Who is Integrated Strategies?

October 18, 2007

Strategic Facilities and Operations Assessment

Aging infrastructure and stale business practices can weigh down a company's operating flexibility. More than just a tactile look at what is going on, a company needs to look at the way they are doing business and validate that the core assumptions they are operating under still apply. A building built in 1920 could be fine for some companies but completely inappropriate for another, even a competitor. It comes down to the principles that are grounding your business.

Any assessment should start in the boardroom with the executives. Brush off the mission statement and business plan and see if they are still applicable to the way things are truly running in the day to day operations. Compare it to the competitors and see if it could relate to any of the competitors business plans. If there is any misalignment, sit down and figure out why things are no longer the same. Rewrite the business plan and mission statement if necessary. Make sure that these get distributed through the layers of your company; your people need to know how things should be done and that their executives are staying ahead of the curve.

Next, evaluate the organizational structure to make sure that is supports the business. Often times groups will spring up out of momentary business requirements and never disappear when those requirements change or go away. A good organizational structure will have a clear role for every group. It will also be apparent how the groups will interact and support each other. Organizational structures and the related Org Charts should not be considered fixed entities. As business changes and evolves these need to change and evolve with it. The organization as a whole is simply the chosen method for executing all requirements for performing business functions.

With the business plan and org chart in place, take a look at the facilities and infrastructure. The environment where work is performed is as important as the actual plans. If you have created places where no one wants to work or your employees can't be productive evaluate ways to resolve the situation.

We were working with a client on assessing their facilities two months ago and they were trying to figure out why their work force was older than their competitors and why they couldn't retain young employees. Their problem was entirely related to their space. They had 1970s style workspaces and cubicles, their buildings were former military grade construction (almost no light or design elements), and their technology was completely out of date. Some employees were still using 15 year old beige analog telephones! Older employees didn't mind the setup because it was the environment they had come up in, but young employees essentially refused to work there. Fortunately their lease was nearly up and moving to a new space with new furniture was an option.

The last step of the assessment, after all the changes have been made and communicated, is to put in procedures to create continual improvement. This is not related to six sigma, this is reevaluation. Over the course of a year after all these changes have been made, you will probably notice reduced operating costs through reduced turnover, higher margins and increased productivity. Without continual improvement these costs will begin to increase again until it is necessary to perform a full assessment again. The cost of making all the changes necessary for realignment is not insignificant but they typically pay for themselves in a relatively short time frame.

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