Asset Performance Blog Management Reliability & Maintenance Center

Manage Maintenance Planning Expectations

EP Editorial Staff | May 22, 2019

Your planners should actually be planning jobs, not performing clerical-type tasks that could be done by qualified maintenance clerks.

What should you expect from your maintenance planners?

Focused on the right activities, they can make work execution much more productive at your site. In fact, according to Roger Corley of Life Cycle Engineering, Charleston, SC (, every hour spent effectively planning saves three hours in the field during execution. He offered the following advice to help manage expectations.

For starters, understand that planning and scheduling should be separate roles. A look at personality profiles of individuals in these two roles shows why. While there are exceptions, great planners tend to be concrete, sequential thinkers; great schedulers tend to be more abstract, random thinkers. 

It’s important for planners to actually be planning jobs, not performing clerical duties that could be done by qualified maintenance clerks. Some organizations dedicate one person to close all work orders after craftspeople enter the required information. Although such people may be planners (on paper), they no longer have time to plan jobs. The ability to pull existing planners off planning duty to perform this necessary task, however, doesn’t mean an extra full-time planner should be hired. Individuals dedicated to the task and other clerical activities can be “backfilled” by existing planners, since work-order closing has been removed from their normal duties. 

So what, exactly, should planners do with their time? 

They should spend between 30% to 40% of each day in the field, looking at and field-planning corrective tasks. This includes discussing potential job plans with crafts. As much as possible, planners should walk down every corrective maintenance job, with very rare exceptions, i.e., safety considerations.

They should spend about an hour each day inspecting and verifying kits in the kitting area.

They should spend remaining available hours creating detailed job plans. This includes building plans, researching and ordering parts, and developing job-plan packages that include detailed scopes, lists of steps/tasks, parts, and tools, along with any applicable drawings, diagrams, and permits. 

Keep in mind that planners should save details of appropriately planned work in a job-plan library for future reference. In Oracle, such documentation is called asset activities; in SAP it’s referred to as task lists. If your CMMS doesn’t have a similar capability, planners can save pre-planned jobs in a document-control library or other electronic format. This will greatly improve a planner’s efficiency and effectiveness, since future work on the assets in question will only require a field visit to verify scope. Moreover, because the planning will basically be complete, or nearly so, a copy-and-paste of pertinent information will finish the planning activity. 

Finally, remember that planners don’t need to build an asset activity for each individual asset in a plant: They can build it for an asset type. This means that one asset activity can be written to cover multiple assets. EP

Roger Corley is a work- and materials-management subject-matter expert (SME) with Life Cycle Engineering, Charleston, SC, and a certified facilitator for maintenance planning and scheduling with the Life Cycle Institute. For more information, email, or visit



View Comments

Sign up for insights, trends, & developments in
  • Machinery Solutions
  • Maintenance & Reliability Solutions
  • Energy Efficiency
Return to top