Outsourcing Maintenance Versus DIY

Outsourcing Maintenance – DIY: (published in “hotel engineer”)

Outsourcing Maintenance: The conversation went a little like this:
“Who’s idea was that that is like outsourcing the Engineers job, “what am I gonna all day?” and What about the manager that turns up, he doesn’t know this Hotel as I do, he doesn’t know the staff and he’s not gonna be committed like I am.”

I think this guy had a bad day anyway, and I just added a little fuel to the fire, but the point was simple, this Engineer does know how to run the Hotel services, he knows the staff, and he also knows the idiosyncrasies which make the place run. The problem is he never has time to do the things and implement the things that can actually make the Hotel run more efficiently, give him more time for other tasks and reduce overall costs because he is busy, “I’m busy!!”.

Time Management
This is what we are really talking about, “slowing down to go faster”, (I don’t know who said that, but it makes sense).
What we are saying is to take a little time out to invest in a few new or additional systems or processes which will save you time.

If the Engineering team can rid itself of mundane tasks, those which are the “ball and chain” of their day then the day will begin to free up. Doesn’t that sound simple, we’ll just employ an operations manager or upgrade an existing team leader. That’s fine, but that comes with its own problems, which is a long list and which neither of us wants to visit. How about outsourcing?

Outsourcing Administration tasks
Here comes the sell from the guy writing the article, well, yes and no.
You have no doubt heard of this thing called the internet, and no doubt you have had telephone conversations with various people who work for large multinational companies who have thick accents and live in different time zones.

So here’s the sell, well it’s not a sell, it’s fast becoming a fact of life. If you don’t get involved and your competitors do, you will be paying more when you don’t need to, and your day will be the same as it is now in ten years’ time, and you’ll still be cranky.

I’m suggesting that you need to grasp this with both hands, for example:
The day’s workload of the chief engineer can be improved via using these same services the big multinational companies do, and there are local services as well. For example, you can organise a virtual “Personal Assistant” for as little as $5 per hour overseas or $35 an hour locally.

The benefit is you don’t have to find them 38 hours’ worth of work, and they are easily dismissed. The downside is you do have to train them to what you want them to do and how (don’t dismiss this and put it into the too-hard basket!). These people overseas are not unlike our own colleagues, many are educated, and many have degrees and considerable experience in disciplines such as accounting, computer science and more.

Any task that requires a paper shuffling/database type arrangement can be outsourced, for example, some financials and spreadsheet work. Even document handling and typing. Record your document to your phone, and send it to your virtual assistant to sort and type up a draft for you to edit. You just saved two hours of your time, the cost $10. (Check with your accountant, but I think you’ll find there is no GST either)

Forte asset services fire protection maintenace technician performing monthly preventative maintenace checks upon a sprinkler system header and alarm valves in Sydney

Short Jobs Tasks – Outsource it
Those Jobs you away mean to get to but are always a low priority, such as setting up a KPI list and monitoring with a spreadsheet, or developing templates and forms for staff to use, and so on. There are several websites that can help for minim cost, you post your work to the website, set a budget, and a professional will bid on the work. You can vet the people bidding, have a conversation and then choose.

We were quoted work locally, went to one of these sites, reduced the cost by over 70% and increased our input and control (the lady we used was in Texas). It takes a little getting used to, isolating and selecting a task that you can think you can outsource, but it is well worth it in both quality and cost.

Do the Math yourself.
If you do the math over a 12-month period, there is considerable time savings and less indirect time losses. There is a cost in setting this up, and the first virtual assistant may not work out, but you will get better at it and you will save money and time.

If you haven’t heard of this term by now, you shouldn’t read any further, pack up and go home, but if you have, you will know this is a bottomless pit of useful opportunities which can link mobile devices to laptops, expedite data collection and so much more. Our point is that if you are not taking advantage of these time-saving and information-saving “apps” that are out there, then you’re losing money and making your life harder than you should.
Begin by thinking of tasks that could be improved, for example, work orders, then do a search on work order apps. There are a lot of opportunities there, but you have to break the mould and take the time to investigate further, i.e slow down a little to make things go faster.

Maintenance Outsourcing.
We would expect that as the Engineer, there are several specialist tasks that are already outsourced or sub-contracted, for example, the chiller maintenance. Our question is, can these individual specialist tasks be grouped into a single contract and consequently offer one point of responsibility for you, the Engineer?

The Benefit is fewer contacts to manage and reduced risk as the issue of performance is to the head contractor, the downside is there is likely an additional cost as the head contractor will charge a fee for this management and risk. Is this “fee” offset by the time saved for you, and the engineering team? Does the fee have a consequential effect to the budget? Can you negotiate a reduction in this fee without affecting the quality of service?

Take the HVAC; under this discipline, there is the chillers, the boilers, the pumps, the mechanical switchboards, the fans and so forth. Putting this under a single point has clear benefits, including the reduction of risk, but the additional cost for management, especially in corrective and breakdown maintenance, could hurt the budget. Can you negotiate these parameters?

Outsourcing is not just sub-contracting specialized tasks, there is more to it, and there is considerable opportunity to save money if you are willing to slow down and investigate the possibilities. We would recommend if you haven’t started a measurement and verification process in your systems, that you start as soon as practical, so you can see the benefits of any outsourcing you introduce.

Every Hotel is different; every Hotel has its idiosyncrasies that need to be dealt with or complied with, and without measuring, you don’t know if you have improved performance or not.
Slow down, outsource just one thing, and you will start to see things speed up, but faster.

Nigel Wraight
Forte Asset Services

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