Making sense of maintenance metrics: PM compliance

May 10, 2023

| 4 min read

Making sense of maintenance metrics: PM compliance

Welcome to our series of blog posts about maintenance metrics. This post outlines everything you need to know about preventive maintenance compliance: What is PM compliance, the PM compliance formula, why it’s essential, and how to improve it.

What is PM compliance?

PM compliance measures a facility’s success in completing preventive maintenance tasks. It helps to optimize maintenance schedules, reduce downtime, and use resources efficiently as failure to complete PM tasks increases the likelihood of equipment failure.

How late is too late? Using the 10% rule

Preventive maintenance aims to catch issues as early as possible, so late PMs can be just as bad as missed PMs. The PM compliance formula doesn’t account for late PMs, which can give a false sense of security about the success of your operation.

Each PM task is meant to weed out any potential problems with assets so they can stay healthy and operating at their best. The more PMs that are missed, the more likely that piece of equipment will fail.

The 10% rule is a way to avoid this trap by only considering completed PMs compliant if they’re finished within a 10% timeframe of their scheduled maintenance interval.

For example, let’s say that you own a manufacturing plant and have a conveyor system that moves heavy materials. The conveyor belts have a useful life of 1 year, but you decide to replace them every 10 months as part of your preventive maintenance program, following the 10% rule.

By replacing the belts before they reach the end of their useful life, you can avoid unexpected downtime, potential damage to other components in the system, and the cost of emergency repairs. Plus, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that your conveyor system is running smoothly and efficiently.

This rule helps establish a baseline to weed out dangerously late PMs and make PM compliance a more accurate view of your team’s success. The 10% rule isn’t an iron-clad law of maintenance—some minor issues will most likely fall through the cracks. However, it’s one of the best methods for establishing a baseline to weed out dangerously late PMs and makes PM compliance a more accurate view of your team’s success.

PM compliance formula

To calculate PM compliance, divide the total number of completed PMs in a given period by the total number of scheduled PMs within that period. Multiply the result by 100 to find the PM compliance percentage.

pm compliance formula

We can determine last quarter’s PM compliance using this example. Let’s say there were 200 PMs scheduled over the previous three months, and your team completed 165 of those PMs within an acceptable time frame (remember to apply the 10% rule). Here’s what your PM compliance calculation would look like:

PM compliance


165 completed PMs  ÷

200 scheduled PMs

× 100

PM compliance


165  ÷


× 100

PM compliance


0.825 × 100

PM compliance



You don’t need to include every maintenance task in your calculations. Only regularly scheduled preventive maintenance tasks should factor into your measurement. PM compliance doesn’t account for reactive maintenance tasks that are scheduled, as these are often one-time jobs.


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How to improve PM compliance

Poor PM compliance can be a symptom of more significant issues plaguing your maintenance team. Getting to the bottom of these issues can go a long way to improving PM compliance, getting your preventive maintenance program back on track, and improving asset reliability across the board.

Audit for unnecessary PMs

“This is how we’ve always done it,” can be the seven most damaging words uttered by a maintenance manager. If you’re allocating resources to a task that isn’t relevant anymore, these resources will go to waste and your metrics will be skewed. That’s why you should regularly audit your PMs to ensure they are done optimally. Shifting production demands, new equipment, better parts, improved processes, and advanced technology may render a PM obsolete. When a task isn’t making an impact, technicians notice and tend to bypass it. You can’t blame someone for skipping a pointless job to work on one that’s higher priority. Discovering which tasks are being missed and eliminating these unnecessary PMs saves time, money, and effort while boosting PM compliance and making technicians feel valued.

Make PMs easier to complete

The biggest reason for missed PMs is pretty straightforward—there’s just insufficient time or resources. There’s only so much time in a day, and an emergency can eat up much of that time, pushing routine tasks into the background. You can’t always avoid these situations, but you can make PMs easier so they are done faster, and PM compliance can rise. Establishing mobile maintenance is one-way technicians can access resources easier and finish jobs quicker. Better training and improved troubleshooting procedures are also worthwhile investments to reduce the time required to perform PMs. These changes make it easier for technicians to do their jobs faster, which means fewer PMs are left on the sidelines.

“This is how we’ve always done it,” can be the seven most damaging words uttered by a maintenance manager…Eliminating unnecessary PMs can save a lot of time, money, and effort while boosting PM compliance and facility morale.

Use data to tackle backlog

The 10% rule allows late PMs to fall outside the compliant category, even if they are eventually completed. Backlog is inevitable, but there are ways to manage it to mitigate its impact on PM compliance and your facility as a whole. One way to do this is to use another maintenance metric: Scheduled maintenance critical percent (SMCP). SMCP allows you to see which late PMs should be done first by measuring their impact on the business. Using SMCP effectively can help your maintenance team target essential PMs. These tasks won’t fall off the radar, and your PM compliance will improve, as will reliability, availability, and production.

Take your business to the next level with PM compliance

You dedicate a lot of resources to your preventive maintenance program. Tracking PM compliance can ensure those resources are being used effectively. Your PM compliance score is a thermometer that measures the health of your maintenance processes, from your inventory purchasing methods to how you train and provide resources for technicians. Improving your PM compliance can have a huge ripple effect that touches not only maintenance but the well-being of the business at its highest level.

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