A maintenance contractor is someone who is hired to complete a specific project or task. This person is not an employee, but hired as an independent business. The most common reason for hiring a maintenance contractor is a short-term project or repair that requires a very specific skill set. There are three different types of maintenance contractors: facilities, mechanical, and information technology.
The skills required to become a maintenance contractor vary, depending on the area of specialty. In order to become a facilities maintenance contractor, he or she is usually required to have significant experience working with mechanical systems. These may include heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, plumbing, electricity, and other related systems. Many businesses hire a maintenance contractor on an annual service contract. The firm pays a flat amount each year, and the contractor is responsible for providing a specific set of maintenance services.
Many manufacturing firms start as small businesses, with only one or two machines. There is not enough work for a full-time maintenance mechanic, so the firm may need to hire a maintenance contractor. The skills required depend on the actual equipment that needs to be maintained. For example, a high-speed packaging firm would need someone with packaging mechanical skills to provide the type of services required. A firm that specializes in book binding will need a contractor with specific experience and skills repairing this type of equipment.
Information technology maintenance can be broken down into two sections: hardware and software. Most people are familiar with the need for hardware maintenance. These tasks include refreshing the equipment, changing the cables, and upgrading the physical equipment. The skills required to complete these tasks usually include certification in information technology hardware maintenance. This type of equipment is expensive to purchase, and costs even more in lost time and productivity if it is unavailable.
Software maintenance is a huge challenge for most small firms, and the use of a software maintenance contractor is growing in popularity. For every software program used within a company, there are updates, patches, bug fixes, and other changes. The amount of work required to maintain the software depends on the function of the software, the size of the changes, and the potential impact of any errors. Large changes require full testing of all the original functionality, review of specifications, and familiarity with the process. A maintenance contract removes the worry and work surrounding these normal changes, and allows them to be managed outside the firm's daily operation.