How to Track and Compare Maintenance Costs Across Different Construction Sites

How to Track and Compare Maintenance Costs Across Different Construction Sites

November 9, 2020

Tracking the performance of your construction operations might seem like a simple thing, but it can be quite complex once the process is started. Some performance metrics are easy to determine, but others can be much harder to track. One of the more difficult aspects to measure is maintenance performance.

The nature of maintenance has historically led to one reason for this complexity. This is the reason why the maintenance department has been seen as a cost center — necessary, but not providing profits to the business. More recently, this kind of thinking has been overtaken by a more thorough understanding of the value of maintenance.

Even with a better appreciation of their worth, it can still be difficult to track exactly how much value the maintenance team is providing. This is yet another reason for the difficulty in measuring maintenance performance – the fact that more complex indicators must be used to determine costs effectively.

Tracking Maintenance Cost Is Not Enough

One simple method of measuring maintenance is by tracking the overall cost of the department. This is a simplistic approach, however, and does not properly measure maintenance performance.

By tracking maintenance cost solely, you may limit your actions in response. There is not much to do about cost except lower it – which may be a short-term gain and end in a long-term loss.

For example, unplanned downtime is often a bigger cost at a job site. So, reducing maintenance spend may be a tradeoff in increased downtime, affecting all levels of the business.

Maintenance cost is certainly something to understand and track over time, but it should be just one piece of your maintenance performance, and not the lone indicator.

More intelligent metrics must be established and tracked. These will give greater insight into the maintenance program and are better for comparison across sites.

KPIs Vs. Metrics

Before getting any further, let us discuss a few key terms. A Key Performance Indicator (KPI) tracks progress toward an overarching goal. KPIs should be signs that your operation is functioning and matching the plan. A performance metric tracks the status of a process. It is useful information but often needs context. KPIs can be thought of as strategic measures, where performance metrics can be thought of as tactical.

To help reinforce the concepts, here are some examples of maintenance KPIs and metrics. Examples of KPIs could be maintenance schedule compliance (percentage) or maintenance backlog in hours. Examples of metrics could be open work order hours, or overtime hours in a month.

With that distinction explained, let’s get into some KPIs that will help you track maintenance across different construction sites.

KPIs to Track

As previously stated, simply tracking costs will not usually garner a deep understanding or comparison. Therefore, more meaningful metrics should be used. Here are some examples:

1. Maintenance cost as a percentage of replacement asset value

World-class operations have this at less than 2%.

2. Maintenance cost per job size, crew size, capital spend, or some other measure

Using some way to scale maintenance spend for the site is better than flat spending numbers. Of course, the caveat about maintenance spend tracking still applies. However, this is perhaps a better measure of maintenance efficiency.

3. Maintenance work efficiency

Assuming you have an idea of how long a task should take, you can see if your technicians are spending the appropriate amount of time on maintenance work. This can lead to theoretical workloads, overtime plans, and other metrics.

4. Percentage of equipment downtime

The percentage that equipment is down versus running could help find gaps across sites.

5. Mean Time to Repair (MTTR)

This is calculated by dividing the downtime length by the total number of downtime events. MTTR can be used to determine the criticality of an asset, or areas where preventive tasks need to be added.

6. Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF)

This is the average time between failures on an asset. This is an important indicator to determine maintenance priorities.

7. Planned maintenance percentage

This is a metric that tracks how much of your maintenance work is planned. The best operations will aim for 80% or higher planned hours. When planned maintenance is the majority, the maintenance department is operating more efficiently. More importantly, equipment should be running smoothly, moving the project along and producing profit.

8. Maintenance backlog 

This is the backlog in work orders or labor time. The backlog should not be growing over time, so this KPI could indicate a further issue.

9. Maintenance schedule compliance

This is an indicator of how well the schedule is being followed. If schedule adherence is low, you can see that the work being missed will create future problems.

How to Compare Costs with KPIs

Once you have chosen some insightful KPIs to measure, you will gain a deeper understanding of your maintenance performance. Then you can start to compare KPIs between sites. This sort of information can lead to decisive action.

For example, who has the largest backlog in hours? Which site has more efficient maintenance crews? Which equipment has the most downtime, or the worst MTBF? Armed with this information, you can make intelligent decisions regarding the maintenance team. This could include allocation of resources, training programs, changes in equipment, or even hiring additional personnel. But you can’t get here without some detailed analysis.

As you start to compare KPIs between separate sites, you may see large differences. If this is the case, you may want to dig deeper into the processes at the sites. The main reason for comparing them is to find places for improvement. You will want to find out the major causes that contribute to this disparity:

  • Does one team perform more preventive maintenance than others?
  • Does one site have significantly older equipment than others?
  • Is everyone following the best maintenance practices?
  • What is the turnover of spare parts at each site?

Use this as a chance to address identified issues and determine best practices that can be replicated across sites.

Using Software to Track KPIs

As you develop your maintenance indicators, you may want to want to move your data out of spreadsheets and into a more user-friendly format. This is where CMMS system can be valuable. With software deployed, you can help set a schedule for some of these indicators and automatically generate reports to help measure maintenance performance.

It can be difficult to accurately track any of the advanced KPIs without such tools. For  apure cost analysis, some modern CMMS solutions can be set up in a way that enables you to manage multiple locations under a single account. When you have that setup, the software can automatically track total operating maintenance costs for each site. You can then use its drill-down features to analyze costs on an individual level.


If you are looking to compare maintenance costs between sites, know that simply looking at maintenance costs leaves important contexts behind. Instead, more meaningful KPIs that better reflect maintenance performance must be used. With better indicators in place and methods to measure them, you can take your maintenance department to a new level of excellence.

This is a guest post from Bryan Christiansen, the founder and CEO of Limble CMMS. Limble is a modern, easy-to-use mobile CMMS software that takes the stress and chaos out of maintenance by helping managers organize, automate, and streamline their maintenance operations.

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