Thanks for the Podcasts. I have been listening from the first cast and have maintained an RSS Feed on my site and have promoted the casts through Emails at work and on other forums. Great Stuff, Thanks.

I gathered some thoughts on a topic that is near and dear to my heart, as I am an Industrial Maintenance Manager, namely how to juggle all the requests that someone in my position has to ensure get done in the next century.

I made a quick simple post on my Industrial Site (a site I've stuck anything I've thought of or wanted to remember over the last few years - sometimes just quick links I've found). I figured since this post was actually coherent and might be helpful to someone else in my position, I would strike while the iron is hot and share it.

Scroll down to the first post "Setting Priorities" at

Thanks - Johnny

PierG's picture

interesting topic. I leave in the same mess, in a different industry.
I think it's interesting for everyone if you write a summary in this forum.

Johnnywmt's picture

Thanks PierG,

I've shared this with some of the managers here at work, and I guess I shouldn't be surprised that the response I've received so far has been one of shared pain, although our repsonsibilities differ greatly.

The more I think about it, the less I can recall Maintenance Managers actually addressing this area. Kinda scary, as the only alternative would seem to be a chaotic free-for-all. Makes you wonder how stuff gets done (ineffectively I guess).

Anyhow, here's the text of the post.

Thanks again,


One of the most difficult and at times volatile aspects of managing a maintenance department is the setting of priorities. Our responsibilities at times cover timeframes from the immediate to 12 months away and can be as technically diverse as changing a toilet valve to automating a modern industrial machine . Our internal customers range from the lowest operator on the totem pole, to the Warehouse, to the Human Resources Department to the CEO.

I am constantly learning and tweaking my system for priority setting (this will be the fourth place I have had the opportunity to practice at this art in one capacity or another) and just as the commonalities among different organizations reinforce my interpretations, the differences force me to constantly adapt.

I am speaking of projects here. Not tasks that need no categorizing as either their urgency or the weight of the request leaves little room for such luxuries.
If we have an immediate safety issue or machine casualty, it’s pretty straight forward - all hands need to respond as quickly as possible.

Not every work order needs this much scrutiny either. If the item is going to affect the next days run or of course is an immediate safety issue - it’s at the top of a shift’s list.

The tasks I speak of are the less urgent, non-immediate prodcution threats, long term or production improvement types of requests. The HR department’s new bulletin board, the Warehouse’s new racks, the production improvement project, etc.

Everyone needs something from us, and unless we guard our time and prioritize these many tasks, we will most certainly not be attacking them in the most effective way.

So, at present, I use a system I have used for the last couple of years. It doesn’t necessarily make everyone as happy as possible, but I don’t know of a better means of ensuring the most important tasks are getting performed as soon as possible.

I take all work orders and requests and list them on a simple spreadsheet, with a column open for a number representing an assigned priority.
The number assigned depends on the task:

1) Safety
2) Tasks that address major downtime issues
3) Management/production requests (new machinery,
production improvements) or even perceived major
problems by production personnel.
4) Tasks that address minor downtime issues
5) Tasks that improve Maintenance’ abilty to perform our job.

I then like to take this and transfer it to a project app where we can start setting deadlines and tracking progress.

There you have it, of course this system is only as good as the data you use to make the decisions (accurate downtime numbers) your rapport and follow-up with prodcution on issues, and management’s willingness to support such a prioritized system (make sure you don’t wait too long on the HR dept.’s bulletin board.)

mauzenne's picture
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