of facilities expertise, the story becomes more nuanced.

Apart from the added cost of automatic door conversion and routine maintenance, it’s also important to take the impact of weather conditions into account.

Since automatic doors leak more air than ordinary pull doors, your locations will be exposed to the elements more often.

And as a consequence of increased exposure, your HVAC units will be forced to work harder and longer to maintain a stable indoor climate.

The added stress promotes equipment failure—which could impact store uptime, long-term capital budgets, and the trust and satisfaction customers feel toward your brand.

With the added consultation of a facilities expert, the marketing and strategy department might have instead proposed revolving doors, which transfer a much smaller portion of external air and are much more reliable than automatic doors.

Facilities management guides construction and design decisions

When expansion strategists plan for new business locations, they rely on construction experts to pick building materials, spec interior design components, and position essential assets.

And whatever affects the construction of a building will, by extension, affect the management of its facilities.

But the process of scoping a new building isn’t always a straightforward one. Unique environmental and structural needs often impact the placement of important assets.

For example: Special weather conditions, material weight limits, regional zoning restrictions, and even company brand guidelines will influence the way your organization installs HVAC units.

Not all roof structures will support high-ton units, so they’ll have to be grounded, or replaced by a larger number of lower-weight units.

And in some climates, a few high-ton units will cool the air too quickly, which leads to air that’s more damp, colder, and ultimately more uncomfortable.

These considerations will greatly impact the costs of maintenance and eventual repair. And therefore where and how your HVAC units are installed reveals itself to be both an engineering question and a facilities question.

From building blueprint to demolition, strategic facilities management problems present themselves at every stage in the life cycle of a building.

As such, facilities experts should be called upon as early as possible to deliver insight and ensure building efficiency and longevity.

Facilities management provides insight into customer behavior

As the facilities maintenance industry continues to more closely integrate with the tech sector, facilities leaders are contributing new ways to help businesses better understand and serve their communities.

Internet of Things (IoT) devices have already made their way into the maintenance industry. Some facilities technology platforms integrate with smart building sensors that constantly collect and analyze data on building activity.

  • Traffic sensors in door frames analyze entry frequency. Building managers can use data to monitor common area cleaning needs and even adjust staffing for seasonal coverage.
  • Weight sensors placed under stacks of shopping baskets can help inventory managers better understand shopping preferences at different times, regions, seasons, and so on.
  • CO2 sensors can estimate the number of people in a space and can signal HVAC systems to adjust airflow. Data gathered will help store managers understand the effectiveness of product placement, how aisle width impacts sales, and more.

Ecosystems of Internet-ready devices will only continue to exert their influence on facilities management. And by extension, the data gathered by emerging facilities technologies will help brands understand and refine the customer experience.

Facilities management is much more than the story of break and fix—it’s another chapter in the playbook of corporate strategy. A serious investment in facilities maintenance technology amounts to an investment in the strategies and values that guide and grow your business. Get in touch with SMS Assist to learn more about how our deep expertise and award-winning technology is making maintenance work better: weknowFM@smsassist.com.