Setting maintenance goals can be a daunting task. What happens if you don’t achieve the goals you set? How do you set realistic goals that will make a significant enough impact? Like certain things in life, it’s best to jump right into goal setting. It’s better to set goals and not achieve them than not to set any at all. Studies have shown that you are 42% more likely to accomplish a goal if you write it down, so take that plan to paper, whatever it may be.

So, where do you get started when it comes to setting goals? We recommend learning and understanding how to set SMART maintenance goals for your team. Let’s take a look.

What are SMART goals?

SMART is a commonly-used goal-setting process that leaders in all roles use to achieve goals efficiently and effectively. The letters in SMART stand for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Let’s explore each of these in more detail.


The goals you set need to be very clear and precise. The less ambiguous the goal is, the better you and your team will be able to achieve it. Keep in mind the popular “w” questions when setting goals (who, what, when, where, and why).


How will you determine whether or not you hit your goal? What metrics are you planning to measure to determine success? Keep in mind that maintenance metrics can be both qualitative and quantitative.


This is a rather important component of SMART goal setting that is often overlooked. Make sure you can achieve the goals you set. Do you have the team and the resources needed to achieve success? If not, do you have the means to get these resources? If not, you may need to rescope your goal.


It’s important to ensure your goal aligns with broader business goals. If your team is focused on energy efficiency but your company doesn’t support the upfront costs of this initiative, you are not aligned and should rethink your goals.


Teams are most likely to miss their goals if they don’t have target dates set for initiatives. Determine an appropriate amount of time to achieve the goal and then set timelines for the project appropriately.

Why are SMART maintenance goals important?

It’s no secret that maintenance teams typically lack the staff and resources needed to run at optimal efficiency. Whether you’re understaffed, working with outdated equipment, or low on funding, setting realistic, attainable goals prioritizes work for your team and boosts morale in the long run. In addition, some groups find that by setting measurable goals that lead to cost savings, they can justify new resources or additional staff for their team.

Maintenance goals your department should set

This list highlights maintenance goals the best maintenance managers are setting at every step in their journey to a fully optimized and automated process.

1. Reduce equipment failures and downtime

The number one goal in maintenance leaders’ minds is decreasing the frequency of equipment failures and increasing asset reliability. Achieving this goal keeps throughput levels high and your team and equipment running at optimal performance.

Most maintenance leaders reduce downtime with scheduled maintenance tasks and regular equipment inspections. Inspections allow you to identify any issues with your equipment before they lead to failure, and preventive care provides your equipment with the proper lubrication, filter/oil changes, and other maintenance it needs. It’s always best to schedule downtime at convenient times for your operations instead of your equipment scheduling it for you.

2. Decrease maintenance costs

Maintenance leaders across all industries are consistently faced with the same question: “How can we reduce maintenance expenses?” While this is already a challenging goal, most maintenance teams will tell you that to save money, you first need to spend money. Whether investing in solar panels to cut energy costs or replacing a piece of equipment that continuously requires maintenance, there’s typically an upfront cost to realize savings.

There are still cost-saving opportunities if you cannot find the budget to get some of these more significant initiatives off the ground. As mentioned above, preventive maintenance will decrease equipment failures and, therefore, failure costs. Another opportunity is to create “specializations” on your team (e.g., one group of technicians focuses on production equipment, one focuses on building-centric maintenance, and another focuses on groundskeeping). This setup works similarly to an assembly line and increases overall productivity.

See how one maintenance manager used reports in his maintenance management software to justify a new piece of equipment and realize cost savings.

3. Comply with regulations and increase safety

There are several regulations maintenance teams are required to follow, which vary by industry. To start, every company must comply with OSHA and local, state, and federal regulations. Depending on your industry, you may be required to meet additional regulations as well.

Here are a few smaller goals to get you on track to achieving compliance:

  • Implement a system to keep track of all maintenance activity regarding your equipment in one place, along with product requirement documents, warranty information, safety guides, and anything else pertinent to your operations
  • Add safety guards to all equipment and heavy machinery to prevent injury
  • Inspect equipment regularly and perform regular maintenance

Be sure you keep a log of all work performed and safety measures taken. This will be highly beneficial when it’s time for audits.

Assess your maintenance performance

Take our 7-minute assessment to pinpoint your biggest opportunities for maintenance management.

Take the free assessment

4. Extend equipment lifespan

The more operating hours you can get out of a machine, the more efficient your operations will be. Tracking maintenance histories and specific maintenance KPIs (key performance indicators) for your equipment will allow you to see trends in wear and make data-driven maintenance work decisions. In fact, 78% of companies that tracked equipment histories and took appropriate action reported an increase in their equipment’s lifespan.

5. Optimize energy efficiency

One of the many responsibilities thrust upon the maintenance department is energy management. With the world’s growing emphasis on energy conservation and the increased energy costs, this can be a daunting goal. However, some tools can help you better understand energy consumption and opportunities to cut back.

Energy tracking software monitors and records your utility bills to identify energy waste, pinpoint cost savings, showcase success to stakeholders, boost sustainability efforts, and more. If energy efficiency is a company-wide goal, investing in utility tracking software is a massive step in the right direction.

6. Maintain or improve product quality

The better your production equipment is maintained, the higher quality throughput you will achieve. Think of this as performance goals for your equipment. Properly maintaining your equipment has implications beyond reducing downtime. Your product quality, customer satisfaction rates, and sales will increase when equipment is well-cared for.

7. Strive for the 80/20 rule

The golden rule in maintenance management is that 80% of your maintenance program should be planned maintenance, and the other 20% should be reactive. This ensures your equipment runs correctly most of the time but also leaves room for reactive maintenance (which, let’s face it, is inevitable).

Equipment failure will occur, but if you can stave off failures with preventive maintenance tasks, you’ll find that you operate a leaner, less-stressful work environment. Learn how to set up a preventive maintenance schedule or download a preventive maintenance checklist to get started.

Examples of maintenance goals

Using the SMART framework, let’s look at a few examples of maintenance goals.

Example #1

Over the next 12 months, I’d like a 30% reduction in equipment failures to support the company’s mission of increasing throughput without increasing cost. Each piece of equipment will receive appropriate preventive maintenance as outlined in the operations manual. Each maintenance technician will be assigned 11 pieces of equipment to inspect and maintain. We will track the number and duration of failures over the next 12 months to understand the effects of our work.

  • Specific: The goal-setter has requested a precise reduction (30%) in downtime and has layered in how the team will achieve its goal.
  • Measurable: The metric the team will track is explicitly stated as the “number of failures.”
  • Attainable: So long as 11 pieces of equipment to inspect and maintain isn’t too much for each technician, the goal-setter has the appropriate staff and resources are in place for success.
  • Relevant: This supports the company’s mission of increasing throughput without increasing cost.
  • Time-bound: The goal-setter has given a time frame of 12 months.

Example #2:

In response to the company’s decision to decrease its carbon footprint, our maintenance team will work to reduce energy consumption by 15% within 6 months. The team will work in shifts on our equipment so that we don’t have to run each machine all hours of the day. In addition, we’ll be installing motion sensor lights and turning the temperature up 2 degrees in the summer months to conserve energy. We will monitor the effectiveness of these changes in our monthly bills.

  • Specific: A very clear list of deliverables and a path to success are outlined.
  • Measurable: They will track their monthly energy bills to understand energy consumption and cost.
  • Attainable: Because their plan only requires a change in working procedures and environment, no additional resources will be needed.
  • Relevant: This is in response to company-wide strategic goals.
  • Time-bound: The goal-setter has given a time frame of 6 months.

No matter where you are in your facility’s maintenance optimization journey, goal setting will help you achieve success. Remember that it’s important to set realistic, actionable goals that support your end objective and the company’s overall goals. Think SMART when setting goals for yourself or your team.

Ready to pinpoint the maintenance goals you should be focused on?

Take our 7-minute maintenance assessment to evaluate your facilities’ processes and gain insights into how they can be improved.

Get your unique score

Written by