Bridging the Maintenance and Operations Gap!

Maintenance and Operations


Getting Maintenance and Operations working closely together can be challenging. Functionally, they have competing objectives. Operations wants to run the equipment while Maintenance wants to keep the equipment running.

These differences can sometimes lead to disagreement. When asset reliability issues spring up so does the finger pointing. This is unfortunate. Unexpected asset reliability events increase organizational risks. Health, safety, environmental and financial risks all come into play ultimately driving up costs. When reliability events happen, you need all hands-on-deck working closely together to resolve the issue and to prevent it from happening again. You certainly don’t need two departments bickering with one another.

Getting folks to work together is an organizational challenge. To me, solving the people puzzle should be tackled by first establishing roles and responsibilities. Roles are not people, roles are positions that people occupy. Multiple people can execute a given role and/or one person can be responsible for executing multiple roles. The establishment of roles and subsequently the responsibilities of that role, helps everyone in the organization know who does what. This is key to improving coordination and creating efficiencies.

One of the key roles that helps improve coordination between Maintenance and Operations is the establishment of the Operations Maintenance Coordinator (OMC) Role.


The OMC serves as a liaison between Operations and Maintenance. The primary purpose of this role is to formalize and streamline communications regarding work on facility assets. Specifically, this role would assist Maintenance in the work requests review, backlog management and work scheduling processes. The OMC role provides Maintenance with a one-stop shop in Operations on what work to do first.

This role is performed by a member(s) of Operations. This individual should possess detailed knowledge of operations scheduling and the overall operations of integrated systems. The Operations Maintenance Coordinator is an integral part of the Operations Team and reports to Operations Management.

OMC Work Request Management Responsibilities

  • The OMC act as a gatekeeper, ensuring that all work requests for maintenance and operational resources are scrutinized for impact and justification prior to approval.
  • The OMC helps to screen new work requests to ensure that the information is complete, the request is reasonable, the cost is justified, and the priority is correct based on defined guidelines;
  • The OMC assists in collecting missing information regarding safety-related work;
  • The OMC obtains additional information required to approve or reject incoming work;
  • The OMC communicates with Operations personnel on work occurring in their respective areas.

OMC Work Backlog Management Responsibilities

  • The OMC reviews the work request backlog and Ready to Schedule Backlog on an ongoing basis to ensure that jobs with the highest priority and greatest value are prioritized, planned, and executed in a timely fashion so that regulatory requirements are maintained and the equipment’s reliability is not jeopardized. This includes:
    • eliminating duplicate work requests and providing appropriate feedback;
    • eliminating work requests that do not add value;
    • ensuring that all necessary reliability data has been entered;
    • closing work orders promptly upon job completion.
  • The OMC helps to manage the Ready to Schedule Backlog to ensure (a) that preventive maintenance (PM) is executed as scheduled, or that appropriate documentation is completed to support any exceptions; and (b) that the backlog of routine maintenance is maintained at an acceptable level.
  • The OMC participates in the Ready to Schedule Backlog review and prioritization.

OMC Work Scheduling Responsibilities

  • The OMC provides prioritized list of jobs to the Maintenance Scheduler.
  • The OMC works with the Maintenance Scheduler to develop the Weekly Work Schedule.
  • The OMC works with Maintenance Supervisors to develop the Daily Work Schedule.
  • The OMC is the liaise between Operations and Maintenance on any schedule adherence problems.
  • The OMC provides schedule information to Operations Supervisors for equipment preparation needs.
  • The OMC coordinates operations activities (e.g., equipment readiness, permits, lockout / tagout (LOTO), wash down / cleanup, etc.) as needed to allow Maintenance to complete its scheduled work.

Additional OMC Responsibilities

  • The OMC can do additional things. For example:
    • Approve expediting and overtime requirements to ensure jobs will be completed in time to meet the needs of the plant.
    • Routinely review the status of current spending versus the maintenance budget and notify the Maintenance Manager of any expected overages.
    • Assist with identifying and implementing reliability-driven improvements.
    • When there are competing demands for Maintenance resources from several production areas, the OMC decides which jobs will be scheduled and performed. Not the Operation Supervisor that yells the loudest.
    • Redirect minor maintenance activities to Operations personnel (as time, tools, and material are available) to ensure optimal use of Maintenance resources.

The OMC role is critical to the success of work backlog management and work scheduling processes. Many of the duties must be performed daily. There should always be a knowledgeable and trained backup person who can perform this role’s duties if the primary OMC is not available.

Regardless of how sophisticated your work management processes are all asset intensive organizations could benefit from the implementation of the OMC role within their organization. The OMC is the glue that connects Maintenance with Operations and bridges the organizational gap.

SwainSmith helps organizations develop industry proven asset management practices. If you need help bringing industry standards to your asset management operation please contact us for details.