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Real Time Insights Can Drive Better Capital Planning

July 25, 2019

Building managers, whether they’re with development companies, corporations or in the public sector, are generally locked into capital planning exercises that are conducted annually, or even much less often, sometimes just once every three to five years.

Building managers, whether they’re with development companies, corporations or in the public sector, are generally locked into capital planning exercises that are conducted annually, or even much less often, sometimes just once every three to five years.

Why is it done so seldom? Because thorough and realistic capital planning is no trivial matter. Capital requests must be substantiated with comprehensive analysis and reporting on the current condition of buildings, as well as realistic estimates for all the recommended remediation projects.

Then, those numbers need to be rationalized with the priorities of line management. There’s substantial time and effort put forth in determining if the recommended capital projects align with what’s most important for the support, protection, or expansion of the organization’s mission.

While minimizing the cycles spent in planning capital investments might make sense in terms of staff work reduction, it can cause real problems. Assessments, when done the traditional way by outside site surveying firms, can become obsolete mere months or quarters after the ink has dried.

[Read also: Connect With Your Smart Building Technology]

Meanwhile, on a day-to-day and month-to-month basis, facilities managers have to play a virtual “whack-a-mole” game dealing with the latest system breakdown, emergency or urgent new market trend.

And, unlike the innocuous carnival game, if facilities managers guess wrong or attack the wrong problem, the costs can be very high.

Aging infrastructure has an insidious way of delivering unpleasant surprises between planning cycles. Much of the public sector and many private organizations have real estate portfolios assembled over multiple decades, or in some cases, more than a century.

With such aging assets, annual capital plans can easily be consumed in trying to keep up fixing what’s unexpectedly broken or appeasing the most vocal or politically connected constituent groups.

Outdated Systems Solution: Re-Engineer Your Process

Rather than throw in the towel, consider re-engineering your process to have a more fluid, responsible capital investment capability.

This form of re-engineering goes beyond the simple application of everyday productivity tools. Condition data certainly can be collected via smart phone photos and stored in Excel or Google Sheet summaries. However, that data is too often inaccessible, inconsistent or inaccurately captured.

The good news is that there are modern technology systems that keep your capital plans up to date in near real time. All the relevant players in your organization can have full visibility of accurate insights on the condition of their facilities.

With visibility through a sustainable and repeatable process, remediations can be made to infrastructure as soon as it’s needed, without having to wait for the annual inspection cycle. That means small problems are dealt with while they are still small, and the right repairs can be budgeted and addressed at the right time to keep the facilities in top condition for their mission.

4 Considerations When Upgrading

There are four fundamental aspects you should look for in a modern technology system. Obviously, there are other bells and whistles, but you should consider these four features mandatory:

1. Mobile data collection

Select a system that’s designed for mobile field input using the tablet’s camera and an intuitive, easy-to-use interface. With such tools, engineers or architects need only minimal training to do the job.

2. Cloud-based facilities database

Your re-engineered system should come pre-populated for typical facilities conditions and always be available through the cloud.

If you want the data fields to be customizable, make sure central admin can do so, enforcing consistent usage across assessors.

3. Automated workflows

Once the condition information is in your master cloud database, your re-engineered system should automatically route the field collected data for validation by a senior, preferably licensed, professional.

And, when new data is input that’s far outside acceptable ranges, automated alerts can ensure remediation happens before emergencies set in.

4. Reliable estimation

The final piece required to get the full benefit from a new system is connection into standard project-costing databases, like RSMeans.

This helps rapidly convert prioritized remediations into realistic budget estimates, ready for approval and implementation.

Stop Chasing Emergency Repairs

Stop playing whack-a-mole chasing the latest emergency repair. Take control and make your facilities capital investments go further through real time visibility.

About the Author:

Trey Simonton is a regional vice president responsible for Accruents customer relationships with government and commercial mid-market and enterprise companies across North America. Trey has expertise in managing enterprise accounts, business partnerships and management processes.

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