Shaping the future minds of facilities management

Usually, when a member of the Sightlines’ team is in a college classroom, we are performing walk-throughs, gathering data or making a presentation to campus leaders or board members. On a recent occasion, I had the opportunity to stand in front of a classroom is full of students as a guest lecturer. The topic was assessment and benchmarking as part of the facilities management track at Wentworth Institute of Technology.

My presentation introduced some terms from our Sightlines’ vocabulary, and focused on the five key considerations for effective benchmarking and how to make the case for change (see The Science of Comparison, The Art of Change). I offered a real world example from a member institution (who had given me permission) to show the impact of managing the facilities story up the organization. For this institution, access to data backed by a rock-solid collection methodology allowed facilities leaders to make the case for change to senior campus administrators. The data also provided context for reporting progress across constituent groups.

For their part, the students were engaged and asked intelligent, progressive, insightful questions, ranging from how does Sightlines create strong peer groups for benchmarking to how do we incorporate regional cost differences into our financial targets. The students are being taught very important concepts relating to the value of planned maintenance, the utilization of a robust work management system, and the necessity of building strong relationships with key players within an institution, such as the president, CFO, and provost.

I was also pleasantly surprised by the diverse demographics of the class, and the nearly 50-50 split between male and female students in a field that has historically been male-dominated. There were also a number of individuals who are looking into facilities management as a second career, bringing with them unique perspectives from their previous professions.

To me, it’s clear that the future minds of facilities management are on the right track, and they will make decisions that are more data-driven than ever before.