¿What profile to consider when hiring a maintenance planner?

Having the right person in this role can mean the difference between a planning and scheduling process that adds to the organization’s value chain and one that subtracts, by wasting resources allocated to maintenance management, which are becoming scarcer every day.

It is a constant recommendation to our clients that this position is one of the most strategic when embarking on continuous improvement initiatives to belong to the exclusive club of world class manufacturing. However, at the moment of searching the market for the required talent, it is common that its importance is not valued and we fall back into the big mistake of hiring a person with a simple administrative profile, weak in leadership and with very low potential to add value to the value chain.

In our perspective, a good planner, as a minimum, must consistently possess the following skills and competencies:

Demonstrate logical thinking: in the interview and selection process it is advisable to use logic puzzles to determine if the candidate thinks in a logical progression, this will reveal their facility to organize actions, ideas or thinking in steps. Even proposing a simple test such as constructing a work plan that is regularly executed on the shop floor can reveal your affinity for this skill.

Demonstrate organizational ability: It is our immersions into our clients’ realities that it is common to see planners’ desks, as a great tribute to chaos and clutter. In scenarios like these, many things can be ignored or valuable time can be wasted amidst the clutter. The result is clearly disastrously noticeable during job execution. Is it often said that you can tell a lot about a person by looking at their desk or workspace, can we imagine what their head will be like?

Ability to balance the level of detail: There is a common saying that the devil is in the detail. For us, the ability to understand and relate the details has a direct influence on the quality, efficiency and effectiveness in executing and completing a job. In planning, balancing the level of detail can be tricky. Too much detail can hurt the susceptibility of the technician executing the job. Conversely, too little detail can cause delay in the job, failure to accomplish all that is required, or even injury by omitting, for example, an important safety note. We believe that detail in planning should be considered not as a way of doing things, but as a checklist to ensure that the objectives of the job are met. We believe that the experienced technician has clarity of purpose of what he is doing and knows how to use his tools efficiently.

Excellent communicator: The planning and scheduling function affects many workflows vertically and cross-functionally. The future planner must be able to express himself verbally and in writing to be effective with all his colleagues inside and outside his natural area. He must be able to convert an objective into a work plan materialized in the work order to communicate what is being pursued at the end of the job. Failure to do so will cause delays and could even cause the technician to omit vital safety information and get injured. The candidate without question, must be an excellent communicator.

Visualization skills: This is a competency that may not come naturally. However, it is required to demonstrate the ability to visualize, to imagine scenarios, situations to better develop the required maintenance tasks. Experience gained through repetition and drawing on the knowledge of more experienced technicians are the only ways to develop this competency.

Mastery of your CMMS: The CMMS is the fundamental tool in the success of the planner’s role, so you must demonstrate in a short period of time your ability to interact with the tool and take full advantage of all the benefits of the system. The disciplined use of the CMMS, the quality control of the information and an outstanding management of the different reports available will help the planner to prepare detailed reports that, without a doubt, will guide his superiors to make correct and well-documented decisions.

Although the above characteristics are not the only aspects to take into account when interviewing and selecting a candidate, we believe that they are very important and will facilitate the search for the best candidate.