Structuring Funding Conversations for Success

A facilities manager shakes the hand of a stakeholder in a white button up during a meeting

Whether consciously realised or not facilities managers do work every day has a significant impact on the organisation’s risk profile. When facilities and assets are kept in good condition, risk is generally reduced, through reducing the likelihood of potential hazards, and therefore consequences.

This is only possible though, with sufficient funding and resources to conduct the work.

Obtaining funding usually requires presenting an argument that highlights the impacts and costs of inaction on the organisation's strategic goals. Despite shared goals, these funding conversations can feel daunting, due to a lack of shared language around risk.

For facilities managers, the ability to effectively communicate with decision-makers around risk is central to driving outcomes for the organisation. If facilities managers can speak about risk in the same language as stakeholders, appeals for additional investment are more likely to be heard, and be successful.

A framework for funding conversations

If you’re putting together a case for additional funding or resourcing for decision-makers, this simple framework can support the conversation. Bringing risk into the conversation can improve the chance of success, ensuring the facilities team are speaking the same language as your stakeholders.

What's the risk? 

To put together an appeal for additional resources or funding, the first step is to clearly outline:

-      The hazard – what might go wrong

-      The consequence – what are the potential negative outcomes that might occur

-      The likelihood – what is the chance that the hazard will produce a negative outcome

Support your position with qualitative data, and quantitative data where available, to create a compelling story. This helps to paint a clear picture of the risk the request is addressing, helping to capture stakeholder attention.

What's the solution?

Clearly outline the proposed solution and how it will influence the risk. The key here is to provide enough information about how the solution reduces risk without going into unnecessary and lengthy amounts of detail.

A well thought-out plan instils confidence in the ability to execute the plan and increases the chance of a positive outcome. Stakeholders want to know how this solution plays into the big picture, as well as the problem at hand.

What will it cost?

A cost proposal should include the implementation costs for the solution, and any ongoing costs required to maintain it. Don’t forget to include internal resources and time, as well as financial costs.  

In some cases, the solution might create ongoing savings in terms of resources and time. It is important to make these clear when breaking down the cost.

Bringing it all together

To summarise your proposal, give a high-level overview of the risks of inaction, before providing your recommended solution. Frame the risk in the context of the organisations strategic goals, and the threat that failure to invest poses to those goals.

Practical example

To show how to put this framework into practice, let’s look at a practical example of critical systems safety testing. Testing of these systems, for example, fire safety systems, is a key compliance requirement for organisations. These checks need to be done at specific intervals, by someone authorised to do the work.

Define the hazard

Across Australia and New Zealand, safety regulations dictate that critical safety systems must be tested by an authorised party at set intervals. The hazard, in this case, is that the organisation is audited and found to have failed to meet those obligations.

Highlight the potential consequences

The consequence in this case is a failed audit, which will mean different things, depending on different factors. Some of the potential consequences could include:

-      In the case of some critical systems, the organisation could have its licence to operate immediately suspended, ceasing all operations.

-      The facility cannot operate as normal until systems are tested, resulting in significantly disrupted operations and impacting revenue.

-      Significant costs are likely to be incurred to expediate testing of the relevant systems, to regain right to operation.

-      The organisation can suffer reputational damage and becomes a target for more frequent inspections.

These are just the potential consequences of the failed audit. If the missed inspections eventuate in the system failing when needed, the consequences could be much more dire.

Rate the likelihood

How likely it is that one of these inspections will be missed is heavily influenced by visibility over the required inspections. If the organisation is relying on paper and spreadsheet-based processes, visibility over works is low, the likelihood is much higher.

Teams utilising these systems tend to rely on the contractor doing the right thing, sticking to the required schedule and conducting the right tests. However, the responsibility for ensuring these tests happen lies with the organisation, not the contractor.

A lack of visibility inherently increases the likelihood that a negative consequence will occur, making it incredibly difficult to predict the likelihood of system or audit failure in advance.

What's the solution?

Ensuring these inspections are conducted properly, and on the right schedule, requires improved visibility over the planned maintenance schedule for critical assets. Your C-suite might not need to know the specifics of these planned maintenance schedules, but they do need to know the risks of not having visibility over them.

Utilising spreadsheet and paper-based processes severely limit visibility over planned maintenance works.

Additionally, these processes make it extremely difficult to produce proof that the required work was conducted at all, let alone in line with auditor expectations. Auditors increasingly expect this kind of information to be available on demand, and deadlines for producing the information may apply in some circumstances.

The solution in this case is investment in dedicated facilities management software, to allow visibility over planned maintenance.

What will it cost?

The costs associated with facilities management software are predominantly the cost of licencing the software, and the resources necessary to implement it.

Beyond the cost of the software itself, think about the resources required to get it up and running. What support is available from the vendor to minimise the internal resources required, and what is the cost of that support.  

Additionally, include cost savings associated with the investment. The software reflects a risk reduction for the organisation, but may also present an opportunity for cost savings. In addition to the improved visibility, will the software also create efficiencies in reactive works, improve service delivery or time savings for the FM team?

Bringing it all together

To summarise your proposal, give a high-level overview of the risk involved of inaction before providing your recommended solution. Frame the risk in the context of the organisations strategic goals, and the threat that failing to invest poses to those goals.