“I need a little help with developing a maintenance planning department.”

The question was how to develop a Maintenance Job Preparation and Planning Department in a Utility Business to support the Maintenance Teams from the Technical Services Department with their Maintenance Work Activities.



Hi Mike.

I am a new engineer at a multi-utility company (water and electrical power production/ distribution) and my assignment is to come up with ideas on how to develop a (Maintenance) Job Preparation and Planning department to support the organization’s Technical Services with the maintenance activities.

The company consists of two diesel power plants, one dual purpose plant and one RO plant. The Technical Services department is responsible for the maintenance activities of these plants, and they need a (Maintenance) Job Preparation and Planning department to plan and schedule every maintenance activity.

I have to provide them with a complete setup plan for the department on operational level, including all necessary work processes, and recommendations based on best practices and least cost option on organizational, technical and tactical level.

My questions are:

  • Where do I begin? What are the steps that I need to take into account to develop a maintenance planning department?
  • How many maintenance planners and schedulers do I need for this department? Is there a calculation for this?
  • What education should these planners and schedulers need? A bachelor degree and at least four years of experience of the plants? Should they take (online) training courses before they begin to work?
  • Will I need a maintenance planner/ scheduler clerk(s)?
  • How big will this department be?
  • Which maintenance system software’s (CMMS, Work Planning, Work Scheduling) will be relevant to use?
  • Which is the best way to make the necessary work processes? (How to begin?)
  • Where can I get information on best practices?
  • If I take your online planning and scheduling course, will I be able to answer all these questions and more?

Right now I am focused more on what my “Inputs”, the “Process” and the “Outputs” are of the department that I need to develop. The details of the ‘planning and scheduling’ part is something that I need to focus later on.

What I can think of at the moment is that my “Inputs” are:

  • Outage planning: someone in this new department has to do this.
  • HRM: how many people will I need for this department and what are their functions.
  • Tools / technology: which software’s will I need to use, will I need a small Library for all the information of the plant equipment’s?

“Process”: by applying a research problem solving methodology/ strategy. Don’t know which one yet! Someone recommended me to read the book: ‘Problem Solving in Organizations’.

My “outputs”: Material and work planning for the diesel plants and the dual purpose plant.

I have to do better then this. I feel like plan-less… not knowing how to tackle this problem.

Best regards,




Hello Reno,

If you came to one of our three day Maintenance Planning and Scheduling Training Courses you would learn all that you need to know about maintenance planning and scheduling process design and the maintenance planning and scheduling process contents.

You can buy and download all the information that you need to know about best practice Maintenance Planning and Scheduling with the PowerPoint presentation from our 3-Day Maintenance Planning and Scheduling for Reliability training course PPT (PowerPoint) presentation available for purchase at the online store.

But since you cannot attend the course start your education by reading these two books on maintenance planning and scheduling (MPS) processes and practices. 1) ‘Maintenance Planning and Scheduling Handbook’ by Doc Dalmer. It will provide high level guidance with planning and scheduling process design. 2) Another useful book is ‘Maintenance Planning and Scheduling’ from Idcon Inc. This book covers the details of what occurs at the low levels of a planning and scheduling process.

At the start you need to conceptualize and explain to people what maintenance planning and scheduling will do for your company.

To me your current intended output does not go far enough. The output of a MPS process needs to bring clear, real business benefits. For me the maintenance planning process ‘outputs’ have the bigger purpose of providing ‘maximum plant uptime through complete and accurate work planning and efficient job coordination’. Design your MPS processes to do exactly that!

Your MPS process outputs directly impact the way Maintenance Department Managers will run the Maintenance Crews, they affect your Materials Management process, and they define how you coordinate the Production Group and your subcontractors. The planning aspect of MPS is definitely all about ‘Material and work planning for the diesel plants and the dual purpose plant.’ But you also need to include the coordination needed to get the planned work completed to schedule.

Start with the basic maintenance management flowchart below and identify the main inputs and outputs required from each box in the flow loop.

As you design more detailed flowcharts you will be able to clarify and specify the particular inputs required from throughout your organization to feed into each MPS process activity.



Then for each box draw a high level conceptual flowchart that shows how your operation will deliver those particular inputs and outputs. Once the required activities are known in good detail you can then resource them with people who are competent in the necessary tasks. You will also be able to select the appropriate supporting technologies now that you know what information needs to be available to each function in the process.



The flowchart below is an example of a detailed planning process work flow diagram. It is the sort of thing that you will end up with for each box of the Basic Maintenance Management Process.

You will also need to explain how Purchasing and Materials Management will function during the planning, scheduling and execution of maintenance work.




You should also read the article Maintenance Backlog Management for a summary of what you are trying to accomplish with a maintenance work planning process.

There is one more thing that you must work out how to do that is very important for the transfer of ownership of the processes you create to the people who will use those processes.

In some way be sure to involve the managers and the supervisors from Maintenance (and occasionally those from Production) in reviewing the proposed MPS process designs. They are the people who will be responsible to make the processes work, and you want them in future to willingly provide the necessary support and guidance to people in their maintenance groups.

Building ownership will require them to invest time and effort in the development of the processes they will manage. Once you put time and energy into a thing you start to feel responsible for it.

You do not want to annoy them with too many interruptions, but somehow you must keep them involved in the process design and development so they know and understand the processes well and they will willing take them on as their own once they are implemented.

I hope that the above comments help you.


My best regards to you,

Mike Sondalini
Managing Director
Lifetime Reliability Solutions HQ


NOTE: Find out how you can do our certificated online 10 module Maintenance Planning and Scheduling training course by distance education. Read more at Online Maintenance Planning and Scheduling Training Course.

Immediately download all the information that you need to know about best practice Maintenance Planning and Scheduling with our PowerPoint presentation from our 3-Day Maintenance Planning and Scheduling for Reliability training course PPT (PowerPoint) presentation available for purchase at the online store.