By now, you have probably abandoned many of the resolutions that you made on the first of the year. Why do we do that? The resolutions themselves are generally good ones and worthy to consider. The biggest reason that we abandon them is deceptively simple - we fail to plan accordingly.
The same is true for how we want to improve our facility. We probably have great ideas and thoughts on how to make improvements.
Yet, come February, we are no longer making progress toward change, and we are back to “putting out fires.” Planning is the key to making lasting, positive change in your facility. The nature of church operations, however, means that we sometimes must plan a bit differently.
When beginning the process towards maintenance planning, it is helpful to consider that maintenance can be separated into the following categories: Immediate (must do), Intermediate (between now and future), and Future (needs greater than 6 months’ time). Looking at these categories when planning your maintenance for the year can help you be more successful as a facility steward.
Let’s look at the first category: Immediate.
While this seems straight forward, there is a nuance to it. Immediate maintenance issues are those ones that need to be taken care of no matter what. This can be due to safety concerns, local, state, and federal guidelines, or as a result of use. They could be maintenance tasks required once a year, or weekly. The primary consideration for Immediate maintenance planning is that it needs to happen regardless of other events. Immediate maintenance needs are not the “find it and fix it” maintenance tasks.
Examples of Immediate maintenance tasks that you need to plan for are: elevator fire recall inspections (and the annual), gas line tests, fire extinguisher inspections (both monthly and annual), kitchen vent hood, and emergency light and sign inspections. This is just a sample of recurring Immediate maintenance tasks that are governed by statute. These are things that every state I have ever worked or consulted in has requirements regarding, and churches are not exempt.
In your maintenance planning, set a calendar (or use a maintenance management system) to identify the days and times these Immediate needs must occur. Treat these as non-negotiable. When you have it on the calendar, do not let another (non-life threatening) event or task supersede. Putting them on the calendar will also help you plan for the Intermediate and Future maintenance planning you will be doing as you will have a better idea of how much time you have in accomplishing other things. This is important; when you consider those recurring maintenance tasks that you need to do regardless, you will realize that you have less time for other tasks and projects.
Next, consider the Intermediate maintenance tasks:
Intermediate maintenance tasks are those that we know are a good idea and should be done. These include things like lubing and adjusting door closers, cleaning coils on our HVAC equipment, checking function of floor drains, or any other “manufacturer recommended” maintenance task. We know these are good ideas, but we have some discretion on completion. I may want to check all my door closers every 6 months, but I can usually shift that several months and not adversely affect the facility. Some tasks, such as cleaning coils on HVAC, have a secondary benefit (like energy efficiency) that needs to be considered.
Waiting another 45 days to clean a coil, however, will generally not cause the doors to close. Just like we did with Immediate maintenance, we need to put this on the schedule. We can shift them as needed, but we should not remove them. Again, this allows us to truly see what time we have available to devote to all the different maintenance that facility needs.
Future maintenance planning:
Before we go into Future, I think it is important to make a distinction. Immediate and Intermediate maintenance are concentrated on those things necessary to maintain the facility in its current state, with the equipment that is currently in use. There is not a “project planning” component to these two types of maintenance. They need to occur regardless. Future maintenance planning is unique in that it can also include plans for facility improvements and changeouts.
For many facility professionals, Future maintenance planning is the more exciting part of the job. This is where all the research and education we perform during the year come into play. We learn about VRF systems, for example, and then we realize that as we look at future facility renovations that VRF is the perfect solution for our HVAC needs. Or maybe we see that the exterior lights are no longer illuminating like they should, so we make plans to change them out to a hybrid solar light.
What you must remember in Future maintenance planning is that all the changes that you are considering will potentially bring about new Immediate and Intermediate maintenance needs. Recommended maintenance on a VRF system is different than a traditional split system. Solar LED lights require some additional maintenance regarding the batteries. Too often, when future improvements are considered, the maintenance cycle is not considered. When you are planning Future maintenance, you should seek to make sure you understand how the improvements will need to be maintained.
As a reminder, the preceding maintenance categories are not the “find it and fix it” maintenance that will occur in any active facility. When you are planning maintenance for the year ahead, it is important to remember that you do not have as much available time as you may think.
By creating a calendar, you can also help share the maintenance story to others in the facility. It is not unusual for a “non-maintenance” person to not understand why something cannot be accomplished very quickly. It is not because they don’t care, it is that they simply do not know all that it takes and all that it is competing against. When you look at the Immediate and Intermediate, you may find that out of your week you only have 65% of your time available for “find it and fix it” tasks or new projects. Getting the story told is an important part of maintenance planning.
We want you to be successful in planning your maintenance this year.
Proper planning, and defining what you need to do, will greatly improve your chances for success. That does not mean that you will not have to adjust as the year goes along; you will. But if you take the time to separate and define the Immediate, the Intermediate, and the Future, you will know better where you can more easily adjust and accommodate the unknown.