In the section on working with others we look at involving stakeholders, and working with professional advisers such as architects to ensure that your project is inspirational, imaginative, creative and practical.
Delivering the project
You also need to make sure that the project actually happens, is delivered on time and within budget, that the systems and features you want are really possible and will be available when you need them, and that it will all actually work. These ‘hard’ aspects of the project will be handled by the management structure you establish. At the highest level this will involve having the project as a regular agenda item on the governing body and executive meetings of the organisation.
You need to set up a committee, or group, to take overall responsibility for the planning and delivery of the project. It is likely that this overview steering group will need one or more sub-groups to deal with detailed matters of the building programme, the fit-out, and the operation of the facility on completion.
You will also need a project methodology to ensure that the stages of the work are documented, progress can be tracked, risks are identified and mitigated against, changes are controlled (so as not to delay or divert the project or raise costs), and that the project is a success.
We suggest the project needs a dual approach with two parallel sets of meetings – one formal within your management and governance structure and a second that is formally constituted but with a brief to produce and develop the imaginative ideas needed to ensure that the project has high impact.
These two sets of meetings have different purposes but should overlap (through some common memberships and sharing of minutes) and interact with one another. This arrangement might look something like this:
Refurbishment or new build?
There are a number of issues to consider when making the decision whether to rebuild or refurbish at your particular institution.
The decision is not one that can be taken lightly and in either case will involve major capital outlay. Issues that you may need to think about include:
- Is it cost effective to maintain your current estate? You may find that in the long run it is more expensive to stay in your rundown buildings than it is to move into new ones – Edinburgh’s Telford College found that it would cost them £3 million more to refurbish its old buildings than to move
- Many buildings are no longer fit for purpose and maintenance costs are high. The buildings may not be suitable for refurbishment to a standard appropriate to the requirements set
- Some estates are larger than they need to be, and therefore not as efficient as they could be, and would benefit from downsizing. The disposal of surplus space can be financially attractive if purchased for development
- The location that you are currently in may no longer be suitable, and it may be advantageous to relocate. Again this may prove financially attractive and enable you to raise funds towards the cost of a new building
The Learning and Skills Council (closed 2010 but material archived) offered some useful information on the Development Stages in a Property Strategy, including decision-making on maintenance and refurbishment versus rebuilding in its LSC Guidance on College Property Strategies recommend that we save the pdf and link to that so not lost as is still useful.. Whilst aimed at FE much of the information is transferable across the FE and HE sectors.
The FE estate has been reduced from approximately 9.15 million m2 of floor space to 7.4 million m2 as colleges sell off outmoded, inefficient, poorly located sites in order to develop efficient, flexible and usefully located estates.
'Building for skills' LSC February 2007
Options appraisal/business case
As with all projects you will need to develop a business case at an appropriate level of detail.
If you are doing something along the lines of refurbishing a classroom or a single area you may find it useful to look at our resources on developing a business case.
The Jisc-funded Espida project at the University of Glasgow has developed a model that can make business cases for ‘proposals that may not necessarily offer immediate financial benefit to an organisation, but rather bring benefit in more intangible spheres’.
If you are considering whether to refurbish or rebuild an entire campus or thinking about how to proceed in the light of a merger then you will need to do a full options appraisal.
Options appraisal is a technique for setting objectives, creating and reviewing options and analysing their relative costs and benefits. HM Treasury has produced a comprehensive guide to options appraisal in its Green Book and the DfES had a guide entitled finding the right solution suggest that this is downloaded and saved so not lost that looks at options appraisal from a schools perspective and includes some worked examples of a rebuild v refurbishment scenario.
Financing the project
As discussed in the Anticipation: What’s Going On In The Sector? section of this guide, it is not easy to get the amount needed to finance the project from one source and projects that are only partially funded are not much better than ones that aren’t funded at all!
Often a package of funding is needed involving some money from the institution, some from the funding council, and (in the past at least) money from the EU. Increasingly colleges and universities are being urged to find ways of raising funds from other sources – these are considered in Imagination: Developing The Vision: Economic Factors.
UK institutions, unlike those in the US, are not very good at raising funds from alumni and charitable organisations. A significant building project is a good opportunity to establish a fundraising arm. If it is successful, it will make the project possible and start a continuing steam of funds for future developments.
The Thomas Report (also available in the National Archives) on UK University fundraising says that a successful operation should aim to generate five times the investment made in it within five years of operation. This suggests that there is great potential in fundraising if done well but also that you need to start early.
Some things to consider:
- It may pay to engage some consultancy advice to help set up your fundraising operation
- If you haven’t got an alumni database start one now
- If you don’t know whether you have any alumni who could give large sums then have your alumni database researched by a professional company
- Do some research on the charitable trusts that give to education and target those that seem to match your project aims
- Think about the particular characteristics of your environment as identified in your PESTLEPV analysis. Do any historic or natural features lend themselves as a focus for fundraising? Does your design support agendas of current interest such as sustainability, biodiversity or community access that could gain financial support?
- Start early – individuals and charitable trusts giving substantial amounts like to have helped ‘form’ the project so involve them while it is still only an idea