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A facility’s value is often measured by the things that happen inside of it. That value might be created by shoppers spending money, employees working, or expensive items being stored. In any case, the value of a facility is often considered separate from the facility itself. Executives, other leaders and facility owners adopt this line of thinking at their own peril.
Facilities are often one of the most valuable assets for an organization. As such, they should be invested in carefully and stewarded in support of the overall mission. But developing a long-term facilities investment strategy all stakeholders can rally around is a difficult task. Here are five steps to aligning facility investment with mission.
Step One: Gather The Right Information
Facility owners and leaders need to know their inventory. They must be steeped in their functions, current conditions, the cause and size of each maintenance backlog and the impacts of funding. Leadership must understand the tradeoffs made when they choose to invest in one area instead of another. All this means gathering a significant amount of data.
Knowing the history of a facilities portfolio can provide context for where it is today and this information can help chart a course for future success. Once the data is collected, it’s time to put it under a microscope.
Step Two: Ask Questions
It is important to dig into your data in order to thoroughly understand and communicate the information to others. All of the data should identify which investments have produced a return and which have failed. The data should also explain why, but the full story will only reveal itself if you ask the right questions. Here are a few to start with:
- How old is the facility or group of facilities?
- How and when has the portfolio grown?
- How does staffing align with service or condition needs?
- How does the community perceive the service they receive?
- What data are we missing?
Once the information at hand is revealing your facility’s story, leaders can start thinking about projects.
Step Three: Create A Project Inventory
Before decision-makers can create a true project inventory, they should perform a Facilities Conditions Assessment (FCA). FCA results, combined with the data and institutional knowledge from your facilities and maintenance personnel will inform your inventory of necessary projects.
A successful project inventory will consider issues such as: repair and replacement needs; regulatory and compliance requirements; modernizations; knowable future programmatic and technological shifts; sustainability goals; and master plans for building(s), infrastructure and landscape. It’s an enormous undertaking that results in a single, living document that is realistic, integrated and complete by any stakeholder’s standards.
It is helpful to prioritize projects into strategic portfolios. How they are grouped is up to the discretion of leadership, but often facilities projects are grouped by function, financial criteria or programmatic value or geography. Each portfolio is then ranked by system, priority or impact. This approach allows decision-makers to understand the investment demands of individual segments of each facility.
Step Four: Match Funding To Projects
With project portfolios established, organizational leaders have a context for applying available funds. Creating investment criteria specific to each portfolio helps prioritize capital planning and orient investments around mission.
A college campus might aim to reduce the renovation age of its housing portfolio to give students a better experience. A city or county may implement energy-efficiency goals to focus on environmental stewardship. A healthcare system may decide to overhaul recovery suites to create a more comfortable, private environment for patients. A school district might focus on investing in science labs. Needs differ from industry to industry.
With a framework established and an investment strategy in place, leaders can track progress and monitor resource availability. Most importantly, they can more easily adjust if circumstances change.
Step Five: Consider Options For Implementation
Once a project inventory is complete and an investment plan is in place, it is time to consider how to get these projects completed and bring your plan to life. Whether utilizing traditional procurement or a more innovative approach like Job Order Contracting (JOC), it is imperative that leadership be on the same page regarding how they get the work done so everyone knows how resources are being committed.
Using these steps, facility managers and decision-makers can implement a plan for success that is informed, credible, affordable, and sustainable. Financial resources are aligned with realistic capital plans that mitigate risk and support organizational mission. A facility is, in and of itself, an asset and following such a plan increases that asset’s value.
Learn more about about aligning your facilities investments with your organizational mission here.