Strategic Facility Plans

The need for developing a strategic plan is not a new concept for higher education or the student union field. Departmental strategic plans are valuable for many reasons that include setting the course of focus for an organization that connects to the mission, values, and organizational goals. Often, you may also see traditional strategic plans that branch off of a departmental plan into a more functional area strategic approach. Examples of these include a strategic marketing plan, communication plan or business plan, among others. However, a lesser known, but valuable tool, may be the facility management strategic plan.

In an effort to accomplish the numerous responsibilities and priorities that a facility manager must balance, they also need a detailed and complete management plan to base facility direction and manage assets in a way that accomplishes the organization's mission and meets customer satisfaction in a cost-effective approach. This planning stage is critical for anticipating both long- and short-term requirements to meet the organization’s mission. In short, this plan can become the basis for how a facility manager oversees operations, maintenance, and asset management in relation to facility infrastructure and daily operations.

Developing a facility management plan might help a facility manager consistently understand:

  • Level of service expected internally and by customers
  • Maintenance program requirements (potentially with service agreements or audit and code requirements)
  • Operational and capital improvement projects
  • Policies and procedures
  • Availability and capability of facility management resources
  • Services and preventative maintenance to potentially contract or outsource
  • Programs for quality control and assurance
  • Key success outcomes/indicators and business related metrics

A basic facilities management strategic plan might embody four levels of a strategic model. These areas generally include a purpose level, strategic planning level, business planning level, and a tactical or operationalizing level. Without too many details, the purpose level should include having customer needs outlined; the strategic planning level should include the organization’s strategic plan to include mission, vision, goals, values, culture, and objectives; the business level should be the heart of the plan which is very specific to the facility master plan (budgeting, etc), relating it to other organizational strategic plans (marketing, business, assessment, etc.); the tactical planning level is where the operational plans (workflow, etc.) and maintenance plans (custodial, etc.) co-exist. These localized plans should be unique and outline specific hands-on detailed planning to achieve front line goals within the overall strategic master plan.

In summary, there are many professional facility management organizations and facilities management degree programs that offer detailed instruction on how to develop in-depth strategic facility plans and master plans. There is no perfect formula or structure to these plans but one commonality is that the intentional facility manager, who plans strategically with intention to meet organizational objectives while pleasing customers, all within a philosophy of managing assets towards the highest level of output at the lowest cost, will likely have a roadmap for success. 
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