MSU engages Sightlines, LLC for facilities benchmarking

MSU recently partnered with Sightlines, LLC to optimize its resource management. The organization uses benchmarking analysis to compare specific data between colleges and universities.

Sightlines has more than 300 campus members across the nation and reports a renewal rate of 95 percent.

The organization will collect a wide range of data from MSU and format it to make sure it fits specific formulas. Then, it will present its findings as a comparison between the average institution and a select number of institutions with demographics similar to MSU.

Facilities Services Director Jeff Butler, who first heard of Sightlines two years ago at the Rocky Mountain Association of Physical Plant Administrators Conference, used the example of janitors per square foot to describe Sightlines’ work.

He explained that MSU can report to Sightlines the number of janitors it employs and the total square feet they are expected to clean. Sightlines then reports the amount of money the campus is spending per square foot and per janitor, along with other important information.

Butler explained that Sightlines can note the funding and equipment needs for a variety of positions and compare that information to other campuses in its database. MSU is then able to see how effectively it operates.

Sightlines analyzes campus resources in four general areas: annual stewardship, asset reinvestment, operating effectiveness and service. MSU has contracted three services from the organization —  facilities measurement through benchmarking and analysis, a greenhouse gas emissions tracking and management “Go Green” program and a student housing option.

The “Go Green” program will help “manage, track and satisfy the requirements for reporting greenhouse emissions as part of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment,” Butler said.

Butler also explained that through the housing service, Sightlines will help create an inventory of student housing data, provide custom comparisons to peer institutions and perform data analysis, enabling strategic action for the optimal recruitment and retention of students.

The services for the first year, which will analyze the last five years of data from MSU, will cost $125,000. The funding for these services comes from the Facilities and Auxiliary Services budgets. Each year after the initial investment will cost $50,000.

The facilities custodial group had a workforce cut of 20 percent from 1987-1992 and has been operating under the pressure of this cut ever since. “We are excited to be working with Sightlines,” Director Jeff Butler said. He explained that he hopes the information gained through MSU’s partnership with the organization will help him to better manage his resources, be a more effective communicator to those who control funding and, if the data reflects a need, gain more funding.

“You know how when people come here from a different college and are always saying, ‘Well, where I come from…?’ This will give us data for ‘where they come from,’” Butler explained.

Sightlines will visit campus during the week of Oct. 8 and gather more information about the university before finalizing its analysis and presenting the findings to MSU.