FREE copy of the Uptime Elements Implementation Guide once you subscribe to Reliability Weekly

Your journey starts at the Virtual Reliability Development Summit

Using Metrics to Influence Planning and Scheduling Behaviors

Improvement is one reason. For improvement, we need to know where we have been and hopefully, where we want to go. Another is that people like to get a score or feedback on how the organization sees their work. That said, while metrics reflect individual performance, the focus of metrics should be to identify issues with the business processes associated with the work and not the individual themselves. From the metrics, we can identify trends and patterns. Adding to that, consider: "What gets measured gets done. What gets celebrated, gets done well."

Recognize that there are two types of metrics, leading and lagging. Both are useful. To better understand the difference, ask yourself if you are operating within the organization as doctors or coroners? Are you taking a pulse of the organization or performing a postmortem on last month's performance? In most organizations, the reality is that everyone is focused on the postmortems. Often, the reason for the postmortem focus is those numbers are the most readily available from current reports. They are easy to identify and it is the quickest way to satisfy the demand for metrics. Lagging metrics are like looking in the car's rearview mirror; they only tell you where you have been and not where you are headed.

Ideally as a rule of thumb, you should have two leading metrics for every lagging metric. Leading metrics are performance drivers. Utilizing them allows you the opportunity to make preemptive actions to improve your chances of meeting the desired outcomes or lagging metrics. Leading metrics often measure activities or even processes.

Understand that the selected metrics (much like processes, too) the organization chooses to employ will drive employee behavior as well. As an example, one organization chose to measure the number of work orders requiring re-approval if the labor or materials cost exceeded 10% of the original estimate. This measure is a lagging metric because it was after the work had been completed. The reapproval process was designed as a heads-up information sharing activity to show more dollars spent than anticipated. What behaviors did it drive? Planners would significantly overestimate labor hours and contractor/materials costs to avoid the re-approval process. Look at how the domino effect takes hold from there. Those labor hour estimates were used to create the following week's schedule. Now we aren't assigning enough work to the technicians as the hours were padded. Wrench time suffered. As the CMMS was also used as a time clock for payroll purposes, work orders on completed work that were left open became easy targets for technicians or contractors to charge time to when working on other jobs or idle. Materials for other jobs were charged to those work orders as well.

How can we use metrics to drive behaviors? Introducing or revising the organizational metrics requires training for all stakeholders, not just maintenance personnel. Don't assume that the standard metrics that you might take for granted, such as "schedule compliance," are understood by all. Using this metric alone, questions like, "What counts toward the metric?," "When is the cutoff point that items can be added to the schedule and count?" and "What is a scheduled job?" should be addressed from an educational perspective.

Before reviewing specific metrics, it should be noted that variations to the following metrics could be defined or utilized based on your requirements. The listing is not intended to be comprehensive, but to provide insight on specific behaviors related to maintenance planning and scheduling. Let's begin with those metrics directly influenced by the maintenance planning and scheduling function. See the following tables:







The following metrics are more general in nature to the maintenance organization. However, the planning or scheduling role can and often does influence these metrics. Consider the simple metric of "schedule compliance" as an example. If the planner has not correctly identified the materials and parts, or incorrectly estimated the hours required for the job, it may be very difficult to complete the number of jobs that are scheduled. If the scheduler has not coordinated the various crafts and the work cannot be completed in the scheduled window, schedule compliance may be impacted.


Are your metrics headed down south or stagnating, not improving? Wondering how to identify the problems or root causes? Do you know the behaviors the metrics are driving? There is a saying from the Six Sigma training world that the "product always follows the process." W. Edwards Deming said, "If your system is not working, don't blame the people, blame the system." To that end, where is your audit program to evaluate if the processes are working? Ideally, you should be pulling three completed work orders off the pile randomly every 30 days as a minimum. Gather the planner scheduler, supervisor, technician(s), storeroom person, and maybe even the plant manager, as examples and walk the jobs. When you get to where the work occurred, you should be stepping through metric type items to determine the process effectiveness. Did the planner scheduler estimate the job duration correctly? Did he or she have the right parts? Were the parts staged and kitted? What about multicraft coordination? Did operations have the equipment ready based on the schedule? Did the job get completed before the due date? Was any follow-up work required? Was the work order completed and closed in a timely fashion? The primary goal is to determine if the business processes worked, but inherently, you can also determine performance issues or the need for training, as examples.

At this point, you may be reflecting on all that you have read and are considering adding to your suite of metrics to bring better focus to your planning and scheduling activities. When selecting metrics, focus on the behaviors you are trying to drive. Keep the number manageable so you are not looped into a state of paralysis by analysis. Strike a balance, as the decision-making process should be driven by leading measures, ideally two to one over lagging metrics. Remember, leading metrics are the ones you can manage, while the lagging metrics tell you the result of how well you managed.

authorJeff Shiver, CMRP, CPMM, is a Managing Principal for People and Processes, Inc., where he has educated and assisted hundreds of people and numerous organizations in implementing the Best Practices for Maintenance and Operations. He is certified in the Maintenance Best Practices and as an RCM2 Practitioner.

Upcoming Events

August 7 - August 10, 2023

MaximoWorld 2023

View all Events
A weekly collection of recommended articles and videos to boost your reliability journey. Right in your inbox