- Are you performing as well as others in your industry?
- Do you need to demonstrate to others that your facility operating costs are reasonable?
- Do you know which areas are your best opportunities for improving performance or reducing cost?
- Are you using industry best practices in your facility operations?
- Do you know if an 80% occupant satisfaction with your facility maintenance services is a good rate?
If you cannot quickly and simply answer these questions and others like them, you should consider a facility benchmarking program. It is a very easy and affordable improvement technique to use.
What is Benchmarking?
Benchmarking is a continuous improvement process where you compare data about your organization’s business processes and facility performance metrics with others. The results show how well you perform on selected metrics and are used to identify best practices that help you improve results and reduce costs.
There are various subtypes of benchmarking based upon what you benchmark, the peer group used, and the purpose. Here are three examples for facility managers:
- Internal facility benchmarking – where you compare specific attributes such as energy use among your own facilities.
- Facility performance benchmarking – where you compare a full range of metrics on your facility assets and facility operations with others in your industry.
- Strategic process benchmarking – where you compare a functional business process such as grounds maintenance across all types of organizations.
How can Facility Benchmarking benefit my organization?
The most tangible benefit of facility benchmarking is facility related cost savings, which can be significant. For example, our Research Facilities group saved more than $158 million over a 5-year period — an average of about $1.25 per square foot annually.
Most organizations participate in facility benchmarking for two primary reasons:
- To quantify how they stand.
Facility Benchmark data is most commonly viewed as a “scorecard” for some part of an organization, popularized by things like JD Power ratings. Having comparison metrics is useful, whether you are trying to make a case for your position or just learning how you compare.
- To get better.
The real value of facility benchmarking is about the learning opportunities. A good facility benchmarking program includes some networking with the other participants so you can discuss what is behind the numbers, learn the factors that contribute to better or worse performance, identify practices that you might be able to apply in your organization, and learn lessons from others on the best ways to implement those practices.
Benchmarking offers other benefits, too. It is a way to…
- Identify your strengths and weaknesses
- Measure your effectiveness and improvement over time
- Reduce costs and add value
- Justify costs/investments
- Continue to improve your operations
- Document successful practices you have implemented
- Challenge “business-as-usual” mindset
- Learn from others so you can apply their techniques in your organization
- Provide information for strategic planning
- Establish achievable goals for further improvements
There are various tools and methods for evaluating your facilities and your facilities organizations, so why do we promote facility benchmarking?
It is very easy and affordable to do. All you need is decent data to compare.
The comparison results are intuitively understandable. Comparison results usually communicate well with both leadership and staff. (Caveat: explaining reasons for results may be more complicated.)
The comparisons are based on actual performance (not models) and therefor show what is achievable, reasonable, and likely.
The results can quickly help you identify which areas have appropriate performance and opportunities that may be worth pursuing for improvement.
An ongoing benchmarking program measures and shows progress, measuring the impact of changes over time. It underlies many machine learning programs about “normal or expected” patterns which helps identify “outliers” for management by exception.
“Benchmarking proves to our principle funders, the Canadian Government’s Treasury Board, that our buildings are among the top performers among many international museums and that requests for additional funding for critical infrastructure repairs are verifiable and legitimate. As a result, our museum has secured additional funding for the next five years to undertake major building repairs and upgrades.” —Guy Larocque, Canadian Museum of Civilization
What do I need to start facility benchmarking?
The only things you really need to start facility benchmarking is 1) a desire to evaluate your current operation, 2) a willingness to consider and learn alternatives from others, and 3) some data about your facilities and operations.
Our tips for successful facility benchmarking:
- Be honest to yourself and others about your data.
- Understand that you will be best in some, but not all, areas.
- Be willing to learn continually.
- Be open to learning from the mistakes and successes of others.
- Make measuring and improving performance a priority.
Organizations that implement regular facility benchmarking programs experience noticeable improvement/savings in their operations, and it is used by most successful organizations today.
Your next steps: