What is Scheduling? What are the challenges of a Scheduler?

A Maintenance Scheduler is responsible to take a maintenance plan and bring together all the resources needed to complete it. The Scheduling role involves assembling and coordinating the information, people, materials, equipment, along with all the other necessary resources to get the job done.

 


 

Hi Mike.

Please can you explain what is scheduling? And secondly, what are the challenges of a Scheduler?

 


 

Hello Friend,

Scheduling and planning are different. Planning comes first and scheduling is done after the plan is finalised. A Scheduler makes the plan happen.

What is scheduling?

Maintenance scheduling involves organisation and coordination. You take a job plan, read it, identify the resources needed to do the job, ask the Planner any questions you have about the work, ask the plant owner any questions about the location of the work, then bring all the resources together at the time the job is to be done.

The resources for a job include needed information, people, parts, materials and equipment. You would even go as far as getting fire extinguishers, safety signage, safety showers, danger tape, etc. to the job site.

The coordination required to do and complete a maintenance job also requires the Scheduler to get the asset owner to make the asset available at an agreed time and in an agreed condition.

I remember a story told to me about how a company had put a young lady into the role of Maintenance Scheduler without having any experience in maintenance duties. She was the best Scheduler they had ever seen. They were astounded because she got things done and jobs were ready to be started on time, as scheduled.

She was a bulldog at the job. She was constantly on the telephone to suppliers hounding them to ensure that their delivers were made to site on time. She challenged tardy Suppliers to come up with alternative ways to keep to the agreed delivery dates. She would not accept no or maybe for an answer! She would contact people, such as Stores for parts or the equipment hire company for working at heights equipment, and ask them what they had done to get the necessary resources and information ready. She checked that site inductions had been organised for new contractors. She would forewarn people about what was going to happen and how they should expect it to happen. She organised, coordinated and tracked the resources for the jobs to be done by the maintenance crew.

That is what scheduling is and what a Scheduler does. You make it happen—safely and on time!

You may have noticed that no where above did I mention sitting in front of a computer screen creating bar charts and spreadsheets. That was because scheduling is all about getting things done and not about creating bar charts and spreadsheets.

If bar charts and spreadsheets are needed to organise and coordinate, then the Scheduler does do that too. But the Scheduler’s first duty is to bring information, people, parts, materials and equipment together at the job site. Bar charts and spreadsheets are just the tools Schedulers use to make things happen in an organised and coordinated way.

A Schedulers most important tool is the telephone!

What are the challenges of a Scheduler?

The Scheduler role puts you in difficult situations because you have to get people to commit to do a thing and then you have to hold them to their word. If you are a Scheduler expect a lot of confrontation.

This confrontation is not about getting angry and shouting at each other. It means holding your ground; keeping people to the agreements that were set.

You use the bar charts and spreadsheets to show everyone what agreements, arrangements and commitments have been made to get the work done. Once the work is organised to meet the plan on the bar chart the Scheduler needs to become a bulldog at coordinating others.

A Scheduler will have challenges to solve. Suppliers are at risk of running late. Deliveries are at risk of being damaged or lost. Contractors are at risk of misunderstanding the scope of a job. The bulldog Scheduler works proactively to prevent these problems, along with preventing all the other supply problems that could stop the job from being done on time.

You will work with all sorts of people along the supply chain who have their own duties to perform. You will need to organise yourself and your time so you are talking, following-up, questioning, tracking what they are doing to get your jobs ready. You need to run a diary and be good at doing it. Go on a time management course and learn to master how to manage your time.

The Scheduler role is a great job. You will get a great deal of satisfaction from doing it when things flow well. Your personal challenge is to find the good ways to positively work with people who are under pressure and help them to help you get what you need done.

Be friendly but be firm. Be proactive and help make the path ahead easy. When things go wrong, work through the problems and get things back on track as quickly as possible.

 

My best regards to you,

Mike Sondalini
Managing Director
Lifetime Reliability Solutions HQ

 

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