Schools Out, Maintenance is Not

Jun 20, 2013

Stuart Smith

Stuart Smith


Raise your hand is your school system is well funded and does not have a budget problem. Can’t do it? Then maybe it is time to go back to school and re-learn the principles of asset and maintenance management. Because with better school asset and maintenance management your school will not have to sit idle for the summer and can be ready for the next school year.

Essential School Asset and Maintenance Management Principles

The premise of good school asset and maintenance management is the planning and execution of a proactive methodology intended to manage all schools within a school system. The concept is not difficult to follow. Schools should strive to:

Top 7 Asset Management Principles for Schools

  1. Extend the useful lifecycle of all school assets ranging from roofs to doors to science lab equipment.
  2. Provide a quick response to daily and weekly maintenance problems.
  3. Organize larger or longer-term projects such as renovations, a new roof or chiller upgrade.
  4. Identify potential problems with a variety of ongoing routines such as inspections, rounds and preventive maintenance and then schedule work accordingly.
  5. Keep track of all work needed, work being done and work performed.
  6. Be able to provide school administrators with useful reports that enable more accurate capital planning.
  7. Be able to accomplish all of the above with the same budget and staffing levels currently in place.

Of course a plan is useless if the tools to accomplish the objectives are not in place. Clearly in the age of computers and the availability of quality EAM CMMS solutions schools should no longer be trying to handle asset and maintenance with paper or spreadsheets.

Why Schools Should Increase Asset and Maintenance Visibility

It is time school administrators recognize that good asset management is critical to the financial health of the school system and is tied directly to the conditions of individual schools. My advice to School Boards is to use the summer to hire an experienced asset manager, invest in an EAM CMMS and increase the visibility of asset management.

Did I say hire a professional in the middle of a budget crisis? Yes I did! An intelligent asset manager can have a tremendous ROIwith a return starting almost immediately. To understand why, it is important to know what they will do and how it impacts a school’s budget.

The first three tasks of the asset manager are to get a handle on the maintenance backlog, learn the condition of assets and evaluate the skill levels of maintenance teams. Most of this information can be gathered using EAM CMMS software.

Once the asset manager has a clear picture of the school system’s issues he/she can begin to set out an action plan that will:

School Maintenance Planning

  • Reduce the maintenance fire-fighting and start replacing it with proactive preventive maintenance and repairs by:
    • Scheduling all maintenance and repairs to minimize any disruption of school programs and lower labor costs.
    • Focus maintenance planning on high energy consumption assets such as HVAC, boilers, chillers, cafeterias.
    • Determine which assets can be repaired or refurbished and which assets will have to be replaced.
  • Set up training programs and establish standard operating procedures.
  • Provide a realistic outlook for capital planning.
  • Manage vendors and contractors to eliminate redundancy and waste.

Performing the tasks above can reduce energy costs 10-15%, virtually eliminate overtime and allow for more work to be done with the same amount of staff. It will also extend the useful extend the useful lifecycle of assets so that they will not need to be replaced as often.

In short, better school asset and maintenance management, significantly reduces energy costs, results in less unplanned maintenance activity and lowers labor and repair expenses. This money that can be put back into the school system however administrators see fit.

To wrap things up, schools have a choice; they can do nothing to improve their situation or they can step forward and help secure our children’s future.

Stuart Smith

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