Planner-schedulers: Centralized or decentralized, that is the question

March 20, 2018
In organizations where the planning and scheduling processes are in their infancy or not far from it, centralized tends to be a better approach.
Question: Jeff, we have three planner-schedulers and are considering relocating them from their respective shop areas across the site to a central location. As you might expect, there are passionate opinions about the possible change. What are your thoughts on this matter? Centralized or decentralized?

Leena, maintenance manager, SD

Answer: Leena, while you did not elaborate on why you are considering centralizing them, I suspect that you are finding them to be distracted and doing everything besides planning and scheduling.

In my experience, the answer depends on the maturity of the organization with regard to the purpose and expectations of the planner-scheduler role. I find that in organizations where the planning and scheduling processes are in their infancy or not far from it, centralized tends to be a better approach. Note that the statement refers to “processes” and not planner-schedulers' length of time in their position. A site can have planner-schedulers who have been in their role for years. At the same time, the place can lack processes, education, and auditing for improvement in maintenance planning and scheduling activities.

In these situations, I find it better to centralize the planner-schedulers until a level of maturity is reached. When people are in the same location, synergy can be gained through development of common tools – for example, a standard job plan template, naming conventions, or precision planning approaches. By concentrating the group, we can hold people accountable for proper execution. This accountability applies not only to those in the planner-scheduler role but also those who interface with the function, such as supervisors and storeroom personnel. Also, it’s much easier for the three planners, in this case, to learn from each other when they are sitting together. We can even manage the distractions. No, I’m not trying to isolate the individuals in a cocoon – just trying to get standardization.

With a level of maturity and standardization acheived, we probably want to migrate the planner-schedulers to a decentralized model. Locating them where they are in the shops and closer to the physical work makes sense. By this time, we will have educated the supervisors and others on planning and scheduling. If we don’t put an audit process in place to verify our expectations regarding planning and scheduling, then it will not be long before we come full circle. In that event, the planner-schedulers will be doing everything that no one else wanted to address and little if any planning and scheduling.

Do you agree? In your organization, do you find the planner schedulers managing outside contractors and doing fire extinguisher inspections as examples?  Stuff that no one else has time to do? Or are they genuinely planning and scheduling? Is the role centralized or decentralized? Please share your thoughts and feedback.

Send me an email at the address below,and I will respond or place your questions with my answers here.

Talk soon,
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.

About the Author

Jeff Shiver | Founder and managing principal at People and Processes, Inc.

Jeff Shiver CMRP is a founder and managing principal at People and Processes, Inc. Jeff guides people to achieve success in maintenance and reliability practices using common sense approaches. Visit or email [email protected].

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