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Planning for the Future: Facility Assessments and Master Plans

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” – Yogi Berra

Most organizations see great value in planning for the future. Time is often spent on developing both long-term strategic plans as well as yearly actionable business plans. If you are an organization that owns your own facility, one piece that is often missing from the planning process is taking the time to understand how the facility supports your current needs or how it will address your changing needs as you look toward the future.

Two of my favorite tools we use to support our Owners are Facility Assessments and Master Planning Processes. Taking the time to review and understand the current state of your facility can save you from making costly mistakes for the future.

What is a Facility Assessment?

A facility assessment looks at the existing conditions of your building: site, building envelope, interiors, mechanical systems, etc. It identifies any code or accessibility issues as well as areas needing updating or repairs. It then assigns a cost to fix the deficiency and allows you to update the assessment as improvements are made.

The benefits of a Facility Assessment:

  • Comprehensive understanding of current building, site, and system conditions
  • Detailed maintenance plan with anticipated costs and estimated life expectancy i.e. replacing an aging roof or mechanical system
  • Awareness of any code violations that could affect the health, safety, and welfare of the people using your facility

What is a Master Plan?

A Master Plan will look at how your facility supports your organization’s mission and goals. It identifies how the space currently addresses your needs and how to accommodate new growth initiatives. If necessary, it will outline what renovations or additions should be made, along with the associated costs and schedule.

The benefits of a Master Plan:

  • Compares your current program offerings and space allocation to future plans identifying what growth is needed to support new initiatives
  • Outline a plan for future needs and growth
  • Includes an opinion of probable construction cost to allow your organization to outline your funding needs

Some building improvement items can be costly. Getting these in your budget early helps with planning and funding so you do not get caught by surprise with high ticket items. Not to mention the additional cost of redoing work if it has already been built. For example, placing new mechanical equipment right where the new addition wants to go.

When organizations use these tools it not only helps plan for the future, but allows others to clearly understand where you are going. Utilizing a Facility Assessment and Master Plan outlines the plans and financial impact that you can share with donors, grantors, and the community. Giving you the tools to bring others along as you move to align your facility with your goals and strategic plan.

Reach out to us and see how we can help you plan for your future.

A Word from our Owners – The Salvation Army Indiana Division

Majors Bob and Collette WebsterMajor Bob Webster – Divisional Commander, The Salvation Army Indiana Division

Major Robert Webster is a graduate of Asbury College with a degree in physical education and recreation. He also holds a Masters of Ministry degree from Olivet Nazarene University. Prior to becoming a Salvation Army officer, he worked as a physical education teacher for the Tampa, FL public school system and as a Community Center and Recreation Director in Atlanta and Indianapolis.

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Schmidt Associates regularly has Owners ask us about Facility Assessments and Master Plans, and how they can help guide their decisions. This month we took a minute to talk with The Salvation Army Indiana Division about how we helped them with both a comprehensive Facility Assessment and a Master Plan.

 

What made you realize The Salvation Army in Indiana needed a Facility Assessment and Master Plan?

We recognized we have a lot of facilities with no plan for operations and maintenance, and we had no way to determine what state they were all in. We wanted to know the health of the facilities, and try to evaluate how much would be necessary to spend to bring them back to an acceptable standard of health.

The entire process took longer than we thought it would get it done, but we had to take things to our advisory board and property committees. While the Facility Assessment and Master Plan were being developed, we also had a feasibility study done for a possible capital campaign. This all compounded what we thought would take a couple of months, and took longer since there is always a next step of approval.

The assessment of the facilities itself however went quickly. The Schmidt Associates team went to the facilities, gathered information, and wrote a thorough report.

How has the Master Planned guided your actions?

It helped us tremendously in the fact that combined with the assessment tool, it helped us to focus our priorities to better facilitate our clients, the people we work with every day. The Master Plan helped us recognize what steps were needed, and in what order, to get our vision done. We couldn’t do that without having a secure foundation. It allowed us to focus on what needed to be done and how to spend our resources.

At our camp, we were trying to figure out what the best way to spend the money would be. We wanted to expand, but also had liabilities with the existing facilities needing to be brought up to an acceptable manner. This was done alongside the Schmidt Associates team and provided recommendations of what needed to be done first.

Overall, we’re pleased with the process. It was enlightening how much we really needed to get done because the study was so thorough. It made us aware of all the intricacies needed to stay functional.

Did it change what you thought you needed to do from a facilities perspective? If so, how?

We knew there was a lot of work that needed to be done at our Headquarters, so we needed to figure out if we should invest in our existing building or relocate. When the neighbors decided to buy our building, it made the decision easier to put the money from the sale towards the new property instead of spending money to remodel. Had we invested in a remodel, we would not have been able to get additional square footage and additional parking. By relocating, we were able to invest in a larger space to better suit our needs.

In our other facilities, it helped us set a priority of what needed to be done first. We knew the HVAC at Harbor Light was a priority. However, this wouldn’t have been the first thing we did if it wasn’t for the study. Ironically, as the study finished, the chiller at Harbor Light died, which made us realize the report was providing us an accurate priority.

We found out things we didn’t want to spend money on, but recognized we needed to so we could move forward. It allowed our board to understand the necessity and reason since it was a third-party recommendation.

Describe the process of working with Schmidt Associates?

It was certainly pleasant. They are very knowledgeable in what they do. They did a great job of explaining it to non-technical individuals allowing us to understand each priority and need. The customer service was wonderful and the organization is run with excellent leadership. We recommend them to organizations all the time.

 

If we can help you assess or master plan your facilities, reach out!

Under the Microscope of Campus Master Planning

Each and every college campus has its own unique story, its own roadmap which tells where it’s come from and where it’s going. Campus master planning plays a significant role in the development of this story, if done strategically and thoughtfully.

In order to develop a master plan that will inform future decisions, it is critical to incorporate a few key ingredients. These include understanding your mission and vision, soliciting input, and developing an “actionable” master plan. A successful campus master plan addresses these three components in order to result in a plan that will strategically guide you in both your short- and long-term decisions as you move forward.

Understanding your mission and vision: A comprehensive master plan must be built on the mission, vision, and goals of the college or university. This vision and direction serves as the compass for the master plan, impacting your needs from specific building nuances to overall campus strategies.

Soliciting input: A strategic master plan’s success is often dependent on consensus building and communication. In order to build consensus, information must first be gathered and assessed. A comprehensive master plan relies on gathering this information from a number of targeted user groups—including representation from the facilities department, select vice presidents, specialty areas as appropriate, and occasionally a select student representative or member of the Board. By incorporating input from each of these unique user groups, greater depth and perspective are incorporated into the campus master plan and its responsiveness to your specific needs.

Developing an “actionable” plan: Rather than creating yet another master plan that collects dust on a shelf, you want to generate a document to guide your decisions in both your short- and long-term planning. A successful master plan identifies specific steps and guidelines to meet your project goals. A comprehensive plan will provide direction for a continually evolving compilation of data, including considerations such as:

•  Educational planning
•  Facility and site assessment
•  Demographics analysis
•  Educational capacity analysis.

Just as these variables are continually evolving, so too must your master plan. It is critical to look at each of these assessments through the lens of both current usage, as well as anticipation of future usage, trends, and educational expectations.

By integrating these three key components into your next campus master plan, both microscopic and macroscopic viewpoints will be addressed. Short- and long-term goals will be established, and a plan with specific action steps will be developed to write the next chapter in your campus’ story.