Sustainable, resilient facilities: Part 2, Analyze your facilities data

by Jimmy Cressman, FMP — This article is Part Two of a three-part series addressing strategies for managing high-performing facility operations that are resilient, safe, healthy, productive, and efficient.  The themes of this series are shown in the following figure:In Part One, the methods for conducting asset inventories, facility condition assessments, and implementing FM data systems were discussed in detail. The outcome of those processes and activities is a large quantity of facilities data. The intent of this article is to provide useful methods for interpreting and making use out of those newly acquired data sets. Part Three shows how to apply the results of the analysis to plan for your future needs

The FM Data System (CMMS, IWMS, or CAFM software) is the digital warehouse for facilities data. Equipment inventories are uploaded into a CMMS to execute the preventive maintenance program; FCA data is uploaded or can be conducted directly from a software platform; building floor plans are uploaded to a CAFM system to streamline the space management program. As more data is input into the management software, the more powerful the database becomes and the more important it becomes to upkeep and maintain that data.

Most software technology applications have built-in reporting and analysis features. These systems often cover most of the metrics and measurements that an FM could need. The built-in reports can be quite powerful and flexible in some software systems but limiting and cumbersome in others. In those latter instances, the FM should export the dataset to an Excel spreadsheet or Access database where it can be freely manipulated.

I have an FM database filled with accurate, up-to-date data.

Now What?

Meeting Stakeholder Needs

Data is great, but stakeholders do not necessarily care about data. They need information. Data becomes information when the FM applies context and meaning through their analysis. For example: an FM may have a dataset that contains space assigned to staff members. The FM can add meaning to the dataset by summing the total space assigned to each department. When asked by stakeholders about space use, the FM can respond with information detailing space use by each department.

A facility manager will have stakeholder needs that they will need to contend with. Since any user of a facility could be a potential stakeholder, their needs can be as unique and variable as the users themselves. In order to respond to the stakeholders, the FM will have had to collect, analyze, and interpret facilities data into easy to understand, meaningful information.

Many stakeholder needs are engrained in the FM’s daily responsibilities, so any additional or changed needs are likely to involve the FM. Whether a stakeholder requires access to a certain area or facility, additional space, furniture, equipment, or different HVAC requirements, it is not difficult to imagine how the ever-growing list of stakeholder needs will demand more and more information input from the FM.

Consider the organization’s leadership and their needs. Often, facilities account for the second highest operational cost for most businesses, the highest being labor. It is no surprise then that the needs of the organization, communicated through leadership, are driven by facilities data. Every capital project or operational change should be supported with facilities data and information.

Analysis of facilities data is vital in order for an FM to respond to and support stakeholder needs.

Data analysis can help an FM support outside stakeholders.

How can this same analysis support facility operations?

Space Use

While a main advantage of data analysis within facilities is to respond to and support outside stakeholders, the data also offers great advantages to the FM organization itself.

Mentioned in the example above, understanding departmental space use is a powerful piece of information for an FM. Space is always a premium and there never seems to be enough to go around. Communicating current space use to stakeholders, especially if there is a space chargeback system in place, allows the FM to create an environment of accountability when it comes to space use. Departments often think twice about a request for additional space when they are confronted with what they already have.

By collecting appropriate data, analyzing the dataset, and communicating the right information to the right stakeholders, an FM can stay ahead of curve and optimize space use throughout their facility or campus.

Maintenance & Renewal Approaches

Perhaps the area with the most to gain from good data analysis is ongoing Operations and Maintenance and Capital Planning. The data gathered by the facilities organization can be used to drastically improve the preventive and corrective maintenance programs, better plan for capital needs, and more accurately demonstrate the value produced by the FM organization to outside stakeholders.

Maintenance Program

On a regular basis, preventive maintenance (PM) workorders (WO) are created and distributed. The work is completed and the WO is closed out in the CMMS software. The data collected on each PM work order will prove to be extremely helpful to the FM at a later point. The WO likely contains the name of the technician, the date the work was assigned and completed, the hours the work required, the parts/tools/supplies used, and any issues that the technician identified.

Corrective maintenance requests are continually received by the facilities organization. A request comes in, a WO is created and assigned, the work is completed, and the WO is closed out in the CMMS software. The data collected on a corrective maintenance WO likely contains even more data than a PM WO. Who requested the work, in what building/area is the issue located, what is the issue, etc., should all be contained on the corrective WO.

If this data is consistently gathered over several months and years, the FM can analyze the dataset for patterns. Repeated issues become items for the FM to directly resolve. Are there particular pieces of equipment that keep breaking down? Is technician response time causing customer complaints? Are ongoing requests part of a larger issue with the facility or workforce? With proper analysis of facilities data, the FM should be able to determine if these or any other persistent issues exist.

Capital Planning

Facility Condition Assessments (FCA) are the ideal tool to understanding the current state of a facility. However, they also provide extensive datasets that can drastically improve capital planning techniques. While the immediate advantage of FCA data is the ability to quickly identify needs and schedule repairs, another advantage of the FCA data is long term planning. The data should predict, with certain degrees of error, when building systems (or the entire building itself) will need replacement. This information can be used to build a Capital Needs Plan, but it is up to the FM to interpret the data to prioritize the work and create the plan.

Physical Security Posture

It is a full-time job to constantly be analyzing and improving the organization’s physical security posture. Though security is never the full responsibility of the facilities organization, the FM should be an active participant in the security program. Many key building assets or pieces of infrastructure (locks, doors, windows, electrical service, emergency power, etc.) fall under the responsibility of the FM. It is the FM that needs to understand if these assets are properly maintained, if there are any issues, or if the facility needs an upgrade. An FM that is familiar with new building technologies will be better prepared to analyze their own physical security posture. The FM should communicate with the other departments and security experts, they should share facility information and provide support for improved security measures where appropriate.


Step two to achieve or maintain high-performance in facilities operations is analyzing the data that has been collected. Without appropriate analysis, facilities data is often gathered (with great effort) and left to be forgotten. An FM needs to constantly and consistently be collecting and analyzing facilities data in order to ascertain the current state of the facilities and the facilities organization. High-quality facilities data analysis directly leads to short-term process improvement and supports long-term planning. Process and planning improvements help FMs achieve facilities operations that are effective, efficient, and sustainable.

Jimmy Cressman, FMP is a facility management consultant at Facility Engineering Associates, P.C. (FEA) where he works with clients to improve facilities data gathering and analysis techniques. Jimmy is a Facility Management Professional and holds a bachelor’s degree in Facilities Management from Temple University.

Facility Engineering Associates, P.C. (FEA)  is an engineering and facility management consulting firm supporting owners and managers of existing facilities. FEA was founded in 1992 on the principle that there is a better way to manage the built environment by balancing the challenges of providing a safe, secure, and healthy environment; maintaining an aging infrastructure; and improving how the FM organization operates. We help our clients improve the way they manage, operate, maintain, and fund the built environment to enable facilities that are safer, healthier, resilient, productive and cost-effective.

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