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Do Your Planners Have the Training they need to be Effective?
Article by Alan Warmack of Marshall Institute - Posted by Reliability Web - Read Article on Reliability Web

Are you considering the implementation of Planning and Scheduling in your Maintenance group? Maybe you have already started the process and chosen the Planners to take you forward in your Continuous Improvement Process. In either case, strong consideration should be given to the types and levels of training your Planners have, or are going to receive in order to make them effective in their new job.

Many times, your Planners come from the ranks. They could possibly be an hourly craftsperson, or maybe a supervisor. They typically are your most experienced personnel, and rightfully so. This person should have many good qualities such as their years of experience and their overall knowledge of the facility and its operations. They should have good leadership traits. They are respected and reliable, they are good communicators, and they have good multi-skill capabilities. There are many other things that need to be added to this list when considering your choices to fill the role of a Planner / Scheduler. Hopefully you have chosen this person based on strict criteria to include the items above, set forth in advance, to insure that you place the right person in the job.

Once the selection of the Planner has been made, training issues must be considered; what new “tools” will this person be asked to utilize in their new position? They may have set aside their tool box and the actual tools that have made them the craftsperson or Supervisor they are today, and are now being asked to use an entirely new set of tools in an entirely new job function. These new tools probably include a computer, a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS), Microsoft Office Tools, etc. This does not include the fact that they have all new Roles and Responsibilities as Planner / Schedulers. Hopefully you are not placing this person in the new position and doing the unthinkable; asking them to write up their own set of roles and responsibilities! These roles and responsibilities should be drawn up before the selection process ever takes place! Would it not be prudent to have this completed ahead of time in order to help develop the very criteria discussed earlier, which will be one of the major determining factors when choosing the planner?

If there was ever a case to insure that proper training takes place, it is with your Planner / Schedulers. These people are going to be instrumental in your maintenance group becoming effective and efficient. Are you making the statement that you can’t afford to perform training? You can’t afford not to, especially in the case of your Planners! The whole reason behind implementing Planning and Scheduling is to make your remaining crew more effective in the way they perform maintenance in your facility. Remember, you probably took this person out of your current resources and placed them in this new function. Why then would you not want them to be as effective as possible to prove their value? Here’s an example to ask of your group. Can my Planners’ type, or are they “pecking” information into the system? The point of instituting the Planning and Scheduling process is to gain greater work utilization from the rest of the maintenance mechanics. Why would you not start this process with the Planning Group? Your Work Utilization effectiveness needs to start here! They need to know how a computer works. They need to know how to type, how to pull data and manipulate it in a database or a spreadsheet, then develop the graphics to reflect the maintenance group’s performance. They need to know the CMMS system very close to an Administrator’s level. They are going to be your “Power Users” in the CMMS. They need to understand all of its functions, inside and out. Many articles out there will tell you that most systems are only utilized at about 25%-30% of their capability. You need to be willing to provide the training and IT resources to insure these planners are capable of utilizing the CMMS to full capabilities, thus insuring your maintenance functions will be as effective as possible.

When putting the “Scheduler’s Cap” on, these people will perform many functions, some of which will be holding daily scheduling and approval meetings, weekly scheduling meetings with production, project planning meetings, etc. Have they been trained on how to properly manage and facilitate a meeting for maximum effectiveness? We would probably all agree that there are too many ineffective meetings going on in our facilities. How many meetings have you attended and asked yourself why you were invited to the meeting? After the meeting, are you still unsure of why you attended or what was accomplished? Training your Planner / Schedulers to be effective facilitators will insure that the Maintenance meetings are short, concise, and the desired outcome is achieved. This will lend credibility to maintenance. The attendees won’t mind attending a well structured meeting.

These are just a few of the training issues that should be considered when insuring that the Planner / Schedulers have the tools they now need to be effective in their new jobs. You should not expect them to be effective and efficient if you have not provided them with the means to do so. If this group is properly trained and understands the roles and responsibilities of their new position, they can become a driving force in the success of your Continuous Improvement Process.

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