What’s the Difference between Soft Maintenance and Hard Maintenance?

January 11, 2022

What’s the Difference between Soft Maintenance and Hard Maintenance? 

Facility management services are often categorized into two types: soft maintenance and hard maintenance. However, both practices are crucial to running effective organizational operations. 

The main difference between hard and soft facilities management services and soft services is that the latter varies substantially depending on environmental and budgetary factors. Alternatively, hard services are non-negotiable. 

Overview

Organizations must run smoothly, efficiently, and cost-effectively to remain in business. Additionally, they must stay in compliance with regulatory requirements to keep employees safe. Put these priorities together, and you have the job of a facilities manager. 

One of the most important aspects of facility management is implementing strategic maintenance programs. Facility managers must schedule, assign, and oversee soft maintenance and hard maintenance tasks to keep tangible assets optimal. 

What makes hard maintenance particularly essential to facility management success? Crucial machinery, expensive assets, and necessary building elements often rely on routine hard maintenance to continue working day in and day out. The law requires organizations to practice certain hard services to safeguard employees, customers, and facility occupants. For example, the OSH Act of 1970 requires organizations to protect their employees from recognized hazards likely to cause serious physical harm or death. 

For example, typical hard maintenance tasks include preventive maintenance (PM) for fire safety systems, emergency maintenance on a broken water pipe, and HVAC repairs to keep units in optimal working condition. 

Alternatively, facility managers assign soft maintenance tasks to improve stakeholders’ wellbeing, comfort, and security. Examples of standard soft services include putting up decorations, paving parking lots, landscaping property grounds, providing cleaning services, and organizing waste management. 

What Is Soft Facility Management?

Soft facility management refers to people-intensive services. What exactly is the goal of soft facility management? FM teams execute soft service tasks to make facilities a better place for employees and customers by enabling a pleasant, efficient, and enjoyable environment. 

Though not required by law, there are situations where soft facility management services are necessary. Of course, the types of tasks one should schedule depend on business and occupant requirements. 

The most common types of soft facility management services include:

  • Janitorial services
  • Waste management
  • Building security
  • Interior and exterior decorations
  • Landscaping
  • Grounds maintenance
  • Mail management
  • Catering services such as water coolers and vending machines
  • Parking spaces
  • Pest control
  • Workspace management
  • Post management

The Benefits of Soft Maintenance

Benefits of soft FM services include:

  • Environmental Protection: Ethical businesses protect not only the immediate environment but also surrounding ones. Proper waste management is an essential soft service for companies wanting to “go green” and reduce pollution. 
  • Minimal External Interference: Security services enable managers to conduct operations without the interference of external forces. Camera systems remove worry over asset damage because of vandalism or theft. 
  • Visual Appeal: Buyers are likely to make a purchasing decision based on the visual appeal of a product or brand. For this reason, many businesses invest in both interior and exterior decor. 
  • Productivity Boost: Soft FM services such as catering, workspace management, mail management, and parking services can boost employee productivity. Instead of wasting time going out to lunch or searching for parking spaces, employees can spend more time relaxing on their lunch breaks and working on the clock. Additionally, clean work environments allow employees to focus on the task at hand instead of worrying about the potential for accident, illness, or other problems. 

What Is Hard Facility Management?

Hard facilities management services relate to fixed physical assets, such as buildings, heavy machinery, and complex equipment systems. As mentioned above, hard FM services are usually legally required to safeguard stakeholder welfare. 

Examples of hard FM services include:

  • HVAC systems / air conditioning systems
  • Building maintenance services
  • Fire safety services
  • Gas and heating services
  • Plumbing 
  • Lighting and electrical
  • Mechanical

The Benefits of Hard Maintenance

Benefits of hard FM services include:

  • Improved Asset Availability and Reliability: Preventive maintenance services reduce unplanned downtimes, thus improving asset availability and reliability. 
  • Lower Maintenance Costs: It’s much cheaper to resolve problems before asset failure occurs than after. Preventive maintenance is one of the most effective ways to lower maintenance costs and improve your bottom line.
  • Compliance with Regulatory Requirements: Hard FM services are non-negotiable. Implementing them helps you to avoid running into problems with the law. In the long run, it saves you money from non-compliance penalties and fines.
  • Minimal Workplace Accidents: Hard FM services guarantee employee safety. As a result, workplace accidents that result in the loss of productive hours are minimal.

How to Streamline Facilities Maintenance Management 

Effectively juggling the implementation of hard and soft FM services can be challenging.  However, simple ways to streamline facility maintenance management include:

  • Planning Building Maintenance: Planning your maintenance enables you to move from reactive maintenance to proactive maintenance. This makes your maintenance program more effective as far as asset reliability and costs are concerned. You will also be able to reduce unplanned downtimes.
  • Improving Work Order and Inventory Management: Lack of management tools can hinder the implementation of hard FM services. It’s therefore essential to put in place a robust inventory and work order management system to organize and run your activities. Your team should also have access to supporting information that makes their work easier.
  • Ensuring Proper Asset Management: If you want to successfully deliver hard and soft FM services, you’ll need to develop a proper asset management system. For example, use a robust asset tracking system for tracking, monitoring, and maintenance purposes. 
  • Maximizing Space Management: You should also ensure that your employees fully and effectively utilize available space. Maintain data insights and real-time records for strategic space planning and management.
  • Tracking Energy Consumption: Tracking energy consumption enables you to know which assets consume excessive energy and to replace them with more energy-efficient ones. You’ll save on energy costs while operating an environmentally friendly building. This practice can be part of your corporate and social responsibility.
  • Adopting Technology: Lastly, adopting technology can help to effectively and efficiently deliver facility management services. Digital tools such as computer-aided facilities management (CAFM) software can help automate facility management services and make your work easier. You can organize, plan, and manage all services from a central database.

What Are Facilities Management (FM) Services?

Organizations rely on facility management services to ensure the functionality, efficiency, and security of work, residential, and recreational environments. Facilities can include all types of buildings, real estate property, grounds, and infrastructure. 

The bottom line: both hard and soft facility maintenance are crucial to the longevity of effective, efficient, and profitable organizational operations. The secret to running a thriving facilities management service lies in correct software utilization. 

User-friendly automation platforms are crucial to running efficient work environments, staying on top of preventive maintenance, and providing a dependable range of services. MaintainX is a modern computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) that streamlines facilities maintenance services by providing maintenance schedule digitization, team messaging, and asset cataloging. The best part? It’s compatible with both desktops and mobile devices! 

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