If you work in a forward-thinking or tech savvy organization, you’ve likely heard about the benefits of using computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) and capital planning software in your industry – and you may even be using one or both of these powerful tools on your campus today.
There’s good reason for this. The right capital planning software can provide the defensible, comprehensive data your team needs to prioritize budgets, secure funding and truly understand how your facility is performing against time and budget constraints. Similarly, a robust CMMS can provide actionable insight into utilization stats, technician efficiency, facility management and more – everything you need to optimize your day-to-day facility and asset maintenance strategies.
These benefits are only compounded for organizations that use these tools together. Here’s why CMMS and capital planning systems are more effective as a software suite and how using them in tandem can provide major benefits to your organization.
The Roles of Capital Planning and CMMS
First off, why are capital planning and CMMS business solutions so beneficial?
The Basics of Capital Planning in Higher Education
Effectively managing budgets and executing effective financial planning is of the upmost importance for most organizations – particularly in the ultra-lean COVID-19 times we live in today. Real estate, in particular, is often one of the highest expenses on an income statement – and it can be difficult to track the information needed to get these numbers down due to organizations using disparate systems and departments misaligning on budget needs.
That’s where a comprehensive condition assessment software like Accruent’s VFA can help. Using VFA, users can:
- Centralize information, analyze options and create defensible budgets for capital spending.
- Optimize and align their real estate portfolio investments with their mission.
- Objectively model multi-year capital budgets to explore the impact of spending levels on facility conditions.
- Compare assets across their portfolio against industry-standard benchmarks.
These capabilities ultimately allow institutions like yours to unify their facilities information, prioritize spending and promote alignment between facility spending and broader organizational goals.
The Basics of CMMS in Higher Education
The right cloud-based CMMS system can help facilities managers optimize their facility and asset maintenance, thereby gaining efficiencies and maximizing resources and/or revenue across buildings and assets.
More specifically, CMMS systems can help users – including maintenance technicians, managers, custodial workers, and other facility personnel – to:
- Optimize facility and asset maintenance.
- Automate preventive, corrective and predictive maintenance processes.
- View and maintain work orders.
- Increase equipment reliability.
- Streamline maintenance operations.
- Lower costs by streamlining maintenance processes.
- Improve inventory accuracy by replacing disparate systems housing your data.
- Maintain industry-specific regulatory compliance by automatically tracking inspections, for example, and assigning out corrective maintenance tasks.
Accruent’s FAMIS 360 solution, is purpose-built for education institutions, CRE and public sector – and it’s easy-to-use, straightforward to implement and easy to update for professionals in these industries.
Why You Need Both Tools for Your Organization
Though powerful on their own, these tools are most impactful when used together. Each solution handles a different component of real estate and the asset lifecycle – with capital planning informing long-term strategic plans while facility management focuses more on day-to-day issues and short-term maintenance – and using them in tandem will provide a comprehensive solution set.
By using VFA and FAMIS 360 together, you can accomplish many goals.
Align Day-to-Day Facilities Maintenance Tasks with Broader Goals
Capital planning software allows you to create budgets, optimize your organization’s long-term investments and see how your spending decisions are impacting your broader goals and monetary constraints. In other words, it helps you look at the big picture, plan and see how your day-to-day decisions are helping or hurting your broader goals.
Computerized maintenance management software can help you optimize those day-to-day decisions so they actually do align with those broader goals. Automating work orders, evaluating vendor bids, streamlining schedules, optimizing inventory – this all falls under the facility management (FM) umbrella. And due to the complementary nature of the two systems, if you do not get this part right, you are probably not going to like the data you see in your capital planning software.
Consider the following example: a building’s classrooms need to be modified to follow COVID-19 protocols and allow a safe return to campus. Your FM team goes in, submits work orders, evaluates bids and ultimately procures and installs all the necessary items, including plexiglass, social distancing markers and sanitizing stations. A week later, your capital projects team lets them know that, due to broader budgeting concerns, they are not actually going to use that building as a classroom at all. They need everything reinstalled at a new location ASAP. It costs extra money, time and efficiency.
It’s an overly simplified example, of course, but this kind of misalignment between facility management and capital planning teams is not uncommon – and these communication silos can have significant negative consequences.
Using the CMMS and capital planning software in tandem could have avoided the headache, allowing the FM team to see the broader plans before they began their install and perhaps even allowing capital planning to optimize their COVID-19 protocols based on what they learned from the FM team.
Maximize Clarity with Connected Financial Software
It’s not just about your FM and capital planning teams being on the same page, but also about the software itself being integrated – or at least in communication with one another. Think about it: capital planning helps forecast costs and prioritize investments that will ensure organizational alignment as well as bring the highest revenue and return, right?
If your capital planners don’t know the details of how much it costs to renew a piece of equipment – how much money goes toward emergency repairs, how much scheduled maintenance is conducted, how much is spent on technicians, etc. – they could miss something important and ultimately face ongoing operational inefficiencies and difficulty allocating funds. Similarly, if your FM team doesn’t know the larger plans for a building, space or piece of equipment, they can’t guide their repair and maintenance activities to the areas of highest concern.
Here’s an easy way to think about it: say you have a piece of equipment that has been reliable with no reactive maintenance and good preventive maintenance. Your organization might choose to push out the renewal spend even if that equipment has reached the end of its original expected lifespan. This could save a lot of money, particularly if it’s scaled to many pieces of equipment in many buildings. What’s more, this asset life and condition information wouldn’t normally be tracked in the maintenance system alone. That’s why alignment and sharing information within these two systems is so important. It can help both teams make optimized, informed decisions, which can ultimately increase efficiency and reduce costs all around.
Better Predict and Prioritize Capital Plans
Let’s consider another example. Say the capital team members at a university were looking back on their yearly spend and realized that they were over budget on their annual capital expenses. Upon further inspection, they found that some expensive, yet unnecessary library renovations were the source of the problem, noting that there were some serious electrical issues in three classroom buildings that had gone unnoticed while the library was renovated. If they had known about the electrical issue, they wouldn’t have moved forward with the unnecessary renovations – and now they had to bear the financial brunt of both. In short, this oversight impacted revenue, efficiency and the university’s bottom line.
So, what went wrong? Well, the capital planning team had no idea about the ongoing electrical concerns that the FM team was dealing with, so they couldn’t effectively predict and plan where to allocate their capital spend. Similarly, the FM team had no idea that so much money was being spent somewhere else.
This, too, happens all the time, particularly with small repair and replacement work that adds up over time. And this lack of clarity can make a serious financial impact, particularly for organizations with smaller budgets or fewer staff members.
Luckily, this concern can also be avoided by using a CMMS and capital planning software together.
Optimize Preventive Maintenance Strategies
Reactive maintenance consequences – like emergency repairs, unplanned downtime and short asset lifecycles – can cripple any organization, lowering maintenance efficiency and skyrocketing costs over time. Using capital planning software and a CMMS together can help diminish this reactive maintenance and maximize preventive maintenance strategies.
This largely has to do with the fact that a CMMS can provide detailed information that can inform broader capital projections. For example, while a capital planning software may see that there’s an HVAC system, CMMS data can show all the component parts of that HVAC – including valves, pumps and so-on – along with the maintenance history of that asset.
This nuanced information about particular assets can help capital teams prioritize system renewal and flag any repair or maintenance costs that are out of line. In the big picture, this kind of data from hundreds of assets and facilities can help capital planning teams better predict risk of failure based on historical data. Translation: lower cost and higher uptime.
Integrating your capital planning and CMMS software can provide a myriad of benefits to your higher education organization, helping you to effectively reduce costs, maximize transparency, stretch funding and align across departments and organizational goals.