In building maintenance you often encounter difficult situations. There may have been times when you were forced to cut off the water supply during office hours, or order maintenance for recently painted windows. Choose a proactive strategy and prevent these issues, reduce costs and improve your services.
Here are six simple steps to switch to proactive maintenance.

From reactive to proactive facilities management

In many organizations, large and small, a reactive strategy is employed for managing property, machinery and other assets. This means that actions are taken based on complaints and malfunctions as they occur. This strategy not only leads to higher cost in long run, it also has a number of disadvantages for people who use the building or the assets. After all, if you only perform maintenance when something breaks down, this makes your building and assets less safe and less reliable.

It’s better for organizations to switch to a more proactive facilities maintenance policy, so that maintenance work is done regularly and according to a plan to prevent malfunctions. What organizations need to get there is a good framework.

1. Determine what your vision is

If you want to manage your property well, the first thing to do is to set goals for what you want property management and maintenance to be. If you plan to give up one of your buildings, you don’t need to invest any money in it in the next few years. On the other hand, if you want your building to represent your organization better, you want to improve its quality. And that means you need to invest more money. Creating a clear vision for each building makes long-term property management much easier, because you know what you want for your building in the future.

2. Create an overview of your property

Your vision outlines what you want your property to look like in the future. If you want to achieve your vision, you’ll first need to know what state your property is in regarding maintenance. It’s a good idea to benchmark the current state of your property and any flaws it may have.

3. Create a long-term plan

In a long-term plan, you establish what needs to be done to get your property to the state you have in mind as a goal. Ideally, investments that come with these actions should be spread evenly over several years. Most organizations won’t be happy with sudden peaks in spending. A good way to spread costs is to make clusters of similar jobs. This can also help you save money. For example, you can postpone minor paintjobs until after major maintenance jobs on windowpanes.

Try not to put too many details in the long-term plan. If you’re planning ten years ahead, there’s always a degree of uncertainty. Trying to predict the details won’t make your budget better or more accurate. Stick to the big picture and go into detail in your annual plan.

4. Decide on actions for the year ahead

Organizations should zoom into their long-term plan once a year to see which jobs can be finished in that year. The result should be an annual plan. Some jobs and actions will simply follow from existing contracts with suppliers. Regular paintjobs are a good example of this. To avoid having to process these agreements manually in your operations list, you can have them planned automatically. If you’re doing this, it’s a good idea to have clear agreements with your suppliers beforehand. In those agreements you can establish a time frame during which the work has to be done.

5. Execute planned activities

When the annual plan is finalized, you’ll know what activities you can expect that year and what the costs will be. Some of them will be established beforehand, such as annual emergency equipment checks. If you don’t have an existing agreement, the procedure starts with you asking for quotes and ends with completion of a job. It’s a good idea to safeguard this procedure and archive the things you considered in your decisions, so you can look into them later on.

6. Monitor and direct progress

To make sure a building get to the desired maintenance level, it’s important to check its condition regularly. These checks are usually done once every three to five years. Just like with the long-term plan, you don’t need to go into every little detail. The days when you needed to record every scratch on every screw are in the past.

Predictable malfunctions

Even when you’ve switched to proactive maintenance, malfunctions are simply a fact of life. But you can minimize their frequency. With proactive maintenance you’re better able to predict when certain systems, equipment and parts have to be replaced. This makes it easier to manage maintenance costs and you’ll have fewer peaks in your workload.

An even bigger advantage is that since you can plan maintenance activities much better, they won’t come as an unpleasant surprise to your organization and the people who use your building. Hospitals can plan when maintenance can be done on the CT scanner, so that it never has to be done on busy days. Users can also be notified in advance, so that they can avoid planning scans during maintenance. By switching to proactive maintenance, you take a big step towards better services and happier customers.

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