Wednesday, February 22, 2012

So is it a Planner, a Scheduler, or is it a Planner/Scheduler?

Recently, I had an interesting conversation about staffing the maintenance planner and scheduler roles with in a facility. The question was centered on whether a site should have the two disciplines split or if they should be combined. The answer in my mind is… it depends.
Here are my thoughts on criteria that affect the planner/scheduler organizational structure:
Size of the maintenance workforce:
If you are in a small facility it becomes very hard to support standalone schedulers. For that matter, it is hard to get one person dedicated solely to planning and scheduling. To put some numbers to it I would suggest that in an average maturity facility you will need one planner for every ten to fifteen crafts and one scheduler for every fifty crafts. The number of planners you need may drop as you mature and the job plan library is populated and refined but the scheduler will stay at a fixed level.
Reliability maturity of the facility:
More mature organizations can pool more of the crafts and share across multiple areas for maximum resource efficiency and utilization. If you share resources across multiple areas then that can be a good reason to have a standalone scheduler who devotes his time to working with all of the effected parties and creating a schedule that they can all support.
So if you consider both of these factors than it becomes a bit easier to design your organizational structure but you must keep in mind that as these size and maturity change your structure may have to change as well. 
What are your thoughts?


  1. I agree with your ideas.

    In my experience, the acts of planning and scheduling often require very different skill sets.

    In addition, every minute I spend on scheduling takes away from the time I should be planning (and vice versa).

    To make matters worse, combining the roles often makes believe planning and scheduling are the same thing.

    Before you know it, scheduling meetings are called planning meetings and planners are working to schedule shutdowns as opposed to developing job plan libraries.

    If you have the bandwidth, I highly recommend separating the two functions.

  2. Helpful post Shon. that explains why there are so many more people out there with the job title "Maintenance Planner" than there are with the title "Maintenance Scheduler".

  3. In response to the great question posted on twitter by Jason Verly @mygeekdaddy about role splits between schedulers and supervisors. Here are my thoughts on the pros and cons:
    If the supervisor is also the scheduler then he will know his craftsmen better than anyone and will be able to schedule down to the individual with great confidence. He knows their strong points, weak points, and who they work well with. He should be able to foresee many of the schedule breakers and better plan for them.
    On the negative side supervisors are day to day folks and schedulers are future focused. If he can not over come the urge to get caught in the day to day he will struggle to get the future work scheduled properly. Also if he is doing the role of the scheduler and still has a full group to supervise he may end up in the office too much and under supervising his folks.