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Smarter Estates: EventMAP’s Peter Jones at Procurex Scotland 2019

November 21, 2019

Procurex Scotland – Scotland’s largest public sector procurement event, which brings together key organisations from across an £11 billion procurement marketplace – was held this year at the SEC in Glasgow on 29th October 2019. EventMAP attended as both an exhibitor and event sponsor, along with over 1,600 delegates from across the public sector in Scotland.

At the show EventMAP discussed the latest research, tools and strategies to support organisations as they seek to create and maintain efficient estate strategies over the longer term. The public sector has undergone a difficult period since the 2008 financial crisis and the work being undertaken by EventMAP is focused on helping them to manage the pressures of a contracting estate, at the same time as providing high levels of service to the communities they attend.

Peter Jones, EventMAP’s Associate Director, was a speaker at this year’s Procurex Scotland and in his Smarter Estate strategy keynote described the importance of having the right tools to deliver an estate strategy that allows organisations to make optimal use of their built assets. For those of you who missed the event, we thought it’d be useful to publish an overview of his presentation:

What is the best way of understanding how you are using your fixed estate?

Why is this understanding important?

What are the tools available to optimise and support the efficiency and management of your estate?

How do I get a smarter estate strategy?

With all of these questions, the starting point has to be understanding the challenges for organisations across all sectors:

For the Organisation

  1. External competition
  2. Cost pressures impacting the organisation
  3. Investments decisions to support growth
  4. Doing more with less/priority based investment
  5. Reducing operational risk
  6. Decisions on global, regional, national portfolio location strategy
  7. Need for data to ratify hold/dispose decisions
  8. Need for data to ratify IT investment and business impact
  9. Attracting talent and aging population
  10. Greater acceptance of estates = brand and workplace = talent attraction and performance

For the Estates Team

  1. Increasing fixed estate running costs (maintenance)
  2. Reducing risk and increasing cost of non-compliance in running the estate
  3. Under utilisation of current estate
  4. The need for evidence to build a business case for strategic estate management
  5. Gaining clarity of ‘as-is’ of the estate portfolio to enable strategy development
  6. Need for data to ratify ‘hold/dispose’ decisions
  7. The need to reduce risk by understanding possible scenarios impacting estate strategy (operational supply and demand changes)
  8. An under-resourced estates team dealing with operational maintenance of the estate with little time to develop strategy

In the private, public and not-for-profit sectors, running of the fixed estate is the second largest operational cost after people costs. While much media attention is focused on the new gig economy, outsourcing of labour and processes, the minimum wage and the affect of migration in filling skills gap in the workforce, the hidden challenge of optimising the fixed estate of any organisation receives little by way of column inches – outside the occasional article on Facebook, Google or Apple building a new HQ with a funky new design and space-age sleep pods.

The traditional approach to developing an estate strategy and transforming the estate is based on a formula consisting of 1) a utilisation survey of given floors or buildings, 2) the application of a generic desk sharing ratio, or metres per person, and 3) multiplying this over the estate portfolio to come up with some comparisons between buildings – or to inform a sell-or-keep decision in the pursuit of cost efficiencies.

This approach immediately keeps the opportunity for efficiency limited to a real estate action or decision, and assumes no interdependency with the operational delivery, HR, process, policies and IT infrastructures that exist in any organisation. Typically, the short term disposal of a building, or reduction in leasehold space leads to a financial receipt but rarely delivers the opportunity and greater savings available from an estate strategy which seeks to optimise all aspects of the organisational jigsaw, and can deal with many of the challenges the individual functions are dealing with in keeping the organisation effective.

These challenges affect all business functions:

  1. Strategy development and business case: Is the business strategy clear? Does the business case follow best practice? Are the benefits clear and agreed? Does it fully fund investment on IT, property, FM, HR and change management? Is the business case backed up with data to de-risk the delivery? Are all senior stakeholders bought in? How is the delivery programme to be managed?
  2. Process and policy: Are the current processes and policies ready for Smarter Working? What processes in support functions need to change to support Smarter Working? What current ‘rules’ or processes block effective Smarter Working? What are the design principles to support the physical changes?
  3. Technology: Is there a technology roadmap? Who needs what device? How is data storage to be handled? Is room booking technology supporting high room utilisation? Will the network support greater use of audio/video?
  4. Property and facilities management: How accurate are the property figures? How accurate is the understanding of backlog maintenance in refurbishment plans? Does utilisation data across all buildings in the portfolio prove the business case? Have scenarios for fispose/keep/refurbish been run to ensure operational needs and geographical delivery have been maintained? Do the property team have enough resources to deliver? Is facilities management ready to deliver in the Smarter Working context? Are all the operational specialist needs included in the delivery plan and designs?
  5. People: Do senior leaders model the Smarter Working principles? How are people managed and how will this change? Are team and individual objectives clear? How is poor performance managed? Are all stakeholders across the organisation ready for the change? If Smarter working is across whole organisation are HR Team prepared?

The EventMAP approach is different in seeking to understand the organisation through the data available from utilisation studies, either physically captured or combined with sensors, WiFi, pass card entry and other sources of data from all functions in the organisation. Starting with this bedrock of data, and including a wide range of stakeholders in the process, can define both the opportunities and the potential constraints of any estate strategy before action is taken. EventMAP also replay data through scenario planning – which is uncommon in the development of estate strategies today. In doing so, we can test multiple ‘what if’ questions and their effect on investment and possible savings, physical space, and the policies, IT infrastructure and process changes, workplace designs or standards that may be needed to implement the chosen and now tested Smarter Estates strategy.

EventMAP's OPTIME products have been designed specifically to provide solution designs and ongoing management of an optimised approach to both deliver a Smarter Estates strategy and analyse and improve other parts of an organisations’ operational practices and resources which connect and affect the overall estate strategy. This covers areas such as room booking and utilisation; improved scheduling and timetabling of training; conferences and events; the pre-planning and management of the fixed estate; managing the data available to both implement strategy and review its success, and then continuously improve to combat the organisational challenges faced in an appropriate and customised approach to organisations’ needs, aspirations and opportunities.

By seeking EventMAP’s help in developing and delivering a Smarter Estate Strategy your organisation reaping the benefits of both an optimised estate and optimised way of working that meets the challenges you currently have – and those not yet envisaged for several years to come.

Peter Jones


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