Schedule Compliance

The Prime Work Management Metric


As you well know, measuring performance as part of Work Execution Management is a complex task, with so many disciplines and behaviors to be considered. The Society of Maintenance and Reliability Practitioners (SMRP) recognizes 40 individual metrics under the category of Work Management. While monitoring multiple aspects of your work management process is necessary in order to drive efficiency and effectiveness, this blog will show that Schedule Compliance is the prime metric that best illustrates overall performance.

The Formula

Let’s start with a brief definition: The SMRP recognizes Schedule Compliance both as a function of total labor hours scheduled, as well as a simple count of work orders. For our purposes, we will focus on the latter, following the below formula.

Schedule Compliance (%) = (Number of Work Orders Performed as Scheduled) /
(Total Number of Scheduled Work Orders) X 100

It is generally accepted practice to consider the schedule week in its entirety, meaning full credit is given for a job scheduled on Wednesday that was scheduled for Tuesday…as long as it was completed in that same schedule week.

Top performance is generally considered to be in the 85% ─ 95% range, with consistent performance at 100% being unrealistic and cause for skepticism. However, those just starting to adopt this measure often find themselves in the 30% ─50% range. These lower numbers come as a result of strict measurement and the challenges associated with breaking out of the reactive posture that is the hallmark of an immature organization.

A “perfect” Schedule Compliance performance score means you executed your scheduled work for the week flawlessly, completing all work, and experienced no significant delays or breaks in the schedule due to unforeseen events. A great place to find yourself but few ever experience a week like that.

Key Elements

To represent your true ability to forecast and execute work accurately, there are several key elements to consider, while also watching out for potential pitfalls that could falsely affect the outcome of the Schedule Compliance metric.


What to Watch out for

Labor Utilization

To accurately represent the Schedule Compliance metric, your list of scheduled work for a given week must represent the full amount of labor available to perform that work. Imagine having a crew of 10 people and placing only one work order for one person on the schedule, with a duration of two hours. Of course, that work order would be executed flawlessly, achieving a score of 100%. But what have we truly learned?

It is advisable to build a schedule that makes full use of your net available labor (omitting time for lunch, breaks, safety meetings, i.e. anything you would normally not see on a work order) and use that list of work in your denominator of the metric. Will you be able to complete all this work? It is unlikely, but that is the entire point of the exercise.


  • Strive for 100%, deal with interruptions and delays, and ask yourself why they happened. Spend some limited amount of time gaining an understanding of these interruptions and delays and, if you can, implement a change that might prevent their future occurrence.
  • Consider schedule breakers and delays as an unfortunate but inevitable occurrence, and an opportunity to learn and grow in the future. They will always be there, but we can learn to better control them.

Time Estimates

If there are errors in the estimated time to complete a given work order, it is generally an overestimate and rarely an underestimate. I’m not saying that underestimates don’t exist, I’m just not sure I have ever seen one or had anyone report one.

If our time estimates on each work order are overstated, then the challenge of completing all this work in the given timeframe is diminished.


  • Continually learn and refine your estimates to be the best available estimation you can make…and strive to meet those expectations.
  • With estimates that are predominantly teams of two people for half a shift or a full shift, one must wonder if those are really accurate time estimates. Or are they just convenient to fit into the schedule? Some call these “lumber yard” estimates (two people for 2 hours = 2X4, four people for 8 hours = 4X8).

Proactive vs. Reactive Scheduling

Much like Babe Ruth pointing to the center-field fence before hitting a home run directly over that fence, to represent the full challenge, all work on the schedule (the denominator of the equation) must have been “proactively” scheduled prior to that week.

Some organizations come in every day and completely rework the schedule each morning from scratch, attempting to measure their performance against those expectations. This is “reactive” scheduling, as it removes all the challenge from meeting schedule expectations, as well as all the efficiency benefits gained from preparing and executing a schedule proactively.


  • Adjustments must always be made to the schedule during the week of execution, but don’t consider those work orders as compliant, in either the numerator or denominator of the equation. These are schedule breakers that operate outside of this calculation.

Why is it so Important?

Good performance in Schedule Compliance is dependent upon good behaviors in many other behaviors. To perform each job correctly and on time, the following needs must be addressed:

  • The need identified formally (as a work order) and early enough to allow time for proactive planning and scheduling
  • Hazards identified and controls in place to prevent EHS incidents
  • Methods to perform the work documented clearly on the work order (i.e., task steps)
  • The Right People with the Right Skillset available to perform the work with a clear understanding of who is doing what and when – both in primary and supporting roles
  • Operations making the assets available in the correct condition, ready to have the work performed (shutdown, isolated, drained, ventilated, etc.)
  • All necessary foreseeable materials ready to perform the work, and perhaps even some unforeseen materials available to accommodate discovery work
  • Special tools and equipment necessary to perform the work identified and ready at the job site
  • Commissioning, testing, documentation, and restoration activities clearly documented and communicated

With such a daunting list, you may wonder how any work will ever get done. Then there are those jobs that require coordination with other disciplines or external organizations, such as contractors or utility providers, and the situation becomes even more difficult. Now try to pull this off for not just one job, but a full weeks’ worth of labor. That’s where the real challenge of preparing and executing a proactive maintenance schedule presents itself, a challenge that is well worth undertaking.

Schedule Compliance as the Only Metric

While Schedule Compliance is a fine measure and provides insight into your organization’s ability to forecast and execute work, it is not the only element that should be monitored. Schedule Compliance alone does not speak to the efficiency with which scheduled work is executed. Sure, the work may have been accomplished, but at what cost? Overtime, expediting costs, contracted labor costs, and storeroom inventory value, just to name a few, are important, but not at all represented in the Schedule Compliance metric. These bear close consideration, as well, but perhaps at a different frequency and with a different set of objectives. Given that, perhaps there is no better indicator of day-to-day discipline, across several processes, than what we find in the Schedule Compliance metric.


Allied Reliability provides asset management consulting and predictive maintenance solutions across the lifecycle of your production assets to deliver required throughput at lowest operating cost while managing asset risk. We do this by partnering with our clients, applying our proven asset management methodology, and leveraging decades of practitioner experience across more verticals than any other provider. Our asset management solutions include Consulting & Training, Condition-based Maintenance, Industrial Staffing, Electrical Services, and Machine Reliability.

Subscribe to our Blog

Receive the latest insights on reliability, maintenance, and asset management best practices.