As organizations develop their corporate strategies for the year, corporate real estate (CRE) teams need to make sure they can keep the lights on — quite literally — and continue to work on activities outside of their traditional remit, looking beyond cost and space reduction to find ways to support company strategy.
It’s important to consider the impact of CRE on fulfilling corporate goals rather than just tracking operational metrics
“Because business needs and technology capabilities are shifting rapidly, CRE is expected to deliver value faster than ever, says Douglas Shapiro, Senior Principal, Advisory, Gartner. “CRE teams must continue to implement strategies that are cost-efficient and that enhance the employee workplace experience.”
The following six steps will help.
Lay the groundwork
Heads of CRE teams must first define and set a vision for the function. To do this, be sure to avoid an insular view by engaging business partners early. Consider which activities no longer support the vision to free up resources to support new initiatives.
The CRE team should also collaborate with stakeholders, particularly the CFO, to set out a timeline for the strategic planning process and obtain commitment to the plan, which will be important to ensure funding of CRE initiatives.
Even the best-laid plans can be upended by short-term priorities, so teams will need to design plans that can be managed and tracked through the year.
Understand business goals
Heads of CRE should collaborate with C-level executives and other senior managers to understand how they can support long-term strategy. CRE can then assess external forces (economic, regulatory and technological factors) and how they will affect real estate priorities.
Managers of different corporate functions may not completely understand their real estate requirements, so CRE teams should look at the overall objectives and offer support, when possible. It is crucial to have confident customer relationship managers on the team to have constructive conversations around occupancy planning and space forecasting — both of which are critical to facilitating business goals.
Identify improvement areas
Next, CRE leaders will need to evaluate the function’s current capabilities. Through self-assessment and business partner feedback, leaders can better understand the strengths and weaknesses of the team.
It’s important to consider the impact of CRE on fulfilling corporate goals rather than just tracking operational metrics. Don’t simply focus on hitting metrics.
Determine how to achieve real estate objectives
CRE leaders should leverage their knowledge of the team’s capabilities to translate business goals into functional objectives. Once CRE teams determine how to fulfill these goals, they then need to identify metrics to measure progress, determine the resources required and assess the risks that could affect their plan.
Ultimately, the end goal is for CRE to obtain a prioritized list of strategic initiatives that also includes metrics to measure them.
Communicate your plan to stakeholders
To drive alignment and commitment across the function, the strategic plan must be communicated to different stakeholder groups. Build a dashboard that connects portfolio and workplace performance with business outcomes. Dashboards should contain compelling metrics for the target internal audiences to support the value proposition of CRE teams.
With input from senior leadership, the plan can then be delivered to business-unit leaders, the function’s leadership team and then to all staff. It’s key to deliver a consistent message across the organization to ensure that employees don’t receive conflicting information.
Monitor your progress
Once the plan is implemented, employees have to measure progress against defined objectives. Periodically reassess guideline relevance to ensure changes in CRE strategy and local needs are reflected. Reevaluate the asset management task list to add or eliminate tasks. This is a crucial step to reassure business partners who are typically risk-averse and could hinder the execution of the entire strategy.
This article has been updated from the original, published on November 1, 2017, to reflect new events, conditions or research.