How to Use Your Data to Tell Your Facilities Story

Knowing how to use your data to convey value, and secure the support your department deserves, is the final step in putting your data to work for strategic facility planning and improvements. To get the full value from your data, it’s important to make sure you’re using all of the relevant pieces to create a compelling story.

Consider: you wouldn’t dream of creating a ten-year campus plan without consulting all relevant campus stakeholders. After all, you know only your department’s goals. You wouldn’t be able to effectively factor in the overall campus mission without the full picture presented by faculty, athletic department leadership, alumni relations, administrators, boards of trustees, and so on.

Just as major campus planning shouldn’t be done in a vacuum, relying on a single benchmark means seeing only one piece of the overall puzzle. Analyzing a range of benchmarks together as a group allows you to see how specific campus actions affect the entire physical portfolio, not just individual campus facilities or departments.

Rather than pushing a decision based on a single benchmark, use a variety of metrics to tell a story that supports a strategic shift. For example, benchmarking may reveal that maintenance staffing is high when considered in relation to comparable institutions. However, additional benchmarking may indicate that an aging campus, with a significant backlog of deferred maintenance, has placed heavy demands on maintenance staff. With this full picture, it’s now possible to make well-informed long-term decisions about maintenance needs.

So once you’ve effectively performed your benchmarking, how do you know what story to tell?

Let Your Benchmarks Demonstrate Your Department’s True Value

This powerful information can be used in a variety of ways, to support a number of goals. Consider the following three examples of how your benchmarking information can be used.

  • Build relationships across campus. By demonstrating that you are effectively using the school’s assets, facilities directors can build trust and partnerships in the C-suite and with the community. For example, use your metrics on planned maintenance and annual stewardship to show that you are supporting the campus to the best of your ability. Or publish data on energy improvements to show how the department has shifted from cost center to value-adder.
  • Demonstrate that you are an effective campus steward. By highlighting the impacts of campus improvements, you can demonstrate how the Facilities Department is moving the campus in the direction of the campus’ overarching mission. Whether it’s investments in staff or energy-efficient upgrades, make it clear how your department’s activities means improvements for all.
  • Secure additional funding for ongoing maintenance or capital investments. By demonstrating how peer institutions are using funds, you can highlight areas where campus improvements will provide a competitive edge. For example, if the institution’s goal is to attract more on-campus residents to fill new student housing, make it clear that dining hall improvements need to be made to support the increase in applicants for student housing, with an eye toward making the institution competitive with other institutions. By presenting the full picture—with a high level perspective that takes into account activities across your campus and others—you’re more likely to secure funding needed to meet your goals.

Take Credit for Success

Too often the Facilities Department’s actions are overlooked when all is running well. Data can help change this, as it clearly demonstrates how the department is pushing the institution to succeed in its overarching mission. Through demonstration of this value, the facilities director can secure the ear of the C-suite, and leverage relationships to better support their staff and positon their department to meet the campus’ next goals.