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Sometimes it feels like there aren't enough hours in the day. Other times, it's even worse: you don't have the time, money, or people you need to manage your facility. But postponing work, adding to your growing pile of deferred maintenance, is only ever a temporary fix. 

So, how can you reduce deferred maintenance? 

Let's start with a definition and some quick examples. 

What is deferred maintenance? 

Deferred maintenance is all the work you're postponing because you don't have the right resources. Generally, it's a combination of not having enough money or people. Other times, you have the people, but they lack the right skills or tools. And that's a problem because you don't have the money to bring in third-party vendors to get the job done. 

What's the difference between deferred maintenance and a maintenance backlog? 

Not everything on the backlog is there because you didn't have the time, people, or parts to get it done. In some cases, you back-log low-priority work whenever something more important comes up. So, even though the walls in the employee break room could use a fresh coat of paint, that's not as important as fixing the exhaust fans over the welding stations. In other cases, you backlog work when it makes more sense to do it later. For example, at a school, you can put off some of the work until summer break when students are not in the way. Or, at a factory, you can delay certain inspections, so they happen when you know the assets are scheduled to be down.   

Having a backlog is normal. In fact, not having one is usually a strong sign the maintenance department is overstaffed. So, you don't want to get rid of yours completely. Instead, you want a backlog that's manageable. 

Deferred maintenance is different because it's work that you would rather do now, but you lack the resources. Ideally, you shouldn't have any deferred maintenance. 

How can I stop deferred maintenance and how does facility management software make it easier? 

You might have two separate goals here. 

The first goal is doing more with less. If you can boost your efficiency, you might find that you have what you need to get work done properly and on time. The second goal is collecting definitive proof that the maintenance department needs more resources. 

In both cases, the right facility management software can help you. 

Step 1: Get all your maintenance data in one spot 

For facility managers, this is often the first step to making things better and life easier. 

When everything is spread out over random slips of paper and spreadsheets, you can quickly corrupt or completely lose critical data. Copy over the wrong number when you're manually entering data, and you've just corrupted your data and spoiled your reports. Lose the wrong piece of paper, and now you don't have any data, reliable or not. 

Cloud-based facility management software helps you keep all your data safe, secure, and accessible. Once you have reliable data, you can track maintenance metrics and KPIs using the auto-generated reports. 

Step 2: Prioritize your maintenance tasks 

Now that you have all your data in one spot, you can get a sense of the maintenance big picture. Start by making a list of all the work the team needs to tackle. How do you know something makes the list? Start by imagining you have unlimited time and money, and then add all the work you would want done. 

But of course, you don't have unlimited time and money, so you need to then organize the list according to priority, with the most critical up on top. 

Remember, though, there's more than one type of critical. It depends on your specific facility, but make sure to consider: 

  • Safety and compliance 
  • Frequency of the asset's use 
  • Potential future costs 
  • Overall criticality 

Once you have your list, you can try moving resources around to chip away at it. 

Step 3: Start up or fine-tune your preventive maintenance program 

And one of the best ways to organize resources so you can take care of deferred maintenance is with a preventive maintenance program. If you don't have one, now's the time to get one. If you already do have one, it's time to fine-tune it. 

The key here is scheduling inspections and tasks in advance so you can find and fix small issues before they have a chance to grow into serious problems. That saves you money because you're avoiding expensive repairs. But you save in other ways, too. When you know your schedule early, you can more easily ensure you have the right people and parts in place. Now, instead of rush ordering a part after a breakdown, you can arrange to have it sent early, without all the extra costs of a rush delivery. 

ScheduledWorkORders_DesktopPreventive maintenance is a great solution, and the right facility maintenance software makes it easy to schedule and track PMs. That said, it might not solve all your problems. You still need to look at that list of deferred maintenance and for each one, ask yourself, "Why is this being deferred? What is the root cause?" 

Step 4: If your PMs still aren't working, ask for more 

It depends on your root causes, but it might turn out that with your current resources, you'd never be able to stay on top of your facility maintenance. In that case, you need to start building the case for additional resources. 

If you already have your asset and PM program data in facility management software, you can use the reports module to crunch the numbers for you and build easy-to-read charts and graphs that show exactly where your budget is going and why you need more help. 

Quick summary 

Deferred maintenance is the work the maintenance department wants to do now but can't because it lacks the resources. The result is more expensive unscheduled downtime. There are steps you can take to tackle deferred maintenance. First, get all your data into one spot so you can keep it safe and up to date. Second, decide on your priorities and then use them to put the work in order. Third, use a PM program to get more from existing resources. But you might need a fourth step, where you use your maintenance data to advocate for additional resources. At every step, the right facility management software makes your workflows smoother, your life easier.  

Let's get you started

Hippo's here to help you get the solution that works best for you, including answering your questions about maintenance strategies (and everything else related to maintenance), helping you book a live software demo, or even setting you up with a free trial.  

About The Author

Carla Prentice

Carla is an Implementation Specialist at Hippo CMMS where she focuses on asset database functionality and organization. Her goal is to ensure customer success for all stakeholders, from onboarding to launch.
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