workflow visibility and work order management

A work order is a formal document with information about the skills and tools needed to complete approved maintenance tasks. It tells you which employees have the authority to perform the requested items, what tasks the work order entails, and more.

The work order management process is the steps taken to execute, document, and review work orders in a timely manner. When set in motion, a manager will approve the work order, then allocate the people, resources, and budget necessary to correct the existing problem. 

1. Classify Work Orders into Different Templates

It can be advantageous to reuse a template for instructing your technicians and standardizing the process, so they can refer to previous repairs for guidance on the upkeep. 

To write comprehensive reports, you must decide what items belong in a work order form. A standard preventive maintenance checklist should have the following details:

  • The requester’s contact information
  • Description of the work to be done
  • Location of the specified asset
  • Estimated time for completion
  • What parts and pieces will be used

Work order criteria includes PM tasks, safety, inspection, repair, and emergency. For example, an electrical work order might involve inspecting the wiring of an apparatus whereas a repair work orders could record the tools for restoring an industrial robot arm. 

2. Track Work Orders on a CMMS 

A CMMS is a work order software that provides greater visibility into your maintenance management strategy and exemplifies an automated software solution for work orders. It enables you to schedule regular maintenance activities and alert your team once the day arrives. From there, you can rate the priority level, inquire about spare parts and equipment, and attach images or videos to the request ticket. 

A CMMS app will oversee the progress of tasks and notify you of which machines went down. It helps you track how many hours were dedicated to a work orders to understand what methods are the most efficient. Another feature is to generate invoices for capital expenses from a current vendor or manufacturer. It also makes data accessible through a quick search on the dashboard. 

eBook download image

3. Report on Every Procedure in Depth

To better organize your work orders, they should be stored with an asset’s other files to build up a maintenance history that identifies any failure patterns. Along the same lines, give your technicians the information they need to succeed, whether it’s repair instructions for a specific machine or the manufacturer’s recommendations. 

As the maintenance manager, you should create transparent procedures that are compliant with FDA and EPA regulations to pass a plant-wide audit with flying colors. Use remote devices to monitor those assets continuously and produce accurate reports. Each one must show the exact dates, locations, and IDs of finished work orders.

4. Arrange Work Orders by Criticality 

Right after a work order gets released, categorize assets into separate priority types. This will save labor and material costs, so you aren’t spending excess resources on low-priority tasks baked into the routine. On the flip side, it’s risky to ignore safety-related work orders because that leads to hazardous operating environments. 

The best policy is to determine the impact on productivity so that backlogs are prevented from piling up. During the work order analysis, check for abnormal maintenance KPIs in the core functionality like the mean time between failure to avoid closing with flawed reports. 

5. Assess the Skills of Your Team 

Work order management is not only about assigning tasks to your team, but also evaluating their strengths and weaknesses to select qualified personnel for the job. For each employee, focus on their technical skills, ranging from experience with heavy-duty equipment to knowledge of engineering principles. 

Encourage them to specialize in certain areas so they will improve over time since this is a more practical approach than selecting them at random to deal with an emergency request. 

6. Ditch the Pen and Paper

In this day and age, there is no reason to continue filing work orders by hand, given the size of some organizations. Stuffing documents into a cabinet makes them harder to find, and paperwork is prone to human error — such that past records are not updated to reflect changing conditions. While spreadsheets are great for calculating simple formulas, you can’t easily convert those values into analytics or harmonize them with remote detectors. Implementing CMMS software is different because it streamlines the workflow by providing admin capabilities to any user of the platform. 

7. Add Descriptive Completion Notes

Closing a work order doesn’t mean your team never has to review it again. Maintenance is usually not a one-time occurrence when it comes to breakdowns. Even in the last step, you still have to weigh the risks of PM against the benefits by factoring in the cost savings vs. time spent. Encourage your technicians to take notes on the root cause or the quality of work, and have them mark down additional problems for future investigations. 

Work orders aim to gauge an asset’s condition and identify what parts are due for maintenance, so you have a reliable plan going forward. It’s important that you know how to respond to reactive, preventive, and predictive requests in a controlled setting. And that starts with employing the best practices of work order management.