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Often, the first step to asset maintenance is knowing what the pieces are and how they need to work together. And it's the same with a maintenance department: the more you know about how and where the positions fit together, the easier it is to get everything running smoothly.  

So, what are the roles and responsibilities of the maintenance director, and how do they work with the rest of the department to keep everything up and running? 

What is a maintenance director? 

The maintenance director holds the highest position within the maintenance department. Depending on the organizational chart for the rest of the company, they might report to either the owner, president, or one of the VPs. 

That's who's above them. Below is the maintenance manager, maintenance supervisors, and then the maintenance technicians. Here too, depending on the size and structure of the company, there might be one or several maintenance managers below them. If you have multiple sites, it often makes more sense to have multiple managers. 

What does a maintenance director do? 

To answer that question, it helps to review the difference between strategies and tactics. An easy way to think of the difference is to remember the saying "Think strategically, act tactically." Basically, your strategies are your big picture goals, while your tactics are the smaller, more specific steps you need to get you there. 

You want to live longer. Your strategy is to get into better shape. Your tactics are hitting the gym and avoiding fatty foods. 

So, what does it mean to think strategically for a maintenance department? The maintenance director sets overall goals, sets policies and procedures, and implements programs to help the department meet OSHA requirements. They're in charge of the big-picture thinking for the department, but they also have to pay attention to the specifics, including how work is assigned and tracked. As part of looking at tracking, they also set up the key performance indicators for everyone else in the department, creating the standards the department uses to evaluate how well people are doing their jobs. 

That's all very general, so it's worth looking at the specific responsibilities more closely. 

What are the responsibilities of a maintenance director? 

A maintenance director does a lot, including: 

  • Estimates annual maintenance budgets 
  • Reviews bids from vendors 
  • Oversees capital projects 
  • Plans resource usage 
  • Helps develop maintenance programs 
  • Controls departmental staffing levels 

They also report to organizational leadership, who sometimes need help seeing the maintenance department as critical to the organization's overall success. Traditionally, leadership has seen maintenance as a cost center, which can be just another way of saying "necessary evil." It's the job of the maintenance director to act as an advocate for their department, ensuring maintenance professionals get the respect, recognition, and resources they deserve.   

What are the different types of maintenance directors? 

Because different industries need different types of maintenance, not all maintenance directors play the same roles. In fact, the roles and responsibilities can vary so much that there are variations on the title for each, including: 

  • Facilities maintenance director 
  • Plant maintenance director 
  • Building maintenance director 
  • City works maintenance director 

Regardless of the different titles, there's always a lot of overlap. For example, working with budgets, setting policies and procedures, developing and implementing new programs, and tracking and reporting critical KPIs. 

At many smaller organizations, there's no maintenance director at all, and there's no special title for that. Because the maintenance demands are smaller, the manager covers everything, including reporting to the people above them. 

How does a CMMS make life easier for maintenance directors? 

Remember, a maintenance director does a lot, so anything that smooths out workflows and manages data helps. 

And that means that modern CMMS solutions, which streamline workflows by making it easier to capture, share, and access data, can help a lot. 

When you're trying to manage everything with paper and spreadsheets, there are too many chances for things to go wrong. And even when they do go right, the entire process is painfully slow. With paper, you're copying out everything by hand, which means you can either have short work orders or ones with at least a few errors. Getting the paper work orders out to the techs takes a lot of time, because they have to either walk back to the office to get them or you have to run around the facilities trying to track them down. Every time something changes, a new task now takes priority over an older work order, the process starts all over again. 

With spreadsheets, you're just trading one set of problems for another. Now, instead of having trouble getting data out, it's hard to keep data up to date. You can email a work order out to a tech, but as soon as they update their copy, it's out of sync with the original. Soon, you have many copies of different data. 

Modern CMMS software helps you solve all these problems with a central database where all your data lives. Once you have a single source of truth, you can trust that everyone is working from the same data, working toward the same goals. 

On top of that, there are a ton of features that help maintenance directors reach their goals. Here's part of the list from the roles and responsibilities section: 

  • Helps develop maintenance programs 
  • Reviews bids from vendors 
  • Estimates annual maintenance budgets 

And here are the features that help maintenance directors directly. 

Preventive maintenance 

For a lot of organizations, the goal is making the jump away from on-demand maintenance to preventive maintenance, where the department can plan everything ahead of time, ensuring they complete critical inspections and tasks before failures. It's a lot faster, cheaper, and overall easier to deal with little issues early, before they have a chance to develop into big problems. 

Modern CMMS software can make the entire process of setting up, running, and tracking PMs easier. The maintenance director can work with managers to ensure the right work gets done at the right times. From there, they can track how many PMs the team closes out each month, which helps them allocate resources. 

Inventory control 

Once you've set your par levels in the software, you get a warning as soon as you dip too low. How does the software know when to warn you? It's because not only does it have par levels, it also has real-time counts of all your critical inventory. When you associate parts and materials with a work order, the software automatically adjusts the inventory counts when the tech closes out. 

This is a huge help to the techs and maintenance manager because it helps them ensure they have the MRO inventory they need, when they need it. 

But it's also a huge help for the maintenance director, who needs to review bids from vendors. Instead of looking for the best deals based on volume purchases, they can buy based on insights into what and how often the maintenance department needs. 

Automated reports 

Being able to estimate what's going to happen in the future requires a solid understanding of what has already happened in the past. It's why history is a school subject. 

For the maintenance director, making good plans starts with having the right data. CMMS platforms make it easier to capture and keep data. But they also help then crunch those numbers in actionable insights. 

Using the automated reports features, maintenance directors can see which assets are costing them the most to keep up and running, which is critical for repair-or-replace decisions. They can also see maintenance metrics and KPIs on their PM scheduling, allowing them to fine-tune what the team does and how often they do it. 

Next steps 

Hippo's here to help you get the solution that works best for you, from answering your questions about everything related to maintenance to helping you book a live software demo

Summary 

The maintenance director is the highest maintenance position in an organization, reporting directly to the owner, president, or one of the VPs. Under them are the maintenance managers, supervisors, and techs. Their job is to think strategically and see the big picture. At the same time, they oversee setting up a lot of the specific procedures and policies in the department. That can include implementing new maintenance strategies to confirm the department is following OSHA regulations. The specific title can change depending on the industry because the roles and responsibilities can be different, but there is also a lot of overlap. If the organization is small enough, they might not have a director at all; the maintenance manager takes care of everything. Regardless of who is in charge, modern CMMS software makes them more efficient. For example, maintenance directors can use a maintenance platform to set up a preventive maintenance schedule, track and control inventory, and generate reports for critical insights into their operations. Maintenance directors are the "big picture" thinkers of the department, and the right CMMS captures, keeps, and crunches data to paint an accurate picture. 

About The Author

Jonathan Davis

Jonathan has been covering asset management, maintenance software, and SaaS solutions since joining Hippo CMMS. Prior to that, he wrote for textbooks and video games.
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