Have Key Facilities Information at Your Fingertips

It’s always impressive when we hear someone rattle off a bunch of facts and figures from memory, but I have always been fonder of the approach attributed to Alfred Einstein that you don’t have to know everything, just have to know where to find it. (I have been unable to confirm the oft reported tale that he did not know his phone number, because he knew he could find it in the phone book.)

This can easily be done with your facility information, and most of us have spreadsheets listing some of this data. The two main challenges are 1) having complete enough information compiled and available, and 2) keeping out of spreadsheet hell where we have multiple, often mismatched and conflicting files. It does us no good to be searching through multiple spreadsheets, all with different variations of the data.

For the purpose of this article, let’s assume that a spreadsheet is the way to go. It is a well-understood data management technology, flexible, and easy to use. (It also lends itself to migration into or an interface with more advanced data technology, but that is another article.) Actually, a structured set of spreadsheets is really the approach we suggest to start. If you are using a facility information system of some type, the data organization principles still apply.

Start with your master list of facilities. This is essential. Master list means everything, all of them, organized in a hierarchy that is most useful to you (property, building, wing, whatever). Now you can ignore those that are inactive, but they are already on the master list so they don’t start showing up later. All the subsequent data needs to align with this master list.

Now we start adding tabs, by type of data, with the various information categories: space, cost, etc. The master list can include the very top level summary fields, or that can be a separate tab.

You can use tabs for major sources of data (say all your financials come from the general ledger) or you can have separate fields that describe particular data sources.

Some typical data sets of interest:

  • Basic size and type
  • Ownership and lease information
  • Occupancy, population and business functions
  • Defined service levels by category and ratings of service level performance
  • Actual costs by category and budget or comparable costs
  • Real estate value, book value
  • Risk issues and backup plans
  • Business-specific metrics
  • Contacts for both business and facility operations
  • Documented issues and needs
  • Planned disposition of the facility, and timeframe
  • Potential list of projects, and tentative status of each

Chances are pretty good you have most of this information.  However, it is likely you do not have it all organized consistently and summarized in an easy reference.  Whether you see value in this is up to you.

See also our free short course on how to Easily Answer Key Questions About Your Company’s Facilities.