Work Order Management Guide

Last Updated: December 10, 2020

Every business that heavily relies upon scheduling, managing and performing systematic tasks has one primary goal – to have these tasks completed effectively and in a timely manner.

This is especially true for businesses that offer repair and maintenance services. Such businesses usually have multiple clients with different needs and demands that can make successfully completing maintenance tasks difficult.

Today, maintenance is as important as ever – industrial manufacturers lose around $50 billion every year due to unplanned downtime.

That’s where implementing a standardized work order management protocol can come in handy.

Whether you’re already familiar with work orders or just researching the best way to manage them, this article is for you.

Let’s dive into the’ different types of work orders, the key steps of the management process, and why the best way of implementing work orders is via mobile form software.

What is a Work Order?

A work order is a document that outlines the basic components of a specific task, including:

  • What the task is
  • When the task should be completed
  • Who is responsible for completing the task

Work orders are most commonly used in the repair and maintenance industry, where they are issued and assigned to technicians who need to perform a specific task.

What Are The Basic Types Of Work Orders?

There are multiple basic types of work orders. Which one is issued depends on the exact nature of the work that has to be done:

  • Emergency orders are issued for jobs that require immediate attention. They are usually unplanned and command the highest available level of expertise to be successfully completed.
  • Preventive maintenance orders have to do with maintenance tasks that need to be completed periodically. Preventive maintenance usually follows a pre-determined schedule and requires comprehensive record-keeping. And while it might appear time- and resource-consuming, it’s still one of the most sought-after maintenance services – 80% of manufacturing facilities rely on preventive maintenance.
  • Corrective maintenance orders occur whenever a problem is discovered during a preventive maintenance job or caused by it. Their degree of urgency depends on the severity of the problem and the resources required to fix it.
  • Inspection orders are often a part of broader preventive maintenance efforts and focus on identifying potential issues.
  • General orders are issued for jobs that don’t fall into other more specific categories.

What Should A Work Order Include?

When it comes to the information that an order should include, moderation is key – it should be informative without being too overwhelming.

In other words, the order should include all the necessary information that will allow for the work to be completed effectively and efficiently, such as:

  • ID number: A unique ID number assigned to each order will allow you to record and manage them easier.
  • Date of request & Deadline will allow you to ensure that the work is completed in a timely manner.
  • Task description: A brief overview of the work that needs to be completed.
  • Time & Cost estimate: How much time in total the work will take and how much it will cost, all expenses included.
  • Priority of the task, such as Low, Medium or High.
  • Customer profile that includes the customer’s contact information and special requests.
  • Assigned worker info that includes their full name, position, team (if applicable) and contact information.
  • List of required tools and materials that are necessary for successfully performing the work.

5 Steps Of The Work Order Management Process

To ensure that your management process is coherent and organized, follow these steps when issuing and assigning orders:

Step #1: Work Request Processing

Almost every order begins with a specific work request that comes from a client.

Work requests aren’t necessarily formal and simply outline what tasks need to be completed. Nevertheless, they should be processed in an organized manner.

Depending on who the work request comes from, the channel it comes through and the tone of the messaging, you can assess the resources that the task will require and the urgency of the task.

Upon receiving a work request, be sure to log it into your records so you can keep track of it and communicate progress with the client in a timely manner.

Step #2: Task Assessment

After you process the work request, you can begin transforming it into an order – starting with assessing the task at hand.

To do that, answer the following questions about the task:

  • How urgent is the task? If the task an emergency, issue the order as soon as possible and designate it as high priority.
  • How complicated is the task? If the task is complicated, it might require tools and resources you don’t have on hand. As such, you will need to make the necessary arrangement to obtain them in a timely manner.
  • How time-consuming is the task? To make the task less time-consuming, you will either need to assign it to additional workers or assign it to workers that are more qualified to perform it.
  • How much will the task cost? Finally, you will need to estimate the amount of money that the work will cost your client, including the additional materials you may need to acquire or the additional labor the task may command.

Step #3: Worker Delegation

The next step in the process is to assign the order to the appropriate worker – or workers. When delegating the task, consider the following aspects:

  • Worker availability: First and foremost, determine whether any of your workers are available to perform the work. If not, you should consider the priority and the urgency of the task and make adjustments to their schedule.
  • Nature of the task: Depending on the task, your choice of workers may be limited. Some tasks may require very specific knowledge while others can only be accomplished by a team of a certain size. For instance, if the only person qualified for the task is currently working on a different assignment, you may need to reallocate them.
  • Client preferences: Don’t forget to consider whether the particular client has any specific preferences on who will perform the task. Perhaps, they will only allow a certified specialist to do the work, or maybe they bonded with some of your workers during previous assignments. If you can accommodate their preferences and believe that it will earn you additional customer loyalty – go for it.

Step #4: Inventory Allocation

Now that you’ve found the right workers for the assignment, you need to provide them with the appropriate inventory for the task.

This inventory usually includes things such as:

  • Tools
  • Spare parts
  • Safety equipment
  • Communication devices

Allocating the inventory for a specific task as part of the management process ensures that the workers are properly equipped to complete the task. It also allows you to keep track of the equipment and resources.

Step #5: Work Completion And Documentation

Once all the preparations have been made, the workers can go ahead and complete the task.

However, the management process doesn’t end there.

Be sure to thoroughly document the work that was performed and the materials that were used so that you can bill your client appropriately.

Additionally, analyzing the performance of your team throughout the process can help you identify the areas you excel in, as well as areas that could be improved.

Benefits Of Work Order Management Software

Ready to build your own work order? Get in touch!

Even though order management is an important process, many businesses still perform it using flawed, outdated methods.

For instance, while using paper forms and records might seem like a convenient, habitual choice, it tends to be costly and inefficient.

On the other hand, electronic spreadsheets, while more efficient than physical records, have their limitations in terms of sharing and delegating appropriate access to the members of your team.

By comparison, a mobile form-based software solution offers strong benefits that can improve your maintenance order management process, including:

  • Cost-effectiveness: Mobile forms do not require additional investments apart from a fixed subscription fee that varies depending on the needs of your business.
  • Versatility: Using a mobile form solution for maintenance order management brings all the components of the management process under one roof by allowing you to process work requests, create orders and assign them to the appropriate workers all via one platform.
  • Instantaneousness: Mobile form platforms are usually cloud-based, which means that all your records can be instantly accessed and edited in real-time by all members of your team.
  • Security: Since mobile forms are securely stored in the cloud, they are nearly impossible to misplace or damage.

Work Order Management Takeaways

If the nature of your business commands you to issue and keep track of frequent maintenance orders, you should consider upgrading your maintenance order management process.

A comprehensive process usually consists of the following five steps:

  1. Work request processing
  2. Task assessment
  3. Worker delegation
  4. Inventory allocation
  5. Work completion and documentation

Since the efficiency of this process can be vital to the success of your business, it is important that you implement it through a functional software solution such as mobile forms.

A mobile form-based work order management process is not only cost-effective – it is also efficient, user-friendly and secure.

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