Your capital plan is approved. Your priorities are set. Hooray! Now you don’t have to worry about all that for another year. Haha — yeah right. No one’s capital plan makes it through the year unscathed. Emergencies happen. Priorities have to be juggled. Money must be moved around. Tough decisions have to be made.
When your air chiller fails 3 years ahead of schedule and you suddenly need $80,000 right now to replace it, most facilities managers would be scrambling to figure out what to defer in their capital plan to free up $80k. Trying to make the right decision under intense stress with your bosses breathing down your neck isn’t the ideal way to make any choice – much less a high-profile decision about which capital projects to re-prioritize.
Wouldn’t you rather go into that emergency situation already knowing exactly what in your capital plan you could adjust? Wouldn’t it be helpful to clearly see what’s changed in your facilities since your original capital plan was approved so you could confidently shift priorities?
It’s absolutely possible with a living facility condition assessment (FCA).
The Living FCA: Capital Planning’s Perfect Partner
Traditional, static FCAs are typically done every few years. While a facilities team will refer to an FCA over and over for 3, 5, 7, or even 10 years, in reality, that FCA data is only useful for determining the best decisions to make for the next 12 months. After that, the facilities have changed so much that the original data no longer provides an accurate picture.
But why settle for a single still frame of your facilities’ condition when you could watch the entire movie?
A living FCA never gets old. It’s an always current view of your facilities. It shows how your facilities are changing from day to day. It’s a powerful, data-rich resource for informing annual capital planning but also for deciding if or when your original capital projects need to be changed throughout the year.
A capital plan based on a static FCA shows what your next 12 months will look like on the day you finished putting the plan together. It can’t tell you what to expect after those 12 months. And it doesn’t account for things like needing an emergency $80,000 replacement air chiller 6 months down the road.
A capital plan based on a living FCA is constantly sustained with fresh facilities data. You can keep planning ahead continuously for the next rolling 12 months. You don’t have to stress out when costly emergencies pop up, because you’ll already have a good idea of what can safely be deferred thanks to that always current living FCA data. You can even proactively recommend changing some priorities around to address issues the data is telling you are coming.
Doesn’t capital planning using a living FCA sound better than what you’re currently doing? “Sure!” you say. “But how am I supposed to get there from where I am today?” One step at a time. And you can start that journey right now.
How Do I Move To A Living FCA For More Flexible, Proactive Capital Planning?
As you transition to a living FCA, the most important thing to remember is this: It’s a process. It’ll take time, commitment, and investment. But the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll begin benefiting. Like the saying goes: “The best time to start was yesterday. The next best time is now.”
With that in mind, Moving From A Cyclical To A Continuous FCA is one of many articles we’ve written on this topic and a great place to start. In addition, here are two of the most important actions you should take.
Create A Single Source Of Truth
A living FCA (and any capital plan based on one) is only as good as the data that feeds it. So the very first step in transitioning to one has to be: set up a place where you can store and maintain all of your facilities data. This is often called a single source of truth.
A single source of truth (or SSOT) is a central repository containing accurate and up-to-date information about all aspects of your facility. It’s the definitive data source you and other stakeholders can rely on for making informed decisions.
Characteristics of an SSOT include:
- One place for all facilities data
- Continuously updated
- Accessible to all stakeholders
- Adaptable to incorporate new information
However, every SSOT is unique because it has to fit the needs of the organization that creates it. So the question is: what will your SSOT look like?
Questions to consider as you develop a single source of truth:
- What information needs to be centralized?
- What are the primary purposes of your SSOT (e.g., maintenance, safety, compliance, budgeting, all of the above)?
- Which critical data must be included (e.g. floor plans, maintenance schedules, asset information, historical records, etc.)?
- What data sources and systems need to be integrated into your SSOT?
- How will new data be added and who will be responsible for adding it?
- Which technology platform should you use to house and manage your SSOT?
Equip Your Team To Be Better Data Collectors
Your frontline facilities employees are your best source of asset data. They walk the buildings every day. They touch the assets every day. They’re often the first to notice changes. They just need a better way to record all they see and do. And if your facilities data is truly valuable to your organization (which we hope it is!), you need to treat it as something worth investing in.
Put the right data collection technology in the hands of your frontline workers and watch your facilities data blossom. This isn’t a sales pitch for a particular piece of hardware or software. The “right” tools for your team might look different from the “right” tools for another organization.
The best data collection tools for your team are ones that:
- Match your culture and the way your team does things
- Make your techs’ jobs easier, not harder
- Are easy to learn and use on the go
It’s about finding that Goldilocks tool that does what your organization needs it to do and that your team actually wants to use. When you find that sweet spot, your chances of successfully implementing a data collection tool and reaping the benefits goes up exponentially.
Once you have all that quality data coming in from the field every day, you’ve got the lifeblood of a living FCA and are well on your way to better capital planning.
One Last Thing: It’s Ok To Ask For Help
Changing how you do your FCAs and capital planning can seem like a huge mountain to climb. But you don’t have to go it alone. An experienced partner can guide you on the journey.
Since 2015, AkitaBox has been helping organizations bring all their facilities data into one place, manage the transition to living FCAs, and create kick ass capital plans. Could we be the right partner for you?
Visit our website at akitabox.com. Subscribe to our blog for expert content on a variety of FM topics. Check out our resource library with helpful tools like our Facility Condition Assessment Checklist and Guide. Or, just give us a shout.