When repair, renovation, acquisition, or new-building needs become critical, emergency capital planning is called to the rescue. In this case, however, the planning time is short and capital renewal costs are often high. To make better long-term decisions, many building owners and managers are turning to ongoing capital planning as an integral part of their operations.
Capital-planning software is useful in both scenarios, but it's particularly beneficial when used as part of a regular facility assessment and planning process. Stakeholders can then be assured that an appropriate process is followed, including:
- Establishing consistent criteria for assessing building conditions.
- Ensuring that building assessments are completed on a regular or as-needed basis.
- Cataloging deferred-maintenance needs.
- Monitoring the facility condition index (FCI) for individual buildings, campuses, or multiple sites.
- Evaluating priorities for capital needs.
- Developing cost estimates for current and future expenditures.
- Producing data to justify capital plan(s) and funding requests.
Some industries, particularly in the public sector, require periodic building assessments and systematic capital-planning processes. Today, with aging buildings and infrastructures, more building owners and managers in all industries are realizing the benefits of capital planning: reliable building data, multi-year planning, and cost-effective solutions for capital needs.
Capital-planning software, which is used to create capital plans and manage the implementation of those plans, is a key tool in the capital-planning process. The software is generally first used to assess the condition of buildings, building components, and assets. The assessment includes not only building system or component type and rating, but also useful life. This evaluation of a property's physical condition is often accomplished by consultants such as engineering or architectural firms. Some software packages also enable users to collect this data themselves. The assessment data provides baseline information and the foundation for the analysis of needs regarding capital planning, including cataloging deferred-maintenance needs.
Capital-planning software also provides users with an industry-standard FCI, which is a comparative indicator of the relative condition of facilities. It's expressed as a ratio of the cost of remedying maintenance deficiencies to the current replacement value. The cost of remedying maintenance deficiencies - the cost of deferred maintenance, which is the amount that must be spent to restore an asset to standard condition - is divided by the current replacement value of the asset.
Additional functionality in capital-planning software helps building owners and managers determine their best capital plan(s). Using data, analyses, and reports, the software enables users to proactively manage building upkeep and growth over time.
Capital-planning software is often used with other building software, such as computer-aided facility management (CAFM) systems and computerized maintenance management systems (CMMSs). These complementary systems are used, respectively, to help visualize capital needs with data-enabled building drawings and to generate project information needed to complete the work and track costs related to a capital plan.
Pat Conroy is president at MicroMain Corp. (www.micromain.com), an Austin, TX-based company.