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How to Build a Better Work Order Process

When things get busy around the office, it’s tough to stick to a strict work order process. Before you know it, small jobs get completed without confirmation, orders get dropped, and your maintenance team gets burnt out. The good news is: You can prevent this from happening.

In this article, we’ll give you some ideas to overhaul your work order management process and put a more scalable system in place.

Improve your work order process

What is a work order process?

A work order process is a system for ensuring accountability and delivery for every step required to complete a work request. A work order process covers submission to completion. By instituting a defined work order process, you will decrease equipment downtime and help keep communication from start to finish.

5 Ways to Improve Your Work Order Process (today!)

To scale an effective work order management and tracking process, start with the following tips.

1. Digitize your work order process

We know it can be tough to step away from your filing cabinet, but consider the disadvantages of using paper to fill work orders:

  • There’s no system of record. Once you send a completed work order off to a client, there’s no proof that they have received it.
  • Paper is easy to lose. Your paperwork could end up shoved into a pocket, lost in a worker’s car, or left in the back of a contractor’s portfolio. Using digital work orders will eliminate this problem.
  • Cut down on bad information. With a digital order you don’t have to worry about misinterpreting messy handwriting.

It’s a good bet that nearly all of your workers have a smartphone in their pocket at all times, making sending and receiving digital work orders easier than ever. On top of that, a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) can be inexpensive and easy-to-use both in the field and around your facility.

2. Use a work order every time

Creating a digital work order management process will encourage your workers to log even the smallest tasks, like changing light bulbs or resetting equipment.

These small tasks may seem unimportant to track, but they add up into hours of work each week. So if you’re trying to track wrench time, having workers log this information is important.

In addition to tracking wrench time, creating work orders for smaller tasks helps you troubleshoot issues more easily in the future. Consider an asset that requires a part replacement for a durable part. With a system of record, you could check the asset’s work order history and see that this part was recently replaced. Upon further investigation, you realize that the wear of the part is due to another component of the equipment. In this case, the system of record helps you realize that the seemingly small part replacements are part of a bigger maintenance issue.

3. Track your inventory

A work order can help you track more than wrench time and costs. It can also help you track parts, materials, purchase orders, and receipts. That’s why many CMMS solutions come with inventory management software.

Inventory management software lets you monitor the quantity, costs, and details of your inventory in one place. You can even adjust your settings to receive notifications when your inventory is low. This way your workers always have the parts they need and spend less time keeping work orders with an “on hold” status.

4. Prioritize your work orders

First, create a set of standards that ensure consistency. For example, if a request involves site or personnel safety, have your admins and technicians assign it a high priority. Routine maintenance requests, on the other hand, may not need to be addressed right away and can receive a lower priority (low or medium).

Having this maintenance work order prioritization procedure in place will prevent requesters from marking every work order with a high priority. This procedure will give you the ability to complete work orders that are truly high priority faster.

5. Know what your techs are doing

It’s hard to create a work order schedule if you don’t have any insight into what your workers are doing. A CMMS will show you which workers are assigned to which tasks in real time so you can stay on top of requests, schedule new maintenance jobs, manage approvals, and send invoices. You can view their tasks at a glance to make sure nobody is overburdened with jobs, resulting in a slow turnaround time for work orders.

It’s not easy to have every single minute of work documented in a work order, but a CMMS will help you get as close to possible to this goal. The important thing is to choose a system that is technician-friendly, making it simple for workers to document orders on the job and keep your work order process up-to-date.

Megan Pacella is a contributor for TechnologyAdvice.com, with specializations in field service, maintenance management, and IT. She has also written for USA Today, Bearings Guide, 10Best Nashville, and other publications.