Are you chasing "best practices"? While it’s fashionable, the problem is what to do when you eventually catch those best practices.
Do you implement them? Do you adapt them? Do you assess whether they will work for you? Do you learn why they are best practices? While the concept of best practices is a laudable idea, one needs to approach the concept with a good understanding of your purpose and what you will do when you find them.
The first thing to consider is what a ‘Best Practice’ really is. Best for who? Best in what situation? Best when?
The definition of Best Practices, from the Cambridge dictionary online, is: "a working method, or set of working methods, which is officially accepted as being the best to use in a particular business or industry, usually described formally and in detail". The assumption is that what's best for one organisation in their situation and at this time is also best for yours.
At their "best", best practices are only a guide, not an absolute - anyone else that tells you otherwise is just trying to sell you something. An understanding why they are best practice - why they work - would be much better. That way, you understand the principles and can apply them appropriately for your organisation and situation - after all, one size does not fit all.
We prefer to call them Leading Practices, which better describes what they really are.
In Facilities Management, leaders needs to continuously look at practices others use to see which can be used (or adapted) to achieve improved results. Some leading practices are quite general - using a CMMS system to manage work orders and maintenance, for instance. Others are more specific to your needs - whether to outsource or in-house, the structure and staffing model to use, specific workspace strategy to implement for your specific business and culture, to lease or build/buy, etc.
Some Facility Leaders turn to traditional benchmarking to find out about leading practices, but this often only provides numerical comparisons, so you know where your results are weak, but have no idea how to change them. Others use their own experience, possibly from a past role, to implement change in their current role. Unfortunately, this may only be repeating practices that are not in-fact leading, or won’t work in the current situation.
The best ways to learn about leading practices are:
Read Facility and Property Management Magazines to see what others are doing. Don’t limit yourself to ones in your specific industry, since Facilities Management is universal and you are likely to learn things from people who manage different types of facilities.
Go to Conferences and attend the seminars to learn about other approaches. While you are there, spend time on the trade floor and talk to vendors to see what tools, equipment, supplies and processes are available that you might otherwise not know exist.
Network locally with other Facility Managers and discover what they do to get results in their organisation. Again, don’t limit yourself to managers of the same building type or industry; you can learn a lot from Facility Managers who manage buildings with unique and different characteristics. If you do, be sure the practices will actually work and are applicable to your own organisation’s specific needs and issues.
Do an ‘Intelligent Benchmarking’ exercise, which goes beyond the traditional benchmarking comparisons and looks at practices. This usually includes a smaller number of organizations with interviews and more detailed examination of their org structure, procedures and approaches, not just their numerical results
Conduct an Operational Review using an outside expert (who doesn’t have a vested interest in the status-quo). This is a third-party review of your organisation, structure, training, processes, job descriptions, work activity and more. They will compare your organisation with the leading practices from other organisations and help you identify what you are doing well and what you should change.
Never limit yourself to the status quo. While change can be hard to implement, no organisation or Facilities Leader can rest on their laurels in this competitive and agile environment. To do so risks poor performance and, in the end lack of relevance as you will been seen as a commodity that can and should be outsourced.
For a discussion about FM Organisational Review contact BeyondFM on +61 (0) 403 842 480