This “new normal” creates fresh questions about whether the healthcare industry and academic institutions can keep up with day-to-day operations. Advanced data analytics will be a critical tool to meeting such challenges.
Data is being used to monitor and reduce the impact of the virus, and to allocate resources and anticipate needs. In short, data proves to be a powerful tool in the face of uncertainty, and it’s something facilities should leverage to guide decision-making. One application that can benefit you in the short- and long-term is to use analytics to evaluate your facility portfolio.
Examining your facility space portfolio can help the life sciences industry and academic institutions understand both current and optimal utilization of their facility assets. Irrespective of facility type, facilities are being put to new uses and companies and institutions are adapting to new working models. For example, universities are switching to distance learning, organizations are implementing new work-from-home policies. We can’t be sure which changes are temporary and which will become the new norm.
Many of these unforeseen challenges can be answered using a strategic facility planning (SFP) approach.
SFP is a method of evaluating existing assets along with anticipated needs to determine the best and most efficient ways to fill the gaps. In this case, SFP uses data analytics to help with portfolio rationalization. Data analytics is the key to understanding what’s there and what needs repositioning to better serve needs going forward. Data supports making informed decisions that set the future direction of your business.
Here are five ways to use data analytics and planning to guide how you reposition your valuable assets.
Define the Value
Why collect facility-use data? Defining the value of a facility by normal business terms and during unplanned events can help facility managers create forward-thinking plans to improve on decision-making. Performing capacity analysis studies to determine the new use rate of all your facilities can enable new focus on facilities that are no longer utilized or are underutilized for their original use. That can create new opportunities for repositioning these valuable assets.
Identify Unmet Needs
Once you’ve identified the facilities that are not being utilized effectively, identify other unmet needs to repurpose these facilities. Is there a need specific to your department, or the organization as a whole, such as new manufacturing or office space? Is there a city, state, regional or national need that the facilities could address? Could it be retrofitted to address new drug or equipment production needs?
Create the Plan
Now that you’ve performed your capacity analysis and identified underutilized facilities, you will need to develop a plan that is flexible for your organization’s current and long-term needs. Start by asking:
• Are these proposed changes long-term or short-term? What is the right level of alteration for each?
• Should these alterations be temporary or permanent?
• How can alterations be designed in such a way as to make them removeable when the need/urgency passes?
• What is the value of these improvements and can they be reutilized, or do they need to be disposed of?
• What is a disposal strategy that doesn’t write off the capital investments; what is their tangible value?
• Is there available labor and materials to make these necessary improvements?
• Are there available grant monies to support the necessary improvements?
Implement a Schedule
Once you’ve determined that you have underutilized facilities, a plan for repurposing, and a business case for making the alterations, you can develop a path forward. Put milestone dates in the overall schedule to revisit data and to update the plan and schedule as new information becomes available. To develop an accurate schedule, ask:
• When are these repositioned facilities needed?
• Is the need now, in a week, a month or further out?
• How is this determined?
• What are the criteria to determine need and duration?
• How can this be adapted as new information comes into the light?
Answers to those questions will help you prioritize the immediate changes against those that are second priority items or need additional information to fully vet.
Manage and Mitigate Risk
Before repositioning these facilities, new risks may be revealed that could impact other ongoing operations. Risk analysis is critical: For example, consider where your organization is located and what risk is associated with the different space types. Geographical location and the type of spaces your facility houses can play a major role in the risk associated with repurposing your facility.
Act on the Story Data Tells You
The organizations best prepared to deal with unplanned events are the ones who have actionable and accurate data about their facilities that enable them to continually reassess their assets viability and impacts to current operations.
David Keith, AIA, is the Director of Strategic Facility Planning at CRB. An architect with more than 30 years of industry experience, David has a unique blend of experience that provides him with 360-degree visibility into the client’s long-range planning needs. From this vantage point he provides the roadmap for the trip as the client navigates internal and external drivers that influence and guide the development of a strategic facility plan. While each project varies slightly, the overall process is to assess the clients ongoing operational needs and link these with their Business Plan drivers to create the roadmap for the next three, five or 10 years.