When it comes to space delivery, more often than not, the facility manager assumes the role of project manager – for better or for worse.
And, says Larry Vanderburgh, senior industry and academic advisor at the BOMI Institute, Arnold, MD, as project manager you’ll spend your time doing a careful dance in order to keep all involved parties satisfied.
Vanderburgh addressed the concept of successful space delivery during a November 2003 presentation at Buildings Show® @ NeoCon® East in Baltimore. He warned session participants about the hazards of today’s space planning endeavors.
“Projects don’t end these days,” he notes. “They mutate. You complete the blueprint, and someone asks you to add two more workstations or a 400-square-foot kitchen.”
Bear in mind that upfront planning is the key to success, both logistically and financially, Vanderburgh says. “The financial impact of decisions decreases as the project reaches the end,” he notes. “The beginning of the job is where you make your million dollar mistakes, and the end is where you recoup your $100 savings. You can save a lot of heartburn if you think of space planning as a budget exercise.”
Properly identifying the need – and not just requirements of the group as a whole, but also any special requirements – is key to a successful space plan. “If you don’t get this right, you can do the rest flawlessly and still screw up spectacularly,” Vanderburgh says.
So how do you determine what your company needs in this morass of choices? A simple space programming questionnaire, possibly implemented in combination with interviews of key personnel, can help shape the landscape of individual requirements.
For the broader scheme, use workspace templates that are based on space standards, if applicable. A space requirements report and program that cites a line-by-line listing of each workspace, circulation and layout factors, adjacencies, and total space requirements is another handy tool, Vanderburgh notes. For each area to be planned, ask: “Where should this office be and why is it there?”
But, he cautions, be sure that the space requirements report has a big line that says, “Yes, I am the right person to approve this plan.” If the person who signs off on it isn’t authorized to make these decisions, you’ll quickly learn that “time is money.”
You can take either an “inside-out approach,” where you shop for space to meet needs, or the less desirable “outside-in approach,” where company management has identified a block of space in a building and you have to fit the people in the existing area. Vanderburgh looks at this scenario as a sort of reverse engineering. It’s difficult, tedious, and if you can shop for space after needs are determined, you’re in a much better position.
“A company might need 10,000 square feet, but they’ve settled for a 9,200-square-foot space. You’ve got to squeeze that extra 800 square feet out of somewhere,” Vanderburgh says. “My guess is that they’ll want to squeeze in enough people until it is grounds for infidelity or cannibalism, whichever comes first. Simply put, a body is a body and it needs space.”