5 Steps to Developing a Maintenance Program

Image of a maintenance plan in a 3-ring binder

If not already, there will probably come a time when everything your maintenance department does will need to be outlined. For those that have worked in the field for a long time, this may mean taking everything that’s become instinctual and turning it into something tangible. 

In other words…no small task.

You may not even know where to begin.

Initially, organizing your maintenance program may feel overwhelming. The benefits, however, will make it well worth your time. 

In this article, you’ll see how creating a maintenance program helps, steps to start the organization process, and some tips to help the process go smoother.

Benefits of Defining Your Maintenance Program

A clearly outlined maintenance program can positively impact a maintenance team and the entire agency. This could include:

  • Staying ahead of issues: Planned inspections, maintenance, and repairs help to catch minor problems, prevent breakdowns, and keep the workflow moving.
  • Saving money: It’s much cheaper to fix a leaky pipe before it causes water damage to an entire floor. Clear procedures for maintenance and inspections allow assets to last longer, be in better condition, and have fewer breakdowns.
  • Easier onboarding: At some point, those that have the maintenance system in their head will retire, get promoted, or find other work. A clearly laid out maintenance plan allows new staff to ease into their roles quicker and more confidently.
  • Incorporating new technology: Technology continues to evolve, and more parks and recreation agencies are digitalizing their workflows. A clearly defined maintenance plan can make implementing and adapting to maintenance management software much more manageable.  
  • Opportunities for evaluation: Seeing everything “on paper” can give new perspectives on how things get done and how to do them more efficiently.

Steps to Developing a Maintenance Program

Where to begin? 

Like most things, outlining your maintenance program is a process. You won’t capture everything your team does in an hour with a few sheets of paper and your memory.

But it gets less overwhelming and more productive when you take it step by step. Here are some steps for creating your maintenance plan.

infographic of the steps it takes to develop a maintenance management program

Step 1: Asset Inventory

Start by listing what you have. Take stock of your parks, facilities, and other areas and what resides within them. Next, create lists of all your vehicles and equipment.  

Consider breaking these lists out into categories that make sense to your department. For example, parks, aquatics, facilities, fleet, and equipment are good categories to get started.

Flesh out your assets by including any relevant information. This could include:

  • Serial numbers
  • Make/models
  • Original price
  • Date installed/acquired
  • Expected lifespan
  • Special features
  • Maintenance standards
  • Related inspections

During this step, take extra time to organize and review your documentation for each asset. This could include manuals, past work orders, warranty information, and other related documents. 

While documentation is available, note the tasks necessary to maintain each asset properly. Doing so will help make the second step even more straightforward.

Step 2: Defining Tasks

Now that the assets are listed, it’s time to determine their associated tasks. Identify and list specific routine maintenance tasks to achieve the maintenance standard. Determine how frequently they get performed. If available, rely on previous data to determine an approximate task time.

Categorize tasks in a way that makes sense to your agency. You could categorize it as types of maintenance, such as inspections, preventative maintenance, general maintenance, and repairs. 

Or you could create categories based on how the maintenance team operates. For example:

  • Facility Maintenance
  • Landscape Maintenance
  • Turf Management
  • Playground Maintenance
  • Vehicle Maintenance 

When you have tasks categorized appropriately, it will help make the next step easier.

Step 3: Schedule and Assign Tasks

Once all the tasks are defined and categorized, it’s time to determine who will do them. Delegating tasks depends on how the maintenance team works. For example, some agencies assign staff to different segments like parks or facilities. Other agencies may have a crew responsible for certain assets.

Of course, smaller agencies may rely on the same staff to take care of most tasks. 

The future is unpredictable. Assign tasks as best you can. If you’re not assigning tasks to a specific person or date, consider designating a position and week gets completed. 

These first three steps make up the bulk of maintenance program creation. However, some administrative “loose ends” need to be tied up to ensure the program runs smoother. Let’s go over those next.

Step 4: Budget and Cost Analysis

Park maintenance costs can be controlled with carefully budgeted maintenance activity. Understanding the labor, equipment, and supply costs allows a more informed look at how to use available resources.

You may want to collaborate with those who help create the maintenance team’s operating budget during this planning process. Then you could determine if you have the budget and resources to complete the work outlined in your maintenance plan.

Step 5: Evaluation Plan

There’s always room for improvement, right? 

The final step of this process leaves the door open for changes, amendments, and, dare we say, improvements.

Evaluating the program with tangible data allows you to see inefficiencies and the metaphorical cracks that some things always seem to fall through. Like your other scheduled tasks, you should regularly set aside time to review the maintenance program and make any tweaks.

Developing a process to evaluate the maintenance program may look different for each agency. Some may focus on key performance indicators, while others may periodically review the information with supervisors and crew leaders to gain input.

Set up an evaluation plan that makes the most sense for all interested parties without being too cumbersome that making changes becomes more of a burden than an opportunity. 

The Takeaway

Developing a tangible maintenance program may seem like a lot of upfront work. The time investment allows for an organized, methodical system that helps the maintenance team do their job more efficiently while leaving room for evaluation and improvement.

Take a step-by-step approach to developing your program. Keep it as simple as possible, given all the moving parts in your department.

Once the program is spelled out, it is the cornerstone for a successful maintenance department. It also serves as a valuable resource if your agency invests in maintenance management software.

Here are 3 quick final tips to help the process:

  • Make a Simplified Version: Keep a condensed version of the program available for easy reference. When necessary, reference other sources to give more specialized information. 
  • Create Realistic Maintenance Schedules: Packing each day, week, or month with routine tasks may seem like a good idea. Remember: Save room for emergencies, special circumstances, and other non-routine issues.
  • Get Input from Others: A few extra sets of eyes on your developing program could give insights into new ways to prioritize or organize tasks. 


Happy planning!