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The Value of Master Planning

iStock_000017386032SmallGPSAre you contemplating expansion or new development of your institution or facility?   This can be a complicated effort and I’d like to share with you a few benefits of undertaking a master planning process as an invaluable step in making your growth a reality and less of a headache.

A master plan is more than just a pretty picture.  It is like a roadmap, or GPS, charting the course from the current status of your facility, and routing your aspirations and needs so that you arrive at your final location successfully.  The following are 4 tips that are just a few planning tools I suggest to help guide you through the journey.  

Tip #1: Confirm your FInal Destination - Setting Yourself Up for Success

Master plans are not a set of plans or blueprints that once complete, you file away in a cabinet and check off your “to-do” list.  These plans are living documents and must be flexible, allowing for collaboration with other departments and public or regulatory agencies.  Set realistic goals and objectives while at the same time considering potential impacts to future development, the everchanging economy, market conditions and demographics.

Tip #2:  Make Sure your GPS has Batteries - Consider Your Resources

Evaluate available internal resources to assist in accumulating baseline data or information needed when developing a master plan.  This can help reduce costs. Internal staff can often contribute to interviews and outreach to your stakeholders to gain a better understanding of your market, messaging, and identity so you can compile a needs assessment.  Many institutions or organizations do not have the resources or qualifications to take this information and process your needs into a master plan that allows you to strategize your future growth.  Hiring a master planning consultant can assist you in evaluating your available resources and provide a deliverable that can support your efforts.  

Tip #3:  How Much will it Cost to Get There?  Budget Time and Dollars

This an important step when thinking about developing your master plan.   Make sure you include your staff time in your budget for those involved in developing the master plan.  This is a real project cost that sometimes gets overlooked.  Second, check in with your consultant team and finalize a scope while budgeting for the master plan.  This will also contribute to real costs.  Your consultant will have recommendations and can assist you in gaining a better understanding of the effort.  Third, don’t underestimate the time required for the research development of a master plan.  Public outreach, consensus building, and regulatory compliance such as the development of an Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) all takes time depending on the project size and complexity.  

Tip #4:  Make the Trip Fun and Educational -  Generate Excitement and Support

Consensus building - while it sounds like a challenge and a lot of work, it is the only way to really get clear input from your stakeholders or end users. These stakeholders are likely the main contributor to your success. They understand the current needs while recognizing future growth of your organization.  Outreach to these groups early and often should be integral to your planning process, in fact it is a great way to kick off the project and gain advocacy along the way.  

Hopefully these tips will assist you in reaching your final destination of a thorough and effective master plan for your project.  

If you have comments or questions about this topic, I’d love to hear from you.  You can email me, or comment here.  


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Topics: Land Development, Urban Parks & Recreation, Residential Land Development, Commercial/Industrial Land Development

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