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Which Maintenance Structure is Best: Centralised or Decentralised?

Office Personnel using TAG EAM CMMS for maintenance structure.
Verosoft Design

Learn the pros and cons of centralised vs. decentralised maintenance management to optimize your business operations.

3 min read

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 centralised? Or should it be decentralised?

Centralised Maintenance

A centralised 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.

Decentralised Maintenance

A decentralised maintenance management structure divides the maintenance authority among different branches and areas. Lower-level management takes on the responsibility of scheduling maintenance, and 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.

Centralised Maintenance: Is It Right for Your Business?

According to Aberdeen Research, organizations with centralised maintenance management systems see a 28% reduction in maintenance costs and a 20% increase in equipment uptime. This structure can be particularly beneficial 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.

Centralised maintenance management structures can erase confusion and miscommunication in your organization. With only one authority taking the lead on maintenance, less time can be spent double- and triple-checking schedules because one person coordinates 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 distribute them properly. 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, centralised 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 workforce and resources given to each project based on higher evaluation of specific needs

The Cons:

  • Centralised 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

Decentralised Maintenance: Is It Right for Your Business?

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

Units that use decentralised maintenance may get faster results and undergo less lengthy approval processes. Those making the decisions often have more personal knowledge of the day-to-day operations they are overseeing.

Decentralised maintenance structures will require different supervisors to communicate and coordinate resource availability. 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 decentralised maintenance organization may be right for you.

The Pros:

  • Communication flows freely between different schedulers
  • Less waiting for big decisions, faster responses in 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

Using the right maintenance structure is vital to the efficiency and safety of your workplace.  A centralised structure could ensure that there is only one version of the truth and keep all your maintenance in one place. The maintenance authority would always have all the information without confusion.

However, a decentralised 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 daily.

Knowing exactly which one is best for your organization can be tricky, and you don’t have to do it alone. Verosoft Design can help with all your maintenance needs. The Asset Guardian (TAG) is a highly scalable and intuitive asset management and maintenance software. Whether your structure is centralised or decentralised, it will help you increase efficiency and streamline your processes.

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