Maintenance KPIs: Let Your Goals Guide Your Choices

Maintenance KPIs are a reflection of your goals as an organization. Your key performance indicators (KPIs) should reflect what you value and what you are working towards.

Maintenance organizations need to measure themselves against a set of standards to determine if operational goals are being achieved. Those metrics could be applied against department-based targets, company standards, or even world-class maintenance benchmarks.

Goal-driven KPIs provide critical and immediate feedback on the progress, or lack thereof, made toward process improvements. You can track as many KPIs as you like, but the “key” in KPIs speaks to focusing on those factors most important to the business. It’s essential that what you’re tracking is actually fundamental to organizational success. For more on this, please see “Are Green Metrics Hiding Poor Asset Management Practice?”

You don’t need a KPI for everything. You still have access to all your periodic reports and their deeper information required to make critical maintenance business adjustments. With that thought in mind, you may consider limiting KPIs to those currently most meaningful.

KPIs should not be static. Rather you should rotate different KPIs in and out as goals are met and business objective change. Don’t fall into the trap of displaying old KPIs just because they look good on your reports or dashboard!

New Challenges? New KPIs!

I would challenge you to remove KPIs which show near-maximum improvement, or are stable, and focus instead on other areas in need of improvement. You can always revisit old KPIs again if needed.

Now the focus turns to which KPIs to use. The answer to this question is unique for every maintenance organization. However, there are some revealing measurements that many maintenance organizations include in their top KPI’s. These are not presented in any particular order of importance. Your priorities will determine which of these is most important.

Unplanned Downtime, as a Percentage of Total Planned Production Time.

We did say these KPIs were presented in no particular order, but when you get down to it, this is what maintenance is all about. Measure this on at least a monthly, if not weekly, basis. This single KPI sums up the results of all your maintenance efforts. If this metric is not improving, or it’s worsening, other KPIs and reports should give pointers toward the causes.

Schedule/PM Compliance

Defined as the percentage of the preventive work orders scheduled and completed in a specific time period. For example, you have 100 planned work orders but only 50 are completed within a one month period. Therefore, schedule compliance is 50%. Simple, right?

However, there’s a lot of information this calculation will not tell you. For example, it tells you nothing about the on-time completion of the 50 individual work orders per the schedule.

A May 1st schedule date with a May 30th completion date is “technically” schedule compliant. But what if a failure occurs which may have been prevented if maintenance had been performed as scheduled?

This is why KPIs, and their underlying measurement rules, needs to be crystal clear and honestly reported. Don’t hide your problems with “friendly” KPIs. It’s better to be honest and show less flattering schedule compliance than to hide operational issues.

Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF)

MBTF is a gauge of the asset’s general reliability and can be used, in some respects, as an indicator of bad actors. MTBF is the measure of the predicted time between breakdowns during normal operation and is calculated by dividing total operational time by the number of failures.

MTBF provides statistics on the average expected lifetime for a specific piece of equipment or component. Higher MTBF means that the component or equipment will function longer before it fails. If you know how long a specific part or equipment will last, you can plan and schedule maintenance to assess its condition and maintain it before a failure should occur.

Ratio of Planned to Unplanned Work

Unplanned work is considered by many maintenance professionals to be three to five times more costly to conduct than planned work. Most unplanned work is corrective in nature but may incorporate maintenance activities as well.

Corrective work usually does not have a job plan and instead requires diagnosing the cause of failure and applying a remedy to return the asset to running condition. Costs for unplanned work are generally higher since the labor, tools, parts, and special equipment are not provisioned for the unplanned job.

More workplace injuries are associated with unplanned work than planned work due to the lack of a documented job plan. Regularly measuring and increasing the planned work ratio lowers costs, improves safety, reduces downtime, and increases resource utilization.

Mean Time to Repair (MTTR)

MTTR is the measure of the repairable item’s maintainability, in terms of downtime. You can calculate this by dividing the total time of downtime events by the total number of repairs.

The clock for MTTR usually starts when the repair activity starts, and it continues to run until production operations are restored. MTTR includes diagnostic time, repair time, and machine testing cycles. Basically, it includes every stage of the process until the asset is returned to normal operating condition. Decreasing mean time to repair is vital to minimizing production losses from downtime, especially downtime associated with critical assets.

Inventory Stockouts

Events where parts or assemblies are not on hand. This suspends maintenance and repair work until the items can be obtained. This is primarily a storeroom KPI, but it has effects on the maintenance team performance, on downtime costs, and can affect item procurement costs in the form of expedited shipping fees.

Stockouts can be representative of many inventory management issues such as inadequate stocking levels or reorder points and quantities which do not consider delivery lead times and usage history. Stockouts can also become a source of friction between maintenance crews and storeroom personnel and can lead to parts-hoarding or alternate sourcing by maintenance crews.

Maintenance Budget to Actual Spend

Measures financial performance for all maintenance spending against the projected budget figures. This is clearly a concern for managers and needs to be continually monitored to assure that all ongoing maintenance operations have adequate funding. Events such as unforeseen major failures can wreak havoc on the maintenance budget and will likely require additional appropriations, deferments, or cuts in other budget categories.

Going Public – Dashboards

The power of KPIs are twofold. First, supervisors and managers can see the progress toward process improvement on desktop displays or even mobile devices. However, when combined with the communicative power of public dashboards, this information becomes immediately available to the entire maintenance team and other departments as well.

The purpose of dashboard KPIs should be to present a true reflection of the state of maintenance operations for all to absorb. Publicly displaying KPIs instills a sense of openness and shared responsibility. Don’t underestimate the positive impact this can have on your team.

Periodic reports can provide progress for past periods. Publicly posted dashboards with near real-time status, on the other hand, reinforce a sense of urgency and emphasize team ownership of the performance against goals.

Regardless of what metrics you measure performance results against, the team must understand what those measurements are and the reasons why you are trying to improve them. Furthermore, displaying only positive measurements does not instill trust or confidence if the team knows significant problems exist. Giving everyone a true picture of what needs improvement will provide a boost to morale and teamwork.


Choosing the right KPIs requires a clear understanding of your greatest challenges, creating honest measurements, and using the results to improve your processes. Using dashboards or KPI reports can help create a sense of ownership and keep your team motivated toward the goals you have established.

Your KPIs are only effective if they are kept up to date and are relevant to the current state of your maintenance business. Make sure you’re using KPIs that reflect your goals and be willing to change them as you overcome what’s facing you today and move towards the challenges of tomorrow.

Planning and scheduling of maintenance work is essential to meeting your KPIs, no matter how you set them. For more information on how we can help with planning, scheduling, and every stage of the maintenance workflow, contact Prometheus Group today!