• Chris Dowler, FMP


Facilities are an integral component of delivering services. They can either support - or impede - the effective delivery of services. By bringing facilities into alignment with the business’ strategic plan, a Strategic Facilities Operational Plan (SFOP) will clearly lay out the necessary action steps needed to reach the goals of the strategic plan.

Over a 20-to-30-year life of a commercial building, the total cost of ownership breaks down as follows:

2% - 5% for initial design and construction costs

6% - 10% for operations and maintenance costs

85% - 92% for personnel costs1

With personnel costs grabbing the lion’s share of costs, why don’t more facility owners focus on aligning their facilities with their business’ strategic plans? Most probably because they are not aware of the correlation.

Facilities are normally perceived as a time and money suck. However, by aligning facilities with the strategic plan productivity can be improved, employee satisfaction can be raised, retention can be improved, and greater innovation can be supported. And, operations and maintenance costs can be reduced.

The International Facility Management Association (IFMA) defines the strategic facility plan:

“A strategic facility plan is defined as a two-to-five-year facilities plan encompassing an entire portfolio of owned and / or leased space that sets strategic facility goals based on the organization’s strategic (business) objectives. The strategic facilities goals, in turn determine short-term tactical plans, including prioritization of, and funding for, annual facility related projects.”2

An SFOP is a four-step process which is iterative and unique to the organization.


Critical to the success of the development of an SFOP is understanding the needs of the organization. A review of the mission statement, values, and culture will identify what the organization considers critical. This review needs to be performed for each unit in the business. Identifying disconnects between business units’ operations and the larger operation will forestall wasting time on developing an SFOP which will not gain traction.


Gap analysis is a key performance action in this phase. Identifying existing needs and future needs and looking at existing conditions will guide the plan. Other analysis tools which may be used are benchmarking, SWOT analysis, and scenario planning.


Analysis will result in some obvious directions in which to head and probable courses of action. Defining these courses and developing cost estimates, business cases for implementation, timelines, and alternatives are key components of this phase.


Implementation takes the plan from the strategic level to the tactical level. Specific projects will be developed which will be managed in-house or contracted out.

A completed SFOP is not a one-and-done proposition. An SFOP is a living document which should be reviewed as conditions change, and annually at the least. Flexibility is the key to developing and refining the plan.

For more information on how an SFOP can improve your organization, contact us at Dowler@DowlerConstruction.com. We offer a no obligation consultation to determine if an SFOP is right for your organization, be it a small business or non-profit.

1 The 2%, 6%, 92% numbers came from Sustainable Building Technical Manual, Public Technology, Inc. and the U.S. Green Building Council with funding by the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1996. The manual cites Joseph J. Room, Lean and Clean Management (Kodansha International, 1994).

2 Project Management Benchmarks Survey, 2002 (IFMA)


Chris Dowler, FMP

Founder and Owner

Dowler Construction Services

a strategic facility solutions firm

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