VFA NEWSLETTER / SEPTEMBER 2011

Collecting Accurate Data: What are the Options?

Expert Insights - Keith O'Leary

A critical aspect in developing credible capital plans is the validity of the underlying data. Accurate cost and condition information forms the basis of a strategic Capital Planning and Asset Management program and is paramount to the generation of budgets with realistic requirements and quantified deferred maintenance. Without access to detailed information regarding facility condition and life cycle stage, facilities managers and capital planners find it virtually impossible to develop defensible budgets and obtain funding.

It is crucial to be proactive about which investments you need to make in your facilities by understanding:

  • The composition of the facility portfolio
  • The existing physical condition of the facilities
  • The required remediation and costs

For organizations with numerous facilities, it’s important to categorize the buildings based on organizational mission, and identify those that are essential to business operations and those that should be managed as longer-term investments.

With a prioritized building list established, you need to determine the best objective method for collection of condition data. A Facility Condition Assessment (FCA) is the process of collecting detailed data on facility condition and deficiencies, generally with walk-through inspections by qualified professionals (mechanical, electrical, and architectural engineers) to collect this baseline data. These teams survey the buildings, systems and infrastructure assets in detail using consistent best practice methodologies, visualizing and taking photos rather than disassembling equipment.

Another option for data collection is facility self-assessment that employs a consistent, repeatable process for internal staff. Leveraging existing facility resources to quickly assess assets of all types and portfolios of all sizes, organizations can greatly enhance the management of geographically dispersed facilities. The self-assessment process should be rapid and cost-effective, resulting in data that can identify “hot spots” within the portfolio that require a more detailed professional condition assessment, and help develop quick budgetary estimates. A good facility self-assessment also maintains data captured in previous assessments to ensure that strategic decisions are based on factual information. Self-assessment empowers organizations to close the loop on portfolio knowledge gaps and gain immediate insight into their most pressing facility needs.

Data types gathered include:

  • Building Profile – size, age, construction type, location, etc.
  • System Renewals – HVAC, roof, exterior, etc.
  • Condition Data – Urgent issues, code violations, etc.
  • Non-condition Data – strategic, risk, programmatic, criticality

Organizations with strong processes for assessing capital assets and gathering accurate, actionable data are best positioned to advance their objectives, becoming increasingly sophisticated about their approach to long-term capital planning and obtaining the necessary funding for capital needs.

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Keith O’Leary
Director, Product Marketing