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5 myths about facility planning that could be costing you

Facility planners align your architects with your forecasted year-over-year growth through comprehensive analysis. Not including a strategic facility planner from the start could cost you.

A facility planner and an architect walk into a bar. The bartender says, “Am I seeing double?”  

I’ve seen variations of this joke play out in real-life scenarios, when project owners assume that a strategic facility planner will duplicate or compete with their architect’s services. Even if they’re familiar with the unique value of working with a planner, many believe that their timeline, their budget, their project phase, or other factors disqualify them.  

 As a  matter of fact, strategic facility planning can enhance and enable your capital project delivery team, architects included—no matter your budget or delivery phase. Put simply: planners use data to build bridges between your business objectives and your built environment, giving you a concrete plan to support your company’s future growth. Put more broadly:  

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Planners help you stay ahead of the curve: We contextualize your operational data against appropriate industry benchmarks, improving your competitive advantage.

strategic plan for future facility planning

Planners optimize your facilities portfolio: Our main focus is ensuring that you have the right spaces available at the right time, and a plan to keep you flexible in the future.

ROI focused facility planning

Planners improve your ROI: We align your capital spending with your corporate vision, giving your project team the roadmap they need to do their best work, and do it quickly.


Assumption #1 about facility planning:  We already have architects on our project team. Why would we add a strategic facility planner, too?

Architects design solutions into your built environment. But solutions for what? Who’s defining the problems that drive those solutions, and how do you know if they’re right?

Facility planners have the answers to these questions. They bring the data skills to build links between your business objectives, your portfolio of facilities, and the critical details that impact how project teams build, operate, and expand each facility over time.

In a way, planners play the role of translator between the business team responsible for the corporate vision and the design team responsible for layouts, walls, and fixtures. Rather than duplicate your architects’ effort, planners do the groundwork to ensure that those architects—and everyone else involved in on-the-ground decision making—have the insights they need to make effective decisions. They use facility data and advanced space management tools to provide metric-based insights (“Here’s how much laboratory capacity you’ll need in three years, based on your headcount projections”). Architects then use those insights to make informed decisions about the built environment (“Here’s how we’ll design those labs”). It’s a complementary relationship that results in a facility built for purpose.  

Role overview of a Strategic Facility Planner & Architect - infographic Role overview of a Strategic Facility Planner & Architect - infographic
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The facility planner works upstream of the architect, using data to align supply and demand dynamics with project objectives. This gives the architect a confident plan from which to design environmental solutions. 


Assumption #2 about facility planning:  We don’t have time.

Done correctly, integrating a strategic facility planner into your lean project team won’t add time to your delivery schedule. In fact, you’ll likely win back the time you may have lost in the long run—time spent on the rework and wasted effort that’s often required when projects speed ahead without due attention to the details that impact outcomes.

Your planner’s role is to worry about those details so you don’t have to, and to conduct the thoughtful, upfront due diligence necessary to ensure that every member of your project team is pulling in the same direction (at CRB, we call this approach to integrated project delivery ONEsolution™).


Assumption #3 about facility planning: Won’t this cost more? 

An experienced planner is always thinking about your future objectives and needs, and is intent on establishing a flexible game plan to ensure that your facilities retain their value for years to come. Throw in the savings that a planner unlocks by reducing mistakes and rework in your downstream project delivery cycle, and this could be one of the most cost-effective decisions you’ll ever make.

In addition to impacting how much you spend, a planner can also consult on when you should spend it, helping you to maximize the value of every dollar you put into your facilities. This involves identifying gaps in your facilities portfolio and mitigating those gaps with a phased project delivery approach. Each phase is designed according to a data-driven analysis of possible scenarios, such as a surge in your product pipeline, a spike in demand, or a global pandemic.

The idea is to ensure that you have the right space available at exactly the right time, so that no facility in your portfolio is idle or underutilized, and every facility is earning its optimal ROI from the day it enters operation.

For example, if the company vision is to add four high-throughput production trains in the next four years, a strategic facility planner will go into the data to develop an appropriate four-year roadmap. That could mean launching your first two production trains now, then returning to the data in two years to optimize those existing trains and to adjust if, how, and where to expand with two additional trains.

In the intervening years, anything might have changed: your R&D pipeline, your available capital, the market dynamics that impact your growth. This cycle of staged adaptation and growth gives you the flexibility to adjust to these changes quickly and cost-effectively. As the life sciences industry changes around you, a facility planner helps you change with it, without the expense and interruption of extensive renovations.

Assumption #4 about facility planning: This is an expansion, not a greenfield project. So…We don’t need a strategic facility planner, right?

For any type of project—a new build, a renovation, an expansion—success depends not only on the bricks and mortar of the built environment, but on how companies define, evaluate and maintain their plan going forward.

That is the strategic planner’s wheelhouse. Even (and especially) once your project is complete, the planner will collect and analyze valuable operational data to inform future space management decisions and to ensure that your capital project, no matter what it is, stays flexible and scalable long into the future.

Take the example of a facility that recently added new lab space and now faces an important choice: who gets to use it? Every group lobbies for their cause. Facility managers believe they know who ought to move in—but they consult a strategic facility planner first. The planner analyzes the current space, identifying bottlenecks, key adjacencies, and future requirements. In the end, rather than validate the facility managers’ assumptions, the planner uncovers an option that few had considered. Using facility data to defend this option, the planner explains how this plan will optimize and expand the company’s current throughput and lay the groundwork to meet their future manufacturing projections.

infographic - facility planner looking at future operational growth infographic - facility planner looking at future operational growth

Without these recommendations, the facility managers would have proceeded based on an incomplete picture of their facility, which might have been just fine—but “just fine” is rarely good enough in an industry as fast-paced and as competitive as the life sciences. That’s where a strategic facility planner makes a key difference: they have the experience and insight to turn a “just fine” decision into a truly smart and well-considered one, no matter your project phase.


Assumption #5 about facility planning: we know our data. We don’t need someone to tell us what it means.

Sure, you know your data, but that’s like knowing your personal height and weight: unless you have benchmarks to compare it against, it’s just a bunch of numbers.

A planner can draw meaning from those numbers by bringing an insiders’ perspective to the table, helping you to better understand your position vis-a-vis your competitors. They have the experience to help you assess how your plan for future innovation and optimization stacks up against the broader landscape of the life sciences industry, and to modify or expand that plan as necessary. It’s like adding a crystal ball to your toolkit—if that crystal ball made predictions based on empirical data and years of front-line industry experience.

How can CRB’s Strategic Facility Planners drive growth and future flexibility for you?  Contact our Consulting Team to start the conversation.

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