Why don’t we train our planners?
In an average maintenance organisation, the effective working time of our technicians is around 35 percent of their day, which means that for 65 percent of their day they are doing something other than productive work. With good work management, their effective working time can be as high as 70 percent. Work management is something every organisation has to do, so why would we not want to do it well?
I have spoken to a lot of maintenance managers and planners over the years and one of the questions I ask them is, “Have your planners been trained or did they just get dropped into the role?” Not one planner had received more than on the job training and most were technicians that just picked it up as they went along. The maintenance managers weren’t clear on the need!
If good work management has the potential to double the effective working time of our staff, why don’t we invest in training for our planners? As an industry, we often put energy and resources training our staff in Root Cause Analysis for instance, even though the root cause often turns out to be poor work management. Surely it makes sense to get the work management right first.
I’ve been thinking about this over the last couple of weeks and have come to these conclusions:
• The role of planner is undervalued within most organisations.
• Management does not understand the rigour and requirements for good maintenance planning and the person filling the planning role.
• Training for planners is not as sexy as training in things like root cause analysis, which means that few courses for planners are available and even when they are offered they are not given priority.
• There are few qualifications for planners so there isn’t a natural route for up skilling. As engineers, we go to great lengths to solve technical problems but we rarely give work management more than a passing thought. In fact, we often use one word to describe the whole process of work management – the word is “planning and scheduling”. It’s said as one long, all- encompassing word! Good work management should go through these five separate and quite distinct phases.
1) Job identification and authorisation.
4) Job Execution.
If your organisation is not going through this procedure with every job then you are probably working at the 35 percent effective working time end of the scale, rather than the potential 70 percent.
In New Zealand, we rank 22nd out of 30 in the OECD for productivity. If the All Blacks were as good at rugby as we are as a nation at productivity, we would be sitting between Uruguay & Spain in the international rugby rankings rather leading the table. I firmly believe that one of the quickest, easiest and cheapest ways we can improve productivity within maintenance is to invest in our planners, as they carry out one of the most important roles within the maintenance department.