Without Maintenance Planning and Scheduling You Will Fail

Maintenance Planning & Scheduling is one of the 4 Essential Elements on the Road to Reliability™. Planning & scheduling, or work management as it’s often called, ensures the right work gets done, at the right time, with the right tools, materials, and people. Without an effective maintenance planning & scheduling process, you’ll never achieve high reliability. In this article, I’ll explain why that’s the case. I’ll also give an overview of what a planning & scheduling process should look like.


The Best of the Best

But before we do that, let me take you on a short stroll back in time. In the 1980’s DuPont commissioned the largest ever benchmarking study of maintenance and reliability practices. It included a study of 3500 sites across North America, Europe and Japan. It was so extensive that we still refer to it today.

The study concluded that the top 5% of these companies, the so-called “Best of the Best” do the basics very well. And those basics include Planning & Scheduling.

That DuPont study and the many studies since then have repeatedly shown that maintenance productivity is often poor, and typically as low as 20% – 30% . That means that during a typical 10-hour day your average technician only spends 2 to 3 hours doing actual maintenance work. Sometimes even less. So, when you pay your maintenance technicians for a full day’s work you actually only get about 2 to 3 hours of your money’s worth. And no that’s not because your technician isn’t working hard, it’s because you make it too hard for your people to do the right thing. The average day is simply filled with too much inefficiency and waste.


The productivity of most maintenance teams is simply terrible


But it doesn’t have to be like that. We know from those same studies that with an effective maintenance planning & scheduling process you can grow your productivity to 45%. And as you continue to improve you can increase your productivity to world-class levels of 55% or 60%.


The Benefits of Maintenance Planning & Scheduling

Now, you might not think that moving your productivity from a low 30% to an average 45% is a major improvement. Not something you should get excited about.

But, you’d be wrong.

Let’s assume for a moment that you work in a typical organisation in an asset-intensive industry. And you have a very typical maintenance productivity, or wrench-time, as many call it, of around 30%.

And let’s assume you put in place a work management process and over time you increase your productivity from 30% to around 45%. In doing so you increase your productive time by 35% without increasing staffing. That means every day, every week, every month you get 35% more work done.

In other words, you have just increased your workforce by 35% without hiring anybody!

In a plant with 50 maintenance workers that could be worth a cool $1,500,000 per year. Maybe that is worth getting excited about?


maintenance planning & scheduling can improve productivity by 35%


If you want to get a better understanding of how I put those numbers together, read my article How to Sell Work Management to Your CEO and you’ll see the calculations behind these numbers. And you can download a simple tool to do the same calculations for your own organisation.


Planning & Scheduling Reduces Waste

You achieve these productivity gains because maintenance planning & scheduling tackles inefficiencies and reduces waste. In any organisation, you will find waste, but in a typical maintenance organisation you will find a lot of waste.

Waste in the form of:

  • Delays and lost time during the completion of jobs;
  • Incorrect identification of materials resulting in false starts, delays or makeshift repairs;
  • Poor co-ordination of personnel resulting in excessive waiting and idle time;
  • And bad timing of equipment isolation and shutdown resulting in excessive downtime.


The more waste you have the easier it is to drive it out. But apart from driving out waste and making your organisation more efficient, an effective maintenance planning & scheduling process also brings other benefits.

You will find yourself with:

  • Improved quality of work, supporting increased reliability;
  • Increased uptime and integrity of critical equipment;
  • Improved safety by performing work in a prepared way;
  • More job satisfaction and a greater sense of ownership among your teams.


And this gain in job satisfaction and ownership is so critical on your Road to Reliability™. It starts to build a reliability culture. A culture that will naturally sustain planning & scheduling and drive continuous improvement.

The improvements in job satisfaction and ownership usually come from:

  • Better use of people’s time, with less waste and less frustration. Nobody likes to see their time wasted.
  • Making the CMMS work for you and your people, rather than the other way around. Nothing is as frustrating as being a slave to a system.
  • Reducing fire-fighting and chasing “someone else’s emergencies”


High Reliability? Not without Planning & Scheduling.

As you can see, planning & scheduling drives efficiency in your workforce. You get more work done. Your work environment becomes less reactive. Teams finally find the time to get rid of those recurring problems. Your people are less frustrated and start to see the benefits of a reliability based culture. And soon enough you will find yourself on the Road to Reliability™.

In the rest of this article, I’ll talk through the main steps of a planning & scheduling process. But before I do that we need to tackle one common misunderstanding.



Planning is not the same as Scheduling. This is one of the most misunderstood parts of the work management process.

You see, Planning refers to preparing a job so you can do that job without unnecessary delays. This requires identifying and preparing:

  • the scope of work;
  • the procedures you’d need to do that work safely and properly;
  • the materials you’d need;
  • any external (specialist) services;
  • any specials tools etc.


Planning maintenance is normally done by a Maintenance Planner. Someone with a trade background, someone with extensive experience and sound technical knowledge.

Scheduling, on the other hand, focuses on what work gets done when and by whom. Scheduling also looks at how you group work to minimise waste. Waste like equipment downtime, travel time etc. Scheduling also balances the workload against available resources.

In simple terms, planning maintenance is about the “WHAT and “HOW” of a maintenance job. And scheduling refers to the “WHO” and “WHEN”.

Another way to look at this is that maintenance planning reduces delays during jobs, whilst scheduling reduces delays between jobs.


maintenance planning vs scheduling


maintenance planning vs maintenance scheduling


To succeed in improving your productivity you need both Planning and Scheduling. Planning alone or scheduling alone just won’t cut it.


The Maintenance Planning & Scheduling Process

There are many versions of maintenance planning and scheduling processes floating around. But, in essence, they all come down to the same basic steps outlined in the diagram below:

In the rest of this article, I’ll walk you through the planning & scheduling process in detail.

Note: the process I describe here I will walk you through a corrective maintenance job that starts with someone raising a work request. The process for preventive maintenance is really the same except that the first step of the process is done – or at least should be done – as part of a structured process developing your PM program.


maintenance process flow


Step 1 – Identify & Prioritise

The process starts with creating a quality work request for the new job. An Operator notices a pump has started to leak and raises a work request for maintenance to fix the leak.

Proper identification of the work is essential. That way the Planner gets the right information. And the right amount of information. With this, the planner can prepare the job properly.

To ensure you get high-quality work requests, create a standard for ‘what good’ work looks like. Train your people to that standard and quality check all new work requests.

Review and approve all new work requests on a daily basis. Do this review jointly with your planner, supervisor, and Operations in the room. By doing it as a team effort you get better results that reflect your business priorities. You also start to instill cooperation, understanding and trust.

As part of the review of the work request – and before approving it – you need to prioritize it. This is one of the most important steps in the process especially for those plants that are still in a reactive environment.

If you fail to prioritise properly you’ll soon find that:

  • The frozen weekly schedule is unnecessarily interrupted which increases inefficiency and waste.
  • The priorities assigned to work requests in your CMMS become useless. Your planner can no longer rely on the assigned priorities. Your planner will struggle to determine what work to prepare next and become less efficient.
  • You become the victim of emotional priorities. People start to inflate the priorities of their work requests to make sure they get done.


For prioritisation, I prefer using a simple 5 x 5 matrix to risk assess new work requests. Something I will discuss in a future post.

So, at the end of this step, you have an approved work request in your CMMS. One that can move to the planning stage when your planner is ready for it.


Step 2 – Plan

Planning maintenance enables accurate scheduling, efficient execution, and quality of work.

As part of the planning step, the Planner identifies all resources, materials, and services required to do a job. And once that’s done your Planner creates a work pack containing all the required information like:

  • drawings
  • procedures
  • OEM documentation
  • list of spare parts and consumables
  • list of special tools or equipment
  • special safety considerations
  • shutdown requirements
  • access or lifting requirements


Maintenance jobs should not be planned from just behind a desk.

Your maintenance planner should visit the job site to develop the scope of work. Even if the Planner knows the site well, things change. There might be temporary equipment that poses a safety risk. There could be some scaffolding left up that’s blocking access.

Taking pictures of the job site, equipment, and any (access) constraints is helpful. Once back at the desk, the Planner can use these to build the job plan in the CMMS.


Maintenance planning


Its good practice for the Maintenance Planner to review the scope of work can with a technician or supervisor. Especially if the planner’s primary trade is different than what the job requires.

This builds a sense of ownership for the specific job with the crew who has to execute the work. And over time it will build a better understanding and buy-in for the planning process.

Now, experienced technicians may not like a Maintenance Planner telling them how to do a specific job.

“I have been doing this work for 20 years and I do not need someone to tell me how it’s done!” might ring familiar?

But in reality, if you ask five technicians how to complete a job, you will get five different answers. And variability is the enemy of quality.

It’s the Planner’s duty to prepare the most effective, efficient and safest way to do a job.

And the Planner has to ensure that all the material and equipment is there to perform it. This means the Planner also places the necessary stock requests or purchase orders.

The planning step ends when a job is fully scoped. Materials are on site, staged and kitted. And any external services have been (re)confirmed to be on site on the required dates.

At this point, the Maintenance Planner confirms the job as “Ready for Execution”. This flags the handover to the Scheduler and is critical.

Unless all the work that goes into your Weekly Schedule is 100% ready your Weekly Schedule will fail. And the expected productivity improvements won’t materialize.

Once planned a maintenance job should never have to be planned from scratch again.

The Planner should store all information and documentation required to do a job. Next time that job comes up the Planner simply opens the file and re-uses it.


maintenance process flow


Step 3 – Schedule

It’s the Scheduler’s job to group work in an optimised, coordinated sequence. That it’s performed at the right time by the right people.

To make this happen, the Scheduler prepares a Weekly Schedule which lists all the work due the next week.

The Site Manager owns the Weekly Schedule and reviews and approves the draft Schedule during a Schedule Review Meeting. This meeting is where Operations and Maintenance agree the work for the next week.

Once approved the Scheduler issues the Frozen Weekly Schedule.

Any work breaking into the Frozen Weekly Schedule has to be approved by the Site manager. This creates stability and drives efficiency.

To develop a Schedule you need to know the available hours for the following week.

So each week all Supervisors provide the Scheduler with an update of available hours. These updates take into account who is not available for work due to leave, training etc.

The Scheduler prepares a draft Schedule by matching these hours against a prioritised list of “Ready for Execution” work.

This matching of work against available resources is referred to as Capacity Planning.

You want your Scheduler to assign work for every available work hour. You want to schedule to 100% of your capacity. Don’t allow for emergencies in your Schedule.

As part of his work the Scheduler groups together jobs on the same equipment, system or location. Productivity increases if staff can move from one job to a nearby job. Or do multiple jobs on the same equipment.

Grouping work on the same equipment reduces the number of isolations. It can simplify permitting. It helps to reduce clean up time, travel time, setup time etc.

Once issued you want to track compliance against your Frozen Weekly Schedule. Develop a Schedule Compliance KPI and track performance each week

I strongly suggest you also track Emergency Work and Fill-In Work. Emergency work is jobs that are created and executed within the Frozen Week. Fill-In Work is existing work that was not in the Schedule but was still worked on in the Frozen Week.

Tracking these 3 metrics every week will tell you a lot about the health of your work management system.


Step 4 – Execute

The primary aim of execution is to carry out a safe, quality job.

And everything we do in the work management process is to drive efficiency in this step. To maximize the productivity of our maintenance crew.

This step of executing work essentially revolves around a cycle of:

  • allocating work
  • executing work
  • managing emerging work
  • reporting daily progress
  • and reinstating equipment.


This is the domain of the Maintenance Supervisor.

Your Maintenance Supervisor is responsible for the crew’s safety. And the Maintenance Supervisor is responsible for the quality of the crew’s work. That means your Maintenance Supervisor needs to know his crew well and be fully familiar with their abilities and experience. The allocation of work to crew members is a Supervisor responsibility. Not the Scheduler’s.


Maintenance Supervisor


The maintenance crew executes the work based on the work packs provided by the Planner. Once the crew start work they own the work until completion.

If the job requires extra materials or resources the Supervisor must source these. It is not the Planner’s responsibility as the Planner should be planning future work.

Or, if the crew finds they need to complete the work in a different manner than stated in the work pack they manage this. In discussion with the Supervisor.

But, in both cases it’s critical the Planner gets feedback at the end of the job. That way the Planner can improve the job plan and avoid these problems next time.

As the crew progresses a job they might find unexpected work. So-called emergent work. The crew or the Supervisor must determine if they will absorb this extra work. Or if they will execute it as a separate, planned and scheduled job in the future.

There are no hard and fast rules for this. Experience and common sense should dictate how you manage emergent work.

But remember, the Site Manager must agree to any impact to the Frozen Weekly Schedule.

At the end of each day the crew report progress to the Supervisor for all their jobs in progress. They complete work history and technical history in the CMMS as appropriate.


Step 5 – Close Out

The Close Out step covers the reporting of technical history, work history, and areas for improvement.

This is one of the most important steps in the process as without there is no improvement. Unfortunately, it is also one of the steps that many ignore.

As part of this final step the Supervisor:

  • Confirms all work is complete and meets the required quality standards;
  • Reviews and approves the technical history in the CMMS;
  • Makes sure the Planner receives feedback on the quality of the job plan;
  • Initiates a Root Cause Analysis if required;
  • Ensures unused materials are back in the warehouse;
  • And payments are initiated.


Step 6 – Review & Improve

Analysing your performance is essential to getting better. You won’t jump from a low 20% or 30% productivity to a world-class performance. That takes time and continuous improvement is the name of the game.

This should take place in various ways.

First of all, continuous improvement should happen within the planning & scheduling process. As part of routine activities and reoccurring meetings. For example, the review of Schedule Compliance during the Weekly Schedule Review Meeting. Or the feedback loop from the execution crew to the Maintenance Planner. With the crew providing feedback on the quality of the job plans.

Second, you should have regular reviews on the planning & scheduling process. Get your Supervisors, Managers and Senior Executives to conduct Planning & Scheduling Gemba Walks.

The aim is for leaders to see the planning & scheduling process in action for themselves. These ‘Go See’ walks are highly effective to:

  • find out what works well and why.
  • find out what issues frustrate or concern individuals most.
  • discover opportunities for improvement and for your Leaders to see how they can help.


And finally, you need to conduct a formal, annual Maintenance Planning & Scheduling Process Audit. A process audit is where you get your process owner to spend a day or two in the field or on the shop floor to assess the health of the process. Spend time with the execution crews. With the Planners, Schedulers, and Supervisors. Agree what areas for improvement you will focus on. What you need to sustain.

And make it happen.


maintenance process flow


Key Roles

To succeed with work management you need to understand that there are three key roles in the process. These roles are the Planner, Supervisor and Scheduler. And in principle they need separate people.


The Maintenance Planner

The Maintenance Planner must prepare the most effective, efficient and safest way to perform a job. And the Planner has to ensure that all the material and equipment is there to perform it.

The planner role requires detailed technical and equipment knowledge. Your planner is typically someone with a trade background.

The Maintenance Planner focuses on future work. The Planner should not work in the current week or the positive impact on crew productivity is lost.


Maintenance Planners


The Maintenance Scheduler

The Scheduler’s job is to prepare a Frozen Weekly Schedule. The Schedule must balance available hours against agreed work priorities. And the Schedule must drive efficiency.

During the current week, the Scheduler monitors and reports progress. And may help your supervisors manage the impact of break-in work.

The Scheduler coordinates the collation of weekly and monthly performance indicators.

A final task of the Scheduler is to develop a 12-24 months look ahead. This flags major maintenance well in advance, which is critical to managing long lead items. It also helps to group to maximize efficiency and reduce downtime.


The Maintenance Supervisor

The Supervisor is Mr Quality and Mr Safety in one. The Maintenance Supervisor assigns work and ensures it’s executed safely and to the right quality standards.

The Supervisor also plans any emergency work within the current week.


Implementing Work Management

As you can see, the Maintenance Planning and Scheduling process is in itself easy to understand and not hard to do.

So why is it that so many organisations struggle with? Why do so many organisations have terrible maintenance productivity?

Some of the most common mistakes when it comes to implementing work management are:

  • No Change Management
  • Picking the wrong person as Planner
  • Letting Planners Work in the Current Week
  • Not ensuring execution readiness before scheduling work incl. kitting and staging
  • Not providing or acting on feedback
  • Poor backlog management
  • Incorrect set of metrics to measure performance or driving the wrong behaviour


We address these mistakes and much more aspects of implementing planning & scheduling in our article: How to Implement Maintenance Planning & Scheduling.


maintenance process flow


Do you have Maintenance Planning & Scheduling in Place?

Leave a comment below to let us know how it went or if there is anything we can do to help.


  1. Commentators Gravatar  Chamkhia on 20th Feb, 2018 at 6:55 AM

    Very instructive lesson.
    Do you think planner, scheduler, supervisor and crew technical must be managed by the same person or they can be manager by two different departments like production department and maintenance depatment?

    • Commentators Gravatar  Erik Hupjé on 20th Feb, 2018 at 9:00 AM

      Hi Chamkhia, the most important thing is that people perform their roles as per the planning & scheduling process. I have seen both models work where planners, schedulers, supervisors and technicians all are within a single department managed by the same person. I have also seen where the execution part (supervisors and technicians) sit within a different department (e.g. Operations) and planners & schedulers sit within the maintenance department. What you want to avoid is having your planner reporting into the same supervisor as your technicians – then it becomes too easy to use the planner for day-to-day issues and emergencies and then your planner is no longer planning future work. The value of the planner role is then undermined.

      • Commentators Gravatar  Chamkhia on 20th Feb, 2018 at 3:12 PM

        Dear Hupjé,
        Based on our new CMMS system set up 2 years ago, i successed to hormonize all the process that you speaked about and i still trying to improve it. I do the role of planner scheduler and supervisor (when supervisor on my department was busy by other activity), the technician was on production department and for me it was the most complication thing for performing process.

  2. Commentators Gravatar  Nigel on 23rd May, 2018 at 11:15 AM

    Hi Erik,

    A good article and I agree with your discussion points, as I have spent many years involved in coaching and presenting these same fundamentals of Planning and Scheduling across a variety of industries. I have observed similarities or examples as discussed in these posts in all maintenance teams when it comes to success or lack thereof in Planning, Scheduling and Execution of scheduled work.

    I think the Role of the Supervisor has been a little understated, the Supervisor has significant influence in the success or failure of the Planning and Scheduling, I believe the Supervisor’s role must also include being a Champion of the Planning and Scheduling process. It is the Supervisor who makes the decisions on what work is performed. The Supervisor role certainly includes Safety and Quality, but the quality work performed safely may not be in the current Schedule. The Planners, Schedulers and Supervisors must be a team and support each other.

  3. Commentators Gravatar  Rena Sinaga on 23rd May, 2018 at 11:39 AM

    Thank you Mr

  4. Commentators Gravatar  Andres on 10th Jun, 2018 at 12:56 PM

    Thanks for share this with us.

    I would like to ask to you what should be the proper ratio between planners/schedulers/supervisor/relability engineer’s VS traders.

    What should be the ratio if the same person performs both roles (planner+scheduler) vs traders.


    • Commentators Gravatar  Erik Hupjé on 10th Jun, 2018 at 1:35 PM

      Hi Andres, there’s many factors that come into play here but a general rule of thumb is 1 planner should be able to plan for 20 – 30 technicians, but…

      • if you also ask your planner to do the scheduler role that will have to come down
      • if you don’t have mature job plans and everything needs to be planned from scratch that ratio has to come down
      • if you don’t have a sound planning & scheduling process in place and don’t have the organisational discipline to keep your planner from working on the current week that ratio has to come down
      • if you ask your planner to act as a relief supervisor that ratio has to come down

      If you’re starting out or have many issues I would keep it to 1:10

  5. Commentators Gravatar  Andres on 12th Jun, 2018 at 4:44 AM

    Totally agree, Thanks!

  6. Commentators Gravatar  Abderrezak boussaid on 11th Jul, 2018 at 6:52 PM

    Many thanks for sharing this with us
    Definitely planning & scheduling is the hub of work management. Maintenance Productivity will improve with effective P&S. However, the mindset, sometimes the incompetency, the priorities set by management, the non visible cost of non productivity, and the non full involvement of management in the process are the main reasons why P&S is always an issue.

    From my experience management talk about the importance of P&S but in reality are not on top of it. In my previous company we implemented an Integrated Operation Activity Planning & Scheduling Process which handles all activities in the field (plan includes only activities which impact major business objectives,i.e. production, integrity, water & gas injection targets). Most people were happy about this and saw the benefits but management were not giving too much interest. Management usually absorbed by other things coming from top management. Also availability of tools & processes that help productivity is not being measured against the investment, what is the gain in productivity if i invest in tools & processes that ensure effective P&S?
    Furthermore most planners are now more into the CMMS & forget that this is just a tool to help them. Also sometimes planning (i.e. work preparation+plan) are handled by different entities.
    I cited here only a few problems which handicap having an effective P&S
    These are just thoughts

  7. Commentators Gravatar  Peter OToole on 15th Aug, 2018 at 4:30 PM

    A pragmatic article that covers the topic well. Not many companies understand or apply many of the required planning and scheduling principles and wonder why productivity is so low or tool time is not increasing. In the Oil & Gas Industry the only measure is planning efficiency which is interpreted as bums in beds. We occasionally role out the best practice when turnarounds occur. So much more could be gained from having a well defined process applied, with the right planning tools and resources.

  8. Commentators Gravatar  Dave Elson on 16th Aug, 2018 at 1:42 AM

    Hi Erik, great article and I agree will all your points. At my site we see that ’emergency’ and non planned work are being resourced trumping the fixed weekly schedule work. As a result we see slippage in our schedule adherence metric. The emergency work can sometimes just be poorly planned by the requester but because of the timeliness it must be acted on. Have you any suggestions for setting rules and what to prioritize?

    • Commentators Gravatar  Erik Hupjé on 18th Aug, 2018 at 2:01 PM

      First I would suggest that in addition to tracking weekly schedule compliance (adherence) you also track what I would call ‘Emergency Maintenance’ which is work that was identified and executed in the frozen week. You should to get this < 5% and eventually down to < 2%. And also track what some people call "Fill In Work" that is work that is already identified (and should be planned) but was not scheduled for the week. I always like to use these 3 metrics combined as they give a more complete picture of whats happening than just schedule compliance. Then you need to make sure that your schedule is owned and approved by a senior person on site that sits across both production/operations and maintenance. He/She should own the outcome for the 3 metrics and any break ins to the frozen weekly schedule should be approved by this person. For prioritisation I strongly recommend using a risk assessment matrix.

  9. Commentators Gravatar  Eduardo on 20th Aug, 2018 at 5:56 AM

    Ciao Erik!, an interest summary of what should be the loop, Plan-Schedule-Execution-Feedback and improve, I worked for long in this kind of maintenance environment and I could note some issues that you could certainly share your opinion with me, for example more works orders that the mechanical planner can deal with, with the consequence of the acumulative backlog, few disponibility for production departments for give the necesary time for the execution of the maintenance planification programs and frequently changes escenarios that the scheduler have to deal with, always with few time to arrange the resources and others and few time to get toghether the planner with the supervisor before and aftet maintenance task with the real and formalized feedback to improve countinously the maintenance plans. Would you give me a sugestion how to implement this maintenance management scheme from zero, including not having a CMMS sofware, a real case, thanks.

    • Commentators Gravatar  Erik Hupjé on 22nd Aug, 2018 at 8:16 AM

      Hi Eduardo, looks like you have your work cut out for you. You could run a planning & scheduling process without a CMMS just using paper-based system like in the old days. But I would not recommend this, CMMS software is not expensive anymore. You don’t need to have a major system you can run with a smaller low-cost solution. So get a CMMS, then set up your asset register and then build your PMs and implement a planning & scheduling process. Trying to do all this without a CMMS would be unnecessarily inefficient.

  10. Commentators Gravatar  George Constantinescu on 22nd Aug, 2018 at 11:46 AM

    It is my understanding that you refer this article from the perspective of the maintenance manager who eventually does have the role of prioritizing work in cooperation with operations manager and bridges all the parties in the process. That is probably possible in small organizations, yet my approach is that in larger plants there should be another function in the scheme, and that is what we call a coordinator. This person will review the work requests and issue the work orders with a priority rank attached to them. Then the work orders follow the process of planning and scheduling as outlined by you, with the coordinator bridging the gaps in the process: materials ordering timelines, schedule completion, updating operations on the status and potential work dates, evaluation of emergency requests and schedule of break up work and so on.
    The coordinator job can also be executed by a senior planner who does have a broad process and maintenance understanding and who will direct the planning process as well.
    Your feedback is appreciated. Thank you.

    • Commentators Gravatar  Erik Hupjé on 22nd Aug, 2018 at 9:18 PM

      Hi George, thanks for your comment. The article is not specifically written from the view point of a maintenance manager, but more outlines the key aspects of a succesful planning & scheduling process. I strongly believe prioritisation must be done in a team environment with both maintenance and operations in the room, not just by a single person (or coordinator). In my view the weekly schedule should be owned by a senior person in your plant who sits across both maintenance and operations , he/she should therefore also make the call whether something urgent enough to be deemed emergency maintenance and thus break in to the frozen weekly schedule. Protecting the schedule is key to stability and that stability enables efficiency. And prioritisation is key to protecting the schedule. A lot of the other tasks you assign to a ‘coordinator’ are what I would consider the role of the maintenance supervisor. ALL The steps in the planning & scheduling process I outline the article are essential and must be completed, but there is some flexibility about who does what. How you structure yourself will depend on your plant complexity, size, organisational culture, people’s capabilities etc.

  11. Commentators Gravatar  Ken on 25th Aug, 2018 at 11:55 PM

    Thanks, Erik for the article which is a great summary of AP 928 which the work management process standard adopted by my company.

    • Commentators Gravatar  Erik Hupjé on 27th Aug, 2018 at 7:25 AM

      Thanks Ken, have to admit that I’m not very familiar with AP-928 which I believe is a work management standard for the nuclear industry?

  12. Commentators Gravatar  Maximo on 27th May, 2019 at 5:07 PM

    Very good article! Thanks for sharing
    Can you share also how is the WR priorization process?, do you use a matrix?
    Do you have a standard process to scope activities between Planners and Technicians? is just informal meeting and conversation in the field?

    • Commentators Gravatar  Erik Hupjé on 27th May, 2019 at 8:40 PM

      Thanks Maximo. For prioritisation of work orders, I recommend either using the RIME (Ranking Index for Maintenance Expenditures) or RAm (Ris Assessment matrix) approaches. Both are indeed matrices, but they are quite different in their approaches. And for the planning of jobs I recommend a standard process / framework like the 5M’s of Maintenance Planning or a more detailed approach that I’ve called the “Maintenance Planning Chart – 9 Steps to a Fully Planned Work Order” which is something I teach in my upcoming online course on maintenance planning & scheduling.

  13. Commentators Gravatar  Aykut ATAPEK on 29th May, 2019 at 3:56 PM

    Dear Hupjé,

    Thanks for share this with us, they are very instructive lessons. I turn them into Turkish and apply them in my own company.


  14. Commentators Gravatar  Christopher Lerwick on 8th Aug, 2019 at 2:00 PM

    Hi Erik, thank you for this very insightful article and all the additional content I found in the website that is super helpful. I currently work as a functional consultant customizing and implementing a CMMS. I have found your notes very insightful and have altered my implementation process to highlight these. In my previous job I was actually the person who implement an Asset Care process that encompassed aspects such as Asset Care Strategy, S5, the need for a CMMS, developing schedules, etc. I see the benefits of planning and scheduling and even the organisations I worked in had the full blessing from the CEO, related to your other article on selling P&S to the CEO.

    My question is how from a consulting perspective will you encourage the maintenance team, supervisor, planner and technician to change their way of working for the last 10-20 years. These are the actual change agents but they are caught in a spiral of daily fire fighting. I often find them resistant to change and especially when it comes to using a CMMS not to mention telling a supervisor he has to work on a computer.

    • Commentators Gravatar  Erik Hupjé on 13th Aug, 2019 at 6:26 PM

      Hi Christopher, thanks for your comment. The issue of resistance to change is never easy and this is why it is important to build a case for change, bring onboard leadership sponsors and especially to translate that case for change into “what’s in it for me” kind of messages that you can use for front line staff. In a lot of maintenance organisations that don’t run an effective maintenance planning & scheduling process, there is a lot of waste, a lot of rework and often a lot of frustration. If you can tap into that emotion and show how with a structured process it becomes a better environment to work, a place with more job satisfaction that can often help in tackling initial resistance. But it won’t make it easy.

  15. Commentators Gravatar  Cesar Moreno on 15th Oct, 2019 at 11:47 AM

    Dear, Erik

    Thanks for this article.
    Our company have a maintenance manager, superintentencies for specialities (mechanical, electrical) that are autonomous in their desicions, and a reliability area that give soport especial technical and us management of the PdM for the superintencies.

    How can the reliability area help to implement this roles in a reactive organization? Should the reliability area do the planner rol?


    • Commentators Gravatar  Erik Hupjé on 16th Oct, 2019 at 5:01 PM

      Hi Cesar, thank you for your comment. Improving reliability requires more of a strategic, long term approach than a tactical focus. And I would certainly not recommend including the role of the planner in a reliability team. If you are in a reactive environment the best the reliability section can do is these 2 things:

      (1) identify the equipment that are your “bad actors” in terms of lost production, downtime, cost etc. And then implement a defect elimination process to eliminate these bad actors.


      (2) Review your preventive maintenance (PM) tasks and make sure that you are using your scarce resources on PM tasks that truly add value. It is very common to find plants where 30% of the PM’s add no value whatsoever in terms of improving integrity, reliability or safety. Remove those PM’s and that gives your resources more time to tackle defects and recurring failures.

      Implement these steps and you will slowly break through the reactive cycle. You will need strong leadership to keep focus on this, especially when results are not immediate. And make sure you have an effective planning & scheduling (work management) process so that you maximise the fficiency of your resources (but that’s something for the maintenance manager to sort out).

      Hope this helps and good luck on your improvement journey! If you need any further help or advise please do feel free to reach out via email.

  16. Commentators Gravatar  Dee on 16th Jan, 2020 at 1:43 AM

    Hi Erik, Great Article!

    I have recently been hired to manage building technicians for non-critical reactive work (Patch, Paint, Doors, Floors, minor plumbing and electrical…. etc. ) The most technical aspect I am managing is Hot Water Heaters. I previously come from an extremely technical and critical environment that had planning and scheduling programs that were essential. However I am struggling to develop a program for solely reactive work since we are responsible for customer requests.

    Could you provide some insight on planning and scheduling for non technical work? I am attempting to apply the same principles to; hanging a white board, changing ballasts etc.. however without any PM’s I am trying to understand what is measurable.

    Having 75 Technicians and 10M+ sqft I want to establish processes that are sustainable and expandable with growth.


    • Commentators Gravatar  Erik Hupjé on 18th Jan, 2020 at 11:44 AM

      Hi Dee, that is indeed quite a change then. What I would say is to have a look at whether you can group this reactive work by trade, by location etc. to drive efficiency up. If you can the planning & scheduling can still add a lot of value. You can use prioritisation to make sure you don’t rush to work that doesn’t need to be done immediately and then campaign the work to increase efficiency. If it is a matter of simply responding to all requests as fast as possible then it becomes a matter of anticipating anything you could find when your crew is called out and you may wish to look at ensuring that they have everything with them when they are called out so that in 90% of the time they can resolve the issue right then and there. You could still measure schedule compliance, average time to close a request etc. as performance metrics. Without knowing a lot more about the business, it does become hard to give more tangible ideas so hope this helps. Feel free to drop me an email with more details.

  17. Commentators Gravatar  houssam Aouina on 8th Mar, 2020 at 12:42 PM

    Hi Éric
    This is a great article dealing with thé matter of Planning and scheduling. By the other point of view I must say that involving or engaging people is one of thé most challenging topic especially when starting from crash…
    Maintenance planners and schedulers should consider one change approach supported by management .. otherwise efforts will not worth the results …
    Without management commitment thé initiative becomes so hard to maintain …leading to failure …

    Planning and scheduling skills must bé combined with leadership and supported by management.

  18. Commentators Gravatar  Umba Musanshi Moussa on 25th Aug, 2020 at 6:44 PM

    Hi Erik,
    Thankful for this great article and this recap the situation that my company faced and continue actually to face .from my own point of view is due to the background of person who lead the organisation as the company has to change almost each two years the management and bring new people that are thinking the previous management was wrong and ignore their effort done in implementing the work management system as consequence we fallback in fire fighting and have poor performance of the crew . I suspect and find out that most of management staff don’t have work management process (P&S) background .Do you think that should be a required qualification or skill before hiring a new staff in maintenance and production organisation ?
    Thanks .

    • Commentators Gravatar  Erik Hupjé on 25th Aug, 2020 at 7:14 PM

      Absolutely, managers and team leaders who are responsible for the execution of maintenance have to understand how maintenance planning & scheduling works and how they need to set up their teams and enable them to work efficiently. Somehow, across many organisations and industries, we accept gaps in peoples and experience without addressing them. I have no problem if someone without that experience takes on a supervisory role but then the organisation needs to ensure the individual is trained and becomes competent. I doubt many people you be happy to go to an eye doctor who used to specialise in ears and had no additional trainign to become an eye doctor…

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