Work Scheduling: The Power of Planning

By Michael Cowley  
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: Work Scheduling: From Chaos to World ClassPt. 2: This Page

The second critical — and some would say most important — strategy is to have a competent planning function. The most important reason work scheduling succeeds is that all work that ends up on the weekly work schedule has a complete, detailed work plan.

When I say complete and detailed, I mean it includes and identifies all parts, special tools and equipment, and special steps technicians need to properly complete the job. Once you have a work order with those components and you add an accurate estimate of the time required to complete the task, it is easier to efficiently schedule the work with customers.

Not Too Much, Please

The third critical strategy to successful work-order scheduling is to never overschedule your maintenance team. Too many organizations believe if they overschedule technicians, they will get more done each week. The truth is completely the opposite. When you continually overschedule, customers think nothing is a high priority for the department. Nothing is more important than anything else, so workers just plod along, moving on to whatever they believe is the next most important assignment.

The key to determining the appropriate level of scheduling is to take total available hours, subtract the normal amount of reactive work, and subtract the normal lost hours, such as personal time, vacation, and meetings. Planners then should schedule 95-100 percent of the remaining available hours.

The difference between 95 percent and 100 percent depends on the complexity of the work. If the task is extremely complex and involves other work sources, such as contractors, perhaps schedule at 95 percent. If you are in total control of all work, then the percentage can edge toward 100 percent.

No matter the amount of work scheduled, you should always have some work in your back pocket to fill gaps in the schedule. Fill-in work is defined as tasks technicians can stop and start easily without affecting the outcome.

Once you succeed at regularly completing more than 95 percent of scheduled work, you can increase the total hours scheduled. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if schedule compliance drops below 85-90 percent, back off a little on the scheduled amount and identify the cause of the decrease. Once you figure it out, you can begin to increase the scheduled percentage.

The keys to successful scheduling are setting goals, having a solid plan to begin scheduling work, and always having a method to measure your progress.

Michael Cowley, CPMM, is president of CE Maintenance Solutions — Cowley provides maintenance training, coaching and consulting services to facility and manufacturing organizations nationwide. He is a frequent speaker at national facilities management conferences.

Agree? Disagree? Have something to say? We want to hear from you. Visit, and start a conversation on this topic.

Continue Reading:

Work Scheduling: From Chaos to World Class

Work Scheduling: The Power of Planning

Contact FacilitiesNet Editorial Staff »

  posted on 10/10/2012   Article Use Policy

Related Topics: