3 Reasons Your Facility Management Team Is Still Reactive (AND HOW TO FIX IT)

Chances are if you work in facility management, you’ve probably heard some variation of the phrase “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Sure, this mentality may work in the short term, but nobody really enjoys spending their shift tackling a long list of stressful, unplanned maintenance tasks. (We don’t blame you!)

After years of technology and process improvements, facility teams are still overwhelmingly reactive. In fact, most Facility/Building management companies revealed that their facilities teams are more reactive than proactive when it comes to maintenance. 

Let’s work together to stop “playing firefighter” and start getting ahead on your proactive maintenance strategy! Keep reading to see if these reasons for getting stuck in a reactive approach to maintenance sound familiar, and what you can do to fix it.

1. Your team is understaffed and struggling to stay afloat.

With limited budgets and staffing, it’s no wonder that some maintenance teams find themselves getting behind on critical maintenance tasks. Limited staffing can make it difficult to catch up and start implementing a proactive approach to maintenance. An overworked team may start to experience burnout, which hampers productivity.

Many facility teams today simply do not have enough team members to effectively maintain their facilities. While there are a variety of reasons for insufficient headcount, a lack of budget,  team member retirements and high turnover rates are three main reasons. And unless you have had a facility spontaneously combust from poor maintenance, it can be hard to sell your headcount needs to senior leadership.

2. Your team lacks the budget for maintenance requirements.

Reactive maintenance is often a side effect of budgets that do not meet your facility’s maintenance needs. Preventive maintenance does take upfront investment, an investment that facility teams can have a hard time getting. This leads to a cycle of more assets breaking down, further stretching facility budgets.

2020/2021 brought new challenges to facility budgets, as we saw M&O budgets see significant shifts to help cover PPE, cleaning supplies, and other COVID-related materials. As deferred maintenance backlogs grow, teams must work harder than ever to prioritize putting money towards high-priority tasks.

3. Your team’s facility management software isn’t doing you any favors.

Implementing new software is hard, no matter the situation. When it comes to your facility management software, there are a lot of steps that need to happen before your team can be successful: First, you need to get the software up and running. Then you need to fill it with workable data. Then you need to train your team and persuade them to actually use it every day. (Whew, tired yet?) 

Many teams aren’t fully utilizing their facility software. For example, some teams might lean into their work order management system, yet neglect their preventive maintenance function. This is rarely the team’s fault; some facility management software solutions are just too clunky, outdated, and difficult to use. Without implementation and training assistance (unless you pay up), it can be difficult to learn and use the full functionality of your software. 


Not only is reactive maintenance stressful and time-consuming to fix;  it can actually waste thousands of dollars each year due to a lack of consistent, proactive repairs. If you have been thinking about trying to get away from a reactive state of mind, here are five main reasons to implement that “big switch” to a proactive maintenance strategy:

  • Reactive maintenance is time consuming. Unplanned asset failure is stressful and time-consuming to fix. By spending hours on reactive maintenance each month, you take away time that could be spent on proactive maintenance.
  • Reactive maintenance costs more than preventive maintenance. Unexpected breakdowns can actually increase your repair and maintenance costs. While you may see some cost savings at first, reactive maintenance becomes costly for facilities teams down the line.
  • Reactive maintenance leads to employee burnout. Constantly playing “firefighter” and fixing issues on the fly is no fun. Teams who feel constantly behind may experience low employee morale, which could lead to fatigue and safety issues on the job.
  • Reactive maintenance can cause serious breakdowns, financial loss or injury. Unplanned maintenance can easily harm your organization’s bottom line. When equipment frequently breaks down or fails, quality of production goes down while cost of operations goes up.
  • Like quicksand, the more you struggle, the harder it is to get out. Unplanned repairs lead to unplanned work. Unplanned work leads to a delay in getting spare parts (and so on). This can harm the reliability and efficiency of your company’s assets and production.

Start small by auditing your reactive work orders

Moving from a reactive to a proactive maintenance strategy is hard. It isn’t going to happen overnight, but it will pay off in the long run if you can stick to it.

  • A good first step? Start small by auditing your reactive work orders from the last six months. Pay attention to any trends you notice, like a particular building or asset that has been especially troublesome. Ask your technicians for where they seem to be spending a lot of their time recently. 
  • Once you know where your trouble areas are, focus on them one at a time starting with the most urgent. Don’t move on to the next one until you are sure you have addressed the root cause of that issue. 

By tackling these problem areas one at a time, you will start to see a reduction in those reactive work orders. This creates a snowball effect, as it frees up more time and resources to focus on your next problem area. 

Be sure to keep the focus on this step-by-step process! It can be very easy to fall back into a reactive mindset as things pop up. 

Say Hello to a More Proactive, Less Stressful Future

Breaking the cycle of reactive maintenance is easier than you think. Don’t wait to fix machines only when they fail. Instead, implement a maintenance strategy where technicians can perform regular servicing of machines while they are still in working order. 


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