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What you need to know about capital planning and project management software 

By Tony Stack

One of the biggest challenges for facilities managers is presenting and getting approval for a capital planning project. This is where capital planning and project management software can really help. This software provides full portfolio transparency in one integrated solution – and can also identify other key factors, for example: 

  • Tracking and managing sustainability goals 
  • Improving regulatory compliance 
  • Increasing rates of return from capital investments. 

Before we get into the challenges of presenting projects, let’s look at how this software works. 

How does capital planning and project management software work? 

We can use capital project management software to manage both the operations and costs that come with capital projects. This helps facilities managers in three ways: 

  1. They can define what their goals are. 
  2. They can plan how to get there. 
  3. They can monitor their performance in line with their goals, analysing each activity that helps to create and maintain capital assets. 

Capital project management software helps to bring all the information for several projects into one place. Of course, that’s not to say that irrelevant information is included – clear dashboards help to present critical data that influences decisions. 

When used as part of an Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS), this software helps to manage the entire project lifecycle, from the capital request right through to the closeout and turnover. But before we get to that stage – how can we use the software to get our capital projects approved? 

The challenges of capital planning project approval 

When it comes to securing approval for your capital planning project, you need to look at three things – selling, presenting and the final sign-off. Let’s look at each of those in detail and determine how our capital planning and project management software can help.  

Selling the project 

The first step in the capital planning project process is to present a compelling business case. To do this, facilities managers need intelligent data, giving context to their plans and presenting the potential investment opportunities or cost savings. 

Some good focal points for this stage would be to: 

  • Use a thorough financial analysis, drawing on the data from multiple information silos brought together in one simple dashboard. 
  • Go beyond the financials – identify the sustainability initiatives such as protecting the environment. 
  • Discuss the social impacts of the projects, for example, giving underprivileged communities access to higher education. 
Presenting the project 

At this stage, we need to outline what our challenges or problems are, using the data provided to us by the capital project planning software. For example, we might look at workflows, contract processes and RFIs.  

A good way to go about this would be to start with a statement outlining the problems, followed by a solution as underpinned by supporting data. Said data would include a thorough financial analysis, ROI outline and payback period proposal.  

Afterward, we would revisit the sustainability benefits and look at metrics such as total cost of ownership and life cycle costing. Finally, we return to the problem – using a case study example of how historic projects have benefited the wider community.   

Getting the project approved 

At this point, investors need to see the cold, hard facts – as supported by numbers. You can present this information by drawing on BIM (Building Information Modelling) support and the COBIE2 data format. Likewise, you can present benefits such as energy conservation, and your teams can meet their key performance indicators. 

Other challenges to consider with capital planning and project management 

So, we’ve discussed the obstacles that come with gaining approval for capital planning and project management. What about everything else? Using third-party software can help you to overcome some of the most significant challenges faced by facilities managers in the educational sector. 

Time versus portfolio size 

In many cases, higher education professionals have huge portfolios, which leads to a lack of transparency across all projects. There simply isn’t enough time to pay close attention to every single project.  

Capital planning and project management software helps to bring together only the critical information from multiple properties into one dashboard. This helps to make decisions faster and save on costs. 

Long approval delays 

Often, facilities managers face bottlenecks between the presentation and the review stage. Software helps to lessen these delays by only presenting the critical, relevant information. For example, information for separate departments is broken down into disparate silos, such as construction and operations. 

That way, only the relevant teams will have to review the information applicable to them. These teams are no longer constrained by complicated processes that are beyond their control.  

Integrating funding solutions 

Many complex higher education projects may have multiple sources of funding – which again, presents an issue when it comes to information gathering. Using automated software, we can group all this information together in one simple dashboard, rather than manually gathering the information ourselves.  

Again, this speeds up the process and helps facilities managers get to that all-important approval much faster. 

Legacy or disparate systems 

Once again, when a capital planning project involves so many different stakeholders, such as construction and project planners, we cannot afford to waste time with inefficient systems. Capital planning and project management software helps to bring every stakeholder’s input into one place, streamlining the process without having to rely on non-integrated tech. 

This works along the whole project lifecycle, from the first request to the design, construction, closeout, and turnover. We can monitor that project at each stage with one comprehensive report. 

Lack of integration between operations and capital programmes 

Operations are so closely tied with capital funding projects, and yet there is often no link between the two. When we consider how much operations can influence a capital planning decision, we really should be relying on the data we have to present a business case.  

Again, we can draw on data from different departments and give it numerical context, such as costs for each workspace or energy consumption. This can help to support our business case as we showcase the benefits in terms of cost savings, social impact and sustainability.  

Where the gaps are with current capital planning processes 

In 2013, AssetWorks conducted a capital planning and project management survey to identify the potential gaps that could be plugged by reliable software. 

The results were quite eye-opening. In fact, half of all facilities managers do not use any kind of integrated system at all. Rather, 18% rely on homegrown (and potentially legacy) systems, while a shocking 32% rely on spreadsheets. 

This presents a huge opportunity for time saving and getting better value out of our projects. Other findings included:  

  • Size of portfolio: half of all managers are working with more than 10 construction companies, presenting an opportunity to use one simple system to integrate all stakeholders. 
  • Lack of technology: an incredible 29% of us have never used BIM to complete a project, while 25% have not even integrated it into capital projects. It is only mandatory for 29% of companies. 
  • The need for a streamlined process: the majority of capital planning initiatives – some 38% - rely on a design-bid-build structure. Others look at construction management as an advisor or risk, while just 10% use an integrated project delivery. This presents an even stronger business case for software – helping to facilitate the design-bid-build process, as well as encouraging an integrated approach. 
Where CCPM software can help you 

 The findings above present the huge number of opportunities to save time and money and get capital planning projects approved faster. Software can help to solve the biggest challenges that come with timing, costs, and integration. For example: 

  1. Better capital planning can save $0.25 per square foot per year. 
  2. All compatible systems can be integrated in one place, including Building Information Modelling, COBie2 and FCA integration. 
  3. Better data improves energy conservation and verification. 
  4. Managers can set key performance indicators and outline how these are achieved in a single dashboard, helping to support decision-making. 
  5. Capital requests from multiple sources can be prioritised to make the most of long-range strategic planning, helping to meet long-term business goals.

Software can easily integrate with your existing facilities management tools, helping you to get a better understanding of operational costs and present your capital project business case. It also helps to identify risk, reducing CAPEX and improving return on investment. 

Make sure no stakeholder is left out – keep them informed at every stage of the lifecycle, for example, by tracking construction contracts using budget line items.  

With a seamless, integrated system, you can spot issues, manage contracts, and have full visibility over the full project. Track progress and make changes in line with demand, using software that’s simple and accessible to everybody. Now is the time to get ahead and not be one of the statistics outlined above – we can do better! 

If you’d like to know more about how capital planning and project management software can help you, please contact the higher education team at AssetWorks.

 

Tags: capital planning and project management

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