While best practices and automation are not alien to the real estate (RE) and facility management (FM) fields, they haven't been as rapidly adopted compared to other industries. Most RE/FM organizations have grown organically, with generations of management building their businesses traditionally, in their own ways, if not always the most efficient ways.
This tradition-laden organizational evolution has served most RE/FM reasonably well, whether on a small scale or throughout a global portfolio, by effectively managing corporate assets that allow for reliable facility usage. However, suggesting that most operations can still be greatly optimized to yield significant efficiencies is not a business critique, but a proven fact.
Real estate typically represents the second-highest costs after human resources (HR) for a company, so streamlining even a small percentage of those expenditures can significantly improve the bottom line. Streamlining a practice lets management organize in order to be more strategic, and allows automation to enhance efficiencies by eliminating tedious, mundane activities.
In other words, once a company's real estate organization establishes streamlined and appropriately automated business processes, it will:
• Speed service delivery,
• Get more accurate performance metrics in real time,
• Be able to more quickly respond to customers, and
• Execute more efficiently overall.
The most appealing part of streamlining and automating is that start-up and follow-through are common-sense. For example, an organization should first examine which services it offers within the entire RE/FM spectrum, from early strategic planning to project management, and operations maintenance to building management. Then, after evaluating the performance of each service component, management should address each discrete process to define a best-practice approach. One caveat: the RE/FM industry does not currently have a governing body defining or setting best practices as fields such as accounting have. Although organizations such as Open Standard for Corporate Real Estate (OSCRE) are beginning to address this deficiency, the phrase "best practice" is essentially up to individual organizations or informed industry consultants to decide.
Working More Consistently, Anywhere
The industry is ripe for this kind of optimization, with many opportunities available to perform tasks consistently among most RE/FM organizations. When examining each service area, determine:
• The requirement of that specific process,
• Who the ultimate customer is,
• The motivation for the customer's plans to use the space,
• How to make the space support the customer's business model, and
• How to make the process support the requirement.