What are the best ways to prioritize and organize work orders?

Answered May 26 2019

Organizing work orders is most easily done through a CMMS or work order management system. Computerized systems allow you to quickly sort work orders by priority, time, technician, asset, and other data, and they streamline work order management significantly.

Now, prioritizing work orders is a different beast entirely. Prioritization relies on data such as:

  • Criticality, or how important the asset is to your process
  • Risks of delaying work, such as safety hazards or further expenses
  • Available resources

As you evaluate each work order with respect to each of these areas, you’ll be able to prioritize jobs in a way that best benefits your facility.


The criticality of your asset determines whether delaying work would significantly disrupt your processes.

If an asset is critical to your core operations, you’ll likely need to set work orders involving that asset to a higher priority, but only if it represents a significant risk.


Just because an asset is critical doesn’t mean every work order needs to be top priority. In the instance of recurring PMs, for instance, you might not need to place high priority on certain tasks simply because the problems they’d prevent aren’t very likely.

In fact, about 30% of PMs don’t actually accomplish anything, so you may well find this to be the case.

On the other hand, if a work order deals with a safety issue or a problem that’s highly likely on a core asset, you’ll naturally want to set that to a high priority. Emergency situations (which are very rare) would take the highest priority since they represent the most risk.


In order to get to a work order quickly, you’d need to have sufficient resources on hand, including time, personnel, and material components. If you’ve got a shortage in any of these areas, you might need to put the order on the back burner until you resolve that.

In addition, cost is a major consideration for certain assets. If it would cost more to repair the asset than it’s worth (or than you can currently afford), a work order prescribing repairs wouldn’t necessarily be urgent. In some cases, replacement is the more cost-efficient route.

Putting it together

As you evaluate risks and criticality together, you can compare that against the costs. From there, set either a high, medium, or low priority to the task.