Evolve or Die: How Reactive Facilities Management Must Go

Reactive facilities management is a terrible idea. As explained by Jeanna Jones of Jeanna Jones of Multibriefs, it involves a “run it until it breaks” approach to facility maintenance and management. As a crisis-based system, reactive maintenance will naturally lead to higher costs. Since assets function until a problem becomes so severe that the system can no longer compensate, repairs grow in cost. Facilities managers need to understand why it is indeed time to evolve maintenance strategies to keep costs under control and improve the function of their facilities.

The Painful Costs and Inherent Challenges of Reactive Facilities Management

Costs of reactive maintenance are significant. Reactive facilities management results in higher costs deriving from both material supplies and labor resources. Since repairs go unchecked, actual repair time grows longer. This results in increased costs to complete the repair, as well as the costs of repairing other system components that failed to do to an originating problem. The lack of foresight means facility managers are constantly scrambling – chasing fires - to keep up with demand, and it becomes impossible to pinpoint how the facility management budget will evolve. In addition, the rule of thumb for calculating the costs of reactive maintenance is to take the original cost of repair and multiply it on itself. So, a $20 repair would end up costing $400.

Proactive Facilities Management Puts Control Back in the Hands of Facilities Managers

Proactive facilities management looks to overcome the grievances and problems caused by reactive facilities management by addressing facility management on an ongoing basis. Of course, it is difficult to identify when an asset will fail based on visual inspection, reports Facility Executive. Thus, facility managers need to establish a plan for collecting data and understanding it. This allows for the application of analytics to gain the level of foresight required to make decisions before an asset breaks down. In other words, proactive facilities management involves looking at what is happening, what may happen, what will happen if circumstances remained unchanged and what must happen to achieve a given, desired result.

Tips for Managing Reactive Maintenance While Implementing Proactive Programs

Switching from a reactive facilities management program to a proactive approach can be difficult. Depending on the severity and condition of facility assets, the switch will need to consider existing maintenance needs listed on the maintenance backlog. In addition, facility assets will be in more severe condition than meets the eye. So, it is reasonable to expect a short-term increase in facilities spend as part of the switch. Fortunately, facility managers that follow these steps can improve budgeting and make the transition successfully.

  1. Determine your plan for the future, including the need to connect facility assets, track information, and apply such data.
  2. Focus on both long-term and short-term costs and needs.
  3. Prioritize facility needs, such as those listed on the maintenance backlog, by their likelihood of impacting current operations.
  4. Develop a set of standardized processes for determining how much budget can be allocated to existing maintenance needs versus proactive maintenance.
  5. Consider working with a third-party expert in facilities management.
  6. A proactive, data-driven facilities management strategy is the only way to keep costs under control in modern facilities management.

Empower Your Facilities With Proactive, Data-Driven Facilities Management 

With customers more interested in the amenities and experiences provided by brick-and-mortar locations, the role of the facility in building such experiences continues to climb. Facility managers need to know what they have to work with, monitoring progress along the way. It is possible to implement a proactive maintenance and facility management program to tackle the reactive facilities management problems in existence today. However, it all begins with making the commitment to transform your organizational structure and approach to facilities management.

Eric Crabb

Eric Crabb