Making the Case for Facilitators PDF Print E-mail

March 2009 - The FoCuSeD™ Facilitator eNewsletter


facilitator value

Making the Case for Facilitators | Gary Rush Facilitation

With a difficult economy, companies have to look at how best to use their resources to improve productivity at work. Facilitators are in a position to help make the most of organizational resources – Facilitators add value.


Organizations are cutting back in resources, laying off people, asking those who remain to do more with less, and cutting budgets for travel, training, and hiring. On the surface, this certainly makes the numbers look good – but is it the right approach? Organizations need to make the most effective use of their resources and human capital is the most important resource an organization has. Making employees productive is key.


  • Meetings – meetings are notoriously unproductive, yet an important part of every business. In 1986, Roger Mosvik and Robert Nelson surveyed Fortune 500 companies and found that managers lost 240 hours a year in unproductive meetings. This translates to an average of $71 million per company per year!


  • Projects – cost a great deal of money and most is spent on salaries. An IT project today easily costs more than $1 million and many are implemented with problems in quality creating poor relations between all parties involved.



Businesses and organizations can work smarter through the use of Facilitators using facilitated workshops. It results in:


  • Saving money – using facilitated workshops result in a 20% to 40% reduction in effort required to gather requirements.
  • Saving time – reducing the time to complete projects to ¼ the time.
  • Increasing quality – fewer mistakes and changes down the road.
  • Enhancing communication between all parties involved.



I have been asked if there are metrics to support the use of Facilitators. Yes, there are. I have participated in projects where productivity measurements were tracked. I have interviewed people to identify what types of improvements were gained using Facilitators.


What I found was:


  • Meetings work better; significantly reducing the $71 million wasted in poorly run meetings.
  • Projects complete the requirements phase of work in ¼ the amount of time.


A facilitated workshop produces 8 weeks of requirements work in a 3-day workshop. Translated into dollars and cents, this means:


  • If a Business Analyst makes $70,000 per year, then 8 weeks of requirements gathering costs $10,769. In a 3-day facilitated workshop, the cost is $807. That means that gathering requirements in a 3-day facilitated workshop saves over $9,961 for the one Business Analyst. When you include the actual number of Business Analysts along with the clients involved during the 8 weeks to gather requirements the savings are even greater.


  • If an IT project costs $1 million and the requirements phase requires one-third of the effort, then requirements cost $333,000. Using facilitated workshops to gather requirements cuts the time to ¼, savings almost $250,000. That amounts to one-fourth the cost of the project – just for requirements!


  • In addition, because the requirements are consensus-based and more complete, development time is reduced and quality increases adding to the savings.


Using facilitated workshops brings additional benefits to an organization beyond financial benefits as the previous points illustrate. Using facilitated workshops provides intangible benefits such as engagement of their human capital. Engaging a greater portion of an organization:


  • Increases the number of ideas an organization has to work with - this enables tremendous innovation.
  • Increases morale – people feel more valued when asked to participate.


Benefits of Training Employees

In addition to the benefits listed, training employees in effective Facilitation and Facilitator skills, benefits an organization by giving them:


  • Employees with skills that are transferable to any area within the organization.
  • Employees inspiring collective action through collaborative leadership.
  • Employees with the necessary tools to continue to grow as a team. People I have trained have become:

    • Business leaders
    • CIOs
    • Vice Presidents

    (All because they can get a group of people to come together, step them through a process, and accomplish a task.)


  • A return on investment in the training. Example: Looking at the Business Analyst described earlier, if an organization invests $5,000 in training a Business Analyst (that includes salary, tuition, travel, and expenses), then they gain $4,991 in benefits the first workshop the Business Analyst facilitates – an immediate return on investment.


Those who attend comprehensive Facilitator training (such as The FoCuSeD™ Facilitator Academy) benefit by:


  • Gaining presentation skills.
  • Gaining skills in dealing with a diverse group of people and moving them to consensus.
  • Learning "how to' engage a group of people so that everyone gets involved.
  • Learning "how to" prepare to make workshops and meetings productive.
  • Understanding "how to" develop successful processes that enables a group of people to come together to accomplish a task.
  • Learning how not to be in charge.
  • Developing collaborative leadership skills.



If your organization is looking to save money, become more competitive, and increase the productivity of its most important asset – human capital – then training employees in Facilitation and Facilitator skills is the most effective way for that to happen.


Note: You will also want to consider having your Facilitators assessed to become IAF Certified™ Professional Facilitators (CPFs) – and if you are a consulting firm, many organizations require CPFs when they release RFPs. (The FoCuSeD™ Facilitator Academy covers the IAF Competencies and what students need to do to achieve them). logo