Without a Plan, You’ll Never Get Where You Are Trying To Go

Image going for a vacation, but you don’t have a destination in mind, directions to the destination, or any funds allocated for the trip.  What kind of vacation will you have?  Chances are it won’t be a good one.

The importance of a plan cannot be understated.  Without a plan in any aspect of life, business or reliability, achieving goals are difficult, if not impossible.   Oftentimes organizations implement tactical activities, without a strategic plan.  This ad-hoc approach often results in certain aspects of a maintenance & reliability program implemented, but the results do not materialize.

It is that time of the year where you should have a plan for 2017 ready to go.  This plan should outline where you want to take your maintenance & reliability program.  In case you don’t have a plan, do not worry.  This post will outline the steps you can take with your team to develop a plan for 2017 in a short period of time.

Align Goals with the Organization

The first step to developing any plan is to understand where the organization is trying to go.  This means understanding what high-level strategic goals the site or organisation has.   Once these are understood, they need to be broken down into goals for the maintenance department.  Typical goals may include;

  • Reduced Costs
  • Increased OEE

These high-level goals are not yet actionable.   They are the strategic goals for the maintenance department.  Once these have been identified, you and your team can be assembled to develop the detailed plan to achieve them.

Translate Goals in KPIs

With the team assembled, start brainstorming about what KPIs can be used tracked and improved, that will translate into improvements in the goals.

  • For OEE, the department may focus on availability, reducing quality defects by reducing process variability or identifying bottlenecks in the process.
  • For Costs, the department may focus reducing overtime, control spare parts, or improve wrench time.

Whatever goals are selected, they need to be broken down into KPIs that can be measured in short and regular intervals.  Weekly KPIs are ideal as they can be measured frequently and trends analyzed.

Identify Steps to Achieve KPIs

This is the meat of the plan.  With the KPIs identified,  all milestones and steps are listed out with a specific timeline.  There may be multiple workstreams and milestones depending on the number of KPIs that the department will be focused on.

Once all of the steps have been laid out, assign resources (funding for contractor support, or individuals for your team) to each of the steps.  There should only be one person that is responsible per action.  This will ensure that there is no misunderstanding on who will be doing what.

Since the team was present and assisted with the goals and the plan, they will be more likely to accept the responsibility of completing the steps.  One word of caution, be sure to review the amount of responsibility assigned to each person, and not just overall.  Review the amount of responsibility at various phases throughout the year.  If someone is over assigned at a specific phase, utilize others to help.


The best-laid plans will not achieve anything if they are not implemented.  So be sure to set a start date and implement the plan.  Once implemented, focus on the governance and accountability to the plan (this will be the focus of next week’s post) to ensure the plan is successful.

If you don’t yet have a plan for 2017, get your team together for a few hours in a conference room and work through this basic framework.  At a minimum, you will end up with a basic plan to drive sustainable improvements in the coming year.

If you have a plan for 2017, share the high-level goals or workstreams you will be focusing on.

Remember, to find success, you must first solve the problem, then achieve the implementation of the solution, and finally sustain winning results.

I’m James Kovacevic
Eruditio, LLC
Where Education Meets Application