Special Issue: Harnessing The Power Of Data

Data-driven facilities are embracing AI and other technologies to set up for future success.

AkitaBox, Capital Planning
(Photo: AkitaBox)

Improving Your Capital Planning As A C-Level Executive

To make smart monetary decisions, executives need the right data at their disposal.

By Pat Farley


Today’s capital planning tagline is “do more with less.” Budgets aren’t growing. At the same time, the limited availability of skilled, experienced labor means less preventive (more reactive) maintenance. You need accurate, actionable data like never before to make the right spending decisions.

Yet I see so many organizations where a majority of their data goes to waste and isn’t utilized in capital planning decisions. Work orders are done in their own system. Inspection results stay in a binder. Bits and pieces of data are spread out across many different file shares, software systems, and departments, resulting in an incomplete and foggy view of the big picture.

While it’s not your job to understand the finer points of air handler unit maintenance or even know the difference between a boiler and a chiller, making monetary and management decisions based on a full view of all the available data IS your responsibility.

Without all the data on your real assets that your team is creating as they manage those assets in the facilities, you can’t have a capital plan that deploys your limited resources in the most effective way possible.

Do you really trust your data? Do you even have enough of it? Can you actually use the data you have?

If your facilities data isn’t where you’d like it to be, it’s time to make some changes —starting with taking a closer look at the tools you currently use to collect and manage your facilities data.

A good facilities data management system provides the accurate, actionable data required for capital planning—and, in turn, that empowers you to do the following things.

Use Data From All Stages Of The Facility Lifecycle

We talk about the wealth of available data in your facility’s lifecycle in Solving The Facility Industry’s Oldest & Toughest Problem: Collecting & Managing Data Throughout A Building’s Entire Lifecycle. Effective capital planning happens when we’re using the actual data from all sources of the facility lifecycle. A good asset management system allows you to capture and house all this information in one place:

“Having our data in AkitaBox to refer to has been invaluable. We can see specifics such as an asset’s age, all the work orders associated with that asset, and how much we’ve already spent on it—making it easier to see which decision makes the most sense financially.”

Matthew Kautzky, Director of Real Estate & Property Operations at Goodwill of South Central Wisconsin
  • A complete, accurate inventory of your assets
  • The cost to maintain each asset, including labor and material costs
  • Reactive vs. preventive maintenance by asset
  • Estimated remaining useful life
  • Replacement cost of each asset

Having all of this information at your disposal in one system lets you quickly see the cost to maintain an asset versus replace it, how soon you should replace it, and what actions you can take to extend an asset’s life —helping you ensure your capital is being used in the most efficient manner possible. You can’t balance a budget, deploy capital, or mitigate risk effectively without this perspective.

(Mostly) Stop The Surprises

With all of those different data inputs from the lifecycle of your facilities at your disposal, you can be proactive, instead of reacting to what has already happened. That’s a big deal.

We can’t stop failures from happening all the time, but they’re going to happen less often. They’re going to be small failures, not system failures.

Think about a power plant, or a chiller, or a boiler that’s driving a wing, a floor, or maybe a whole building. If one of those assets goes out, we can’t let students into the school. We can’t let patients into the ER. We can’t fulfill the mission of our organization. Having a data-driven plan reduces risk because it focuses on a proactive approach to facility management instead of “I wonder what’s gonna break today?” Staying in the dark without the data you need and hoping things work out is not a strategy.

AkitaBox, Capital Planning
(Photo: AkitaBox)

Tell Better Stories With Better Data

Just as your facilities manager has to present data to you during the annual budget process, so you have audiences you must share facilities data with—investors, the board of directors, the CEO, regulators, legislative bodies, etc.

Going into one of those presentations without rock solid data can feel like getting up on stage in nothing but your underwear.

“It’s rarely about the physical cost for us. It’s about how does this provide value to the organization? How does this free us up to do our mission better or deliver our services better?”

— Matthew Kautzky, Director of Real Estate & Property Operations at Goodwill of South Central Wisconsin

But when you’re making decisions based on data, you’re secure in your decision making and confident in your answers when questions arise. Data helps you construct a defensible, logical, coherent, honest, accurate story to explain your actions, describe your go-forward strategies, and explain how you’re responding to problems. In addition, when you recommend taking one course versus another, you can articulate the expected results of each option.

The more asset data you’re able to take advantage of, the more insights you’ll have into how well your facilities are supporting the mission of your organization.

Don’t let another day of wasted facilities information go by. Seriously evaluate your current data management approach and consider implementing a comprehensive facilities management system designed to collect, organize, and analyze all of your data in one place.

Farley is the Chief Operating Officer at AkitaBox. He has extensive experience as an executive in both the public and private sectors. Previously, he was the Administrator of Enterprise Operations (COO) for the State of Wisconsin where, among other things, he led a strategic sourcing initiative across all state agencies, saving the state millions of dollars yearly and streamlined the state’s procurement functions, allowing the State to engage in continual spend management.

Next: The Impact Of Labor Shortages On Facilities


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