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Strategic Facilities Planning

What is a Strategic Facilities Plan?

A Strategic Facility Plan (SFP) is typically defined as a two to five year strategy for the management of a company’s entire portfolio of owned and/or leased space.  A SFP identifies the type, quantity, and location of the space required to fully support the organization’s business initiatives.  It should align with the company’s overall strategic business goals and be used to formulate short and long term tactical plans, including the prioritization and funding of facilities related projects.

Why create a SFP?

Successful companies focus on core competencies, whether that is manufacturing, sales, logistics, professional services, or any other type of business. Managing real estate is typically just a necessary function, not a fundamental business strength.  However, because work environment is such a significant factor in employee satisfaction and productivity, every company’s strategic vision should include Real Estate Portfolio goals that mirror and support their short and long-term plans.

The company’s strategic facilities plan should identify specific projects, allocate budget and incorporate a quality control management system for oversight.

Having a plan reduces the need for stopgap and “band aid” strategies that can cost more in the long run, both financially and organizationally, when employees do not work in an environment that maximizes productivity.  It can also ensure that money is not being spent on space that is not needed or utilized.

The most common reasons for creating a formal SFP include:

  • Growth
  • Mergers & Acquisitions
  • Relocation
  • Downsizing
  • Reorganization

Even if there are no major changes anticipated, it is prudent to include facilities planning when allocating financial resources and identifying short and long-term company goals.

The Planning Process

The strategic facilities planning process involves four distinct steps:

Step 1: Understanding – Having a clear grasp of the organizations mission, vision, value, and goals. Recognizing the company’s real estate assets and needs in order to achieve those goals.

Step 2: Analyzing – Asking how and if existing facilities reflect the culture and core values of the organization.  Consider location, capability, utilization, and condition. Various types of measures can be used to evaluate a company’s overall needs, including: GAP analysis, strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities analysis (SWOT), strategic creative analysis (SCAN), and a host of others.   The goal of this data gathering is to get a clear picture of the company’s current needs and space utilization, and how/when that will change over the next five years.  This is the basis of every Strategic Facilities Plan.

Step 3: Planning – The data gathered during the analysis phase is then used to develop a realistic and cost effective plan to meet company’s needs. This detailed two to five-year plan must be accurate enough to budget effectively, but flexible enough to accommodate changes as conditions require.

Step 4: Acting – Implementing the SFP and reviewing it regularly, making adjustments and updates as priorities and needs change.

The Result

THREE Types of Plans – long-term, short-term, and immediate

Facilities planning involves a continuous loop – Feedback from the previous year’s guide, plans for the current year, and informs plans for the following year.  The planning process yields three plans with different timelines and levels of detail:

The Master Plan – The strategic, high-level, long term plan.  It may include the aesthetics of current and potential buildings and grounds, phasing plans for building sequencing, construction options, and engineering assessments.   The master plan defines the overarching long-term vision and how facilities contribute to the business initiatives of the organization.

The Strategic Facilities Plan – This identifies the types of facilities needed in the coming two to five years, the geographic location of the space, the expected costs, and a timeline for achieving the goals set out in the master plan.  The SFP is built by first gathering and analyzing data on current space requirements and utilization, and then forecasting future needs and expectations.  It allows you to be proactive, rather than reactive.

The Tactical Plan – Day-to-day maintenance schedules, operational plans and budget, architectural designs and configurations, floor plans, and capacity charts.  The steps that will be taken to achieve the goals set out in the SFP.

Building Your Company’s SFP

Once you clearly understand the organizations culture, vision, and goals, you move to the heart of every Strategic Facilities Plan – collecting and utilizing information. 

1) Gather / Analyze Current Data

Companies use many different measures and tools, but the goal is to solicit information from key stakeholders, asking each department to validate existing current headcount and space and to forecast each from their perspective (bottom-up validation). Surveys and adjacencies will also dial into the needs of the stakeholder and their team as to what they require to be productive and engaged.   Identify the current square footage used for each type of workspace: office, lab, common, warehouse, special use, and circulation.  Assess the conditions, usage, lifecycle costs, highest and best use, stay/move options, and financial evaluations.  Gather building statistics about the capacity of the current site / building / floor / suite.  Determine any existing conditions that must remain, like current offices and cube count and or square footage.

Numerous surveys, studies and strategies may be used to collect information and explore options, including:

  • Stay / Move analysis
  • Lease vs. Buy analysis
  • Analysis of highest and best use
  • Buy / Build / Expand / Renovate options
  • Feasibility analysis
  • Alternative workplace strategy
  • Consolidation study
  • Decentralization study
  • Space optimization plan (Restacking Plan)

The challenge for most companies is that information and expectations are rarely constant. By the time the data is collected manually and analyzed, requirements may have already changed.  Different stakeholders may have competing needs. Priorities may shift due to market pressures. Tools that can gather data and adjust that data in real time make strategic planning more accurate, more useful, and less stressful.

2) Validate Existing Conditions & Forecast Future Requirements

In order to plan for the future, you must understand your current conditions. Traditionally, this has been done by creating spreadsheets, interviews and boots on the ground.  Stakeholder’s input is critical, as well as many other metrics that provide data (such as sensors).  The data is gathered, consolidated and analyzed.  Excel has a large presence as the go-to tool; technology and automation are changing the approach to capturing and analyzing the data.

Forecast Future Requirements

Then consider the need for quiet, social, and meeting space.  Confirm adjacency requirements (who should be located next to whom and for what reason).

Adjacency Relationships

And finally, calculate space requirements per site, (average square footage needed per person for office space, plus the square footage for common, meeting, quiet, kitchen space, etc).

Space Requirements Per Site

The objective is to not only forecast future space needs, (the type, quantity, location, and fit-out) but to ensure adequate lead time to procure and prepare the space, and sufficient budget to fund short and long-term projects.

Space Requirements

3) Explore Options / Compare Costs

After you have a firm grasp of the facilities requirements for the next two to five years, it is time to consider options for securing and outfitting the space.

Options for Securing & Outfitting Space

That includes creating a baseline budget and calculating the cost of each alternative.  Presenting options in a way that clearly compares costs, opportunities and challenges will help management choose the best path forward.



Cost premium or savings

Next Steps

Once the strategic facilities plan has been approved, the Tactical Plan spells out how each step will be accomplished.  Will the company buy, build or lease? When will the space be available? How will the migration occur if a move is necessary?

A Strategic Facilities Plan provides the direction and detail necessary to successfully manage a corporation’s real estate portfolio.

How SpaceTrak Can Help

The time and effort it takes to gather information and develop a Strategic Facilities Plan can be daunting.  Error-ridden data, complex processes, lack of resources, and time to plan strategically are the most common reasons that organizations fail to create and execute SFPs.

With more than thirty years of experience in the field, SpaceTrak has designed a process and cloud-based tool that streamlines facilities planning.

Let's get started.

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