A Brief History of the Facility Condition Assessment
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, facility condition assessments (FCAs) are a key component of good facility management. The FCA as we know it today is the result of multiple transformations as technology and industry best practices have advanced. Let’s take a look at how far FCAs have come and where they might be headed.
1970 – Facilities Audit
Before the FCA, a facilities audit was the traditional method of assessing buildings and infrastructure. It only focused on two aspects: determining physical deficiencies and compliance with the ADA and other applicable codes.
1980 – The FCA is Born
The facility condition assessment combined a physical condition assessment with a functionality assessment. That means it looked not only at the physical status of a building and its infrastructure but also aimed to understand how well the space functions and serves its intended purpose.
Integrating these two approaches into a facility condition assessment delivered a more comprehensive evaluation of facilities and more information for capital planning.
1980s-1990s – The Rise of CMMS
As computer speed and storage got bigger and computers themselves got smaller, the FCA started to become digitized. This development helped create CMMS (computerized maintenance management system). While the origins of CMMS stretch back into the 1960s, advancements in computer technology brought it into the mainstream as it became more available and affordable to smaller businesses.
More and more companies began switching from manual methods to CMMS and FCAs for managing their facility information and tracking maintenance.
1991 – Managing the Facilities Portfolio is Published
This was the first publication to make the case for using FCA data, financial modeling, and CMMS together. It was published by the National Association of College and University Business Officers, a highly respected organization in higher education.
Managing the Facilities Portfolio introduced an approach for identifying and documenting repair, maintenance, and renewal needs that is still widely used today. It also discussed the advantages of managing facilities as a portfolio vs. individually.
2007 – Present and Future Conditions
After conducting research for the U.S. government, the company Graphic Systems, Inc. published their findings in a whitepaper titled “Condition Indices and Strategic Planning.” The paper discussed how strategic condition assessment modeling and the theoretical condition index can bring tremendous value to traditional visual condition assessment programs.
Strategic condition assessment modeling uses visual observation, measuring, photographing, engineering analyses, record keeping, documentation, and more to analyze trends in facility deterioration over time. The theoretical facility condition index (FCI) is a measurement that compares the known lifecycle information of a building system with the age of that system.
Traditional FCAs began incorporating these two tools to provide a more comprehensive picture of facility conditions not only at the time of the assessment, but also into the future.
2015 – Better Data Utilization
Despite technology advancements, much of FCA data was still being collected manually and stored in 3-ring binders. New software introduced by AkitaBox took the latest data collection and modeling technology and applied it to facility management – including assessments, inspections, compliance, safety, and capital planning.
By presenting locational data in an easy-to-use format, this software better enabled the telling of a building’s history, current condition, and projected future. In turn, this allowed more data-driven decision making for every aspect of facilities and infrastructure.
2022 – Facility Optimization
To date, FCAs have focused mainly on accurately identifying the current state of facilities as well as potential future issues to plan for. Moving forward, FCAs are poised to experience another major shift – this time towards facility optimization.
Using the accurate data collection and streamlined data management made possible by software tools, the next generation of FCA software is leveraging this information to spotlight precisely where and how facilities can be optimized.
FCAs have come a long way in the last 30 years – and when it comes to their future, the sky’s the limit. It’s exciting to think about how they’ll continue to evolve as facilities management becomes ever more sophisticated. What do you think the FCA of the future will look like? Let us know in the comments.