In any business, it is wise to have a system of evaluation established to fully understand your business enterprise—a system that can readily identify any inefficiencies or problems. It is by thorough review that identification of any issues or failures in a business operation arises, and by that same practice, one can resolve problems, learn and avoid repeats. Such a practice is critical for operating with optimal efficiency, as well as for decision effectiveness, if operations and maintenance (O+M) professionals want their business to become better.
When it comes to awareness and problem-solving skills in the field of O+M, having a detailed system of holistic analysis is key. According to the U.S. Department of Energy website, following their “O+M Best Practices Guide” (a system of review and practice) can not only help enterprises attain O+M program management investors, but also help businesses “save an estimated 5 percent to 20 percent on energy bills without a significant capital investment—which could mean savings of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, depending on the size of one’s company.” (www.energy.gov)
This way, both employers and employees will understand each other’s responsibilities, have accountability and know what to expect from their business. Requiring managers to sign off on their employees’ work will prove that the work was complete—thus eliminating any unnecessary breakdowns in the future. Not only will this added measure make sure the work is complete, but it will also increase management’s awareness of the goings-on in their business, as well as hopefully build trust, rapport and appreciation of each other’s duties between management and employees.
Management needs to know where time is being spent, as well as understand where the business’s money is going, so they can cut any unnecessary costs. It is in management’s interest to purchase an operations and maintenance computer program, or update the current software they are using. Also, management must be committed to its use for it to be effective. This allows management can have a detailed account of where all of the enterprise’s time and money is being invested.
Having the assistance of computer software will help facilitate the running of diagnostics. As a result, management and employees can readily be made aware of any faulty systems—thus enabling and expediting the rectification of any issues.
Also, as Mark Gallman, chief engineer at Highwoods Properties, and Jack Kennedy, senior property manager at Jackson Healthcare, suggest, business owners and managers should have their building engineers walk their building to look out for operations and maintenance issues that arise. In this way, business owners and managers will be made aware of any deficient systems in their commercial building. This includes leaky plumbing, leaky HVAC unit compressors, faulty emergency exit signs and so on. Make a list of any defective systems; then prioritize and record them on the computerized tracking program.
In any venture, it is important to not feel or become overwhelmed. So, after being made aware of any problems in one’s property, professionals can begin resolving any problems with the help of their coworkers. If management needs any problems to be resolved straightaway, think about asking fellow employees for help and further training them in the matter in the future, so one can correct any existing problems and future problems as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Study how to properly operate the preventive maintenance program. Make a list of all the computer program operator’s learning and training needs. This can include oneself if responsible for the system. Address those needs and assist them in mastering the program.
Hire IT professionals and editors to monitor and maintain the interface and flow of the operations program. Have IT professionals fix any bugs or glitches in the program, as well as continuously improve the overall aesthetic and functionality of the system. Have editors or individuals with technical writing backgrounds review the program for any errors in syntax, grammar or punctuation. This increases comprehension and reduces the amount of mistakes made because of miscommunications.
All data and any problems that arise should be recorded and graphed so that professionals can understand and track the effectiveness of their work, as well as look for ways to improve.
These ideas are just part of a well-rounded operations and maintenance plan. What are some other industry practices you have seen that help improve building operations and maintenance?
“O+M Best Practices Guide” (www.energy.gov)
Mark Gallman (Chief Engineer at Highwoods Properties)
Jack Kennedy (Sr. Property Operations Manager at Jackson Healthcare)