There are many aspects to maintenance, one of such is the operational aspect that focuses on security, preventing damage, maintaining structures (building integrity), and ensuring installations are in good condition.
Another aspect is strategic planning; this goes beyond operational matters to include strategic considerations for future facilities and service provision, basically anticipating and meeting future needs.
Most real estate and infrastructure development represent substantial investment for the government and organisations in both private and public sectors. These structures accommodate and support a range of activities, often taking into account competing needs. Somewhere within those activities is the need to make allowance for the maintenance of the infrastructure or the investment.
To protect an organisation’s capital investment and turn cost item into one of added value, day-to-day operational activities are essential. This, however, is a more reactive approach to maintenance.
In operational maintenance, the important thing is how activities are managed and controlled; how a simple plumbing or electrical problem that can potentially turn into a crisis, for instance, is handled or resolved.
The level of professionalism, centralised controls, cost of operating are some of the factors that differentiate a well-structured facilities management business from a ‘man-in- a-van’ operator.
Strategic planning, on the other hand, is a more proactive delivery of service and requires long-term planning. Strategic facilities management involves anticipating change. The internal organisation and the company’s external market are affected by changes in technology, communications, regulations, and the behaviour of people. Today’s hectic pace, however, means that changes are barely given the chance to take on a permanent form.
A good facilities manager knows that the need to become more strategically hands-on is important but finding the time to plan is often a struggle. It is therefore, necessary to prioritise what is important rather than what is simply urgent in order to gain maximum effectiveness. The key stages of this aspect of maintenance consist of understanding, analysing, planning and acting.
The first step, understanding, requires detailed knowledge of the organisation’s mission vision, values and goals. Thus, those responsible for maintenance need to know the organisation’s objectives, economic considerations, and the qualities of an effective, comfortable work environment.
The second step requires the use of techniques to explore the range of possible triggers needed to analyse the organisation’s facilities needs such as scenario planning.
The third step is to create the plans for potential responses and periodic updates to existing plans in response to changes in the market requirements to be developed to meet the long-term needs of the specific organisation.
The fourth step will then be to take actions as planned to successfully implement the systematic facilities maintenance plan.
The time taken to carry out such a plan is well spent in that it helps to avoid mistakes, delays, disappointments and customer dissatisfaction. It can, also, actually allow for the implementation of a plan to run more quickly and smoothly.