A Facilities Master Plan is an expression of an institution’s intentions to address its forecasted needs across a portfolio of assets. When done correctly, it sets political will into motion and allows a community to rally behind it. In short, it builds community.
Developing a Facilities Master Plan—whether for a municipality or more specifically a school district or library system—is a multistep process. Although arduous, a thorough preparation strategy will increase organizational efficiency and a well-thought-out approach will increase effectiveness.
Overall the plan should include:
- A framework of principles and strategies to guide the overall process
- Analysis and synthesis of supporting data into project recommendations and strategies
- A methodology for prioritizing and sequencing projects
- A process for regular updates to reflect changes in goals, needs, and underlying assumptions
As your organization embarks on the effort, here are some best practices to consider:
- Accomplishing the appropriate preceding and related activities. Complete your strategic and operational planning, then organize and review related data and policies. An organization should ‘audit’ itself for these key pieces and the readiness to address those that may not yet exist.
- Assembling and organizing the appropriate internal and external team and resources. Establish who is responsible for making decisions and acting as project manager. Consider staff capacity beyond their “day jobs” and identify the extent of consultant support needed. Committees are good vehicles to review recommendations and allow staff to gain subject matter expertise and champion the effort to a variety of stakeholders. The more staff that are activated as part of the effort, the faster the rate of overall buy-in.
- Developing a clear understanding of what type of recommendations the Facilities Master Plan should and should not include. One of the most important precedent activities is defining the scope and level of detail that will be included. Facilities Master Plans cannot solve everything. Having an understanding will help manage expectations along the way. Also recognize that plans are ‘living’ documents that must be regularly updated.
In sum: Facilities Master Plans grounded in the concept of setting up decision-making frameworks will live past the plan’s publication date.
B&D has completed several successful municipal Facilities Master Plan efforts and has guided clients through capital improvement planning. If you have questions or would like to discuss, please contact me.