If you have been a part of any management classes, you have probably heard the term “Management by Wandering Around.” This concept really took off in the early 80s, and is characterized by management in taking the time to wander around their company and engage in unscripted moments with all aspects of their organization.
This is not a concept that has lost its relevance. Going out and observing the actual state of your facility in operation can provide more actionable information than you realize. It is also a great way to build relationships with those you serve.
For the facility steward (i.e. anyone entrusted to steward the facilities God has blessed you with), wandering around is a very important task. The difference is that the wandering around has a very specific function, and it benefits from structure.
Self-performed facility condition assessment
As we move into summer, it is an opportunity to see what areas are not flourishing as they should, and set the stage of growth for the rest of the year. What this is, then, is a “self-performed” Facility Condition Assessment.
A Facility Condition Assessment does not have to be an intense paperwork drill. You can simply use a spreadsheet. The trick is to make sure you include the things that make the most sense to be assessed. With that being said, here are some of the major areas you need to consider. We will start on the exterior elements and then move inward.
Now is the time to walk your lot and look for damage. If you find small holes or cracks, consider learning how to do minor asphalt repair to help extend the life of your lot. You also need to assess the condition of your striping. There are many affordable solutions to touching up line striping in between complete re-stripe jobs.
As you walk towards your building, pay attention to the fascia and soffit area as well as the gutter and downspouts. Look for evidence of water intrusion and damage on the facility. Downspouts should be firmly attached to the structure, and all joints should be securely fastened together. If the downspouts do not empty into a drainage system, make sure they have a splash block or some other method to keep it from washing out the area directly underneath.
Now is the time to take a look at the condition of the exterior cladding. Dirt can build up on the surface of your building. It may be time to consider pressure-washing the facility. This is also a good time to consider the condition of your landscaping components, specifically the planting beds.
Check the condition of any edging that is present, repair and replace as needed. Include a walk at night so you can observe your lighting. You are not only looking to see if all the bulbs work; take this time to determine if there are areas that need to be lit better. Good illumination provides both increased safety and security and can provide an interesting architectural element as well.
This is also the time to check all of your utility connections. If you haven’t already, mark down the location of the gas meter(s), electrical connection(s), and water meter(s), and back-flow preventers that may be present on your property. Ensure any locks that may be present are in good working order, that they are accessible, and that they are clearly marked as to the area they serve.
Finally, you are going to need to assess the roof. You are looking for obvious signs of damage or dirt build-up. Warning signs are patches of discoloration, extreme color differences across the roofing type, and missing components. Un-repaired roof damage will cost more the longer it is left alone. Roofs should be fixed as soon as damage is found.
Let’s go inside
Let’s shift to some of the prime areas inside your facility that you need to consider. Entrance-ways are one that could go on either the exterior or interior inspection. Regardless, there are certain things you should be observing.
Take a look at the corners, especially in the transom area if you have one, for a build-up of cobwebs or other debris. It is common to find large sections that have build-up. This is also the time to check the condition of the paint on the doors. While you may not have time to perform a complete repaint, minor scratches should be touched up as soon as you find them.
While you are at the door, check the operation of the opener/closer. Adjust the tension as necessary, lubricate as needed, and check all fasteners. The area at the doors will, by function, get the most traffic. Spring is a great time to assess the condition of matting and flooring at your entrances.
Sometimes you may need to repair or replace the flooring; other times a deep cleaning may be all that is necessary. If more extensive work is required you have some time to get it on the schedule before contractor work picks up in the summer.
Ceiling tiles are the least fun part of maintenance in any facility. However, the story they tell is informative. Stained tiles help alert us to potential problems above ceiling, excessively dirty tiles around HVAC supplies can tell us we may need to clean our ducts. While the information a stained tile may impart is beneficial, leaving it in place is not.
While you are reading the ceiling tile’s story, take a gander at the lighting as well. Look for fixtures that are significantly dimmer than others, not working, covered in dust, or making funny noises. Also look for any fixtures that may have a red button on them and make sure you push it. It is recommended to check your emergency lighting monthly; in an assessment you should check it as well.
As you are coming down from the ceiling inspect the condition of the walls. On painted surfaces look for un-repaired damage from posters or other items attached to the wall; repair and repaint as necessary. For wall-coverings look for loose seams or tears; re-seal/glue as needed. For walls that have a lot of stained woodwork, look for nicks and loose components. Touch up stain/re-attach as needed.
The bane of most of our existence, at least when it comes to trim pieces, is wall base. Look for loose sections, joints that are no longer lining up, and gouges. Pay particular attention to the corners, especially in high traffic areas. Being proactive on wall base is a facility necessity.
While you are looking at the base, take the time to consider the condition of the rest of the floor. If it is carpet, does it need cleaned or replaced? If it is VCT, does it need stripped and waxed or just sealed and buffed? Look at each of your flooring types critically.
Storage and mechanical rooms
One area that may seem different to consider is your storage and mechanical rooms. While these are not areas that are frequently accessible by the general public, what they contain can be critical to operations. In your storage room check to make sure they are neat and organized not containing anything that should not be in the building (hazardous materials).
For your mechanical rooms you are also looking at cleanliness as well as accessibility. Could you get to any equipment or panel if you needed to in the event of an emergency? It doesn’t hurt to spend some quiet time with your electrical panels as well…listening for buzzing. Most panels should be pretty darn quiet.
Being intentional about assessing your facility and taking the time to do it will allow you to better focus your efforts and help ensure you spend money where it is needed most. If you haven’t done one yet this year, now is the perfect time to get up and go walk.