6 Types of IT maintenance systems your business can implement

Summary: Your business needs reliable IT maintenance systems in place to ensure a smooth, uninhibited workflow. Here are six types of IT maintenance systems your business can implement.

Your business relies on a functioning IT system that allows for seamless data collection, storage, organization, and distribution. Routine IT maintenance is a critical business function, regardless of your organization's size and operations.  

In a business environment, each computer forms part of a network, with a central file server that should be able to provide reliable centralized storage while remaining secure. Organizations also need functional IT systems to ensure optimal connectivity with all stakeholders while taking advantage of mobile solutions and catering to an ever-changing consumer base.

Your business can only reach these objectives with sufficient IT system maintenance. In this guide, the team at RideCloud9 unpacks the six different types of maintenance your business can incorporate to derive optimal utility from your IT system while minimizing costs.

6 types of IT maintenance for your organization

Traditionally, the role of IT maintenance is to ensure that the physical IT systems are functioning correctly and reliably. Hardware maintenance remains integral to IT maintenance in general. However, the focus should also be on software management, data loss protection, routine security scans, and maintaining a system capacity that allows for optimal productivity in your organization.

Implementing adequate software maintenance strategies is crucial to ensure that your systems provide your Ontario business with optimal support.

1. Preventive maintenance

Preventive maintenance involves the routine technical upkeep and servicing of functioning systems or components to:

  • Prevent unexpected failures and downtimes
  • Prolong a unit's functional life expectancy
  • Minimize repair and premature replacement costs
  • Detect any weak points within a system that can cause suboptimality

Preventive maintenance can be usage-based or time-based:

  • Usage-based preventive maintenance: In this case, maintenance occurs according to a component's lifespan in hours or developmental cycles. This preventive maintenance generally applies to hardware and can include the replacement of surge protectors, cooling fans, and power supplies.
  • Time-based preventive maintenance: Routine software upgrades prevent latent faults from turning into effective faults. Time-based maintenance provides optimal security, vendor support, and seamless integration with all system components.

Common examples of preventive maintenance include:

  • Freeing up RAM and hard disk space
  • Creating backup copies of data
  • Running antivirus scans on computers

Preventive hardware maintenance can be active or passive. Routinely cleaning computer equipment and inspecting network cables are examples of active preventive maintenance. Taking system components out of direct sunlight is an example of passive maintenance.

Preventive maintenance is suitable for assets with preventable failure modes that are more likely to fail over time or with use. If your organization uses hardware and software that are critical to operations, production, health, and safety, you should consider a preventive maintenance strategy.

2. Predictive maintenance

Predictive maintenance involves using historical and real-time data analysis to:

  • Detect potential faults, weak points, or irregularities in an IT system
  • Address potential issues
  • Prevent IT system failures

The objective of predictive maintenance is to prevent the need for reactive maintenance. The frequency of predictive maintenance is lower than preventive maintenance, as upgrades and servicing only occur when your organization's data analysis tools detect an anomaly. The result is lower running costs and optimal system streamlining.

Predictive maintenance relies on integrated systems, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things (IoT) for effective systems monitoring. These tools collect information from maintenance sensors, systems, and controls, then analyze the data to determine if there are any areas in the IT system requiring attention.

Predictive maintenance is ideal for IT system applications that play a critical role within the organization. Your organization should also consider this maintenance approach for assets with failure modes that predictive maintenance tools can cost-effectively and accurately monitor for potential failures.

Predictive maintenance minimizes maintenance time and mitigates the risk of IT system issues, breakdowns, and unnecessary downtime. However, implementing a predictive maintenance system requires extensive skills and experience. Incorporating the tools that monitor and identify potential issues may also require a relatively high capital outlay.

3. Corrective maintenance (Reactive maintenance)

Corrective maintenance, also called reactive maintenance or repair, involves correcting a problem after it has occurred. Unlike predictive maintenance, corrective maintenance requires minimal initial costs and routine service planning, which can save money.

However, IT maintenance teams should incorporate a corrective maintenance approach in combination with a preventative maintenance strategy. For example, a team can expect to encounter periodic corrective maintenance because it is impossible to predict or prevent every potential failure.

Additionally, routine or predictive maintenance might not be practical or cost-effective, in which case corrective maintenance is the most viable option. Satellite repairs or replacements are typical examples of reactive maintenance being more effective than preventive maintenance.

Reactive maintenance is also suitable for applications where one component failure won't affect an entire system. This type of maintenance is ideal for components that are easy and inexpensive to replace.

As a stand-alone maintenance strategy, corrective maintenance may be a suboptimal approach. A corrective maintenance strategy opens the door for unexpected downtimes, production delays, and reputation risks.

A lack of routine upkeep efforts can also shorten components' functional lifespans, resulting in premature replacement costs. Installing new equipment can also result in compatibility issues and further costs and downtimes.

Other drawbacks of corrective maintenance include lacking planning, diagnosing and repairing issues, and maintenance backlogs. IT system components that don't undergo frequent maintenance may also become energy inefficient, ramping up your organization's running costs.

4. Run-to-failure maintenance

A run-to-failure maintenance strategy is a combination of reactive and predictive maintenance. With this strategy, your organization deliberately lets IT system assets operate until they break down before performing reactive maintenance. In other words, the component or system receives no preventive or predictive maintenance.

The primary difference between run-to-failure maintenance and reactive maintenance is that the organization plans for the failure event. When the failure occurs, the maintenance team is ready to carry out a repair or replacement, mitigating the risks of unplanned downtime or production problems.

A run-to-failure maintenance strategy is suitable for applications where components' life expectancy and operation are highly predictable.

The main advantage of this strategy is that it saves costs, as the organization doesn't spend any resources on functioning systems. Unlike predictive maintenance tactics, a run-to-failure approach is generally easy to understand and affordable to implement.

However, IT system failures can be challenging to predict. Your organization must also carry an extensive inventory to address failures without delays.

Additionally, an IT system consists of various hardware units, each with its own components. Keeping all these components in storage and tracking each unit's life expectancy can result in an administrative burden.

5. Evolutionary maintenance (Proactive maintenance)

Evolutionary maintenance, or proactive maintenance, involves the routine updating of all IT infrastructure, including hardware and software. The strategy aims to balance replacing and upgrading the existing system to maximize performance while minimizing costs and disruptions. With this approach, the focus is not on preventing or reacting to failures but on developing the available IT system resources, ensuring reliable and optimal performance.

An evolutionary maintenance approach also ensures optimal system functionality and a wide range of technology options, allowing your organization to develop and deliver cutting-edge solutions. Another advantage is that it eliminates routine maintenance, saving costs over the long haul.

Evolutionary IT maintenance is suitable for applications where maintenance teams can identify the cost and utility benefits of an equipment replacement versus an equipment upgrade. The result is the ability to take calculated steps towards an ever-improving IT system that serves all the organization's unique requirements.

A proactive approach to IT maintenance also mitigates security risks while allowing for seamless data gathering, storage, analysis, and distribution. Combining evolutionary maintenance with preventive or predictive IT maintenance may cover all bases for preventing unexpected failures, downtime, and production delays.

As with predictive maintenance, an evolutionary maintenance system might require an extensive investment, though one can expect the returns to be sizable.

6. Condition-based maintenance

A condition-based IT maintenance strategy involves monitoring the condition of an asset to determine when maintenance is necessary. According to this system, maintenance is only necessary when indicators display warning signs of potential failure or suboptimal performance.

The methods for checking these indicators include routine measurements, visual inspections, scheduled tests, and performance data monitoring. Maintenance teams should collect condition data continuously or regularly to ensure they don't miss potential issues.

A condition-based maintenance approach can save costs, as the maintenance department only does maintenance on an as-needed basis. However, this strategy requires various elements to prevent failures, including a maintenance schedule that allows for inspecting systems and detecting equipment anomalies. Additionally, the timely triggering of work orders is crucial to prevent downtimes if a system component requires upkeep.

A condition-based maintenance approach is generally effective in preventing asset failures and improving equipment reliability. This strategy also mitigates the risk of collateral system damage while minimizing the need for spare components in storage.

The downside of this IT maintenance strategy is that the necessary monitoring equipment can be expensive. Analyzing databases can also be time-intensive and require the physical input of trained and knowledgeable staff.

IT maintenance best practices for businesses

Implementing IT maintenance best practices is critical, regardless of the system you follow. This section discusses best practices Markham businesses should follow to ensure their maintenance efforts are as affordable and effective as possible.

Prioritize IT maintenance

IT maintenance tasks should enjoy a top priority in your organization. The importance of the IT system's maintenance should always be a factor in the company's everyday decision-making, for example, when drawing up budgets or hiring new team members.

Implement the maintenance strategy

Formulating an effective IT maintenance strategy alone is not sufficient to prevent system failures and unexpected downtimes. Your team also needs to implement the strategy and track its effectiveness on an ongoing basis. Creating maintenance schedules and assigning specific tasks to maintenance team members are essential steps in incorporating a maintenance system.

Automate maintenance efforts where possible

Automation frees up your team's time to focus on crucial maintenance tasks. Examples of IT maintenance automation include setting software to check for updates and ensuring that your system always uses the latest software version. Scheduling cloud backups to run your business continuously is another automation tactic that can save valuable time and resources.

Keep an IT maintenance record

Keeping a record of all IT maintenance-related data is crucial to ensure that your system doesn't encounter failures. Your organization's IT maintenance record should include all software licenses, their renewal times, and equipment installation dates. Maintaining such a record is critical if your organization follows a preventive, predictive, or evolutionary IT maintenance system.

Combine maintenance systems

Each IT maintenance system has unique benefits, drawbacks, and applications. However, your unique IT system might require overlapping maintenance application ranges. Depending on your IT maintenance requirements, you should implement two or more maintenance systems, for example, a predictive maintenance system for software and a condition-based system for hardware.

Outsource IT maintenance

Taking advantage of IT support in Markham is a cost-effective solution to ensure that your IT systems function reliably with no unexpected failures and downtimes. High-value IT maintenance services include proactive maintenance, system status monitoring, and the management of cybersecurity and antivirus solutions. Other IT maintenance tasks to outsource include data backups, disaster recovery, and development services.

In closing - which maintenance types should your business implement?

Selecting a suitable IT maintenance system can take time and effort. Even if you understand the theory behind each system, you might need to fully grasp how they apply to your unique IT system in practice.

An in-depth system evaluation and consultation with an IT maintenance specialist, such as RideCloud9 in Markham, can help you make informed decisions. The result is an IT maintenance system that fits your system, ensuring operational streamlining and reliability at all times.

Other blog posts