The Six-Step Cure for Spending Sickness

By Andrew Gager  
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: This PagePt. 2: Savvy Maintenance Spending Focuses on Equipment and Inventory

I once had a full head of hair. That was, until I began to suffer from maintenance spending. A manager of mine asked me for input on the following year's budget, and it felt good to spend.

The next thing I remember is sneaking peaks at the budget after hours, working the numbers early the next morning. I didn't know my spending was out of control until management said, "You need to cut next year's budget by 13 percent." I needed to review spending from last year. I crunched the numbers. I confidently submitted next year's budget, but within days I got a reply stating my budget still was too heavy. I started feeling the shakes from spending withdrawal.

To overcome this condition, I needed to admit I had a maintenance spending problem. The cure was budgeting. To help the healing process, I took a close look at six issues and actions any manager in the same predicament must address.

Facility Audits

Audits are crucial in helping managers develop solid budgets and spend more effectively. The audit documents the assets you have, the condition they are in, equipment histories, and immediate needs. It also establishes a baseline that allows an in-depth analysis of the facility and the expected life cycle of equipment.

Traditional facility audits incorporate standard categories, including history, general building conditions, systems, assessment summary, major projects completed, proposed improvements, and a glossary of terms.


Don't create your budget in a vacuum. You need the assistance of many different people in your organization. Talk with your staff about problems they see related to the systems and equipment they maintain. Talk with internal customers for their input on suggested improvements and areas of concern.

If you're not already an expert on your department's computer maintenance management system (CMMS), become one. Use it as the tool it is meant to be. Use its data to validate spending, as well as identify areas for potential reductions.

Remember your friends in the finance department. The first place your manager goes to confirm your numbers is the finance department. Make your life easier by getting confirmation of your numbers before your boss does.

Staffing Levels and Skills

Capture technician activities and work requests on work orders. If I were your manager and you asked me for more resources, my first response would be to ask you for data to justify your request. I'd expect a report on deferred maintenance that documents more work than your people can handle.

Staffing is critical when developing your budget. Do you have the right people with the right talents and skills to manage, control, and improve equipment and facilities, today and in the future?

Creating and managing a maintenance backlog enables you to see future skills requirements for your staff so you can plan and budget for them. Not having enough qualified technicians to execute that work is a drain on your budget. By anticipating these needs, you can find the right workers and have the work performed at the standard rate, rather than at a premium rate, thus reducing labor costs.

Don't forget to budget for skills training. The best organizations budget 100-120 hours per person per year to update technician skill sets. Training can ensure your staff is able to work safely, troubleshoot properly, and execute the work to professional standards.

Continue Reading: Management Insight

The Six-Step Cure for Spending Sickness

Savvy Maintenance Spending Focuses on Equipment and Inventory

Contact FacilitiesNet Editorial Staff »

  posted on 11/16/2011   Article Use Policy

Related Topics: