Brewster Academy Facilities Director Using Technology to Collect Facility Condition Data Solo

BOSTON—December 10, 2014—VFA, Inc., an Accruent company and the leading provider of end-to-end solutions for facilities capital planning and asset management, today announced it will host a complimentary webinar titled “How to Build a Case for Strategic Capital Investment with Limited Staff” on Thursday, December 11 at 2 p.m. ET.

Dan Noyes, facilities director, Brewster Academy, will discuss how he is using VFA.auditor® for mobile collection of facility condition data.  Noyes will also discuss his plans to analyze the data and, ultimately, create a business case for additional dollars.

Attendees will learn how to:

  • Take on the challenge of facilities capital planning in a one-person shop
  • Learn how to use the right tools to get more done in a few weeks than otherwise would be possible in a year
  • Plan a schedule to assess the portfolio

To connect with VFA, please follow us on Twitter at @VFAINC, or visit our blog, Foundations, which provides information to readers that serves as a foundation for intelligent facilities capital planning and management.

About VFA, an Accruent company

Headquartered in Boston, VFA is the leading provider of end-to-end solutions for facilities capital planning and management. Over the past 15 years, VFA has shown more than 800 organizations around the world how to ensure that their facilities optimally support their strategic business objectives. Partnering with VFA, our clients have been recognized for delivering programs that impact the bottom line by aligning facilities capital plans with organizational objectives to reduce risk, lower costs, improve service quality and client satisfaction, and satisfy compliance requirements. VFA’s flagship software product, VFA.facility®, is used to manage more than 4 billion square feet of real estate. For more information, please call 800-693-3132 or visit http://www.vfa.com.

ReNew Canada

AT&T will Discuss How it Takes a Centralized Approach to Capital Planning

BOSTON—November 20, 2014—VFA, Inc., an Accruent company and the leading provider of end-to-end solutions for facilities capital planning and asset management, today announced it will host a complimentary webinar titled “Developing a Strategic Capital Plan for Centralized Control – A Case Study by AT&T” on Thursday, November 20 at 2 p.m. EST.

Kimberly Chestnutt, senior manager national staff corporate real estate, AT&T, will discuss how AT&T takes a centralized approach to capital planning using technology that allows them to capture data at the field level and leverage that data to make strategic capital planning decisions. With a significant portfolio of more than 230 million square feet comprised of more than 60,000 assets, the challenge facing AT&T when it comes to capital planning is daunting. While AT&T’s real estate portfolio is significant, many smaller organizations face the same challenges that AT&T faces – a competitive business environment, internal competition for capital funds, and incomplete data with which to make informed decisions.

Attendees will learn how a standardized data collection process allows facility professionals to get the data they need to make strategic capital funding decisions; detailed reporting based on objective data takes the guesswork out of which projects should take priority and lets facility professionals quantify and defend funding requests; and the right technology addresses the needs of organizations with large portfolios like AT&T, but the same benefits are available to smaller organizations.

This webinar is part of an ongoing series around the theme, “Deliver Strategic Value From Your Facilities Capital Investment.” The series features one webinar each month with speakers including industry leaders and rising stars in facilities management. To view the schedule and register, visit http://www.vfa.com/news-events/webinars/.

VFA Canada Helps Federal Organizations Manage and Optimize Investments in Facilities

BURNABY—November 18, 2014—VFA Canada Corporation, an Accruent company and the leading provider of end-to-end solutions for facilities capital planning and asset management, today announced it is featuring solutions that enable organizations to manage their facilities strategically at the Real Property Institute of Canada (RPIC) National Workshop taking place November 18-20 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. VFA is exhibiting in Booth 21 and showcasing its flagship facilities capital planning software, VFA.facility®.

VFA Canada works with federal organizations that manage large, dispersed facility portfolios to optimize their investments in their facilities while complying with federal real property asset management standards. Visitors to VFA’s booth can learn how VFA.facility enables federal organizations to both manage information about facility assets and leverage that information in the creation of capital projects, plans and budgets. VFA.facility provides a secure central source of facility data, and gives facility managers, capital planners, financial analysts and executives the tools they need to make optimal decisions about facility spending, capital investments and long-term capital planning.

To connect with VFA Canada, please follow us on Twitter at @VFACanada, or visit our blog, Foundations, which provides information to readers that serves as a foundation for intelligent facilities capital planning and management.

att-building
Get to know Thursday’s presenter, Kimberly Chestnutt, Senior Property Manager, National Staff at AT&T.

What education and/or professional experience led you to your role today?

I became involved in Capital Planning when I was asked to be the “Super User” for what was known as AT&T’s Central Region for Property Management. Over the years, my knowledge of the database and its purpose propelled me to be the SME for Capital Planning. Our portion of Capital Planning is related to the data entry of the capital needs and then turning to our Design & Construction team to determine what will be funded the next year.

What do you see as the 3 biggest hurdles that FMs face in the next 5 years?

The three biggest hurdles for my FMs in the next 5 years will be:

  • Budget
  • Resources
  • Time
kimberly-chestnutt

Register

Kimberly will be presenting a live webinar on Thursday, November 20, at 2:00 PM (ET).

Developing a Strategic Capital Plan for Centralized Control – a Case Study by AT&TRegister!

Flying Solo: How a Facilities Team of One Is Building the Case for Strategic Capital Investment

Brewster Academy

Read our latest case study featuring Brewster Academy.

The Client
Brewster Academy, a small independent high school on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire, is dedicated to “optimizing the learning, living, and athletic experience of students while helping them grow strong in mind, body, and spirit.” The school’s 500,000 square feet of facilities plays a key role in achieving part of that mission. With 20 dormitories, classrooms equipped to deliver a curriculum that is fully integrated with the latest technology, a performing arts facility, a 50,000 square foot athletics center, and a boathouse and events center, Brewster Academy has made significant investments in making its campus both beautiful and functional to attract and retain the best students and faculty.

The Challenge
Brewster Academy’s Facilities Director Dan Noyes is a facility team of one. He manages a million-dollar annual operating budget, and a budget of between six hundred thousand and one million for capital expenditures. Like many facilities managers, Dan knows that the capital budget is insufficient to keep up with the needs of the organization. So does his boss, the school’s Chief Financial Officer. But without a convincing case based on hard data, the likelihood of persuading the Board of Directors to allocate more capital funds is low.

What happened next?

See what Brewster Academy chose as their solution and find out the results of that choice by downloading the case study.

Download Case Study

Will Provide an Update on the Facilities Capital Planning Program Implemented by National Health Service Scotland

READING—5 November 2014—VFA, Ltd., the leading provider of end-to-end solutions for facilities capital planning and asset management, today announced it is presenting on the facilities capital planning program implemented by the National Health Service Scotland (NHS Scotland) at the Scottish Healthcare Facilities Conference taking place 6-7 November 2014 in Perthshire, Scotland. VFA will also be exhibiting at Stand 2.

Ray Dufresne, vice president and principal consultant, VFA, will provide an update on NHS Scotland’s capital planning program during a session on 7 November from 11:45 to 12:25. NHS Scotland began a pilot program with VFA facility capital planning software, VFA.facility®, and consulting services in 2013. The initial implementation is nearly complete and all boards now have access to the software. VFA.facility provides lifecycle modelling and analytics to enable the boards to strategically plan and optimise capital expenditures.

To connect with VFA, please follow us on Twitter at @VFAUK, or visit our blog, Foundations, which provides information to readers that serves as a foundation for intelligent facilities capital planning and management.

The flooding of both L.A.’s Sunset Boulevard and the UCLA campus back in July put a spotlight on a nationwide concern: the country’s infrastructure is old and more specifically, it is not being repaired or replaced at a rate that matches population growth and demand. With a nation literally treading above ticking time bombs, leaders must look to assess the current state of the infrastructure and what can be done to reduce failure, avoid emergencies, and put already limited budgets to more efficient use.

CBS News: The fight to repair L.A.’s aging infrastructure

 “With our budget the way it currently is, we are on a 300 year cycle to replace the smaller pipes.” – Jeff Bray, General Superintendent, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP)

The Status Quo

The water main breaks in L.A. are just an example of what is happening around the country. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Matters article, ‘Aging Water Infrastructure,’ “Every year across the country, there are approximately 240,000 water main breaks. As many as 75,000 yearly sanitary sewer overflows discharge three to ten billion gallons of untreated wastewater, leading to some 5,500 illnesses due to exposures to contaminated recreational waters.”

Surveys and studies reveal that the poor condition of the nation’s water system is a known issue. According to the American Public Works Association’s Infrastructure Facts, “In a survey of city mayors, the number one priority for water systems was aging infrastructure (listed by 60.6% of respondents)” and, “In a 2003 GAO study, 75% of experts identified the distribution system as one of the most vulnerable aspects of drinking water systems.”

Beyond a Busted Pipe

System failures like the L.A. water line, the collapse of I-35W bridge in Minneapolis and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina showcase the risks of unattended aging infrastructure, including:

  • Loss of life
  • Costly downtime for affected businesses
  • Costly emergency repairs and the need for federal funds
  • Bad press and political bickering
  • Fear of the unknown and loss of faith in leadership

In the American Society of Civil Engineer’s 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, ASCE gave the U.S. infrastructure a grade of a D+ and estimates it will take $3.6 trillion to improve this grade by 2020. In the face of failures, bad grades and the projected financial need, what can be learned about the condition of the country’s infrastructure today to help us improve the outlook for the future?

Shortsightedness

shortsighted capital planningShortsightedness is a common theme in both the public and private sector. Many plans and budgets are made with the current budget cycle, annual report, or political term in mind. In his blog post, 21 Facts About America’s Decaying Infrastructure That Will Blow Your Mind, Michael Snyder says, “Investing in infrastructure is something that has long-term benefits, but these days Americans tend to only be focused on what is happening right now and most politicians are only focused on the next election cycle.” Snyder goes on to list the conditions of America’s roadways, bridges and ports and the staggering funds required to improve them.

Another factor contributing to the situation is the tendency to simply chip away at a problem that seems too big to truly solve. When speaking in trillions of dollars, the sum can seem daunting and federal and state budgets are limited with many projects and interests contending for their share. It’s hard to determine what projects are most critical, what projects can wait, and what projects need to be scrapped.

Know the Needs Today and Tomorrow

know what you have Whether condition assessments of our linear assets or models to help create the best estimates are required, the first step is understanding what we’re dealing with today, and more importantly, what we could be dealing with tomorrow. This is key to creating a long-term capital plan. Local, state and federal representatives will need to consider factors like:

  • Condition of infrastructure today
  • Systems’ life expectancy and risks of failure
  • Projected funding needs with adjustments for inflation
  • Effects of climate change and population growth on infrastructure

A long-term plan will reduce downtime and unforeseen emergency repairs, and will also lift the fear of the unknown because future needs are being proactively addressed. The ability to look 5, 10 or even 20 years down the road and consider projected needs gives planners a much better handle on what can be done today to be in a better position tomorrow.

weight prioritiesWeigh Needs Against Other Initiatives

Once the financial need has been established, it’s time for a dose of reality. Frequently the projected need is well beyond the average yearly budget and even in the unlikely event of budget increases, the entirety of the necessary projects may not be covered. This is when a decision-making or prioritization strategy becomes key. Decision-makers and stakeholders need to be able to agree on what is critical and what expenditures will best prepare the city, state or organization for the future.

Show Me the Money!

The real question for the involved parties is, where are the additional funds going to come from? Estimating the need is only half of the battle; getting even a fraction of a budget increase is the real hurdle. This is when having the right data and telling the right story is crucial.  Those seeking funding need to leverage information that supports their plans, like:

  • Cost savings due to emergency repair avoidance and bulk purchasing opportunities;
  • Improved system condition rating and efficiency gains;
  • Improved customer service and public image.

Whether the additional funds come from public-private partnerships or public service rate increases, the trend of highly publicized infrastructure failures will continue until an effective and long-term plan can be put in place.

Storytelling to Achieve your Business Goals

I was babysitting recently for a friend and when I put her four-year old to sleep, she asked me to tell her a story. Of course, one story turned into four stories, and I kept finding myself making the same mistake: I proceeded more than halfway through the story before I realized I had omitted the lesson that is present in children’s tales. For example, I told the story of the three little pigs without the detail that storytelling lessons from fairy talesthe pig who built with bricks was mocked by his piggy siblings, only to be the hero at the end. I had all the other details right: the characters and their building materials, the wolf’s destruction of the first two houses, and the fact that the pig who built with bricks thwarted the wolf’s attempts to huff and puff and blow the house down. But, without framing my tale as a story about sticking to your guns in the face of adversity, it just became a tale of senseless property destruction.

once upon a time storytellingOnce upon a time, in a land far away…

Fairy tales and nursery rhymes are an excellent example of how to make a point. These stories take a lesson that a parent would like to convey to a child and then puts it in a context that a child can understand and enjoy. This same approach can be used to share ideas and make a business case in a professional setting. It’s not just about having an idea and the data that supports it. You have to tell a successful story. What is the lesson you want people to learn and what context will be conducive to that learning?

Story Structure

story building blocksTypically when you’re tasked with telling a story, it is because you already have the desired outcome in hand. In other words, you have an idea that you want to move forward and need to sway a group of decision-makers. For your idea to be successful, you must introduce the idea, support it with relevant information, and lead your audience to the same conclusion. Make sure that when you take a high level view of your story, the points you wish to make are introduced clearly, supported by relevant information, and lead to your conclusion.

know your storytelling audienceKnow Your Audience

Consider the perspectives and backgrounds of different audience members. Be sure to define and discuss any terms or acronyms that are specific to your department. Also consider any ongoing programs in the respective departments of your audience members and be prepared to address how your initiative interacts with and/or supports these programs.

Know your history. Consider feedback and objections raised by departments or individuals in the past, and be prepared to address them. If your prospective audience is comprised of several departments, you may find it easier to have multiple smaller meetings with your audience segmented into narrower groups. This will allow you to tailor your story to each group and will minimize any interdepartmental conflict or office politics.

Hit Them with the Numbers

storytelling with numbersNumbers can convey a point directly and dramatically. The key is to select the right numbers. Don’t just show a statistic that quantifies how well your organization is doing; show a statistic that demonstrates how well your organization is doing in relation to similar organizations. Benchmarking is a compelling way to motivate and give context. Showing how your organization is either leading or lagging is a way to put your story in the context of the organization’s overarching goals.

You should also be able to put your numbers in context by explaining what they mean and once again, keep your audience in mind.

  • If you’re throwing out an annual figure, let people know the previous few years’ numbers for context and explain the changes. Use those rates of change to help your audience understand what that could mean for the future.
  • If you’re talking dollars, say how many things those dollars would buy. You could say an initiative saved the company $25,000 or you could say you saved the equivalent of your annual office supplies bill.
  • If you’re talking square feet, give a known structure as an example. Instead of saying something is 76,000 square feet, say it is about the size of a soccer field.
  • If you’re talking number of people or clients, use a familiar visual. For example, you could say you have 17, 000 clients or you could say your clients would fill Madison Square Garden.

storytelling with picturesPicture Perfect

Visuals can really help your story take flight, and if a picture is worth a thousand words, you want to make sure it’s saying the right thing. Use pictures, graphs and charts that simplify complex ideas. If you are presenting a lot of data, make sure it is neatly organized and lean on color coding that may help clarify the message. For example, a number that is unfavorable or decreasing, you may color red and a number that is favorable or increasing, you may color green. Don’t go overboard with colors and visuals and definitely do your best to minimize distracting clipart.

anchors aweigh and onto storytellingAnchors aweigh!

Finally, it’s always good to end your story with what’s next. This is where you can provide your recommendations for further reading, additional topics for consideration, and specific action items that you believe should be a result of your business case. This will show your audience that you’ve considered the real world application of your case and you are prepared to take steps to put it into action. In essence, you’ve lifted your audience up with your narrative, and you close the story by bringing them back down to earth with the practical application of what you’ve presented.

Take the Next Step

download data planning sheet
Start organizing your facilities data so you can be a successful storyteller. Download this free planning sheet to help you get started. You can also read related blog posts:

University of Kansas will Discuss How it Aligns Buildings and Infrastructure with the Overall Organizational Mission

BOSTON—October 28, 2014—VFA, Inc., the leading provider of end-to-end solutions for facilities capital planning and asset management, today announced it will host a complimentary webinar titled “How to Align Your Buildings and Infrastructure with the Goals of Your Organization – A Case Study by The University of Kansas” on Wednesday, October 29 at 2 p.m. EST.

Paul Graves, P.E., deputy director, Office of Design & Construction Management, University of Kansas, will discuss the university’s facilities capital planning and management – the past, present and future – and how his teams work to align facilities with the overall organizational mission. Attendees will learn why a facility condition assessment (FCA) is a critical part of successful asset management, what a dynamic FCA is and why it’s a better decision support tool, and to use the data resulting from FCAs for budgeting, planning and reporting.

This webinar is part of an ongoing series around the theme, “Deliver Strategic Value From Your Facilities Capital Investment.” The series features one webinar each month with speakers including industry leaders and rising stars in facilities management. To view the schedule and register, visit http://www.vfa.com/news-events/webinars/.

To connect with VFA, please follow us on Twitter at @VFAINC, or visit our blog, Foundations, which provides information to readers that serves as a foundation for intelligent facilities capital planning and management.