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Maintenance Constraints

Anything that impedes proper maintenance of an asset or the decisions affecting maintenance. For example:

  • Ignorance – The organization, and particularly its maintenance team, is unaware of the requirements to maintain certain assets. For example, the organization lost its original maintenance manual and product literature sheets.
  • Values – The organization and its various stakeholders disagree on the value that maintenance brings to the organization – or they do not see the return on investment (ROI). For example, the property manager may want to ensure high standards of maintenance but the board of directors cannot raise the necessary and sufficient funds.
  • Priorities – The different stakeholders (both internal and external) disagree on how the available funds should be allocated to different requirements. For example, the organization reduced the maintenance budget at the annual general meeting in order to lower the housing charges.
  • Budgets – The organization does not have enough money in its operating budget to carry out the necessary and sufficient maintenance.
  • Skills – The organization does not have an adequately trained team to perform the maintenance functions.
  • Lack of Will – The organization does not have a champion with the energy to drive the process. The organization may understand and accept the value of maintenance but does not have someone in charge to take a leadership role.
  • Logistics – The organization does not have a plan for applying the necessary means, methods and techniques for effective delivery of maintenance. For example, the organization does not have adequate tools or spare parts.
  • Inconvenience – The building occupants do not want to suffer the nuisance that is associated with certain maintenance activities. For example, the organization does not want to put the tenants through the inconvenience of a water shutdown to test valves or a power shutdown to service high voltage equipment.
  • Nuisance or Inconvenience  - owners do not want to suffer the inconvenience of a water shutdown or power shutdown to service an asset.
  • Misguided Priorities -
  • Lack of Will - 
  • Insufficient Maintenance Budget
  • Ignorance - 
  • No Champion - somebody to drive the process
  • A long Time-to-Value.
  • Obscure Line-of-Sight from action on the ground to strategy and from maintenance to the return on investment or return on asset.
  • Return on Asset (ROA) -
  • Return on Investment (ROI) -  
  • Time to Value (TTV) - the time to value may be considered too long. 
It is the perennial human condition of deferred maintenance. Here is my take on the seven primary reasons why buildings don’t get sufficient maintenance and why each of these reasons is based on flawed logic

1.  We don’t believe it is necessary
This group is not convinced that maintenance provides a return on the investment and, therefore, considers it to be a waste of money. I will refer to this as the “Prove-it-to-Us” problem. Part of the solution is to demonstrate how maintenance can extend the life of building components, thereby delaying big ticket items. Maintenance also mitigates against the costs of shutdowns, outages and other failures – thereby stretching dollars.

2.  We don’t want to think about it until we absolutely have to
This group adopts the attitude that “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. They prefer to sweat the asset, to run it to failure, and try out the just-in-time approach. This is misguided thinking and I refer to this as the “Let’s-wait-and-see” problem. Part of the solution is to demonstrate how reactive management is like walking a tightrope, it has unintended consequences. This approach will cost more in the long-run in monetary terms and in other painful ways.

3.  We don’t care what happens
This group adopts the ostrich mentality by burying their head in the sand. This is short-sighted and I will refer to this as the “To-hell-with-it” problem. The solution is to point out that this is irresponsible thinking. The reality is that nothing lasts forever. It may be necessary to refer these organizations to legal requirements, court cases, fines and penalties.

4.  We don’t know what is expected of us
This group has not taken the time to educate themselves about the fundamentals of building ownership. This is undisciplined thinking and I will refer to it as the “We-are-confused” problem. Part of the solution is to offer education to raise the organization’s level of understanding and empowerment.

5.  We thought our building was being maintained
This group shares some similarities with the previous group, but differs in that they did not have any conscious knowledge of their status. They are taken by surprise. I refer to this as the “Ignorance-is-bliss” problem. Part of the solution is to provide a status report to awaken the group and to set up systems and procedures with the necessary checks and balances to keep the maintenance program on track.

6.  We don’t have enough money to do it
Life is about balancing the demands of competing needs. We need money for insurance, money for utilities, money for many things, and, also, money for maintenance. I refer to this as the “We-can’t-afford-it” problem. The solution is to develop an appropriate prioritization scheme to reconcile the things that are urgent from the important. It is important for these organizations to understand that it will cost more money in the long term if the building is not maintained properly.

7.  We don’t have someone in charge to help us
This group is behaving like lemmings who are mindlessly running over the cliff until someone steps forward to stop them. This is undisciplined thinking and I will refer to this as the “We-are-disorganized” problem. The solution is to build the appropriate team, appoint a leader to take the rudder, and establish the necessary systems and procedures for tracking and reporting on maintenance.
Once there is an understanding of the combination of these seven factors at play in our building, we can develop an appropriate plan of action.

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