What to include in a pre-assessment tool to decide if persons will be good maintenance planners or maintenance schedulers

A Maintenance Planner assessment tool for discovering people with the potential to be a top maintenance planner will not be the same tool to use for identifying people with the potential to be a top maintenance scheduler.



Hello Mike,

I have reviewed your website and was wondering if you have any pre-assessment tools that we could run our potential Planners through to see if they are capable of performing planning functions. As well as any Scheduling pre-assessment tools.

Thank you



Hello Jacqueline,

What a truly brilliant idea it is to have a maintenance planner pre-assessment tool and a maintenance scheduler pre-assessment tool. You will need two separate assessment devices, since the attributes and skills needed for maintenance planning and for maintenance scheduling are vastly different to each other.

One obvious tool to use in assessment is a questionnaire. But beware, people can answer a question set poorly, yet would be great planners once they are properly trained.

Maintenance Planner Assessment

In constructing the questions set you will be looking to identify the presence of key attributes needed in a maintenance planner. For me, the four most important requirements are:

  • Completeness: They love to know the details and will be thorough in getting the full information about a job and the equipment into the work packs. A maintenance planner must provide technicians with the full details and accurate information needed to rebuild and install equipment correctly.
  • Technically Literate: They know how the plant and machinery for which they are planning works. If maintenance planners do not understand the engineering of a machine or equipment item, they can never plan its repair job properly. Certainly, without sufficient engineering knowledge, they can never discuss with suppliers, designers, engineers, production staff and the maintenance artisans what is wrong with the equipment and how to make it right.
  • Problem Solver: They want to make plant and equipment more reliable so that there are fewer maintenance problems to fix in future. The want to make maintenance processes more effective, so maintenance jobs to go right-first-time.
  • Communicator: They willingly talk to people in Production, Maintenance and Engineering. They explain clearly, through words, diagrams and images, what has been planned and prepared, as well as what needs to be done to make the plan work.

For a Maintenance Planner, providing all the details, understanding the equipment they plan to maintain, preventing problems, and being good at explaining complex work are fundamental attributes.

Notice that good computer skills and the ability to develop bar charts and Critical Paths are not listed. Skills can be taught, but habits and values are part of a person’s psychology.

Finding people with these capabilities becomes the requirements that you want to build into an assessment questionnaire tool for a maintenance planner. Use the question set to eliminate the clearly incapable or under-educated

Past behaviors are usually a good indication of future behaviors. You can structure the question set to highlight their past practices and then verify them with referees.

Those people that pass the questionnaire need to go onto a properly structured and conducted test of their capabilities to observe what they actually do.

Companies often use a three month probationary period to observe new recruits. But that is a post-employment selection method and you want a pre-employment selection tool. That requires pre-testing before employment.

I suggest that you give them a challenging, but fair, maintenance planning job to tackle without assistance and observe them. For example, get them to explain what they would do to plan for the overhaul of a pump (or other simple machine used in your operation). Give them a full engineering information pack about the equipment and let them analyze the contents before developing the plan and the work pack for the job. They have two hours to do the work, after which they have 15 minutes to explain it. Give them a pad of paper to plan on and to make-up dummy documents needed in the work pack. Answer all questions they ask. Create a performance rating system for the test and grade their work results.

Maintenance Scheduler Assessment

When seeking maintenance schedulers you are looking for skills in coordinating and managing work. The attributes I look for in a maintenance scheduler are:

  • Organized: They organize and run work in a structured and logical manner from start to completion. They know what needs to be done next, and what to do after that.
  • Tenaciousness: Nothing stops them until the job is done. They will challenge Suppliers, Production and Maintenance to get their work done fast, and done right.
  • Thrifty: They hate wasting money, time and resources.
  • Leadership: They like to see the team do well. They want people to be successful.

You can see from the attribute lists how greatly different a successful maintenance planner is to a successful maintenance scheduler.

Testing potential Maintenance Schedulers requires them to take several fully planned work packs (5 substantial jobs would be acceptable), understand their contents and requirements then organize and coordinate all necessary materials, equipment and resources to complete them. A two hour test with final explanation, followed by performance assessment is practical.

What people do and deliver in the test is an indicator of their current knowledge and abilities. The results may indicate that they are not very good at the duties involved, but can they become so with training and coaching? In your interpretation of the questionnaire results and test performance, look for evidence that a person can be a top class planner or scheduler.

Psychology testing would be a final check on those people with real potential to be planners and/or schedulers. The psych test results need to confirm that the key attributes for the position are present.

Pre-testing is the fairest employment selection process because it prevents problems of role mismatch, wasted human capability, and the ‘it’s just a job’ syndrome. Pre-testing for specific abilities and attributes is important if you want to put the right people into roles in which they can excel.


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.