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How To Develop Realistic Smart-Building Goals And Timeline

By Kurt Karnatz, Robert Knight, and Rick Szcodronski - September 2014 - Building Automation


Once executive sponsorship is in place, and a third party is on board, it's time to develop smart-building goals, timeline, and plan.

Step 3: Articulate goals.

Next on the list is to develop and validate project goals, with attainable initiatives suited to an owner's needs. For example, it might be advisable for a project to start small — small goals and small paybacks — in order to ensure a quick and easy win upon which to build as the successes mount. This can be a task for a third-party consultant.

After establishing a goal, the key performance indicators (KPIs) need to be defined such that they are easily measurable to determine whether the goal is being met or is on track to being met. Objective data regarding performance against goals is essential to creating the closed-loop cycle that feeds paybacks forward to new initiatives.

The nature of each KPI depends upon the goals themselves. Energy-saving goals may require meter data to verify that anticipated savings are achieved. Comfort and visual improvement goals may require KPIs that are less directly correlated such as footfall measurements, occupant survey results, maintenance calls, or occupant health or productivity measurements.

While it is typically desirable to start small and build on early success, the planning stage should consider long-range goals and could even take the form of a five- or 10-year master plan. Without a clearly articulated vision of the eventual future, various bite-sized projects can wander off-track, following the path of least resistance instead of marching resolutely towards the target. Of course, as with any strategic vision or master plan, circumstances change and the plan must be revised to remain relevant.

Step 4: Complete the timeline and plan.

After the goals have been set with accompanying KPIs, the next step is to complete the timeline and plan. The timeline should include design, implementation, and testing phases. If an intelligent building project has several initiatives, it is important to create a timeline that takes into account all of the initiatives that are being pursued. This allows dependencies to be created and proper resources to be allocated. The project plan should include all of the work results that have been created thus far — description, goals, KPIs, prerequisites, timeline, and budget — as well as required resources, interdependencies, and ROI.

Here again, these portions of the planning stage will be most meaningful when they consider near-term, reasonably sized projects in great detail, but also consider the strategic vision in high-level detail. For example, the vision might contain annual completion targets to reach the end goal in a decade, while the first project to seek approval must include sufficient detail to satisfy management scrutiny and get the green light.





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