By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist
Of all the tools at the disposal of a facility manager, few are so simple or as important as a building preventive maintenance checklist. It’s the key to deciphering one of the most arduous tasks of overseeing facilities: upkeep and maintenance. A preventive maintenance checklist brings order and organization to an otherwise monumental task, and gives facility managers the opportunity to look into the future, at the costs, challenges, and responsibilities ahead of them.
What is preventive maintenance in a building? In short, it’s the practice of preventing problems from arising by giving due attention to fundamental components that power larger systems. In the same way you get an oil change so friction doesn’t destroy your car’s engine, there are hundreds of simple tasks that keep facilities running smooth. Channeling those many tasks into a checklist is the best way to keep tabs on them, before little disruptions become big, costly problems.
What is a preventive maintenance checklist?
A preventive maintenance checklist includes any maintenance or upkeep tasks you can predict and plan for—usually recurring tasks. The idea is that doing these tasks will prevent avoidable problems from arising and keep critical systems running efficient.
How do you prepare a preventive maintenance checklist?
Following an established preventive maintenance checklist is simple; creating one takes more forethought.
Start by identifying each of the critical systems within your building. This usually boils down to the HVAC system, plumbing, electrical, infrastructure, landscaping, and interior, although more complex facilities will come with more complex needs. Break each of these systems out into its own section of the preventive maintenance checklist. “System” is the highest level in the taxonomy of a maintenance checklist.
Next, identify the complete scope of proactive tasks associated with each system. If you can plan for it or preempt something larger through a task, it belongs on the list. Some systems will include more tasks than others, but the idea is to create a comprehensive overview of each system.
Once you organize all the individual “tasks” by system, you’ll need to further organize them by “frequency.” Which tasks will you do daily? Weekly? Bi-weekly? Monthly? Quarterly? Bi-annually? Annually? Group tasks by frequency and order them from high to low frequency on the preventive maintenance checklist.
At this stage of building a preventive maintenance checklist, the framework of the checklist should be evident. It should be easy to flip through the plan to a specific system (HVAC), identify a preventive task (filter change), and see the frequency of that task (monthly). But this is still a basic approach to preventive maintenance. Modern software unlocks even more opportunities.
Software’s role in checklist creation
Thanks to Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) software and Integrated Workplace Management Software (IWMS), facility managers can take static maintenance checklists and make them dynamic and connected. Imagine loading your checklist into a system with any of the following features:
- Alerts for upcoming, due, and overdue maintenance tasks
- Automated recordkeeping for finished maintenance tasks
- Assign preventive maintenance tasks to in-house staff and vendors
- Linking maintenance tasks to a digital twin of the building
- Reporting on scheduled and unscheduled maintenance for capital systems
The list of features and capabilities offered by modern maintenance tracking software goes on and on. The reason these capabilities are so important is because they build on the automation principles introduced by a checklist. In a way, a checklist is a form of automation—or, at a minimum, has all the variables for automation. Software takes these variables and connects them to other important facets of preventive maintenance management, for comprehensive results.
Consider roles and delegation
A building maintenance checklist is only as good as the people doing the work—whether that’s in-house craftspeople or partner companies operating on service-level agreements (SLAs). It’s best to delegate right on the checklist, so there’s no confusion about who’s doing what.
- At a baseline level, you might delegate as “in-house” or “vendor”
- More specifically, you can delegate tasks via “department” or “specific vendor”
- For in-house tasks, you can assign in a more exact capacity, such as “Tim B.”
Once a task has an owner, go a step further and assign a specific date. Remember, these are preventive tasks that you can and should plan for, so plan for them as specifically and accurately as you can. On your checklist, it might look something like this:
- (10/15) Replace Furnace Filter, Assigned to HVAC Vendor (SLA)
The goal is for anyone to pick up your maintenance checklist and be able to deduce rather quickly what maintenance tasks are upcoming or due. Then, they should know who’s responsible and when and how those tasks get done.
Simple checklists are powerful tools
A lot of work goes into building a complete building maintenance checklist, but the payoff is well worth it. Backed by a checklist, building management goes from being a complex, chaotic task to simplified, easy-to-orchestrate groupings of tasks. Best of all, it keeps facilities running smooth and protects a company’s bottom line from avoidable costs due to avoidable problems. It all starts with a simple checklist.
Keep reading: Breaking Down BIM Facility Management Software