Data Detail, Business Strategy and the Facilities Assessment

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By Pete Zuraw, Vice President of Marketing Strategy and Development at Gordian

Business educator and author Peter Drucker’s words ring as true today as they did when he first shared them:

“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”

Peter Drucker

How often have we all been engaged in activities or conversations in which people were consumed by improving a practice that, when considered objectively, was not in the best interest of the people it was intended to serve? How often have we sat in a meeting and thought, “But why?” Probably more often than we’d like to admit.

When confronted with the task of understanding how and where to direct precious resources in the care of facilities, particularly complex facilities, there is an inherent tension between the day-to-day demands and the long-term horizon. A facilities conditions assessment (FCA) is a powerful tool for understanding capital needs. Sitting at the intersection of today and tomorrow, an FCA can help organizations guard against pursuing detrimental practices, but only if it’s done right.

The Right Way FCA

An FCA must contain enough detail to assure that it is realistic, competent and useful in defining the true demands confronting the facility stewards. It must be connected to not only the organization’s current state but also its future aspirations. To meet said aspirations, a facilities assessment must be actionable, guiding decision-makers about where to direct inevitably limited resources.

While a detailed assessment provides an accurate picture of the challenges in every space, too much emphasis on perfecting the detail requires immense time and money. The effort also produces vast amounts of information that will never be utilized in those spaces. Conversely, too much focus on strategy without regard to detail raises important questions about what data points drive the recommendations that institutional leaders make about how and where to direct tremendous amounts of money. It is important to find the balance.

An Achievable Balancing Act

Selecting the appropriate level of granularity provides sufficient information to understand which pieces of the property are in the greatest need today. Exploring organizational aspirations can reveal the most appropriate facilities for future investment. Done correctly, a balanced assessment approach will minimize the financial requirement typically associated with a detailed understanding of all spaces. This will allow the bulk of the resources to be spent on the complex design and execution of the investment plan. Strategic decisions will be grounded in solid information about not only need, but programmatic fit, and long-term organizational health.

A facilities conditions assessment is at its core a technical document. Without the right balance between the level of detail, institutional context, and strategic intent, it won’t provide the actionable knowledge necessary to move your organization forward.

Learn more about how to go beyond the traditional facilities condition assessment to create an actionable investment plan.