For institutions of higher learning, acquiring new land and buildings is a significant expense. So is launching new construction projects. Operations and maintenance expenses can take a hefty toll on a budget, too. In fact, a 2012 study of space management in higher education noted that space-related expenses were second only to staff salaries. The bigger your portfolio, the greater the expense.
For college and university systems, which often encompass millions of square feet in real estate and property, even an extra percentage point of unused space can represent enormous unnecessary budget expenditures. Institutions that fail to use their existing space incur opportunity costs by remaining unaware of space that could be used for revenue, such as additional tuition-paying classes. Worse yet, many colleges and universities lease or build new spaces when they could have reallocated existing square footage instead.
The solution? Consider an Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS) that can give you a single view of all the people, places and things in your university system’s real estate portfolio. That single view lets you apply space management strategies to make the best use of your facilities and assets. It also helps address several needs specific to higher education, including indirect cost recovery, event management, facility condition assessments (FCAs), principal investigator solutions and Comprehensive Rate Information System (CRIS) reports. Institutions of higher education that use an IWMS for space management can meet their unique accounting and reporting needs while making their budgets go further.
Higher Education and Space Management
Space management—putting all of your space to its best possible use—is relatively straightforward for businesses: Ensure all space is set up for maximum profitability. In education, however, space management becomes a more complex challenge. Making the best data-driven decisions for your higher education system starts with getting data on all your holdings into a single view. Look for an IWMS that uses real square footage based on computer-aided design (CAD) information—not guesswork or estimates or decades-old handwritten ledgers. This one centralized system should be able to handle:
- Move requests
- Management approvals
- Tracking information
- Scheduling updates
- Data for relocation management
Your IWMS should be able to keep track of leased space, too, using real facility measurements that meet Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) and International Facility Management Association (IFMA) guidelines for usable and rentable areas.
Higher Education-Specific Solutions
College and university systems often a wide variety of facility types—classrooms, housing, restaurants, athletic centers, theaters, libraries, recreation centers, churches and more. While not all of these facilities are designed to turn a profit, the space must be managed in the most efficient manner for each facility type to avoid waste and needless expense. Other space management-related challenges include indirect cost recovery and event management. A robust and well-implemented IWMS can help higher education institutions deal with these potential trouble spots and put their facilities to their best use. Use an IWMS to help you in the following areas:
Campus-Wide Floor Plans
It’s tough to make top-level strategic decisions based on fragmented views of incomplete or out-of-date data. One of the fundamental benefits of an IWMS comes from getting a single view of all the square footage in your portfolio. In higher education, that means using a campus-wide floor plan. You’ll see a map of the total area available to all staff, faculty and students; you’ll also be able to run what-if scenarios to see if there are better options.
Indirect Cost Recovery
With a top-of-the-line IWMS, all indirect cost recovery can be backed with data for clear justification, not just arbitrary percentages assigned by department size. If your higher education system is one of the 130 nationwide that use CRIS reports, your IWMS can integrate them for even better internal billing and usage reports. An IWMS can also aid Principal Investigators in indirect cost recovery from grants provided to universities for special research projects by keeping track of the amount of space devoted to the laboratories, offices and other facilities used per research project, along with the maintenance required for those facilities.
Colleges and universities often host their own events or rent out spaces for civic gatherings. This requires space management, a capable space reservation system and reallocation of assets for event days. An IWMS can simplify these processes and turn an occasional event into a highly-manageable ongoing revenue opportunity.
Facility Condition Assessments
Facility Condition Assessments (FCA) are key to getting the longest operational lifespan and best use out of all your buildings. An IWMS should match FCA data to your strategic plans for the best results. You’ll rest easier knowing that facilities will be properly maintained and in fine operational shape. The departments you assign to those facilities will be able to plan their usage more effectively without worrying about unscheduled repairs or renovations.
If your college or university system already uses an IWMS for space management, you already know about all the time-saving and cost-saving benefits. If not, give us a call. eCIFM’s team includes some of the world’s leading experts on IBM TRIRIGAⓇ, a powerful IWMS designed to integrate modules designed to manage real estate, capital projects, facilities, workplace reservations, operations and energy usage from within a single comprehensive platform. eCIFM’s team also includes many former TRIRIGA users from industries such as manufacturing, education and government. We understand the challenges higher education institutions face and have helped schools nationwide get TRIRIGA up and running. If you need to get more use out of your school system’s space and budget, we’ll help you get started today.