Big Difference Between Maintenance Planner and Scheduler

Maintenance Planner and Scheduler are Two Separate Roles. Planning is Always Done Before Scheduling

Planning maintenance work means developing the work breakdown structure activity by activity, including buying parts and services. Scheduling maintenance work means organizing and coordinating resources so a job is done on the agreed date.

A lot of people mistakenly think that maintenance scheduling is maintenance planning. They are not the same. There is a big difference between the two functions. The job description might say Maintenance Planner and Scheduler, but in reality they are two roles. Maintenance Planning needs to be done before you can do maintenance scheduling. One person may be tasked with the maintenance planning and scheduling functions, but each has its own duties and responsibilities.

First comes maintenance planning, and then you do maintenance scheduling. A maintenance work pack must be developed and completed in full first, so that comprehensive scheduling can be done using the work pack.

Defining Maintenance Planning and Scheduling

Maintenance planning is the work of creating a complete and thorough maintenance job work pack. In which are included, the job plan with a detailed work breakdown structure of all the tasks and the time they are expected to take to properly complete; the job procedure explaining how to correctly do each work task; all job risk management requirements; the purchase of all necessary parts, equipment, specialist services, and materials; all required technical information, all job history records to be kept; along with numerous other considerations that might apply to the safe and accurate completion of a work order.

Maintenance scheduling is the work of organising and coordinating the personnel, equipment, materials, all resources, and access to the asset, needed to do a maintenance job most efficiently.

Having one person do both the maintenance planning and scheduling roles is a bad idea. They will spend all their time doing maintenance scheduling and none doing maintenance planning. They will get caught up with preparing and coordinating each day’s jobs, and there is no time left to think about and develop the work packs for the jobs to be done in the days ahead.

Without doing maintenance planning before maintenance scheduling there will be many problems with the jobs passed to the maintenance crew. Work orders will take longer to prepare and organize; they will take longer to do, since things and information will be missing; and they will not be done to top-class work quality standards, all because work packs containing all the necessary details required by the Scheduler and the Maintainer are not available. Operations that have the same person doing both maintenance planning and scheduling think that they are getting the maintenance planning done, but it is not true, since the jobs are not being accurately planned in full.

Figure 1 is a slide from our online maintenance planning and scheduling training course taught by tutored distance learning. It shows a combined maintenance planning, scheduling, and job execution process. It identifies the Maintenance Planner’s responsibilities. Scheduling is separate to planning and it is done after the work pack is made available by the Planner.


a process is followed by the maintenance planner and scheduler to ensure correct maintenance job execution


Figure 1 – Combined Maintenance Planning, Scheduling, Execution Process

Figure 2 comes from Module 7 of the online maintenance planning training course in which is taught how to develop a full and complete maintenance scheduling process. It makes it clear that maintenance scheduling is to decide when to do a job, and to coordinate all the resources, materials, equipment, and access so it can be done efficiently, with as little production disruption as possible.
after the work pack is made available by the Planner.


maintenance planning scheduling execution workflow


Figure 2 – Where Scheduling Fits in Maintenance Planning, Scheduling, and Execution Workflow

Maintenance Planner Must Know How to Do the Tasks in a Job, a Maintenance Scheduler Does Not

When a person is appointed to the role of Maintenance Planner, they must be able to create comprehensive maintenance work packs. If they cannot build and populate a work pack, then they are not the right person for job. An Electrical Maintenance Planner will plan how to do electrical work orders. A Mechanical Maintenance Planner will plan how to do work on mechanical equipment. A Mobile Fleet Maintenance Planner develops the work packs for vehicles in the fleet. The persons doing those roles need to know how to do the work that they are planning. An Electrical Maintenance Planner must be a qualified and certified electrician. A Mechanical Maintenance Planner must know how machines work and how they are built. How else can they develop an accurate, top quality work pack with the right content for the maintenance technician to follow?

When people appointed to a Maintenance Planner role do not know how to do the work of planning maintenance jobs task by task, they fall back to doing maintenance scheduling. You can be a great Maintenance Scheduler without knowing how to complete the maintenance work order. That is because you are organizing and coordinating people, plant, and resources, which do not need you to know how a job needs to be done rightly by the technician. You could become a fantastic Scheduler if you were given a proper, fully built maintenance work pack to schedule.

Be clear in your mind, maintenance planning and scheduling are two utterly different roles. The Planner creates and provides correct, complete work packs, including doing procurement. The Scheduler brings together and synchronizes all that is necessary to do the job on the day it is scheduled.

There is a great deal to know if you want to do the maintenance planner and scheduler roles to top class performance. You are welcome to see if the Maintenance Planning and Scheduling distance learning course is of value in your training.

You can also get the 3-day Maintenance Planning and Scheduling for Reliability training course PPT presentation materials from the online shop to review and find new knowledge and good solutions to use in your operation.