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Which Maintenance Structure is Best: Centralized or Decentralized?

But what kind of structure can optimize the productivity of your company? Should your maintenance structure be centralized? Or should it be decentralized?  

Well-structured maintenance management is critical to the efficient and smooth flow of operations. To lower costs and ensure good communication, orderly scheduling, quality output, and high-performance from employees and equipment, the structure of your maintenance department must be optimized.  

But what kind of structure can optimize the productivity of your company? Should your maintenance structure be centralized? Or should it be decentralized?  

Centralized Maintenance

A centralized maintenance management structure comes from one authority, often top management or a separate scheduler. All maintenance is on a master schedule, and very little control is given to maintenance managers of specific projects, areas, or sites.  

The maintenance authority is responsible for ensuring that all resources are available, scheduling does not conflict, and all policies and procedures are correctly followed.  

Decentralized Maintenance  

A decentralized maintenance management structure divides the maintenance authority among different branches and areas. Lower-level management takes on the responsibility of scheduling maintenance. Each manager often has more responsibilities than scheduling maintenance.  

Within the organization, there will be several maintenance authorities who coordinate the use of appropriate equipment and other resources.  

Centralized Maintenance: Is It Right for You? 

In short, centralized maintenance is great for smaller-sized businesses and organizations. One person overseeing the entirety of maintenance can only work if they know enough about the specifics of each project, which simply wouldn’t happen in a larger company.  

Centralized maintenance management structures can erase confusion and miscommunication from your organization, with only one authority taking the lead on maintenance. Less time can be spent on double- and triple-checking schedules due to one person coordinating the interconnected maintenance of the organization.  

The person in charge of maintenance will need a solid understanding of the organization’s resources and assets to properly balance the dispersion of them. With a highly informed maintenance manager (whether it be top management or a separate entity), maintenance will flow smoothly.  

If you have a smaller business, centralized maintenance might be right for you. 

The Pros:  

  • Minimized conflict and confusion with one master schedule and authority 
  • Consistent maintenance planning and scheduling due to a single authority over every project, branch, site, and team 
  • Lower-level management personnel are free to focus on the day-to-day within their own sphere 
  • Higher efficiency and performance from individual projects and managers 
  • More balanced manpower and resources given to each project based on higher evaluation of specific needs 

The Cons:  

  • Centralized leadership must employ time and energy on maintenance that could be spent elsewhere 
  • Decisions passed down from the top could take time and need to pass more levels of bureaucracy 
  • Does not work for large organizations 
  • Possible increased backlog 

Decentralized Maintenance: Is It Right for You? 

Decentralized maintenance takes the authority away from one place and disperses it. In large organizations with many branches and projects occurring simultaneously, this can be the better solution. A manager can wear many hats and work on the project and maintenance schedules at the same time.  

Units that use decentralized maintenance may get faster results and wade through less lengthy approval processes. Those making the decisions often have more personal knowledge of the day-to-day of the specific operation they are overseeing.  

Decentralized maintenance structures will require different supervisors to communicate and coordinate the availability of resources. Proper communication will ensure a painless, easily managed maintenance schedule.  

If you have a large organization with many maintenance schedules to coordinate and oversee, a decentralized maintenance organization may be right for you.  

The Pros:  

  • Communication flows freely between different schedulers 
  • Less waiting for big decisions, faster responses on emergencies, and follow-through 
  • Great fit for large organizations 
  • Less travel and time put toward maintenance by high-level management  
  • More authority dispersed throughout the organization instead of resting in one place 
  • Maintenance decisions are coordinated and shared, lessening the burden 

The Cons:  

  • May increase miscommunication and confusion 
  • Inconsistent sharing of authority may occur 
  • Procedures and policies may be followed differently across the company 
  • Supervisors may be unaware of issues in other branches, leading to uneven sharing of resources and assets 

The bottom line is, using the right maintenance structure is vital to the efficiency and safety of your workplace.  

A centralized structure could ensure that there is only one version of the truth and keep all of your maintenance in one place. The maintenance authority would always have all the information, and there would be little to no confusion.  

But a decentralized structure could free up higher-level management to focus on the tasks they need to. It could speed up maintenance scheduling and create highly informed employees who have the authority but are in the trenches for the day-to-day.  

Knowing exactly which one is best for your organization can be tricky, and you don’t have to do it alone. We can help with all your maintenance needs! The Asset Guardian (TAG) is an intuitive to use and highly scalable maintenance software. Whether your structure is centralized or decentralized, it will help you increase efficiency and streamline your processes.  

Check out TAG’s solutions or contact our team for a FREE demo. Contact us today and start taking steps toward higher efficiency, reduced costs, and better operations. 

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