Question: Jeff, we are finally filling the maintenance planner-scheduler position after my previous plant manager felt the post was a waste of time and left it unfilled for years. How should I approach this person's development and ensure our value for the investment?
Darryl, maintenance manager, SD
Answer: Darryl, it’s great to hear that you are finally able to move forward. There are three distinct components that I consider necessary for the success of maintenance planning and scheduling. They are:
- Education – not only of the planner-scheduler but also of those in other roles who will interact with the planner-scheduler.
Regardless of whether the organization is new to planning or has had years of success, I find that the planner-scheduler benefits from a level of foundational education on the organization's roles, responsibilities, and expectations. In your case, the organization is not familiar with planning and scheduling, so it becomes even more important that the maintenance supervisors, production supervisors, and others understand their role in work management.
With that basic knowledge under their belt, the MOST important element to leverage is an experienced coach. Although knowledge about your specific CMMS is helpful, effective coaching is more about helping the individual understand the business processes and be able to influence others to ensure the success of work execution. There are many barriers to effective planning and scheduling. The harsh reality is there are many obstacles to proactive maintenance, period.
The problem is that many organizations flounder needlessly with the often-misguided impression, "We don’t need to spend money on coaching; we can do that ourselves." But without the coach, opportunities for improved business results can be delayed or, worse, lost. Business pressures increase (especially in reactive environments), and frustration will ensue. The coach can significantly shorten the time required for success not only in the planning and scheduling function but also for reliability improvement overall.
As an example, when I work with organizations directly, I can leverage my personal experiences as a reliability technician, engineer, maintenance manager, IT manager, production manager, and consultant to help the organization succeed with planning or more holistically with reliability and operational improvement efforts. With one of our international clients, $1.8 million was returned to the plant budget in the first year with effective work execution practices at a single site. It just goes to show the investment benefits of education followed by competent coaching.
Auditing ensures the ability to sustain the practices over time and continuously improve. In a previous "Ask Jeff" post, I shared auditing concepts. You can read more here.
Together, these three components provide a great framework to get you in the game and help you succeed. Agree or disagree? What insights would you add? Email me at the address below and I will respond or place your questions with my answers here.
Jeff Shiver, CMRP
If you have problems in the fields of maintenance, reliability, planning and scheduling, MRO storerooms, or leadership, please contact Jeff Shiver with your question(s) here.