Facility Management vs. Maintenance

Over the past 8 years, I have met with dozens and dozens of business administrators, executive pastors, operations directors and facility personnel. As I have documented these experiences, I see a real and perceived discrepancy between the meaning of Facilities Management and facilities maintenance. To some of you, this may sound like semantics, but I think that it is much, much deeper than two “words”, even if some may consider them synonyms. Let me describe what I have seen and then let you decide if there is or is not a difference.

First, let’s explore how various dictionaries and sources define these 2 words:

1. The organization and coordination of the activities of a business in order to achieve defined objectives
2. The act or manner of managing; handling, direction, or control
3. The technique, practice, or science of managing, controlling or dealing with

1. The act of maintaining
2. Care or upkeep, as of machinery or property
3. The work needed to keep a road, building, machine, etc. in good condition

As I look at these definitions, I see a couple things that jump out at me:

1. Management appears to define the act of being proactive.
2. Management requires a skill to lead and direct activities of an organization or team
3. Maintenance appears to be developing a way to maintain the status quo
4. Maintenance is focused on the care and upkeep of something which may be seen as reactive.

What words could be used to differentiate management vs. maintenance? Here are some possible word associations:













Save over the Long Term

Spend as needed

Increase Life Cycle



I think there is indeed a difference between these words…especially as it relates to facilities. Facility Management can be defined as so much more than maintenance. It can and should be proactive in looking for ways to staff, save, and service. Keeping up with the best tech ideas, security, budgeting, Life Cycle planning,  “green uses” and more. Also, Facility Management staff can look for ways to better set-up, design, and use its “plant” rather than simply caring out work orders or manual instructions. In most church settings these functions are a last minute “Hick-Up” and are not thought out well or processed INTO Ministry systems, processes and flow. In short, Facility Management is working “ON” verses simply “IN” a process.

A simple way to think of the difference is that maintenance is keeping what you have running smoothly and efficiently, but Facility Management means planning ahead, seeking to improve, managing risks, learning what is available, proactive and possible.

So, as you explore your facility stewardship needs, are you providing management or merely maintenance? Both are important…but there is a difference.

If you need assistance sorting out the difference and leading a proactive Facility Management initiative in 2017, please contact our team of facility professionals.  You will be glad you did.

Also, don’t forget to check out the eSPACE Event Scheduler and Work Order Management tools to help you be efficient, effective and intentional with your Facility Stewardship.