12 Pond | When you were 8 years old and had a month’s worth of allowance saved up from completing all your chores, did you have a hard time figuring out how to spend it? You may have found yourself in a toy or candy store having difficulty deciding, but it did not take longer than your parents had patience. You can argue that this was a simpler time, but it was easier to make those decisions because of the limited amount of decisions to make. Now facility managers find themselves with millions of square feet of buildings, a limited budget, and multiple mandates to fulfill, some of them unfunded. Facility managers commonly agree that better methods exist to manage capital expenditures to maintain facilities; however, those systems and tools cost money. The start to a successful capital planning tool is a facility assessment. Its importance cannot be overstated as it establishes a database and a starting point to identify an entire portfolio and its current condition. In the past, facility assessments have been conducted by individuals canvassing a building or group of buildings and recording notes on paper. After a week of observations, these field notes are recorded in reports. One obvious downside to conducting facility assessments this way is that oftentimes the report is created by someone other than the person who walked through the buildings. This adds inefficiency and time to the project, increasing its cost. An even more damaging threat is the possibility of information becoming lost due to translation between all the individuals working with the data. Facility managers need to know that recent changes to facility assessments have drastically reduced the cost of assessments. Costs have been so reduced that the deferred maintenance created by the facility assessment report will cover the cost of the assessment itself. Improved technologies that are now available are the reason for this accuracy and reduced cost. Throughout this article, the technologies being employed will be demonstrated and explained through the case of a dorm assessment. Technologies employed include an active facility assessment software, hand-held tablets for data and photo collection, and geospatial information systems (GIS). Many in the industry are familiar with BUILDER, the facility assessment software used in the dorm assessment. Other software suites, such as VFA, exist and can be employed as well. There are several qualifications the software must have in order to be considered an asset to the facility assessment process: act as a repository of the data gathered, be able to access the data in an organized manner, collect and save the condition of assets previously assessed, calculate the condition index, predict the remaining service life of assets, and actively produce a work plan for the facility managers. BUILDER software has proven capable to serve the facility assessment process, so for the purposes of this article, BUILDER will be referenced. For the dorm assessment, the chief task was gathering data accurately, efficiently, and in a brief amount of time. Hand-held Innovative Technologies Reduce Cost & Improve Facility Performance