How to develop a strategic facilities plan

Key ingredients of a strategic facilities plan and criteria to evaluate the plan

The strategic facilities plan (SFP) is a roadmap for facilities managers to inform others of current activities, where the department is headed, and how it expects to get there. The SFP is also a corporate endorsement of facilities priorities and policies. Using the company strategic plan as the basis for facilities strategies enables the facilities manager to establish clear parameters for actions and ensures that activities are consistent with the corporate direction. It also identifies to to management of the organization future facility plans so it may budget and plan more effectively.

For a mid-size company with a space inventory of one to two million square feet, developing an SFP the first time may require six months, or longer if the process is automated. The SFP’s usefulness is directly proportional to the amount of work invested to develop it. An automated SFP can be updated continuously, yielding greater benefits.

Six components of a strategic facilities plan:

1. Mission statement

The first step in drafting an SFP is to develop a facilities department mission statement containing policies with corresponding goals and objectives. The statement should be derived from the corporate mission, goals, and objectives. For example, if a company is divesting should acknowledge the need for the successful sale, divestiture, and re deployment of existing facilities resources.

2. Goals and objectives

Goals and objectives evolve from the facilities mission statement and set functional parameters and operating standards for the facilities department. Goals are quantitative statements translated into measurable tasks, such as completion of a certain construction project. Objectives are qualitative – for example, completion of a standards program. To avoid misunderstandings, goals and objectives must be reduced to writing.

3. Situational analysis

This is the process of capturing information about external and internal events that could have a significant influence, negative or positive, on the facilities department in the coming year. For example, corporate strategic planners may be unaware of legislation that increases regulatory compliance procedures regarding indoor air quality.

4. Key Variables

Determine the key variables that could affect the success of the facilities function. If a projected facilities funding increase does not occur, for example, the installation of computer workstations may be delayed due to inability to upgrade a building’s electrical service. Knowledge of what is happening in buildings is critical for effective budgeting and operation. Each key variable should be listed in order of priority, based on its impact on facilities, the company, or both.

5. Strategic scenarios

Scenario development enables the facilities manager to plan based on the likelihood that certain events may occur during the upcoming year, and set priorities and activities accordingly. The idea behind scenarios is to “rehearse” probable developments and be prepared to act if they occur. To make sure the scenarios are viable, develop three to five options; make each materially different from the others; make each one realistic (plausible); and enhance each scenario with the assumptions behind it.

6. Recommended strategy

Based on the scenarios, a final recommendation can be made to decision-makers, which will have a high degree of support for the choices they must make. The choice of strategy should meet the following criteria:

  1. It should have internal consistency.
  2. It should be consistent with the corporate culture and environment.
  3. There must be flexibility within the strategy.
  4. Appropriate resources to implement it should be available.
  5. It should involve an acceptable degree of risk to the company.
  6. It should be achievable in an appropriate time frame.
  7. It should be practical.

A facilities strategy should be clear and easily understood by corporate management. This type of clarity improves the image of facilities management as a corporate activity.

This installment of FM Check List is adapted from BOMI Institute’s Fundamentals of Facilities Management course, (, a requirement in the Facilities Management Administrator (FMA) designation program.

This document is an update of the BOMI article originally published on FMLink in March 1999.