Data Analysis and Its Strategic Role in Facilities Management

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By Peter Zuraw, Vice President Market Strategy and Development at Sightlines, a Gordian Company

For the people who manage facilities, tracking data about the care of physical assets is now standard practice. Analyzing that data year over year and comparing among colleagues provides a way to measure how a facility is doing from a maintenance and upkeep perspective. But how data is tracked and what is done with it remains inconsistent, at best.

In conversations I’m having across the country, finance and facilities leaders share their stories of success and struggle, wondering whether they are keeping up or falling behind. Rarely does anyone feel like they are ahead of the game. The implications of facilities choices reach far and wide. Leaders want an objective means to determine what to focus on and to assess whether resources are being put toward the critical issues, today and well into the future.

10 Essential Questions to Ask about Benchmarking Data Analysis for Facilities Management

When preparing to measure performance, leaders need to gather the right information. Here are 10 essential benchmarking questions.

  1. What are the key data points?
  2. Is all data relevant to performance and are there key performance indicators?
  3. What is locally important and what is uniform across the industry?
  4. How does one assure that the data collected this year is collected the same way as last year?
  5. Are benchmarks being assessed in context or by themselves?
  6. Is my trusted colleague at a peer facility tracking data the same way?
  7. Are benchmarks used to guide decision-making processes or are they simply success/failure measures?
  8. Does the data you review today tell you what your facility will need next year or next decade?
  9. Does your process help connect decisions to organizational mission or success?
  10. How can you tell if you have made any progress?

What Good Benchmarking Does for You

Successful benchmarking delivers reliable, trusted information for more focused leadership. It enables jargon-free dialogue using common vocabulary among the many facilities constituents, so the people in the board room and the boiler room can collectively make better choices. Better choices when it comes to operating practices, better understanding of space, better insights on capital demands and allocations. Quality benchmarking unleashes potential and makes it possible to rein in waste. It extends consistent knowledge across the community and allows the alignment of facilities investment with organizational mission. It empowers wise financial discipline and strategic leadership.

Making Benchmarking Analysis Actionable

All the facilities data in the world is useless unless it can be interpreted and turned into an actionable plan. Many facilities without internal resources seek help to complete this effort. Those with the internal capacity often seek the partnership of external colleagues to bolster, challenge or expand their insights. These collaborations have allowed Sightlines to establish strong benchmarking relationships where facilities leaders have secured more money from leadership groups long skeptical of the value of investment. Some organizations have altered the trajectory of capital investment plans by demonstrating the negative impact on the institution long term. Still, others have reshaped their strategy for deploying their talent to optimize maintenance, reduce costs or enhance service. No matter the outcome, there is value in gathering objective input to make current practices stronger.

The people who manage facilities face an increasingly complex leadership environment. They must understand their facilities activities and decisions through effective measurement and analysis today, so their facilities can thrive tomorrow.

Discover more about Sightlines Benchmarking & Analysis for facilities management.