This article was originally published in the Colorado Real Estate Journal, January 6th, 2010.
The economy has changed the way facility managers think about real estate. It’s no longer feasible to maintain high vacancy rates just in case business rapidly expands. Yet, keeping the vacancy rate too low can result in frantically trying to acquire new real estate and plan relocations when business needs change. So how do you stay ahead and be prepared for the future occupancy needs of your business?
Most facility managers know what their current occupancy and vacancy rates are; there are many CAFM/IWMS software applications that help manage and generate this data. Yet, knowing where you are today is only the first step in knowing what your real estate needs will be tomorrow.
To be proactive and plan for the future you need to have information about the future. Your directors and vice presidents have long-term business plans and a general idea of the number of staff needed to carry out these plans. Unfortunately, the facility manager usually isn’t notified of an increased hiring of staff until shortly before the hiring begins, leaving you to scour your facilities to find space for the new recruits.
Staying in contact with management of multiple departments to know when their occupancy needs will change is not an easy task. Without the proper software tools in place, this task can easily engage one to two full time positions. Some companies have tried to manage this task by having departments fill out Excel spreadsheets with their staffing projections.
This approach involves creating hundreds of custom spreadsheets, emailing them to recipients, and combining the results of hundreds of worksheets into one concise report. As you can imagine, completing this task using Excel requires an incredible amount of hours.
A more efficient approach is to utilize database-backed web software to do much of the work for you. A database-backed web solution is designed to empower you with data, not overwhelm you with it.
A good example of this is Collectiveview’s ViewForecast. Unlike Excel, ViewForecast can link and pull information from your current CAFM/ IWMS application, email web forms to department contacts to enter information, provide you with status updates of who has completed the forms, and automatically combine the results from the forms into concise reports, charts, and graphs.
By keeping the data connected throughout each phase, ViewForecast increases the accuracy of the information while greatly reducing time spent on the task.
Although it is impossible to know exactly what the future holds, forecasting space needs can help reduce uncertainties. By providing your directors and vice presidents with the proper tools to forecast their staffing needs, you can be confident in making strategic real estate decisions based on their projections.
Looking for help in seeing ahead?
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