Try before you buy isn’t always feasible. While companies can often test-drive software or sample a new product to assess the impact to their business, facilities management programs aren’t typically on this list. Through many years of successful facilities management, we’ve learned a lot, including what works and what doesn’t in a facility management program. More fundamentally, we also understand that the decision to outsource this function at all can be both overwhelming and stressful.
To alleviate these concerns and give some visibility to what an outsourced facility management program would look like after it is implemented, a facility management pilot program can sometimes be a good option. In this post, we’ll take you through the benefits of such a program, outline how we design it and share the keys to success.
Whether your facility maintenance program is entirely internal or you use a third-party for some maintenance services, making any transition is hard. Any change at an organization-wide level will present hurdles and challenges to overcome – and many unknowns. Since a pilot program isn't permanent, there’s less risk, and there’s an opportunity for learning, improving the solution, and fostering stakeholder relationships. Seeing what an outsourced program looks like at a small scale can really make a difference when weighing your options.
Minimally, a pilot program will allow you to:
- Reduce Risk: Pilot programs typically only include specific locations or lines of business. For this reason, you’ll need fewer resources and limit your exposure. You’re assessing the performance of a program in a controlled but live environment. It’s also reversible if it doesn’t meet your expectations.
- Learn: Testing is all about learning. You’ll either confirm or disprove expectations and assumptions. The program is a test to validate the potential value.
- Improve the Solution: Pilots identify additional improvements in either the solution or implementation launch. It could also enhance future projections of benefits as you move toward a full rollout.
- Build Relationships: These scenarios provide the chance to build trust and achieve stakeholder buy-in at scale.
Designing the Pilot Program
Facilities management isn’t one-size-fits-all. Many factors impact what will be the best program for your business. A pilot program is a limited introduction to what an outsourced provider can do to prove they can have a real, measurable impact on your program.
We know that program design matters to success – and this design must include goals, timelines, data, and feedback. We aim to drive transparency, reach alignment and shift mindsets. Any change is hard, even that which brings positive returns. We’re careful but confident during the design phase.
Here are the steps we follow to ensure the best foundation for success.
The 10 Essential Steps for Every Pilot Program
- Define what you’re testing: First, all parties involved need to decide what aspect of facilities management is in scope for the pilot. At this stage, the organization should be focused on articulating the biggest challenges that they would like to overcome.
- Set clear goals: Now, we need to answer the question, “What does success look like?” At this point, we are taking the challenges and setting objectives on how to solve them. Regardless of whether you are focused on reducing spend, improving SLAs (service level agreements), or achieving efficiencies, you’ll need to make sure your goals are measurable.
- Decide the length of program: How long will the program run? Our experience has shown us that about six months is optimal. Anything less than this may not provide enough data to determine the results.
- Choose your testing group: The pilot is run within a sample population of your locations or other characteristics. We work with you to define the composition of that testing group based on your goals.
- Collect data and establish a baseline: Next is an exercise to gather and understand your existing data to set achievable success measures. Creating a baseline is pivotal in being able to show gains or losses, regardless of what data points you are measuring.
- Contract for success: We call out this as a step because it’s where we ensure everyone’s on the same page and there is clear structure around the program. We are all in agreement on the critical measurements. We’re also scheduling touchpoints for check-ins through the duration of the pilot.
- Develop the implementation plan: Once we have most of the pieces together, it’s time to draw up the implementation plan. Full implementation of a robust pilot typically takes 90 days. In producing it, we again prioritize transparency while also assigning roles and responsibilities.
- Get feedback: No pilot program can be successful without continuous feedback as it progresses. We want to know how we’re doing and what needs adjusting. We also give feedback to you around key requirements.
- Address challenges: From the feedback, we begin to tackle your challenges immediately. We don’t wait until the program is complete. The program is flexible enough to adapt well when necessary.
- Plan for full rollout: If the pilot progresses and meets expectations, we start discussions about a full rollout. The sooner these conversations can begin, the better, as this can decrease the onboarding time.
Overarching Keys to Success
Two components are integral to every step along the way. The first is organizational readiness and alignment. The pilot program needs sponsorship within your company and a seasoned team in place. It's best to enter into the relationship with objectives and a vision. Healthy communication is critical.
Second is the need to establish milestones to progress the program. Using a structured evaluation process with clear success criteria is essential. Additionally, allowing for flexibility to adjust when necessary is another key component to success.
Is a Facilities Management Pilot Program Right for You?
If you're struggling with this part of your business and confident in your organization’s readiness, a pilot program may be a good option to assess – and prove, on a limited, low-risk scale – if outsourcing your facilities maintenance program is the right direction to purse. Regardless of the outcome, you’ll come away from the experience knowing more about your operations and where the gaps exist.
You can learn more about our facility maintenance pilot programs by contacting us today.