Benchmarking for outsourcers, with a focus on best practices

September 2020 —  In last month’s article, we discussed how outsource providers can benefit from benchmarking their client’s costs. We provided specific examples on utility costs and consumption.

But just benchmarking your cost or consumption, without knowing what to do next as a result, is not as useful as it could be by learning what better-performing, similar buildings are doing differently that you’re doing in your building. We call these measures of what is being done differently “best practices.”

A good analogy would be receiving a grade for a class without any feedback from the instructor on where you performed well and where you needed improvement. If you received a “C” and wanted to do better, but couldn’t discuss how to improve it with the instructor, you probably would not be able to do better, even though you know that half the class did better than you.

Best practices in benchmarking is like getting feedback from the instructor. We will use examples in FM BENCHMARKING to show how the process works for any organization. In this benchmarking tool, through client focus sessions, 44 best practices in utilities were identified. The application shows the results from the first four of the 44 utility best practices (see the four columns in Figure 1):

  • The best practice
  • Your status for the best practice (yes, if implemented in more than 50% of the facility; no, otherwise)
  • Percent responding “yes” in your quartile
  • Percent responding “yes” in the next higher (better) quartile
Figure 1 – Utility Best Practices Provided courtesy of FM BENCHMARKING Filters: Office facility Provided courtesy of FM BENCHMARKING

Figure 1 – Utility Best Practices Provided courtesy of FM BENCHMARKING
Filters: Office facility
Provided courtesy of FM BENCHMARKING

Our building is in the second quartile; to improve, we should focus on the best practices implemented by those in the first quartile. Considering these first four best practices, which do you think would have a significant impact on energy costs. Let’s consider each one…

  • EB01: Motion sensors in conference rooms. This has already been implemented at our facility, so this confirms that most in the first quartile have implemented this practice as well.
  • EB02: Motion sensors in general office space. We have not implemented this best practice at our facility and there isn’t much difference between the first and second quartile. However, since more than 80% of those in our quartile in the next better one have implemented this best practice, it is one worth considering. For now, let’s look at this later.
  • EB03: Motion sensors in restrooms/washrooms. This best practice has a significantly higher percentage of implementation (14%) by the first quartile participants. Professional experience tells us there cannot be that much energy used in the restrooms, but maybe this is a way to engage the employees.
  • Initial commissioning (building was commissioned during the initial construction). Professional experience tells us this could contribute significantly to improved energy performance and the percentage difference is significant at 13%.

This is just a small sample from the Best Practices table. Using the results from this table, the facilities group can make proven recommendations for utilities services that would help achieve first quartile performance or move toward first quartile performance. Again, this is win-win for the entire organization:

  • The company will achieve cost savings from the utilities improvements and improved levels of service.
  • FMs will improve their performance by more effectively utilizing their workforce.
  • There will be improved occupant satisfaction, which benefits everyone.

Articles are based on data from FM BENCHMARKING, which until the pandemic had been the online benchmarking tool for facility managers and CREs. Data tracked by FM BENCHMARKING includes cost and labor data as well as best practices for more than 95% of typical facility costs. For questions about benchmarking, please contact Peter Kimmel on LinkedIn. Peter was one of the principals of FM BENCHMARKING and now is consulting in the industry.