Posted on 01/06/2016
By David Canales, Associate Product Marketing Manager
Facilities are one of the most expensive items you manage, and up-to-date data is critical to the upkeep of those assets. While maintenance management systems help you manage the day-to-day work and get a general understanding of where you are spending the most, you cannot understand the true condition of assets without more detailed facility condition assessments (FCAs). Initially, most organizations bring in outside consultants to do FCAs, but with the right tools, you have the ability to handle ongoing data updates. Organizations that keep their data current see many benefits, including the following:
No one likes surprises, especially expensive ones. Having current data allows you to get a true understanding of what systems are at risk of failure. With limited budgets, there are always projects that have to be planned for future years, but many organizations do not know the potential impact of delaying those projects. As data gets more out of date, organizations have a tougher time managing risk in their portfolio because the data does not reflect the true condition of their assets.
Sometimes you have budget left at the end of the year, and most organizations would rather use that budget than see it go away when the new budget year starts. But how do you know if you are putting these dollars into the right projects? By having more current data, it is easier to see what projects should happen first and how much they will cost. This helps ensure you are placing these remaining funds in the correct investments and do not run over budget in the process.
Assessments are all about helping you make better decisions with your capital improvement budget in the near and long-term, and more accurate data helps you effectively plan for future needs. There are times when assets deteriorate quicker than expected, and if your data is several years old, you can miss these assets’ investment needs. This leads to more reactive repairs and maintenance, which is more expensive and can affect future years’ plans and budgets.
Having your facilities teams do your own assessments is a great way to keep data up to date and realize the benefits mentioned above. While some may think that doing assessments takes a wealth of resources, you can easily cover your portfolio every few years if you plan your assessments in phases and apply consistent resources to them, helping keep your data as accurate as possible.
With up-to-date data, you can see where there are opportunities to combine individual capital projects into larger projects, such as replacing roofs across multiple buildings. For example, if you know you are going to have to replace 10 roofs over the next five years, you can combine those into a single project and get a better price from a vendor, based on economies of scale. A customer actually saved over $1 million on an HVAC program this way, saving 19 percent off the price by purchasing chiller equipment across 11 locations.
In addition to saving money, combining projects can also save you time, resources and impact on your buildings and their occupants. For example, by combining roof and roof-top unit projects, you only have to tear up the roof once, get a crane once, and have only one maintenance period.
VFA Auditor Overview – Tool for managing your own assessments
James Madison University case study – How a university manages assessments in-house