Reliability Insights

5 Common Mistakes in Maintenance Planning

Maintenance planning is one of the key elements of creating a highly effective and reliable plant. Without it, you’ll find yourself in a reactive maintenance environment where your crew constantly runs from one emergency to the next. 

When you implement maintenance planning, it’s okay to make mistakes. After all, planning is a process that demands continuous improvement. That’s why we don’t aim for perfection. 

But we do want to make sure we learn from our mistakes as fast as possible. Even better than learning from your own mistakes is learning from the mistakes others have already made before you.  

So here’s 5 common mistakes organisations make in their maintenance planning that you can start avoiding: 

Mistake #1: Picking the wrong person as your planner 

Make sure you put the right person in; someone with the right technical knowledge and skills with the ability to plan and prepare work. 

Someone who’s organized, focused and understands the concept on continuous improvement. Someone who can work your CMMS or at least someone who is willing to be trained in it. 

Mistake #2: Not training your planners properly 

You will need to spend time training and coaching your new planner. 

That’s because the maintenance planner role requires new skillsets that can only be learned through specialized training. 

Among others, they will need to learn… 

  1. How to use the CMMS that you have in place. 
  1. The maintenance planning and scheduling process 
  1. Where to find equipment data and information, things like data sheets, and drawings, and equipment manuals. 
  1. How to create and store job plans and work packs. 
  1. How to order parts and materials. 
  1. The kitting and staging processes that happen in the warehouse. 

And any shortcomings in technical knowledge can be trained for as well.  

Mistake #3 using your planners as your relief supervisor, expeditor, etc.. 

One of the biggest, and most commonly made mistakes when planning is when maintenance planners aren’t actually planning

Instead, planners often end up being a combination of a planner, a relief supervisor, an expediter, administrator, and an all around troubleshooter.  

When you ask a planner to do all that, they won’t be spending much time planning. And that means you are not getting the maintenance productivity you’re looking for. 

Remember: a maintenance planner must NEVER work in the current week. They must always be working for future weeks. 

Mistake #4 using your planners for emergency work 

We should not be using our planners to manage emergency work. That is the role of the supervisor. 

But because planners are often very knowledgeable, it is just so easy to fall in the trap of asking your planner to sort out this current emergency just for once. 

But once becomes twice and twice becomes a routine and before we know it we have undermined the role of the maintenance planner and we will no longer achieve that increase in productivity that we are seeking. 

Mistake #5 planning from behind a desk 

Once your maintenance planner has been in the role for quite some time, a sense of “knowing it all” can slip in. It then becomes common for a planner to think- 

“Well, you know what? I know this job. I used to work on that machine myself. I’ve done it. I know what to do. I know exactly what it will take to do this repair. I can plan this job right here from my desk.” 

Let me tell you right now, always visit the job site. 

There will always be things going on in the plant or equipment. And the planner may not be aware of changes in the status of the work environment which could be missed when planning behind a desk.


These are just some of the most common mistakes that you’ll find in maintenance planning.   

Other mistakes commonly made include poor sequencing of resources, not acting on feedback, undervaluing the planner, etc… but we discuss these in greater detail inside our training course. 

But the key takeaway is this: 

You need to learn from your own mistakes… but more importantly, you need to learn from the mistakes made by others.  

Many organisations have implemented maintenance Planning & Scheduling but have either struggled, eventually gave up, or failed outright in their efforts. You must learn from that and avoid making those common mistakes. 

If you want to learn the other common mistakes made in Maintenance Planning, then check out our online course where we teach them in more detail. 


Which planning mistake are you struggling with?

Let us know in the comments.

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