The definition of maintenance cost involves joint costs (indirect and direct costs) incurred while trying to keep a gadget functioning at its optimal capacity. They may involve average repair costs spent on fixing hardware or the actual software maintenance costs. It may also come in other forms depending on the types of equipment or the capacity of the network center.
The maintenance budget for a business can significantly affect the entire budget estimate for the business. The impact can be enormous such that it can negatively impact the profit margin of the business. As such, most businesses whether small or big always find ways of reducing operational costs. The reason for this constant yearning for cost reduction is to increase the overall profitability of the business.
Cost cutting is generally implemented by companies during a period of financial stress or at a time like now when the rate of inflation has affected most sectors of the economy. Other times, they may just be implemented because the company simply expects to improve its profitability in the present or even in the future.
Reducing IT operational expenditure can come in handy when a business is working on a general cost reduction program. However, it is important to note that an outright reduction in the cost of servicing can have detrimental effects on the business. Caution must be taken while working on this reduction so that delicate business operations will not be interrupted.
There is an approach that you can apply while trying to lower the cost of maintaining your IT infrastructure and maximizing business profitability. This approach has been applied at different levels of management and it has not only helped balance the maintenance budget but has also helped prolong the life of equipment as intended. This approach is the the facility management program.
FACILITY MANAGEMENT PROGRAM
Facility management (FM) program in IT involves a thorough overview of the facility’s entire IT infrastructure. Here the maintenance provider ensures that the entire system is working well and at its full capacity.
FM helps save costs (both hidden costs) for companies who invest in it. This is because the overall functionality and efficiency are affected positively when top-level management happens. Facility managers are trained professionals who insist on keeping all operations in the business environment at their best while fully considering the cost factor. They secure and maintain every aspect of the working space, just as they ensure that the goals of the organization are met.
Facility management is surely important, especially with the growing inflation rate. IT Facility managers can help save operational costs amidst the energy price escalation rates. They operate at two specific levels. These levels of management include
I. Network Management
Network management involves the various ways in which computer networks are administered and managed in business premises. The goal of network management is to ensure that a secure network is seamlessly available to users at affordable prices. Facility managers analyze networks and as well monitor their performance in a dedicated way that ensures excellent service delivery.
Network downtime can have detrimental effects on a business. Depending on the size of your business, just a few hours of downtime can amount to significant losses. Similarly, a slow and tacky network can be frustrating to both your staff and clients which can ultimately amount to less trust from clients. The role of facility managers in ensuring that none of these happens then translates to cost savings.
More so, comprehensive network management gives you a bird’s-eye view of the overall performance of not just a piece of equipment but your entire networking system. This gives you the leverage of identifying and fixing issues before they can lead to total downtime. Such proactive measures as this will save the cost and stress of emergency maintenance services.
II. Project management.
People and goals are the hallmarks of project management. It entails the use of particular skills to lead a team towards achieving a goal within the stipulated time frame. To complete a task, a project manager oversees smooth interpersonal relationships, finance management, and technological maintenance.
The advantages of well-planned project management cannot be overemphasized. When done properly it not only helps every aspect of the business to run smoothly but also ensures that the operating costs are minimally reduced. A company’s project can be designed in such an effective manner that it is easy to know which areas need attention and resources, helping to avoid overspending.
Quality project management is even more than the project manager meeting targets and removing any additional cost of running a business. It bonds teams as well as clients, putting everyone on the same page. Generally, an organization functions more effectively with a facility management program that involves proper project management.
On another hand, one remarkable way facility management programs can cut down the cost of maintenance is through preventive maintenance.
1. Preventive maintenance
This involves regular maintenance services carried on IT equipment to avert its unexpected breakdown. It simply fixes a network equipment before it gets bad enough that it can no longer function.
It is always important for a business to adopt a maintenance strategy that involves planning for maintenance instead of waiting for equipment to break down. The time and resources spent on emergency maintenance often hurt business finances. Effective preventive maintenance minimizes system failure while offering additional benefits of peace of mind.
The focus of preventive maintenance is to provide detailed estimates of maintenance and to forestall an equipment failure before it happens. Hence, any maintenance approach that imbibes this and does not rely on responding to a problem till it occurs, is preventive. There are different types of preventive maintenance that depend on timing, or the area of business involved. They include;
I. Predictive Testing
Predictive testing and inspection is a technique often utilized in preventive maintenance to reduce IT expenditure on maintenance. It is a proactive maintenance approach that utilizes performance data, physical inspection, and other discrete testing patterns to ascertain the condition of the equipment. This approach helps facility managers replace routine maintenance with more precise timed maintenance.
The impact of precision on maintenance costs is enormous. This is because instead of spending money on regular maintenance, you can plan and schedule maintenance earlier before the equipment gets bad. Hence, you’re able to save money from conducting timed maintenance while still being able to prevent an equipment breakdown before it happens.
One unique importance of predictive testing is that it brings a transformation to both the maintenance department and the business generally. It equips the team with a much-needed skill that helps in setting maintenance priorities. In the long run, profitability is ultimately achieved.
II. Reliability-centered maintenance (RCM)
This is a component of facility management that ensures that maintenance procedures are carried out in the most cost-effective, safe, and efficient way. It entails various strategies aimed at enhancing maintenance programs and aligning them uniquely according to the needs of each network hardware.
The goal of RCM is to maintain each system’s functions. To do this, the maintenance department identifies the pattern of failure in a network center, sets up priority-based maintenance for each system, and then moves to prevent any form of breakdown in the center.
RCM not only allows the team to easily determine a maintenance pattern that is best suited for a piece of equipment, but it also permits the use of a variety of maintenance solutions on the equipment. It is worth the money of any business to invest in RCM software for the management team especially if the networking equipment is in use daily. The advantages are worth more than the cost of software maintenance.
III. Planned specific maintenance and repair
This refers to maintenance strategies that are carefully worked out, documented, and booked. The aim here is to prevent downtime by any means possible and ensure that the IT system is running as required. The opportunity cost of not planning maintenance always hurts the maintenance budget.
Planned maintenance can be in two main forms. The first involves a situation where the network equipment is repaired before they break down. An example can be validating your software routinely before the next upgrade by the service providers.
Another form of planned maintenance involves having a backup plan in case the equipment fails. The plan can be either in the form of repair where enough manpower is available or in the form of replacement where either the replacement part or new hardware is available. Whichever is adopted, the average repair costs are minimal as maintenance is planned.
IV. Predictive Modeling.
Predictive modeling employs newer technologies in Artificial intelligence and machine learning to determine the time an equipment needs maintenance and rightly prepare for it. Here, statistical data on the equipment’s performance is measured to determine likely periods it will need maintenance.
This model has high precision rates and is undoubtedly one of the best approaches to IT maintenance. By scheduling maintenance based on a computed understanding of the hardware, it becomes feasible to save money that would’ve been spent on emergency maintenance if the equipment breaks down.
Other ways IT maintenance costs can be reduced are:
2. Use of computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS).
The CMMS is a maintenance solution software used to consolidate information and ease the maintenance process. It enhances the use, performance, and life span of an equipment by providing detailed estimates about its usability and/or maintenance.
CMMS works by incorporating maintenance orders and tasks that have been scheduled. This helps facility managers to oversee their work more concisely to forestall any costly downtime. It also helps the maintenance team to be informed of the state of the equipment such that timely maintenance can be scheduled and carried out before the equipment breaks down.
Generally, CMMS helps to reduce the cost of IT maintenance by elongating the life span of an equipment with preventive maintenance, preventing costly downtime, and providing useful insights on maintenance habits and vendor interventions. The automated process helps save time, just as it also improves work efficiency.
3. Good use of diagnostic tools
There is a wide range of diagnostic tools available in the IT industry. Typically, hardware and software diagnostic tools exist. Hardware diagnostic tools are physical equipment used to determine the functionalities of a hardware component. Software diagnostic tools are computer programs either installed or used externally to determine the problems in a system.
Diagnostic tools help to identify a problem and its cause in a system. Good diagnostic tools for example can help save the cost of software maintenance by helping to get to the source of a problem easily. Using these tools rightly can help save you time in guessing what is wrong with your system. It also saves you money as you can get on with fixing the problem diagnosed instead of using a trial-and-error method.
4. Prioritizing maintenance and repair
From all that has been discussed thus far, it is no longer news that paying close attention to maintenance and repair will save you money instead of resorting to emergency maintenance all the time. The beauty of prioritizing maintenance is that it makes it possible for you to calculate an annual cost of maintenance that you can work with.
On the other hand, if you wait for an equipment to break down before repairing it, you lose the opportunity of planning the cost of repair. At this point you become desperate because a prolonged downtime will hurt your business, hence you pay whatever it takes to get your equipment up and running.
Planned maintenance and repair give you additional benefits of flexibility which every business desires. Tap into the opportunity and see how much you can cut the cost of IT maintenance.
5. Concurrent Engineering
This is a method deployed in the design process and development. Here all the stages involved from the basic design to the work proper, go on at the same time. The simultaneous activities help to increase daily production capacity while reducing the cost of production. The idea behind concurrent engineering is clever as it enhances collaboration amongst team members and helps the organization in achieving a common goal.
Concurrent engineering enables a free flow of information among team members. This makes everyone play an important role in the development and management of the company’s products.
Since several persons are involved in the development of the product, they have quality knowledge of the development phases as well as maintenance strategies. This reduces the chances of outsourcing maintenance to a third-party maintenance provider or solely depending on a few members of the team for it. The overall productivity of the company is thus enhanced just as the joint costs of IT maintenance is reduced