INSPIRING IDEAS | Planning for the unplanned: Lessons from the education sector—Part Two

As a leader of an organization, there’s no shortage of challenges for you to address. And while it’s helpful to seek inspiration from similar entities, there’s also value in looking outside of your industry to see how others have embraced opportunities and tackled challenges. In this series, CORE Planning Strategies explores strategies organizations use to advance their operations and meet their missions. We hope it inspires you to get new ideas in unexpected places.

For this latest, two-part feature, we address how to plan for the unplanned, with insights from two of our education clients—Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) and Butler University. CORE has been working with IPS since its inception, and some of our staff have worked with the district for more than 20 years. At Butler University, CORE recently helped manage a roof replacement project on the new South Campus Main Building.

In Part One of this feature, Scott Martin and Aleesia Johnson of IPS talked about strategies to keep safety top-of-mind. This time, Colin Moore of Butler University talks about how planning for the unplanned relates to facility projects.

Facility projects—From deferred to done

When it comes to facility projects, it’s important to plan for the unplanned. Many organizations have a list of deferred maintenance projects that need to be prioritized and tackled.

“With deferred maintenance issues, if we don’t address these now, many more dollars will have to be spent in the future,” said Colin Moore, project manager at Butler University.

Butler’s Planning, Design & Construction group uses a variety of tools and strategies to prioritize and implement projects. The team grades each potential project on how crucial it is and–once it’s active—how it’s going.

“We use spreadsheets so we can continually update our projects and know where each project manager is with their various work,” Colin said. “This helps us collaborate and mitigate issues when projects could collide. It also helps us prioritize what projects we should focus on.”

The information is shared with university administration to help with decision-making.

“We bring the information into administrative and board meetings and refer to it for capital projects and deferred maintenance projects,” Colin said. “In the past five or six years, we’ve focused on catching up on deferred maintenance projects, while also evaluating new capital projects. Coupling the two helps us be more efficient.”

For example, Butler University engaged CORE Planning Strategies as project manager of a roof replacement on their new South Campus Main Building, acquired from the Christian Theological Seminary. The project was a combination of both deferred maintenance and a capital project, which helped it become a priority. Involving CORE as an external project manager helped Butler get the project done and allowed their in-house team to keep moving on other projects.

A phrase often heard around the Butler campus is “The Butler Way”—being committed, denying selfishness, accepting reality, and seeking improvement every day.

“The Butler Way means you’re communicating thoroughly and considering the community as a whole,” Colin said. “That’s a big part of how we define what projects need attention.”

Idea Inspiration

Considering lessons from the education sector, here are some ideas to ponder for your organization.

  • In inclement weather, IPS has phone calls with the other superintendents from Marion County’s 11 districts to get input and improve alignment across districts. How can you collaborate with peers or partners in your industry to learn how they are planning for the unplanned, or even to align resources?
  • What tools can you use to prioritize your projects? How can you batch an important project with an urgent one to increase efficiencies?
  • How could you involve an external resource to tackle a project that needs attention?
  • How do your mission or values inform your focus?

Miss our first two “Inspiring Ideas” features? Check them out here and here.

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