4tell Software Enables Better Strategic Decision Making for the University Systems of New Hampshire
University Systems of New Hampshire (USNH) wanted alignment between strategy, capital investment and project prioritization
The University System of New Hampshire (USNH) is the largest provider of postsecondary education in the State of New Hampshire. The university system includes the main University of New Hampshire campus and three additional campuses located throughout the state.
Keeping buildings and infrastructure condition data current and accessible was challenging. Recording, reporting, and analyzing property data relied on using project binders or Excel spreadsheets often containing outdated or inaccurate information. This time consuming and laborious process made it difficult to prioritize capital and deferred maintenance projects to insure they supported the school’s strategic goals. In addition, attaining project support from relevant stakeholders was undermined by using inaccessible tools and opaque methods which made it difficult to compare budget requests across campuses.
Assessment data provides baseline but of limited strategic value
Historically, USNH budgeted for third party engineering services companies to perform Facility Condition Assessments (FCA) and to benchmark USNH to other institutions. Originally, the outsourced services provided an objective baseline but the value of the information diminished as the data aged. A method for easily updating and maintaining the data would eliminate the data aging issue.
USNH Director of Capital Planning & Development Matthew Purcell identified the need for a user-friendly platform for Facilities and Physical Plan personnel to collaborate and realize more ongoing strategic value from the data. “Why would we continue to spend a lot of money on external condition assessments when we have the institutional experience to keep the data current. It makes more sense for us to have access to current technology that allows us to quickly respond to the needs and concerns of our faculty and staff.”
Right approach, wrong software
USNH had been using legacy data storage software that was designed for use by engineers and commercial real estate professionals not institutions of higher learning. Extracting and updating data using the software was complex and cumbersome. Purcell, found the problems insurmountable, “It was a solution that tried to be all things to all people which made it both expensive and difficult to use. Additionally, it wasn’t user friendly. The University staff quit using it.”
It became apparent that a simpler solution, one designed for universities, was required. The new software application had to be intuitive enough so that infrequent users could readily use it yet offer sophisticated features and functionality to enable strategic planning and align maintenance activities. An RFP for acquiring a new asset management software application was developed and ultimately the University stakeholders reviewed five proposed solutions and selected 4tell Solutions based on flexibility, cost, and higher education focus. Soon after their selection, 4tell worked with Sightlines, the third party hired to complete FCA, to upload historical data and configure a BI dashboard where the data is analyzed and updated to inform the Capital Plan.
The 4tell solution fulfilled all USNH’s requirements:
- Users can interact with their facilities data to make real-time updates, generate reports, and quickly access insights that effectively guide decision-making.
- Combination of a mobile app and desktop platform to make it easy for all staff to keep the data current.
- Built-in cost library that enables greater credibility in calculations used for budgeting and forecasting.
- Dynamic prioritization feature that align projects with strategic goals by configuring the weighting of the most important buildings and assets.
“Look, there’s a big difference between understanding how to serve the needs of faculty and student population and the commercial real estate market. 4tell offered what we were looking for: a central repository for our information, easy access to our capital asset information and an interactive way to work with our data for reporting, planning, and maintaining our capital assets. It’s exceeded our expectations. We’re committed to its future use and think universities of all sizes and types would benefit from using the 4tell solution.”
Matt Purcell, Director of Planning & Development, University Systems of New Hampshire
Upon completion of an initial FCA, USNH had established a baseline of their buildings and associated maintenance status. This data was quickly and easily integrated into the 4tell software. USNH now has an accurate and dynamic database that can be updated as buildings are added and projects completed.