March 18th, 2019
facilities master plan

Which Project First? What You Should Look For in a Facilities Master Plan

Facilities Master Plan

If you are like most facilities owners or managers, there are always more capital needs than funds available. So how do you decide what to fund first and how long can the work be reasonably deferred, if necessary?

Begin with the End in Mind – You Need a Plan

As a sort of strategic plan for your facilities, the master plan document considers the long-range growth, goals, development, and vision of the organization’s buildings and infrastructure.  It’s what people will reference as you look to grow or adjust to the needs of your people and community.

See, a Long-Range Facilities Master Plan (LRFMP) works for K-12 educational facilities, higher education institutions, government facilities, and even private commercial properties.

If the plan isn’t well crafted and easy to use, it won’t serve its purpose. With that in mind, here’s what you should look for in an effective facilities master plan:

Planning From Accurate Information

A facilities master plan is only useful if it is accurate. Accuracy comes from having comprehensive and correct information to begin with. SSP Architects gains this by identifying the physical conditions of the organization’s facilities, the people it serves (now and in the future), and how the facilities are serving, or failing to serve, those people.

Our facilities master plans begin with organizational information such as historical plans and documents, forecasting future needs. We collect demographic information to determine whether it might change or remain the same. And we examine how those details impact the spaces and systems in question.

Our information is gathered via meetings and/or visioning sessions that involve the relevant staff. There is no guesswork in a facilities master plan. If you have comprehensive, carefully sourced information to start with, then your plan will have a strong foundation to build upon.

An Audit of Existing Facilities  – Not All Buildings Are Created Equal

A comprehensive audit and analysis of what the organization has in place is crucial. SSP Architects does this by inspecting the facilities and existing drawings and by getting familiar with how the spaces are used on a regular basis. With a building condition assessment, existing conditions are documented including site features/limitations, maintenance issues, functionality, and utility systems.

We work with the organization’s staff, especially facilities staff, to gain a strong understanding of how facilities have worked in the past and are expected to function in the future. We bring in our entire team, including mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and other specialty engineering consultants.

We assess the exterior envelope of facilities, interior construction, fixtures and finishes, exterior sites like parking and fields, building systems, building functionality, and the ‘future readiness’ of the facility.

More Than a Project To-Do List

The strategic information that forms the foundation of the facilities master plan is combined with the details and data gained from our audit. Together they show what gaps exist, what needs to be done to improve the organization, and which work should be prioritized.

The Long-Range Facilities Master Plan is then created. Future goals and objectives are stated and from there, the necessary spaces and where to locate them, the value they add, and the resources required to create those spaces are outlined, usually with conceptual diagrams.

Prioritization for work is based on overall goals, short- and long-term needs, health and safety issues as well as financing.

Develop Options

The actual format of the facilities master plan generally remains similar regardless of the facility.

Architects create a formal document with an executive summary of recommendations as a quick reference point.

Next follows an introduction which includes basic information such as people involved, details of how the plan will be implemented and monitored over time, and any relevant information about past master plans.

A site inventory then maps out what currently exists including details of any safety concerns, identified hazards, historic or cultural significance, accessibility issues, and other relevant information. Appendices with site plans, facility inventories, and other related documents are also included.

The plan will usually go more in-depth about facility recommendations and influencing factors and will include a workforce analysis summary to explain how the facilities will support the work being done at the organization.

If there’s possible future renovation or alteration of space concepts for this work will be laid out, so it can be properly planned/scheduled/budgeted.

Putting It All Together

The goal is to create a usable document, not just something to collect dust. The final plan should therefore include final recommendations, cost estimates (with allowances for escalation on future projects), and an implementation plan.

The most important thing – don’t skip a step.  At SSP, we believe that each step is critical for a successful long-range facilities master plan. If a plan doesn’t accurately represent the organization, it will result in limited acceptance and understanding from stakeholders. This creates a problem if these stakeholders influence how funds are allocated.

SSP Architects has a time-tested, efficient and accurate process for facilities planning. Call us at 908-725-7800, email info@ssparchitects.com, or contact us online to learn more about our services and how we can help your organization be its best.

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