Capital planning is a critical process that ensures a company’s long-term success by maintaining and improving its physical assets. In commercial real estate, it is even more important as it has a direct impact on property value, tenant satisfaction, and overall return on investment. This guide will provide an in-depth look at capital planning, including key terms, process overview, and the consequences of not having a capital plan in place.

What is Capital Planning:

Capital planning is a crucial process for businesses that want to understand the future operational costs of their building’s systems and equipment. This process involves assessment and predictive analysis to align the building’s needs with the organization’s short and long-term business objectives. With predictive analysis, businesses can gain valuable insight into their building’s future operational costs and equipment requirements. By leveraging this data, organizations can make informed decisions about resource allocation and plan for the future.

As predictive analysis technology advances, it will become even more critical for businesses to stay ahead of the curve and ensure their success. With the help of predictive analysis tools, organizations can plan for maintenance and equipment replacements well in advance, avoiding unexpected costs and disruptions. This approach enables companies to operate more efficiently and proactively, reducing the risk of downtime and increasing overall productivity.

Why is Capital Planning Important?

Capital planning is vital for commercial real estate owners as it provides a roadmap for maintaining, upgrading, and optimizing properties. The benefits of capital planning extend beyond the physical assets themselves, as it also impacts the financial performance of the property. By conducting regular assessments and predictive analysis, owners can extend the life of their assets, improve their energy efficiency, and enhance their market value. Capital planning enables owners to make informed decisions on how to prioritize their investments and allocate resources in a way that maximizes their return on investment. This not only ensures the longevity and sustainability of the property, but also helps avoid unexpected expenses and disruptions to business operations. By engaging in sound capital planning practices, owners can stay ahead of the curve and ensure the long-term success of their commercial real estate ventures.

Having a Plan vs. Being Spontaneous

A well-developed Capital Plan is a crucial aspect of a business’s financial success. It provides building owners with an in-depth understanding of their financial situation, enabling them to identify areas for improvement and potential opportunities for growth. By having a plan in place, property owners can create a roadmap for future investment decisions, which will maximize their return on investment. For example, they can prioritize critical repairs and maintenance activities, upgrade their building systems to improve energy efficiency, or undertake tenant improvements to attract higher-paying tenants.

Moreover, having a Capital Plan in place allows owners to manage their finances more effectively. They can develop a detailed budget that accounts for all expected expenses, such as maintenance costs and repair expenses, and allocate funds accordingly. This reduces the risk of unexpected expenses, which can strain the business’s finances and lead to operational disruptions. Additionally, a Capital Plan can help owners extend the life of their assets by identifying when equipment should be replaced or upgraded. By doing so, they can reduce the overall cost of ownership and increase the property’s value. Being spontaneous can be exciting and fun, but it doesn’t always lead to the best financial decisions. Having a Capital plan gives property owners the opportunity to make informed decisions that will benefit their finances in the long run.

When Should Capital Planning Services be Engaged?

  • Predictive budgeting for maintenance or system replacements is needed: This type of planning is essential for any business that wants to make sure their investments are being used to their fullest potential. Capital planning services can help businesses identify the best ways to spend money on maintenance and system replacements, while also forecasting future costs and budgeting accordingly. By engaging Capital Planning Services, businesses can ensure they are making informed decisions when it comes to spending money on maintenance and system replacements.
  • Work orders are more than 30% reactive, with a backlog of work orders: This indicates that the organization is not able to keep up with the demand for new projects and needs help in planning for future capital investments. Capital Planning Services can help in creating a budget, assessing current assets, and forecasting future needs of an organization to make sure that resources are allocated efficiently. They can also provide guidance on how to best utilize existing resources and develop strategies to reduce costs while maintaining quality standards.
  • Facility management for properties where ownership does not have direct oversight: Capital planning services are essential for properties where the ownership does not have direct oversight. These services provide facility management services to ensure that the property is maintained to a high standard and that any capital investments are made in an efficient and cost-effective manner.
  • Profitability of the firm or property is under scrutiny: Capital Planning Services provide an array of services to help firms and properties maximize their profits. These services include analyzing and evaluating the current capital structure and developing a comprehensive business plan. They also provide advice on how to best allocate resources, identify cost-saving opportunities, and optimize operations.
  • Deferred maintenance and life/safety issues are slipping through the cracks: Deferred maintenance and life/safety issues can have a significant impact on the long-term viability of a property, so it is important to identify these issues early on and take action to address them. Capital planning services can provide insight into the current state of a property, help identify potential risks, and develop strategies for mitigating those risks. They can also provide guidance on how best to allocate resources for capital projects in order to ensure that they are completed in a timely manner and within budget.
  • Seeking risk mitigation through lease renewal: By engaging a capital planning service, businesses can ensure that their leases are up-to-date and in line with their current business needs. A capital planning service can also help identify potential risks associated with renewing a lease, such as changes in market conditions or the introduction of new regulations.

Capital Planning Key Terms: 

  • Capital Planning: The process of budgeting resources for an organization’s long-term plans, including projections for future projects and their potential gains and losses. This process involves developing a strategic plan for allocating financial resources and ensuring that capital projects are aligned with the organization’s goals.
  • Capital Request Form: A standardized form used to gather information for each capital planning project detail. This form allows the planning team to quickly review and vet information related to specific projects, including project descriptions, budgets, and timelines.
  • Capital Project Drivers: Factors that motivate an organization to undertake a capital project, which can include growth, obsolescence, regulatory compliance, strategic alignment, cost reduction, and avoidance.
  • Capital Planning Group: The team responsible for managing the capital planning process, including vetting capital request forms, prioritizing projects, and presenting project information to management for approval.
  • Capital Management Committee: The group responsible for approving or denying the funding and spending plans for capital projects. This committee typically includes managerial or executive personnel.
  • Capital Project Approval Processes: The unique processes that organizations use to approve capital projects, which may involve different formatting, version control, and approval processes. Companies often have different approval processes for varying amounts of capital expenditure.
  • Minor Versus Major Capital: The categorization of capital projects based on their risk level and approval process. Minor capital projects may require little to no formal approval, while major capital projects may require intensive research and several rounds of vetting before approval.
  • Operating Capital Versus New Capital: The differentiation between routine operating capital expenditures and new capital expenditures, which can have bulk or automated approval as long as they fall within company parameters.
  • Finance: The financial experts who have a role in both the capital planning group and the capital management committee. These experts can provide financial analysis for capital projects and have the final say in approving capital funds to be spent.
  • Management Programs: Software programs designed to manage the capital planning process, including version control, team collaboration, and report formatting.
  • Business Unit Leaders: Leaders of operating groups who sit on the capital management committee for the approval process, including department managers, presidents, CEOs, and board members.
  • Monthly Variance Report: Reports sent out monthly to inform decision-makers of incremental progress on capital projects, detect overspending, delays, early wins, and budget surpluses. These reports are increasingly important as pricing and logistics can change rapidly in the modern world. 

Capital Planning Process at a Glance:

The capital planning process typically includes the following steps:

  • Identify Capital Project Drivers: Determine the factors that are driving the need for capital investments, such as aging infrastructure, changing regulations, or business growth.
  • Evaluate Capital Projects: Develop a list of potential capital projects and evaluate them based on factors such as cost, feasibility, and alignment with organizational goals and objectives.
  • Prioritize Capital Projects: Rank capital projects based on their potential impact on the organization and the level of urgency.
  • Develop a Capital Plan: Create a plan that outlines the proposed capital projects, the associated costs, and the timeline for implementation.
  • Obtain Approval: Present the capital plan to the capital management committee for review and approval.
  • Implement Capital Projects: Execute the approved capital projects, including managing budgets, timelines, and resources.
  • Monitor and Evaluate: Monitor the progress of capital projects and evaluate their success based on metrics such as return on investment (ROI) and impact on organizational goals and objectives.

Types of Capital Planning Projects:

Capital projects can be broadly categorized into different types based on their purpose, scope, and duration. One type of capital project is expansion projects, which involve adding new facilities, equipment, or infrastructure to support business growth. Another type is modernization or upgrade projects, which involve replacing or enhancing existing facilities or equipment to improve efficiency, productivity, or safety. Maintenance projects, such as repairing or replacing worn-out equipment or infrastructure, are another type of capital project. Finally, regulatory or compliance projects may be required to ensure that an organization meets legal or regulatory requirements related to safety, health, or environmental concerns. These different types of capital projects require different levels of investment, resources, and expertise, and must be carefully planned and managed to ensure successful outcomes.

Capital Planning FAQs:

  • How often should Capital Planning be done?: Capital planning should be done on a regular basis to ensure that an organization’s long-term goals and objectives are being met. The frequency of capital planning can vary depending on the size and complexity of the organization, but it is typically done on an annual basis or at least every few years.
  • What factors should be considered when creating a Capital Plan?: When creating a capital plan, several factors should be considered, such as the organization’s long-term goals and objectives, available resources, current economic conditions, regulatory requirements, technological advancements, and changing market trends. The capital plan should align with the organization’s strategic plan, and prioritization should be based on the potential impact on the organization’s mission, goals, and objectives.
  • How are capital projects prioritized and selected?: Capital projects are prioritized and selected based on several factors, such as the potential impact on the organization’s mission, goals, and objectives, available resources, urgency, regulatory requirements, technological advancements, and changing market trends. A capital planning group typically reviews and evaluates proposed capital projects, and the projects are ranked according to their importance and potential return on investment.
  • What are some common challenges faced in Capital Planning?: Common challenges faced in capital planning include limited resources, conflicting priorities, changing economic conditions, regulatory changes, difficulty in estimating costs, and lack of clear goals and objectives.
  • How is success measured in Capital Planning?: Success in capital planning is typically measured by the degree to which the plan aligns with the organization’s long-term goals and objectives, the efficiency and effectiveness of the capital projects, and the return on investment. Success can also be measured by the extent to which the capital plan enables the organization to respond to changing market conditions, technological advancements, and regulatory requirements. Regular monitoring and reporting of capital project performance can help to measure success and identify areas for improvement.
  • What are some consequences of a poorly designed Capital Plan?: The consequences of a poorly designed capital planning process can be severe, impacting the long-term financial health of a commercial real estate organization. A poorly designed capital planning process can lead to misaligned priorities, inefficient use of resources, missed opportunities, and ultimately, decreased profitability. For example, if an organization invests in a capital project that does not align with its long-term strategic goals, it may miss out on more profitable opportunities. Similarly, if an organization does not properly prioritize its capital investments, it may allocate resources to projects that do not have the greatest impact on the organization’s overall success. Poorly designed capital planning can also lead to increased risk and exposure to legal action or reputational damage. For instance, if an organization neglects to invest in necessary safety improvements, it could face fines or legal action in the event of an accident or injury.

Optimizing Your Capital Planning:

A well-designed capital planning process is crucial for the financial health of a commercial real estate organization. It enables organizations to prioritize their investments, allocate resources efficiently, and align their capital projects with their long-term business objectives. AEI Capital Planning Services offers a comprehensive suite of services that can help organizations achieve these goals. With AEI’s Capital Planning Services, organizations can be confident in their investment decisions, mitigate risk, and improve their overall profitability.

Services Offered by AEI Capital Planning:

  • Deferred Maintenance and Capital Planning Studies and Reports
  • Capital Reserve Analysis
  • Building and Component System Remaining Useful Life Studies
  • Facility Condition Assessments
  • Baseline Property Condition Assessments
  • Limited Facility Condition Assessments
  • Asset Bar Coding
  • Pre-Lease Assessments, Lease Renewals and Lease Exit Strategies
  • Dilapidation Assessments
  • Building Envelope Assessments
  • Roof Assessments (Thermography, Inductance Testing, Roof coring, and Assembly Installation Oversight)
  • Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) data collection and population
  • ADA Assessments
  • BOMA Area Measurements
  • Building Commissioning or Retro-commissioning Services
  • Energy Audits and Building Sustainability
  • Climate Risk & Resilience Consulting

Bottom Line: Capital Planning is About Making Better Decisions:

Ultimately, Capital Planning is an essential process for any organization seeking to manage its assets effectively and sustainably. At AEI, our Capital Planning team of experts provides clients with reliable, centralized asset data, empowering effective maintenance, asset management, strategic planning, and reliable budgeting. Our team brings a wealth of experience in multiple disciplines, including Architecture, Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, HVAC Systems, Energy Analysis Engineering, Roofing and Envelope, to name a few. Contact us today to learn more about our Capital Planning services and how we can assist you in achieving your goals. Reach out to speak with one of our consultants today.