Proactive vs. Reactive Facility Management

If you have been following these posts for any period of time, you know that we have explored the difference between facility maintenance and Facility Management.  As part of that discussion we looked at the differences between proactive and reactive maintenance.

Well, recently I was tracking a LinkedIn conversation with a Facility Management (FM) “group” that I am a member. I found the discussion to be very interesting…and I think you will too. Keep in mind that these comments are from people providing facility management services in the “secular” arena (i.e. complex commercial buildings…wait…don’t forget our ministry facilities are also complex commercial buildings…Hmmm). As you read these, substitute the word “company” with either “church” or “ministry”.

Here is the sequence of discussions:

You missed a critical part of the equation to switching from reactive to proactive. FM’s need time to analyze information, develop a strategy and implement things that are proactive. Unfortunately they are often too busy with the day-to-day issues and headaches. Many of them also are very hands-on, get-things-done kinds of people who don’t think they are earning their pay if they spend time in the office (or somewhere else, preferably) simply thinking and planning. Their colleagues within their organization do it, that’s why they get more attention, resources and support.

I gave a seminar at the IIDEX / Neocon conference in Toronto last year about selling FM in your company. I talked about this issue as one of the reasons their profession isn’t as respected as those of the finance, HR, lawyers, engineers and other professionals in their company. (TIM COOL INSERT – or the “pastoral staff” or the ministry initiatives)

FM’s need to step off the treadmill every now and then in order to switch from being reactive to proactive and strategic.

  • All the above are excellent points and critical to running a professional FM department. I think the difference between being considered a low-paid “necessary evil” for the company and a respected higher-paid professional is the strategic planning and value-driven dynamic. The strategic facility plan should be part of the leadership process that identifies current and projected facility needs and accommodations for growth (or reduction) and technology requirements which support the organization’s objectives. The other dynamic is to create value to the organization through cost identification and reduction methods, then monitoring, adjusting and documenting your savings contribution. A final area is to lead the process of identifying the use of facilities with the goal of assessing each area’s contribution to the organization’s profitability through the appropriate use of space.

I’m going to jump in here and say that of the 6,508 members in this group I bet every single one has had show stopping failures that grab all of your resources in a single minute. I managed 45 facilities in 33 states, over 3.5 million sq. ft. and I did not have a single tool box on my staff. I have one heck of a contact data base though…I totally agree that preventive maintenance is the only way to stay ahead of the curve or “stay out of the vortex” as I like to say but the only way to maintain your sanity is to make strong ties to project management consultants that can hit the ground running on any issues and jump right back on the sidelines (and off your payroll) as soon as issues are resolved.

If you’re like most and you are under resourced when things are going well, there is no way you can put monitoring management in place, keep it updated, and handle failures (they will happen anyway) without reaching for outside help.

  • In summary I feel that a balanced approach works best with different service levels depending on what is being maintained. There is no right or wrong answer in the planned vs. reactive debate but one thing is certain – any FM strategy needs to be underpinned by accurate and comprehensive asset data and a detailed understanding of the underlying business need.

So…how are you doing in developing a professional, proactive and strategic Facility Management department (or plan) for your church and ministry? Is the facility management efforts at your church the proverbial redheaded step child of the ministry? Is it only a necessary evil…or…is it a critical part of your overall stewardship initiative? If it is the later, I congratulate you and would covet your input as to how you are accomplishing that. I believe you are on the right track if you have embraced a “facility stewardship” perspective.


Church Construction Team Combinations to Avoid

In the world of church facility construction, renovation and development, there are several integral roles and responsibilities that are required for every project.  They may or may not be paid professionals for each role, but they are present and the responsibilities to the project are no less important.

Here are the basics that virtually every project must have as part of the church’s team:

  1. Architect/Designer – To plan, program, design, develop drawings, obtain permits and do compliance inspections.
  2. Engineers – To engineer the building components such as structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection.
  3. Interior design – To pull it all together and put the “top coat” on the project…what is visible.
  4. Civil Engineer – To develop all the required site (land) related engineering.
  5. Geo-technical Engineer – To investigate the soil conditions and make recommendations.
  6. Surveyor – To verify property attributes such as property boundaries, topography, tree locations, easements, etc.
  7. General Contractor (sometimes referred to as a Construction Manager) – The entity that is licensed to pull the permit and direct/take responsibility for the construction activities of the project.
  8. Sub/Trade Contractors – The firms performing the actual construction duties under the direction of the General Contractor
  9. Special Inspector – This is new since 2000 when the International Building Code was released, and adopted by most municipalities. Their role is to provide milestone inspections of predetermined requirements of the project. These inspections are different than the inspections performed by the local building inspector…and these are a cost to the church.
  10. Specialty engineers, consultants and integrators – This can include entities such as A/V/L (Audio, Video and Theatrical Lighting), kitchen consultants, cafe consultants, environmental graphics, acoustician, vision clarity, generosity/stewardship, financing, etc, etc, etc.
  11. Owners Rep – The person who is the liaison/advocate for the church to all the above as well as the translator of all things project related. This should be an independent 3rd party.

Now, I have seen some of these hats worn by the same firm or person. For example, some civil engineers also do surveying. Most integrated architects also have interior designers on their staff, which makes perfect sense. Some architects have engineering disciplines in their studio. Some general contractors also perform certain sub-contractor scopes of work.

Another combination of roles that has been utilized in many church projects is where the General Contractor is also the Designer/Architect. In this format, referred to as “Design/Build”, the contractor and architect are either the same entity or they are under one contractual agreement with the church. This format can work and I have firsthand experience where it has served many churches well. But the church is giving up the checks and balances that come from independent entities, each with their own contractual and moral obligation to the church. Again, I come from this world (30 years), but it is critical for your church to understand not only the upside of this dual role, but also the things that will be inherently different.

Finally, here are the 2 combinations of roles that need to be avoided whenever possible.  I have seen more projects go sideways when these combinations are implemented:

  1. “We have a guy.” – Lord have mercy!!! I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have heard this and watched churches engage their “guy” to do a major role in the project, to only witness things go terribly wrong. Again…I am not saying it always go poorly…I have seen where, by God’s grace, it worked…that it is far more the exception than the rule. I have seen more “Jack-leg” work and weekend warrior projects that ultimately have to be re-done (usually at even higher cost than they would have invested from the onset) due to poor workmanship…or design…or acoustics…or blah, blah, blah. In the end, have we really been good stewards of what God has entrusted to us? Was it worth saving a buck to damage a relationship? Is it worth doing segments of the project DIY but in-turn have sub-par aspects of the final project?
  2. Architect as Owner’s Rep. – This is one that I really struggle with and have actually been kept me up at night when I think of it. This is the epitome of the classic phrase “fox in the hen house”. Here are the primary reasons why I feel this way:
  • As a general rule, architects are poor cost estimators. Ask any of them…they will readily admit this.
  • The preponderance of the project budget is spent pre-construction.  The construction is merely the fulfillment of the lines drawn on paper (or in a computer) during the design phase. Given that, do you want the financial viability of your project to be laid in the hands of the entity drawing the lines?
  • Accountability…who will hold the design professional accountable if they are also the Owner’s Rep? What if there is a problem with the design drawings?  If the Owner’s Rep is responsible to be the advocate for the church and translator of all things project related, how can the design professional (as Owner’s Rep) be objective if the issue is going to impact them in an adverse manner?

Does your project need an architect? No question! Get a good one…call me if you need some recommendations.

Does your project needs an Owner’s Rep? Absolutely!

Just be cautious about commingling these roles…and stay clear of the “guy.”


“It Takes a Village” to Manage a Church Facility

Over the past 10+ years, I have meet with hundreds (maybe thousands) of church leaders possessing “titles” such as Business Administrator, Operations Pastor/Director, XP (Executive Pastor), Facility Manager, Office Manager…and many others…including Pastor. The size of their congregations have varied from less than 50 people to over 20,000 people on a weekend in multiple sites.  Some have a bent toward traditional music while others were, what I lovingly refer to as, “full contact worship.” Some were urban…some rural. Some had an aging demographic while others were predominately millennial. Some liturgical…others Pentecostal. So on and so forth.

But do you know what 99% (my guess…not based on scientific research) had in common? They meet in a facility and the majority of them had some level of responsibility for the care of that facility. “A facility” was the one common denominator. I take that back…the one REAL common denominator was  feeling overwhelmed with what it took to care for, maintain, manage and plan for the future of the facility as well as the realization that they didn’t know what the did not know.

This really concerns me!

There are numerous organizations available to provide guidance, coaching and support for pastors. There is an organization structured to provide help to over 6,000 Church Administrators (of which I am a member). I am aware of about a dozen groups to support XP’s in their roles…and yet…there is NOT ONE designated to help and support any and every church leader that has a facility. Oh yeah…as a reminder, there are almost 350,000 churches in America that have a facility…with no organization focused to provide collective support. REALLY?!?!

There is one organization that focuses on “Facility Managers,” and that is helpful…but what about the thousands…tens of thousands of churches that do not have a facility manager? Those where the pastor is the facility manager, or the deacon board leads that charge, or the trustees get together to fix things, or where the pastor’s kids come in on Saturday to clean the building (I have first hand experience with that!). What further exacerbates this is the number of churches that “think” they have a facility manager, when in actuality they have a maintenance person.  That is not a disparagement…just fact.

That is why we will soon be releasing CHURCH FACILITY MANAGEMENT SOLUTIONS.

This will provide the support, interaction, resources, camaraderie, information, feedback, coaching, and tools…for EVERY CHURCH of ANY SIZE.

This new offering will provide the support, interaction, resources, camaraderie, information, feedback, coaching, and tools for EVERY CHURCH of ANY SIZE.

This invaluable tool and resource is scheduled to roll out early 2018…but…if you want to get on the early bird list, click HERE.  There is no obligation…just letting us know you have interest.

Some of the features of Church Facility Management Solutions will include:

  1. Weekly Information sent directly to you to help you be proactive and intentional with the care of your facility
  2. Online Community so that you can get input and feedback from hundreds of other church and facility leaders
  3. Monthly Webinars by industry professionals to provide relevant information and resources for your church facility management
  4. Vetted Vendors will put a list of qualified vendors at your fingertips with the assurance that they have been pre-qualified by our team…and they do not pay to be on this list
  5. Free Resources will be developed and made available to members including worksheet, forms, policy docs, job descriptions, etc. This alone will be worth the cost of membership
  6. Availability to Consulting and Training Services

This is going to be so COOL! Join us to be the best steward of the facilities God has entrusted to you.

 

Don’t Just Raise the Bar; Be the Bar

I love the new television commercials for the Ford F-150 that ends with: It Doesn’t Raise the Bar, It is the Bar.

The obvious connotation is that Ford is not raising the bar…but they ARE the bar that everyone else chases and tries to obtain.  I love that.

Now, let me be clear, I am not a Ford guy…in fact…I am not an any “brand” guy. I have owned Fords, Chevy, GMC (I am still driving my 14 year old Yukon with 198,00 miles), Toyota and others.

I do like Ford’s confidence and guts to claim to be the best. Is it true? I am not getting into that discussion. But what I do want to look at is being BEST-IN-CLASS…more than just bravado or words, but in actions and deeds. I have used the analogy that you can get a chicken sandwich (and a taco and a burger and…) from Jack-In-The-Box, but if I am looking for a “best-in-class” chicken sandwich, I go to Chick-fil-A.

Our team has made a very INTENTIONAL decision to be the Chick-fil-A of the church software market.  We are not trying to be all things to all people. It is not our competency. We are FACILITY PROFESSIONALS that have developed best-in-class Facility Management software solutions for those responsible to steward their ministry facilities. PERIOD…end of story. No if, and, or but!  We are here to serve the church as it relates to their facilities usage, management, maintenance, integration, controls, training, services, and life cycle planning.

eSPACE does not accommodate member management, child check-in, small groups, accounting, missions trip planning, worship service planning…we are all about FACILITIES.

As we shared last week, given our conviction, we have integrated with many of the “best-in-class” Church Management Software applications…you can see the whole list HERE.

If Facility Stewardship is important to your church, then you owe it to yourself and your congregation to give us a look and see how we can assist you to be EFFECTIVE, EFFICIENT and INTENTIONAL with the facilities God has entrusted to you to steward.

We ARE the Bar!


eSPACE integrates with the tools you use to manage your church. You can now integrate your Church Management Software with the industry leading suite of Facility Management applications including HVAC Integration, Event Management, Work Order Management, and Capital Reserve Planning

Paint Cans and Praise Bands

Cool Solutions Group is all about intentionality and maintaining what God has entrusted to you for His glory. Like my father-in-law is famous for asking me, “So what?”

So why do, or should, we maintain? There is a plethora of data that talks of the economic benefit, fiscal sense, and just plain “it is what you need to do”. As believers, however, we have a more significant impetus:

The word of the Lord came through Haggai the prophet: “Is it a time for you yourselves to live in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins?” Now, the Lord of Hosts says this: “Think carefully about your ways:…

“You expected much, but then it amounted to little. When you brought the harvest to your house, I ruined it. Why?” This is the declaration of the Lord of Hosts. “Because My house still lies in ruins, while each of you is busy with his own house. (Haggai 1:3-5, 9, HCSB)

“Cool Solutions Group is all about intentionality and maintaining what God has entrusted to you for His glory.”

Haggai was the first of the post-exilic prophets and he faced a pretty serious issue with God’s people: apathy. Apathy in the people to honor God above all else. It showed in what they focused on to make complete and maintain – their spiritual commitment (or lack) to what God had set before them. The people started out with some great funding, but it didn’t last. Then their neighbors opposed the rebuild; it became easier to not proceed (wouldn’t want to offend them). It became easier to focus on the places that meant more to them, the places that were “comforting”.

Am I still writing about the people that Haggai prophesied to? Or the church today? Kind of confusing, isn’t it?

Take hope, however, because when the Lord spoke to His people through Haggai, they listened. They repented, they focused on completing the task, and the Lord responded:

13 Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, delivered the Lord’s message to the people, “I am with you”—this is the Lord’s declaration. (Haggai 1:13, HCSB)

“I am with you.” When we are committed to the Lord, do you see what He promises? “I am with you.” The Creator of everything, the Lord our God who has authority of everything on earth and in heaven, is with us. Why would we be ok as His people to be anywhere else than under His authority and committed to Him in all things?

It is not about having the most, newest, greatest, largest church property. It is about recognizing that if God has entrusted a place for gathering to you, how you maintain it reflects your heart. He makes it beautiful (Haggai 2:9) and He calls us to maintain it to the best of our ability.

So where does the praise band come in? Worship. What is worship?

“To worship is to quicken the conscience by the holiness of God, to feed the mind with the truth of God, to purge the imagination by the beauty of God, to open the heart to the love of God, to devote the will to the purpose of God.”

– William Temple

When we are intentional and commit to maintaining what has been entrusted to us, we experience His holiness, we share the truth that all things are His, we experience the beauty of His creation, and we flourish in His will. We worship and are reminded:

17 And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Col. 3:17, HCSB)

How can we partner with you today?

Shalom

Are you…

  • Spending too much on utilities?
  • Investing enough to keep up with the natural rate of deterioration?
  • Properly staffing for your facility needs?

If you can not answer these definitively, then you need more information. To that end, we have developed this FREE Church Facility Evaluator. This simple tool will provide you with a snapshot of some key indicators associated with facility operational costs.

The Church of “Generica”

I travel a lot and I am in many cities across the county.  One thing that has really struck me is how similar one city is to the next…especially in the “burbs”. Almost every Outback, Chili’s or Applebee’s  has the same basic design.  I can be taken blindfolded into almost any Home Depot or Lowe’s, remove the covering and not know what city I am in. In most cases I can be plunked down in a community with developments that are less than 10 years old and much of the architecture of the  shopping centers, the so called “urban” housing, and office buildings look very similar.

I am conflicted when I see this.  A part of me feels comfortable and “safe”…but a deeper emotion wonders if we have settled for a generic, industrial, revolution mindset and formations. What happened to unique? What happened to original and innovative? Have we commoditized everything to the point that we press them into existence like we were running a Ford assembly line? Have we accepted that we live in “Generica” (A term not learned from Jon Crosby)? If so, are we also content with worshiping at The Church of “Generica”?

Recently, I read a blog by Sam Rainer III in Church Executive Magazine entitled “Hurdles to Established Church Innovation”.   I have a lot of respect for Sam and his dad Thom.  They are passionate about the local church and live it out in their personal and professional lives.

Sam starts the article by asking 2 questions:

“Does the established nature of some churches hinder innovation?”

“Is an established structure antithetical to quick, nimble changes?”

These may seem obvious or possibly rhetorical, but I think they are far more thought provoking than they may appear on the surface.  He drills down on what is “innovation” and “established”.  According to Sam, innovation is “the process of successfully establishing something new” while establish means “to create firm stability.”  Sam goes on to poke a couple holes in both by writing:

“Established churches, in particular, can take comfort in the establishment. Traditions and history can easily become a guise for complacency. Innovation can take a back seat to the entrenched processes that help create the stability.”

As I read further in to the article, I believe that Sam is communicating that it is a both/and scenario. We need to have innovation in all of our ministries.  We need to be exploring new and fresh ways to “be the church” instead of getting comfortable with our holy huddles.  It may require serious paradigm shifts, and yes…you may very well lose people because of it.  If that happens, and you believe that the innovation you have implemented is going to further the Kingdom and the mission of the church, then wish them well and let them go because they may very well have been the limiting factor to you reaching your God given vision.  I like what Joyce Meyers say…”Rejection is Protection”. When we are rejected, many times it is the Lord protecting us from a potentially bad situation or relationship.

At the same time, church plants and new works can not stay in a mode of only innovating and primarily focusing on being “cool”. At some point you need to establish systems, processes and core values. There needs to be a sense of stability and permanence.

“Generica” can be just as prevalent in a contemporary setting as a 100 year old traditional church. When I go to a conference of church planters or “cutting edge” churches, it strikes me as odd to see many pastors/leaders with the same hair style, same untucked shirts and pointy shoes. Or I will visit a contemporary church to witness the  same haze machines, 3 video screens, drum cage and mono-sloped roof lines.  What we think is cool, relevant  and cutting edge can be just as generic as the coat & tie, 4 white columns, red brick and steeple. This “condition” is an equal opportunity malady that can infect any church, any movement or any ministry organization.

Sam wraps up his article with 4 hurdles that may be hindering a church from innovating.  They are:

  1. Lack of intentionality –When resources are plentiful, the temptation is to be less intentional. The practice of spaghetti-against-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks is not true innovation. It’s haphazard chaos.
  2. Lack of originality –  Innovation is introducing something new, not introducing something with the façade of newness or a new logo.
  3. The wrong metrics -What gets measured gets done, and what you measure is typically an indicator of what you value. A mature church will measure different things than a new church. However, an overemphasis on the metrics sustaining the establishment will inevitably de-emphasize innovation and dissuade team members from attempting innovation.
  4. The ease of appeasement – In an established church, some leaders prefer the ease of appeasing members rather than innovating to reach new people. Appeasing existing members is much easier than challenging a church to innovate and reach new people.

Avoid becoming the Church of “Generica”…Innovate! This applies to how you “do” church, how you reach the community…and yes…how your facilities are designed.

Check out our book, Why Church Buildings Matter. Church facilities will not save a person from a life of sin and frustration. But the lack of attention to the church campus can indeed be the road block to reaching those people that need to hear the gospel message the most. Don’t minimize their impact. This book will reveal how to maximize your church facility to share the greatest story ever told, the gospel.

Facilities Facilitate

In order to get started today, we need to step back to our 10th grade English class and make sure we understand the definition of 2 words and the tense of each:

FACILITY (noun) – space or equipment necessary for doing something

FACILITATE (verb) – make (an action or process) easy or easier.

If you are like me, you have slept since 10th grade and so the nuance of the difference of a verb and a noun may be foggy…so let’s recap:

A “noun”, in its simplest form, is a person, place or thing. “Watch SPOT run.” “That TREE is very big.” ” Our CHURCH is located on Main Street.” (Side note…I only use this for example since many of us say that…but in reality the CHURCH is not the building…it is the people)

A “verb”, on the other hand, is a word that shows action. Verbs are the main part of a sentence in the English language. They are the component of any sentence that brings life and meaning to the words.

So back to our 2 words above…

A “facility” is a noun.  It is a place…a structure…a building…a location.  However, without a verb, it is just a stagnant word.  In fact, you can have a sentence without a noun…for example…”Go over there.” You can say those words, point and have your intent conveyed.

What does this have to do with our ministry facilities?  Glad you asked.

If a Facility is a noun…then it needs a verb to provide action, meaning and relevance. By itself, a facility is merely a monument…an edifice…an architectural statement (good or bad). Sticks and bricks are inanimate objects.  I still believe that our facility (the physical attributes) will tell a story.  I am not bending off that premise.  I believe in the concept of story and how we need to be intentional related to the storytelling of our facility…but…the reality is that facilities, in and of themselves, are not a living organism.

In order to bring life (action) to a facility, it needs a verb…and I believe the best verb for ministry facilities is that it FACILITATES.

Facilities should facilitate…

  1. Worship
  2. Education
  3. Connection
  4. Interaction
  5. Fellowship
  6. Community
  7. Outreach
  8. In-reach
  9. Discipleship
  10. Life change

So…what do your facilities facilitate? Does the facilitation fulfill your vision, mission and goals?  If not, may need to step back and re-evaluate.

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