Most of us have vision and ideas but getting results that make a fundamental difference to your organisation can be another matter. There’s no silver bullet, but by methodically identifying what really matters for your organisation, you’ll focus efforts on delivering the important results, and set yourself up for future successes.
Benchmarking will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses (see section 2 of our Ultimate Guide).
Once you have benchmarks, the next step is to prioritise the improvements you plan to implement. Start by ranking weaknesses according to their overall impact on your business, then plot how important each issue is for each of your customers and other stakeholder groups, and finally, how important each stakeholder group is to you.
This will help you prioritise improvement areas, and set the urgency of delivering each one. In turn it will help you allocate your budget to achieve the biggest positive impact for your business and for your stakeholders.
You can consider estates improvement programmes as having one of three primary objectives: improving service or value for money, or improving sustainable performance.
Improving service or value for money
Although process details vary between organisations, three common themes pay dividends when it comes to enhancing service or value for money:
* People really matter and yes, they do have the answers. Listen to and engage with the people who deliver (and who receive) the estates services. Regardless of whether they’re employed by you or your supply chain, take time to engage with people who do the job. Ask them what their issues are, and get to know them. They’re more likely to come up with innovative solutions than the executives who manage the contracts.
* Question everything – ask ‘why’ over and over and over. If something worked well yesterday, we can’t assume it will still work tomorrow. The biggest inefficiencies tend to creep in when something changes but the practices around the facilities remain the same.
* Treat your suppliers fairly. Taking advantage of someone may deliver a short-term saving, but it’s counter-productive in the longer term. Partners and suppliers that are fairly treated are much more likely to go the extra mile and help out when things get tough.
Improving sustainable performance
Businesses are experiencing a combination of increased competition, longer business hours, more customer demands and onerous regulation. Consequently most businesses are under pressure to control energy budgets, reduce carbon emissions and improve sustainability outcomes to reduce operating cost and comply with tightening legislation. A well configured estate can yield improvements in comfort, occupant performance and energy use at the same time. Consistently applying lean principles can accumulate very large savings across an estate, over time.
There are three main steps involved in doing this:
* Purchase equipment which has the most economic whole life cost, over comparable equipment, taking into account maintenance, replacement parts and energy use over time
* Design and put in place control strategies to ensure that all of your equipment is only switched on when needed – unoccupied rooms should not be heated or lit, for example
* Select equipment which is as efficient as possible at part load, as this is where it will operate over the bulk of its life. Very little equipment operates at peak capacity all of the time.