Planning For Your Master Plan: 3 Ways Facilities Data Can Help

You’re planning a family summer vacation. You’ve budgeted, picked a date range and general location. Now you’re ready to pack and set your itinerary. But instead of reading reviews, checking the weather, booking hotels and assessing maps, you simply call a family conference, tell everyone to pack up, jump in the car and start driving. How far do you think you’ll get before you’re lost or in need of essential supplies? You wouldn’t begin a family vacation without proper data and information, and you shouldn’t set out on creating your institutions’ strategic roadmap without it either.

Data-driven, unbiased decision making is crucial to forming a sustainable master plan. Whether you’re initiating a new master plan or updating an existing one, now is the time to take a fresh, data-driven approach to this major strategic effort. An objective analysis of facilities performance will be critical to the plan’s success. Consider these three ways in which strong starting data and know-how can benefit you during the master planning process and help you create a more informed campus vision.

1. Provide a Strong Foundation to Build Upon

Facilities intelligence helps institutional leaders be more thoughtful facilities owners. It provides the foundation for more informed decision-making that acknowledges current and ongoing needs and expenses. By getting a clear picture of where your institution is today, you can channel the innovation and ingenuity typical of the planning process to create the most powerful and financially-responsible impact upon your campus.

2. Give Accurate Direction to the Master Planners

Data helps guide institutions to better manage their master planners. Master planning must be as much about addressing the real challenges of existing buildings as adding new, despite the allure typically associated with expanding campus. Data helps support this mindset as a starting place. A condition assessment provides the concrete evidence you need to account for every building in the planning process to ensure that campus needs continue to be met. Facilities benchmarking and analytical insights can provide contextual understanding of how specific decisions align with broader market trends and will impact a campus’ competitive edge.

3. Empower People Across Campus

By engaging people across campus in the review of existing conditions and priorities before beginning the master planning process, Facilities, Finance and other leadership members can better ensure they are speaking to an informed audience. This creates better understanding around the constraints or compromises necessary to complete a truly successful master planning effort. Additionally, it can open up the conversation on complex issues so the planner can focus on resolving them rather than finding them.

A family vacation without all of the information is sure to be an unforgettable journey, but maybe for all of the wrong reasons. Planning firms across the country create master plans that are often exciting, dynamic and inspirational, and address the stated needs of the institution. However, a planning process that’s not informed by data on how campus property supports the institution today may mean that, as it continues to age, the campus will not be able to successfully support the institution. Making things worse, the existing financial plans also may not be able to support the campus as it ages. Start with data and know-how to ensure you know precisely where you stand today to help you create a sustainable master plan that drives your institution towards its target destination.