MRO Magazine

CMMS: Main thing for planners to know

The main thing about planners using a CMMS is they must use the job planning module.

March 7, 2022 | By Doc Palmer

Photo: everythingpossible / Adobe Stock

Photo: everythingpossible / Adobe Stock

Planners are actually “craft historians that personalize information we learn on assets over the years with asset-specific, living job plans.” We just call them “planners” because it’s easier on the tongue.

Nearly every CMMS has a job planning module. They all call it something different.
– Maximo calls it the “job planning module”
– SAP calls it “tasks lists”
– Oracle calls it “benchmarks”
– INFOR calls it “standard work orders”
And so on.

Many implementers of CMMS train that this module is where planners make reusable plans for jobs that we do a lot, especially PMs. However, we do almost all maintenance repetitively in the long run. Therefore, we should plan nearly every job in the job plan module. If we perform maintenance on an asset today, there is a 50 per cent chance we will work on that same asset again within the next year. There is an 80 per cent chance we will work on that same asset again within the next five years.
We work on the same things year after year. Why would we want to rethink the plan each time? Every CMMS has a job plan module and we should therein make living plans just about every time we plan a job.

Another way to plan jobs would be to research history each time we plan a job. However, that is not the way to go. If we look at the work order history of a particular asset, we see that one time we used one rubber gasket, one time we used two Teflon gaskets, and another time we used one Teflon gasket. How would we plan this next job? We cannot simply consult history each time we plan a job. Instead, we should be creating and improving a single living job plan as our “current state-of-the-art” plan.


It takes extra time for the planners to plan in the job planning module and then import the job plan into the work order. It would be less work for the planners simply to create the job plan directly on the work order itself. But after diligently using the job plan module, surprisingly, after about six months, planners suddenly start seeing that they already have a job plan for about half of the incoming new work orders. In the long run, it saves time. This sudden reuse of plans confirms the “50 per cent rule” where we do work on the same assets over and over. Stick to your guns: plan using the job plan module. After a short while, it does save time.

This strategy of making living job plans simply implements the Deming Cycle of continuous improvement. We do the same work year after year because we have the same assets. We should never approach a job as if we have never worked on it before. Our better craftspersons keep helpful information in their personal lockers. They have a resource to reference for the future. But we need to save information as a company and nearly every CMMS has a module where we can do that by making living job plans.

A KPI or metric that would make sense for planners would be: how many jobs did the planner plan using a reusable job plan? Therefore, if the planner does not use the job plan module, they are not really planning. One-off job plans do not run the Deming Cycle. We want planners to run the Deming Cycle by making reusable job plans. The living job plan in the job plan module is how “planners personalize information we learn over the years on specific assets in their capacity as craft historians.” We just call them “planners” for short. They must use the job plan module to earn the right to be called planners.
Plan jobs using the job plan module, not straight on the work orders. That’s what the plan module is for. Do planning properly. Don’t settle for planners simply making one-off job plans each time. Don’t re-invent the wheel. Rather, implement a system to make better plans over the years. Don’t be a good plant by simply “planning”. Instead, be a great plant by continually growing better job plans. Proper planning should be Deming Cycle and continuous improvement in practice. MRO
Doc Palmer, PE, MBA, CMRP is the author of McGraw-Hill’s Maintenance Planning and Scheduling Handbook, and as managing partner of Richard Palmer and Associates helps companies worldwide with planning and scheduling success. For more information including online help and currently scheduled public workshops, visit or e-mail Doc at


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