Benchmarking for Action & Satisfaction in Facility Operations & Maintenance
While benchmarking is a well-established strategy that organizations have been using to manage performance and seek continual improvement for almost 4 decades, the field of facility management has only started using benchmarking in the last 20 years. While the literature available on organizational benchmarking is readily available from a multitude of sources, the literature specifically addressing facility-oriented benchmarking is much harder to find. Literature addressing large external benchmarking surveys is also scarce. The literature available on the topic was reviewed and several knowledge gaps were identified as needing clarification for facility benchmarking. The fundamental goal of benchmarking is to identify best practices (Camp, 1989) and take action (Spendolini, 1992). There is no identified literature addressing how facility managers are taking action on their benchmarking efforts. In searching the literature for best practices, customer satisfaction was identified as widely used facility KPI, however, there is not a lot of research into how the FM field is using the data or how it related to facility performance management. Customer/Occupant satisfaction was also identified as a regularly utilized KPI in the FM field and while there exists literature on the topic internationally, there is very little data on how it is being used in the North American facility industry. Furthermore, the literature has also identified a gap between facility benchmarking and general performance management (Simoes et al., 2011). In order to address these questions, an industry-wide facility operations & maintenance benchmarking survey was developed and conducted with an FM organization. The survey provides a wide variety of data on North American facilities representing 2,629,749,032 Exterior Gross Square Feet (GSF) and 1,782,535,342 Rentable Square Feet (RSF). Hypotheses were developed from the topic areas and their relationship to a Key Performance Indicator (KPI), maintenance costs/SF, was tested using a variety of inferential statistical techniques and grouping of variables for making more useful comparisons. Results from the analyses suggest that while 66% of facilities utilize customer satisfaction surveys, there is no clear relationship between their use and facility performance, though differences in survey frequency were found to relate to facility size. Also, while facilities approach taking action on benchmarking studies in a variety of ways, there exists some evidence to suggest that facility managers with unfamiliarity or uncertainty about the benchmarking process may be significantly underperforming when compared to their peers.