If it’s not broke, maintain it!


4 minutes read time

July 31, 2019

Facility management involves identifying maintenance needs, prioritizing deferred maintenance, and strategizing for long-term building and equipment requirements.  However, instead of proactively managing the growing list of maintenance, many organizations take the approach that “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it”. This could be the result of ignorance or the fact that they just simply can’t be bothered. Either way, it is not a good approach. Preventative maintenance (PM) will help prevent the costly and timely emergencies that will inevitably happen without one.

Starting and maintaining an effective PM program is not a short-term fix. A successful program takes time and conviction to stay on course until reactive maintenance work begins to diminish as a result of the PM efforts taking effect. Here are some tips you should follow if you want to start and maintain a successful PM program.

Change the culture

One of the leading problems maintenance professionals are faced with is the culture and lack of support in their organizations. This is a consequence of the underlying problem of poor leadership. Maintenance generally is only talked about when things go wrong when production stops, or worse, someone gets hurt. Managers need to create a leadership culture with strong beliefs about workplace accountability and discipline on preventative maintenance. More often than not discipline and accountability are the two components that are missing. For a PM program to work the leaders have to execute both components well to get everyone else on board; it all starts at the top.

Set goals and reach them

The most effective way to begin developing procedures for PM programs is to start with the end in mind. PM programs should reflect an organization’s future goals and integrate best practices of planning, implementation, and evaluation. Start simple, raising the goals as you go. To keep employees accountable insert the PM goals into their annual performance appraisals. Tie their raises and bonuses directly to performance. You will be surprised at how fast the PM program grows and improves as a result.

Schedule maintenance and stick to it

Managers should never allow a late or canceled PM procedure. Discipline and accountability are exactly what you will need to achieve this seemingly impossible task. This will be difficult as you will still be dealing with ongoing emergencies because you are still putting preventative measures in place, but it needs to happen. Once you get past this difficult period you will begin to reap the benefits.

Focus on the team

Develop a dedicated PM team, or at least allocate a percentage of weekly man-hours to PM procedures. This process is a simple way to keep managers and supervisors from pulling people away from PM work and assigning them to emergencies and other reactive work every time an emergency arises. This step must have some discipline and accountability designed into it, or it will fail.

Measure maintenance

Develop performance measures for your PM process with an emphasis on measuring the amount of PM work completed compared to all other work. World-class PM programs represent 60% or more of all maintenance activity, and firefighting is not a daily challenge. Total PM hours should be the highest percentage of all the department’s maintenance work.

Depend on data

Information can help managers determine the best approach when it comes to motivating employees to get on track with a well-run PM program. When you add up all of the costs involved in emergency and reactive maintenance work, it would generally cost a lot more than PM work would. That factor alone should be enough motivation to establish an effective PM program.

Preventative maintenance programs help organizations improve quality, reduce costs, increase equipment uptime, increase overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) and more. The focus shifts from reacting to problems and a “keep it running” ideology to performance analysis and continuous process improvement.

Whatever the excuse is that your organization uses to avoid a PM program, it’s time to start thinking about ways to overcome it and begin to embrace a proactive approach.


Use this facility assessment checklist to get you started: