Creating an efficient and productive environment is a foundational element of business success. Facility maintenance, as an integral part of facility management, is here to ensure that physical assets and infrastructure can be fully utilized to fulfill their purpose.
Facility maintenance has a lot of moving parts. Getting them to work in unison requires the knowledge of best practices, a skilled workforce, establishing good partnerships, and the implementation of specific software solutions. We try to cover all of that in this article.
Let’s start with a definition and move from there.
What is facility maintenance?
Facility maintenance encompasses all maintenance activities that are taken in and outside of commercial buildings to keep the area safe, presentable, and most importantly, functional. It is often used interchangeably with the term building maintenance.
maintenance of equipment inside the building (HVAC, certain office equipment and furniture, building-specific equipment like medical equipment in hospitals…)
maintenance of all building systems (plumbing, electrical systems, lighting, fire safety systems, elevator systems…)
taking care of the building infrastructure itself (roofing, windows, doors and door locks, exterior and interior painting…)
To pile up on all of those activities, facility managers often operate with limited budgets, but are still expected to deliver initiatives and programs focused on sustainability and energy efficiency. This is a consequence of the research that suggests how buildings account for 40% of total energy consumption in the United States.
Facility maintenance is also occasionally used as a synonym for property maintenance and industrial maintenance. While they have the same purpose and involve many of the same activities, they are applied at different types of buildings.
Property maintenance is used when we talk about residential buildings. Industrial maintenance is used when referring to manufacturing and other industrial facilities. Facility maintenance, on the contrary, is used to take care of all other commercial buildings (we have a more detailed breakdown in one of the sections below).
The role of maintenance in facility management
As we mentioned in the intro, facility maintenance comes as a part of facilities management. Facility management can be broken down in a few different ways. One popular approach is to split it into hard and soft facilities management services:
In this categorization, we see that facility maintenance covers all hard FM services, plus landscaping, cleaning, and pest control from the side of soft FM services. In other words, a big chunk of facility management revolves around maintenance.
Types of buildings that rely on facilities maintenance
Facility maintenance is applied at a huge range of different facilities:
schools and university campuses
hotels and casinos
zoos and aquariums
While the type of equipment at those facilities can differ, the core range of maintenance responsibilities is more or less the same.
Certain businesses might have a highly specialized piece of equipment. If it breaks down, the facility manager will usually outsource the repair to a specialized maintenance vendor that has the necessary tools and knowledge.
Doing it in-house vs outsourcing facility maintenance work
This is not an either/or question. Most facility managers take a middle-of-the-road approach. In fact, according to our latest research, 82% of facility and maintenance managers have a strong mixed strategy:
Facility managers in hospitals and casinos will often have a dedicated vendor they can call in to repair equipment that requires specialized knowledge.
Building systems like plumbing, which only need sporadic attention, are cheaper to manage with an outside vendor. It doesn’t make fiscal sense to pay a full salary to a plumber that will work a couple of days each month.
Tasks like landscaping and pest control are easier to outsource to companies that offer professional grounds maintenance services.
Janitorial tasks are regularly outsourced to companies providing professional cleaning services, especially since the coronavirus brought additional guidelines.
While those are perfectly valid reasons, outsourcing maintenance work should not be taken for granted. You need to keep track of the vendor’s contact information, invoices, work history, and schedules, not to mention ensure that the required work is properly done. This is why Limble CMMS comes with a vendor management module that seamlessly integrates vendors into your maintenance system.
Before we move on, let’s also mention that maintenance can be outsourced as a part of a larger deal to outsource facility management. In this scenario, everything is outsourced to facility management companies, facilities maintenance included. This is a common arrangement when a business leases a few offices or floors and the building owner has hired a facility management company to manage the whole building.
How to automate and streamline facility maintenance
Keeping your facility clean, organized, and efficient is not the sole responsibility of the maintenance team. However, the maintenance department does shoulder most of that responsibility.
Below are three bulletproof ways to organize, automate, and streamline maintenance operations at your facility.
1) Use facilities maintenance software
There is no better way to streamline facility maintenance work than to use capable facility maintenance software.
Maintenance just has too many moving interconnected parts to be tracked and managed manually, even for small teams. You need to:
schedule and track a wide variety of maintenance activities
adjust schedule and workload based on the number of maintenance technicians, available resources, and incoming maintenance tickets
ensure you have necessary spare parts in stock to perform needed maintenance work
manage multiple vendors and contracts
accurately track maintenance expenses and generate recurring reports
You can try to do it with spreadsheets, but that is a subpar solution when compared with mobile maintenance software. Spreadsheets still require a lot of manual work, which is slower, more prone to human error, hard to use on mobile devices, and severely limits your reporting capabilities.
Computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) offers a real-time insight into all maintenance activities, automates a big chunk of the maintenance workflow, and holds a centralized repository of data on your parts and equipment which can be quickly accessed from anywhere. This not only gives you a deep insight into maintenance metrics and other benchmarks of performance of your maintenance team, but it also enormously speeds up the overall maintenance workflow.
Lastly, it is important to mention that CMMS solutions like Limble can often be integrated with IWMS, CAFM and other facility management software.
2) Outline clear procedures and responsibilities
A great way to streamline any type of recurring work is to outline how it is supposed to be executed. This has many benefits, achieving consistent quality of performed work probably being the biggest one.
You can standardize many different aspects of facility maintenance like:
setting up an onboarding process for new hires and outside contractors
setting up technician training/mentorship process
outlining procedures for taking tools and spare parts out of inventory and returning them back
implementing strong safety guidelines and safety training process for both technicians and employees (when needed)
It is also not a bad idea to review (and update) these procedures on a yearly basis. A lot can be learned in one year. A lot can change in one year too. Updating SOPs based on new information is a prime example of continuous improvement. And it doesn’t hurt to have everything up-to-date.
3) Commit to proactive maintenance
It is much easier to manage maintenance tasks when those tasks are planned ahead. It is easier to manage workloads, it is easier to keep MRO inventory in check, and it is easier to control your maintenance expenses.
If your technicians spend the majority of their time running around the facility responding to emergency work requests, then what is the point of having a maintenance calendar in the first place? Routine tasks you might have scheduled will only get deferred, resulting in more reactive work and emergency repairs later down the road.
It is a vicious cycle. A cycle that can only be stopped by a hard commitment to preventative maintenance and other proactive maintenance programs.
Implement Limble CMMS as your facility maintenance software
Limble CMMS was designed with a single purpose: to help maintenance and facilities managers streamline their maintenance activities. That can be done only when you have a deep insight into every aspect of your maintenance operations: assets, spare parts inventory, work orders, maintenance schedule, and vendors.
To learn more about each category and associated features Limble offers, click on the links below:
Now, features are just a few pieces of the puzzle. For facility maintenance software to be efficient and practical, it has to be intuitive, easy-to-use, and usable on mobile devices. We worked very hard to ensure Limble meets those criteria.
For those that are short on time, here is a quick overview of top Limble CMMS features for facility managers:
If you want to test Limble CMMS, you have three options:
TRY OUR SELF DEMO (leads you to a simulated environment where you can test Limble’s features for yourself)
Start improving today
Whether that means creating clearer maintenance procedures, improving MRO management, spending more time on technician training, or implementing CMMS software, there are plenty of steps you can take to start improving your maintenance department today.
If you need more specific information on how Limble CMMS facilitates those improvements and keep them cost-effective, reach out anytime.
"Limble is very easy to get involved in and no contracts, with simple monthly billing. I have auditioned other CMMS companies and they make it too difficult, to try out. Limble strategy is very simple - here is our software, you can customize it in most categories and let us know if you have any questions. As a multiple building County Facilities Director, I highly recommend trying it!"
— Michael Boursier
The best value available in CMMS Software
"This software is very easy to use. All CMMS suppliers say that, but I found this one to be exactly that. This software, in my opinion, is the best value out there in the CMMS world. My team of maintenance techs got on board quickly and loves the app. Anytime you can get 8 of 8 maintenance techs to get on board, you have a winner."
— Mark Quillin
Great user friendly product
"Love the fact that the product can be used on my phone, tablet, and laptop. It also has made several updates to make an even better product."
— Dave Stern
Great time saver
"On average, [Limble] saves me an hour to two hours a day, depending on the workload. The biggest thing for me is being able to do things on my phone, on the fly."
— Rob Siler
Limble is the best thing to happen to this company
"Limble does such a good job at keeping track of what's been done and letting me know when and what I need to do next."
— Tom Jones
Little Giant Ladder Systems
Great Product, Even better support!
"I started using Limble after trying out many other off the shelf CMMS software and I quickly fell in love with the ease of use, intuitiveness yet the power this tool provided me and my team. The ability to see automatically generated and customized reports meant that I could choose whether I wanted to see things at a micro level or a macro one, or both of them together."