We all know the nature of a bank/credit union branch is going to change. All industries evolve and that time for retail financial is now. There is a lot of serious and interesting discussion of Micro-branches, the Experiential Branch, the Digital Branch, and other competing visions of the “Branch of the Future.” As a facility person, two parts of this discussion are of the most interest:
- Why do we think there is a single, right “Branch of the Future” for our organization?
- How can we get started on a successful transformation?
Note: This is an introductory article on an Agile Facility approach to Strategic Facility Planning – see also my presentation on this topic from the NFMT conference in March 2016:
Agile methodology is a project management approach, mostly used in software development, that takes incremental, iterative steps to make progress on a large (possibly incompletely defined) project. Each incremental step is a working solution. The customer can use this solution, assess it, and then better identify the next level of improvement. An Agile Facility planning approach can be useful to get better facilities for an organization while anticipating unpredictable future conditions or lacking a sanctioned Strategic Facility Plan.
We have advocated both benchmarking and strategic assessment programs as affordable strategies for medium size businesses to improve the performance of their facility assets and related operations. How should you decide which to use?
The answer is easy, use both.
Okay, I know that was a smart *** answer, but here is the basic difference between these approaches: Strategic Assessment is about your facility assets, while Benchmarking is about your facility practices (operations). Because these are both useful and low cost approaches, a better question might be “Which should you start first?”
It’s always impressive when we hear someone rattle off a bunch of facts and figures from memory, but I have always been fonder of the approach attributed to Alfred Einstein that you don’t have to know everything, just have to know where to find it. (I have been unable to confirm the oft reported tale that he did not know his phone number, because he knew he could find it in the phone book.)
This can easily be done with your facility information, and most of us have spreadsheets listing some of this data. The two main challenges are 1) having complete enough information compiled and available, and 2) keeping out of spreadsheet hell where we have multiple, often mismatched and conflicting files. It does us no good to be searching through multiple spreadsheets, all with different variations of the data.
Sometimes it seems ironic that while we have more data than ever, we may not have enough useful information. I suppose this is a modern day version of the needle in a haystack – too much hay makes it hard to find the needle.
A key premise of the Strategic Facility Guide approach is that we probably already know a lot of what we need to know, but it may not be organized in a way that makes it easy to see, understand, and use. A second key premise is that understanding how much more we need to know right now reduces the amount of additional information to obtain (making things faster, less expensive, and easier to see the needle with less “hay” to go thru to find that needle).
The Strategic Facility Guide is essentially about measurement and planning. The purpose of the Guide is to help bridge the gap between these two mutually exclusive activities. They are exclusive in time – one is future and one is present. An attempted measurement of a plan is really a projection – a presumed or defined metric, not an actual one.
- Planning is the activity of identifying a desired future state, or the desired response to a potential future situation. The Plan is the desired outcome to achieve.
- Measurement is the activity of quantifying an existing state to reduce uncertainty about it (more on this later). The Metric is the dimension and precision of the measurement.