Use these tips to overcome barriers and create a successful maintenance planning & scheduling process

Feel free to use this image just link to

Implementing a Maintenance Planning & Scheduling process can be trying, difficult and downright frustrating. How would you like to dramatically reduce the stress involved and see results quicker? By utilizing these 5 tips, you will be able to build a robust, highly efficient and effective process with reduced effort.

These 5 tips are time tested, and have been used to successfully launch or re-launch Maintenance Planning & Scheduling in numerous sites. The tips are not at all complicated, or very large, but they all add up to building a sustainable Maintenance Planning & Scheduling process. These tips are in no particular order, but they should all be used to realize the greatest benefit.

1. Service Level Agreements (SLA): Establishing SLA(s) with the key partners in the planning & scheduling process, will ensure all expectations are aligned between the parties. They also enable a specified level of service for the parties by specifying the timelines which they will be held account to. It is important to note that the SLA works both ways. The SLA will call out what maintenance expects from the other parties, but must also specify what is required of maintenance. In order to make the SLA work, both parties must benefit from it. Two of the most common SLAs that have been used are;

  • Storeroom SLA; The SLA with the storeroom ensures that the parts process does not become the bottle neck in the planning & scheduling process. Establishing a SLA with the storeroom ensures that Operations get prompt service and quick work order turnaround times. Included in the SLA with the storeroom, the storeroom will typically agree to;
    • Time to Process a Purchase Requisition
    • Time to Kit a Job

In return the Planning and Scheduling function will be required to;

    • Provide specific information on materials, e.g. Manufacturer, Part Number, etc.
    • Provide Work schedules at least 1 week in advance
    • Coordinate scheduling of work for long lead time materials with the storeroom.
  • Operations SLA; The SLA with Operations is very similar to the one with the storeroom. It establishes timelines and commitments between both parties. Typically the Operations team will agree to;
    • Lock-in of Schedules & Maintenance Windows
    • Specified Advanced Notice of Schedule Changes, e.g. 24 hours.
    • How Work Requests Will be Submitted

In return the planning and scheduling team will agree to provide operations with;

    • Job Plan Updates: These must be addressed to build the buy in of the craft team, as they will quickly stop providing feedback if the job plans are not updated.
    • Material Updates: This may be provided by the craft or the storeroom, but will impact the job plans.
    • Failures Reporting: In order to break the reactive cycle, defects must be eliminated. Failure data is vital to this.
    • Start-Up Issues: To ensure we meet our portion of the SLA with operations, we need to ensure we address all issues that delay an on time start up from a maintenance window.
    • The feedback is a key part of the continuous improvement loop in maintenance planning & scheduling. This is what enables the process to become sustainable, as we do not have to learn everything from the beginning when a job arises.

2. Feedback is critical to the success and sustainability of the Maintenance Planning & Scheduling process. Whether it comes from operations, the storeroom or the craft, it is critical that the feedback is used to improve the process. Typically the feedback that the planning & scheduling process will receive is;

    • On-Time Completion of Maintenance Windows
    • Time lime to Review and Process a Request

3. Set Small Goals: When you break down the large tasks into small goals, it is easy to make progress. Everyone involved in the planning & Scheduling process should have a small weekly goal established. Two of my favorites are;

    • Develop 2 detailed job plans per week
    • Build 1 BOM per week

If you are starting the process from the very beginning, then to build a good scheduling process, the goals could be to;

    • Level the PM work load
    • Build a weekly schedule
    • Build a 4 week schedule
    • Small goals can be used in many different ways. However they are used, there needs to be accountability for them, so be sure to bring them up in the weekly maintenance meeting and address any gaps in achieving the goals.

4. Stick to the Role: A planner has to stay focused on planning and future. They cannot, under any circumstances be pulled to address work in progress, such a breakdowns, chasing parts, etc.

5. Have the Right Meetings and make them effective. Meetings are required to ensure communication happened, variances addressed and decision made. Too often meetings do not provide value. Use the 3 points below to get the meetings back on track;

  • Make the Meeting Effective
    • Have the Agenda Clearly Defined (Ensure the meeting has a purpose)
    • Ensure the meeting has specific inputs and outputs
  • Make the Meeting Efficient
    • Be on time
    • Stick to the agenda
  • Track the Outcomes
    • Review the outcomes prior to closeout
    • Record them with names and due dates
    • Review at the beginning of the next meeting
    • By ensuring that the meetings taking place have these elements, they will be reduced in time and increased in effectiveness. If these elements are not in the meetings, it may be time to remove the meeting and give people more time to focus on breaking the reactive cycle.

Try implementing one of these tips this week, and the next week another, until all five are being used. You will see the results almost immediately, allowing you and your team to break the reactive cycle and begin planning for profitability.

Which one of these tips do you find most value added? Which one made the biggest impact on your Maintenance Planning & Scheduling process?

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