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?”
The recent press around Wal-Mart closing a lot of their stores in smaller communities (story here and here) raises the question of “How much civic responsibility is appropriate these days for major companies in our communities?” This is a topic where my worlds collide – my role as economic development coordinator for a small community vs. that of a facility strategy consultant helping businesses identity which facilities to keep, renovate, acquire, or close for efficiency. Continue reading
Even when we find ourselves with decent data about our facility operations, we can be unsure about what it means. Our premise is to make better use of what already know, and “strategically” focus on those areas that provide the best potential value. Benchmarking provides a useful tool to help us focus and prioritize our efforts.
For example, if our benchmarking shows us that our custodial cost per SF is in the good range, we know that we probably have limited opportunity to reduce the custodial rate so we probably will find better potential elsewhere. Conversely, if our benchmarking shows us that both our HVAC maintenance and energy costs per SF are relatively high, we know these are prospective areas of opportunity, and can even evaluate which of them might be the larger opportunity to pursue 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.