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In senior housing, manual spreadsheets still are the dominant tool for prioritizing and planning capital expenditure projects, but that is changing. Digital tools increasingly are giving senior living executives greater visibility and flexibility in their long-term strategic planning.

“Some people still do this the way they did 10 years ago. Inspections and information-gathering are done on paper. People take notes, write up reports, putting together a case in a very inconsistent way across the various parts of the portfolio. Then someone has a real job to do in formalizing that information feeding it into a spreadsheet and building an investment plan around that,” said Ed Bartlett, VP with Accruent, which offers Kykloud software for asset management.

The benefits of digital, already evident in most other aspects of business management, apply equally to capex planning. “Software can organize that information across the portfolio, creating a consistent centralized view: Property names and addresses, physical information, drawings, all in a central hub and a structured format,” he said.

That centralization is key for executives seeking anything higher than a ground-level view of their physical assets. “Right now, the central corporate knowledge base depends on individuals passing along information, and that doesn’t always happen,” Bartlett said. With software systems, that local knowledge can be made transparent across the organization.

At the same time, digitizing capex planning can help smooth out the bumps in what is often stop-and-go experience.

At budget time, “there’s usually a flurry of activity with people throwing around data and spreadsheets,” Bartlett  said. Software by comparison “offers a steady process for the flow of data. You can check the quality of the information as you go, so when you get to the end there are no surprises.”

Read more in "Identifying the Most Critical Projects for Capital Planning

With many senior living communities aging, operators are putting a range of capex projects into play. Which projects take precedence? How best to prioritize capex? Who gets a say in the process, and what is the executive director’s role?

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