Critical Issues

Dec. 29, 2004
In an industry as dynamic and ever-changing as commercial and institutional real estate, there exists no single, top-of-mind concern among the professionals responsible for its continued vitality.
At Buildings, the creative staff of editors and designers is tasked each day to ensure we are providing you – the Buildings reader – with information to help you make the best strategic and tactical decisions in your jobs. Our mission (and promise) to you is defined in the “FastTalk” column.

With this in mind, we have composed a critical issues list (which follows) that outlines many of your challenges and concentrated initiatives to help you meet your company’s objectives. Further validated by the close-ups of several of your industry colleagues – these critical issues will lead our editorial direction in 2005.Personnel. Partnering and alliances are on the rise, and it begins – and can end, if ineffective – within your own company. Quality people, those that embrace a need-to-know-more mentality, are driving the industry and your company’s successes. What does it take to attract and retain savvy professionals? Autonomy, creativity, and individuality; clear-cut communications and goals; measurement and benchmarking; process improvement through best-practice philosophies and implementation; professional development that includes mentoring and training; etc. It’s inescapable: Shrinking resources (less staff/money/tools) and higher expectations are burdening your solid players. You must do more to get them – and more importantly – keep them.Budgets. Can’t live with them; can’t live without them: As the industry grapples with increased workloads and responsibilities – the shrinking resources model we’re all becoming accustomed to – it’s crucial to consider all aspects of your role and responsibilities (and the consequential results) in your day-to-day and long-term decisions. Beyond the influences of the economy on any marketplace and the benefits of benchmarking to gain efficiencies, consider how the following topics affect your budgets and bottom line; then adapt your strategies to lead you on the road to success. They include: customer (tenant/employee) retention/satisfaction, initial vs. life-cycle expenses, outsourcing, professional development/training, quality staff, sustainability, etc.Building Performance. There’s no fail-safe formula for building owners and facilities managers in achieving optimal building performance, but it’s certainly a dominant theme in achieving bottom-line objectives – especially when financial management demands a rationalization and ROI for capital and operational expenditures. Maximizing the potential of any commercial structure, however, comes down to quality of service/product being supported by the building. It’s not so much “What is my HVAC cost per square foot?” as much as “What does it cost to reach a level of comfort per employee that will, in turn, drive the productivity equation?” Building performance isn’t standalone; like anything else, it is a tool used to achieve an overall goal. Key factors influencing this end result include benchmarking, code compliance, energy efficiency, liability, life safety/security, operational efficiency, outsourcing, process improvement, productivity gains, shrinking resources (staff/budgets/tools), standardization, sustainability, technology obsolescence, etc.Competitiveness. With challenges come opportunities; a new spin on an established idea can work wonders. Achieving a competitive edge requires creativity and practicality with a twist. It’s not about “thinking outside the box;” it’s “thinking without a box.” Perceptions – and they do count – include your emphases on benchmarking, building image/curb appeal, customer (tenant/employee) retention, income vs. expense/budgets, infrastructure/technology obsolescence, life safety/security, process improvement, productivity enhancements, quality staff, services, standardization, sustainability, etc.Communication. Real estate is, and will always remain, a people business. How the market balances the personal approach with the value of technology (all products) will launch a new definition of “business as usual.” Don’t underestimate your influence – and customer response – to this historical legacy. Arm yourself with the following “tools” to help: benchmarking; commitment from executive management; community relations; interaction among departments, industry, peers, staff, and suppliers/vendors; outsourcing; process improvement; professional development; quality staff; systems; etc.

-Buildings Editorial Staff

Linda K. Monroe, Editorial Director; Jana J. Madsen, Managing Editor; Regina Raiford Babcock, Senior Editor; Leah B. Garris, Associate Editor; Robin Suttell, Contributing Editor

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