Every facility management organization has horror stories of late-night repairs or equipment failures on the worst day of the year. Teams scramble to fix the problem and work overtime to get the building back up and running.
Nobody enjoys working reactively. But small teams, tight budgets, big workloads, daily issues and a growing backlog of deferred maintenance force most facility operations teams to prioritize emergencies over prevention. This resource-constrained world is the constant reality for facility management, and it’s unlikely anyone will start being asked to do less with more any time soon.
Organizations that efficiently use what they already have, value the time and expertise of their facility teams, and look around the corner can thrive in this world of scarcity. One common factor in their success? These best-in-class organizations rely on thoughtful capital plans to help them reduce the likelihood of unexpected failures – and they use facility condition assessment information to get them there.
Every asset has a story
Each building is full of valuable assets that maintain the spaces where students learn, patients heal and people thrive. These dynamic pieces of equipment (like HVAC, plumbing or specialty equipment) degrade over time, depending on their recommended lifespan and how carefully they have been maintained. This equipment – and its condition – also influences capital spending, emergency repair budgets and maintenance staffing levels.
Facility teams can get ahead of these strategic decisions if they can learn how to predict the behavior of their equipment. This is where facility condition assessment data comes in. At its core, a facility condition assessment is a process to develop a comprehensive asset list, rate each piece of equipment by its condition, its impact to operations and its estimated life remaining, and then turn that information into actionable decisions.
Always act on the data
Condition data can help answer two key capital planning questions: how much should we spend on capital renewal each year, and what projects should we prioritize?
Most organizations have a significant (and likely growing) backlog of deferred maintenance. Condition assessment data can tell you the volume and cost of the most critical replacements and provide hard data to the executive leaders who decide on the budget.
Then, once a budget is set, facility teams must decide how to spend their limited capital dollars. What equipment needs to be immediately replaced, and what should be replaced because it has a high likelihood of failure in the next 1-2 years? What projects should be pushed out a few years because the equipment has a lower impact on operations were it to fail? These decisions have cascading capital impacts, and a lot weighs on getting them right.
Make the leap
Remarkable insights are hidden within the information that streams out of buildings. These findings should, by design, make facility operations easier to manage. But the truth is that transitions to new ways of working are never easy, and your unique situation guarantees that you won’t match a one-size-fits-all approach.
So here’s how to start: pick a corner of your world and try it. That could be assessing all the systems in one building that gives you consistent trouble. Or it could be collecting install dates from nameplates for the oldest mechanical systems across your buildings that consistently put break-fix budgets at risk. Each small dataset you put to work shaves down your risk and moves you one more step along a path to transform your operations.
These best-in-class organizations rely on thoughtful capital plans to help them reduce the likelihood of unexpected failures – and they use facility condition assessment information to get them there.
Ready to move a little faster? Look for a partner who you can trust to walk side-by-side with you. They can help you build a plan for this transition that respects your capacity for change and values your people.
Either way, it’s just like a new diet or exercise plan: the only way to reach your goal is to start. When will you?
Kevin Lynn is an account executive with McKinstry’s Technical Services team in Seattle. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.