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  • Writer's pictureMichael Gill

Part Two: Planning & Scheduling Bottleneck


A Focus on Planning

How can we establish a better planning and scheduling function within our organizations? We need to first realize that planning and scheduling are in fact separate actions and require a unique focus for each. In this blog we will discuss planning specifically and what should be considered to improve this process.

Work can come across a planner’s desk in many forms. But typically work should be funnelling through a work management system or a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) as requested work. Having requisitions in place ensures there is a place for individuals to get found or recognized work into a formal process of planning. It is this process of planning that is key to establishing safe, efficient, and effective work plans. The function of planning begins with planners filtering through requests and ensuring these are valid and not duplicated. Far too often the work requisition line gets messed up and work gets left behind and becomes stale. So, keeping the line of requisitions clean and organized takes focus and requires specific attention.

Assessment of the potential work that would be required for a work requisition is the next step in successful planning. Planners need to engage with the individuals who are requesting the work. This ensures expectations are set and met. A planner should visit the worksite and gather as much information as possible concerning a well-thought-out plan. It is at this step that planners are doing a preliminary build on content and scope. This is also when planners consider the operational impact and determine the coordination between maintenance and operations. During this phase of planning the most important element of assessment takes place. This is determining the priority of the work. In the requester’s eyes, the work is often viewed as a top priority. But it is up to planners to formally assign a priority that is risk-based. A priority that looks at the big picture and considers all the elements of risk versus reward. Every requisition should be viewed as transactional and there should be considerations of cost to perform the work as well as the gains potentially earned as a result of executing the work. There are many more items in this phase but one that cannot go unmentioned: is the safety hazard assessment. No work should be planned without a safety review.

Often work that is being planned has been executed once before in the past. A planner should review past work to determine if steps from a previously planned job can be utilized in a current plan. Keeping note that if there is repeated work, a planner should consider templating plans to ensure ongoing consistency and efficiency in the planning process. Planners need to ensure procedures and processes are brought into the picture. This phase involves research not only to provide the necessary detail into the plan, but also to ensure all those who will be impacted by the work are kept informed throughout the timeframe of planning straight through execution.

Pulling everything together at this point is the primary purpose of this next phase. This is when the planner is considering the best methods needed for the work to be performed. Out of the research phase, the planner may have stumbled across some lessons that have been learned from the last time work of this nature was performed. This is critical in the efforts of improving and should be encouraged within the planning ranks. A good plan will have a heavy consideration on the sequencing of work. This ensures tasks are performed in a set order to promote safe and effective execution. Building or utilizing a pre-existing bill of material is also part of the phase and is very helpful in ensuring the right parts and tools are available for execution. This phase also requires the planner to determine the trades and resources required to execute the job. During the researching phase, the planner should be meeting with trades to get estimates for each task to be performed. By now the plan should have special tools identified, coordination with related work in the area as well as a decent estimate to perform the work. A solid plan ensures safety is first, but it also considers all the elements required to ensure smooth efficient execution. Planning is a full-time position because planning should take time to be detailed. It is the detail that prevents re-work, it is the detail that ensures safety, and it is the detail that creates major efficiencies.

Have questions on your planning and scheduling functions? Want to learn more about how you can make your organization more resilient in this space? Reach out, a call doesn't cost a thing!

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