We seem to live in an era of outsourcing. Anything that we no longer have the time or inclination to do, we outsource. Our home cleaning, our dinners, our grocery shopping is all examples of outsourcing and how it benefits us. But what is it teaching the younger generation about ‘elbow-grease’ work or the banalities of life? And does it give us cause to wonder about the chain of standards?
In the workplace, outsourcing is referred to as contracting and we most often regard contractors as specialists in their field. In the area of maintenance of assets, however, does employing contractors guarantee a better, more effective system? Conventional wisdom indicates that outsourcing should be brought in for non-core business activities. But that decision becomes tricky as the discussion about core and non-core business is highly subjective. The maintenance manager and team will undoubtedly place maintenance as a core component of any business, whereas a finance manager might be more likely to see maintenance as a leak in profits and thereby will deem it non-core. The decision comes down to one person’s opinion prevailing over another.
Many opinions are formed over the perceived benefits and downsides to outsourcing maintenance of assets. Some of the benefits are improved quality control, access to best practice, and reduced costs, while the negatives can be attributed to loss of in-house expertise, higher costs of monitoring quality of work, and lower maintenance and safety standards in contractors.
However, it is important to remember that contractors are operating at their core business structure. They have at their centre the know-how and capability to look after assets. That’s their job. You look put your feet up. Or more likely, concentrate on the rest of your business.
Any business intent on building value through asset management will know that maintenance is a key player in the bottom line. Whether you choose to outsource maintenance or keep it in-house is for your business to make, consulting with stakeholders and staff. Do your research, and once the decision is made, ensure that you work diligently on building a relationship between key leaders on staff and the representative from the contractor. Communicate key performance indicators, asset maintenance plans and other necessary documents and information. Provide feedback to the leaders and stakeholders of your business. Watch your assets build value within your business.
How does your business do maintenance? Let us know by leaving a comment or emailing Linda at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Maintenance and Reliability in Asset Management Special Interest Group is a source of great networking opportunities, knowledge-sharing, events and social occasions.