5 ways to use data to prepare your facility for a pandemic

5 ways to use data to prepare your facility for a pandemic

With the rapid, global spread of COVID-19, advanced data analytics and tools are now more important for the healthcare industry and academic institutions than ever before.

Data is being used to monitor and reduce the impact of the virus, as well as allocate resources and anticipate needs. In short, data proves to be a powerful tool in the face of uncertainty, and it’s something you should leverage to your advantage to guide decision making during this time. One application that can benefit you in the short- and long-term is to use analytics to evaluate your facility portfolio.

Examining your facility space portfolio can help the life sciences industry and academic institutions understand both the current and optimal utilization of their facility assets. Irrespective of facility type, facilities are being put to new uses and companies and institutions are adapting to new working models. For example, universities are switching to distance learning, organizations are implementing new work-from-home policies, and empty venues are being converted to temporary hospitals, housing and triage units. We can’t be sure which changes are temporary and which will become the new norm. This ambiguity underscores the need to review your facilities and plan for change.

In this “new normal,” what types of facilities are needed to keep up with day-to-day operations? And what facilities can be repositioned to better utilize the assets? Many of these questions can be answered using a strategic facility planning (SFP) approach.

SFP is a method of evaluating your current assets in concert with your needs to determine the best, most expedient ways to fill the gaps. In this case, SFP uses data analytics to help with your portfolio rationalization. Data analytics is the key to understanding what you have and, in these unprecedented times, understanding how to best reposition these assets to better serve needs going forward.

The goal is to take control of your asset utilization by using data to make informed decisions that support the future direction of your business. Ideally, the decisions allow flexibility in the case that the “new normal” becomes the normal or if we can revert back to business as usual after the pandemic passes and proven preventative treatments are known. Here are five ways to use data analytics and business continuity planning to guide how you can reposition your valuable assets.

Define the value

Why collect facility-use data? Defining the value of your facility by normal business terms and during unplanned events can help facility managers create forward-thinking plans to improve on decision-making. Especially in today’s rapidly changing world, having more detailed information about your facility is no longer a choice; it’s a requirement.

Tip: Perform capacity analysis studies to determine the new use rate of all your facilities. The capacity analysis will allow you to key in on the facilities that are no longer utilized or are underutilized for their original use. These present you with opportunities for repositioning these valuable assets.

Identify unmet needs

Once you’ve identified the facilities that are not being utilized effectively, identify other unmet needs to repurpose these facilities. Is there a need specific to your department or the organization as a whole, like new manufacturing or office space? Is there a city, state, regional or national need that the facilities could address? Could it be retrofitted to address new drug or equipment production needs?

Tip: Use a proven vetting process to rate the unmet needs options for the facility.

Create the plan

Now that you’ve performed your capacity analysis and identified underutilized facilities, you will need to develop a plan that is flexible for your organizations current and long-term needs. Start by asking:

  • Are these proposed changes long-term or short-term? What is the right level of alteration for each?
  • Should these alterations be temporary or permanent?
  • How can alterations be designed in such a way as to make them removeable when the need/urgency passes?
  • What is the value of these improvements and can they be reutilized, or do they need to be disposed of?
  • What is a disposal strategy that doesn’t write off the capital investments; what is their tangible value?
  • Is there available labor and materials to make these necessary improvements?
  • Are there available grant monies to support the necessary improvements?

Tip: Perform scenario analysis and develop your plans under given constraints and assumptions. This analysis combined with your answers to the above questions will help you determine if the potential changes you’re considering make sense; both from a logistical perspective and a financial one.

Implement a schedule

Once you’ve determined that you have underutilized facilities, a plan for repurposing, and a business case for making the alterations, you can develop a path forward. Put milestone dates in the overall schedule to revisit data and to update the plan and schedule as new information becomes available.  To develop an accurate schedule, ask:

  • When are these repositioned facilities needed?
  • Is the need now, in a week, a month or further out?
  • How is this determined?
  • What are the criteria to determine need and duration?
  • How can this be adapted as new information comes into the light?

Tip: These answers will help you prioritize the immediate changes against those that are second priority items or need additional information to fully vet.

Manage and mitigate risk

Before repositioning these facilities, evaluate any new risks that may impact other ongoing operations. Perform a risk analysis to help you determine if there are ways to mitigate risks by: isolating these facilities or having them on separate standalone utility systems.

For example, consider where your organization is located and what risk is associated with the different space types. Geographical location and the type of spaces your facility houses can play a major role in the risk associated with repurposing your facility.

Tip: Conduct a risk analysis including a financial cost benefit analysis to determine the best value.

Put your data to work

Organizations who are best prepared to deal with unplanned events are the ones who have actionable and accurate data about their facilities that enable them to continually reassess their assets viability and impacts to current operations.

Create a Strategic Facility Plan today so you can prepare for tomorrow.

Ready to begin? Contact us.  

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