What is a Work Order?

A work order is a document that contains all of the information and steps needed to complete a maintenance task. Work orders may also include details like who authorized the job, who is assigned to complete the work, the scope of work, and the expectations for completion. Work orders are a fundamental part of your maintenance operations, and when done well, they help you and your team stay organized, prioritize effectively, and get work done smoothly and efficiently.

Work orders are an authorization of maintenance, repair or operations work to be completed. Work orders can be manually generated through a work request submitted by a staff member, client, tenant, or automatically generated through a work order management software or Preventive Maintenance (PM) schedule. Work orders can also be generated via follow ups to Inspections or Audits. eMaint CMMS helps simplify the work order process for maintenance operations.

Digitalize Work Orders to Improve Efficiency

Manually created work orders have long been part of the maintenance world. Though paper-based work orders are easy in some ways, they do not perform as well as a long-term or large-scale solution. Paper work orders can also result in communication delays, extra costs (in both time and money) for data entry, and more. In today’s fast-paced maintenance world, paper-based work orders are inefficient — not to mention environmentally unfriendly.

Computerized Maintenance Management Systems such as eMaint CMMS help organizations embrace the power of cloud-based, online work order software and put an end to repeated phone calls, sticky notes, and missing paperwork. Centralizing and streamlining the work order process improves clarity and gets more work done on time.

What Does a Work Order Do?

  • Offer an explanation of the problem, repair, or installation
  • Schedule resources and tools needed for maintenance
  • Provide technicians with detailed instructions on the work to be performed
  • Document the labor, materials, and resources used to complete the work
  • Track all maintenance and repair work that has been performed on each asset

What is Included in a Work Order?

  • Who is requesting the work order
  • Who is authorizing the work order
  • Who will perform the labor
  • What the task is
  • When the work order needs to be completed
  • Where the work order needs to be performed
  • How to complete the task, including necessary parts and other notes

How to Use a CMMS for Work Order Management

Work orders are the heart of a maintenance program. The tools within a CMMS help organizations stay up to date on labor, projects, and resources. A CMMS can help organizations take control of both their work backlog and upcoming work, boost productivity, and manage compliance. There are a few keys to effective work order management.

Work order management refers to the process of prioritizing, completing, and documenting maintenance work orders in a timely manner. While this might sound simple, the process is time-consuming and prone to error when done by hand. For example, work orders filled out on paper and filed away in cabinets are easy to misplace, and manual spreadsheets are slow to be updated with new information. Instead, leveraging a robust work order management software, such as a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS), accelerates and streamlines this process while ensuring accurate, up-to-date documentation. When implemented effectively, this approach can be affordable and scalable in a facility, enabling maintenance teams to reduce unplanned asset downtime and save costs.

Work Order Management Process

The work order management process typically starts with a maintenance manager accepting a work order and passing the request along to a technician to fulfill. The work order form communicates maintenance through a lifecycle of six steps.

The eMaint cmms software work order management process has a lifecycle of 6 steps: task identification, work order creation, work order approval, priority assignment, distribution and execution, and result documentation.

Task Identification: Identify what needs to be done to resolve a maintenance issue.
Work Order Creation: Complete a work order request form to authorize maintenance tasks.
Work Order Approval: Maintenance management decides if there is a legitimate need.
Priority Assignment: Work orders are assessed by considering the urgency, existing backlog, and team availability.
Distribution and Execution: Approved and prioritized work orders are printed and given to technicians for them to perform the activity.
Result Documentation: Workers document what occurred in an accurate and timely manner.

The work order can be closed once all services were rendered and the job is complete.

What are the Four Main Different Types of Work Orders?

1. Inspection Work Orders

Inspection work orders arrange for a technician to come and inspect a particular asset. If a problem is detected during an inspection work order, the maintenance technician would then create a new work order to resolve the issue.

What triggers an inspection order will depend on your maintenance strategy. For example, if you are using a preventive maintenance strategy, your plant may require workers to inspect all of your equipment at regular, time- or usage-based intervals. If you are using a condition-based predictive maintenance strategy, your CMMS may issue an inspection work order in response to an unexpected change in your machine’s real-time condition, such as a sudden increase in vibration.

2. Preventive Maintenance Work Orders

Preventative maintenance work orders are used to schedule routine servicing for all of your equipment and assets. You can leverage a CMMS software to automatically schedule routine cleaning, lubrication, and other preventive maintenance tasks at a time that’s convenient for your production schedule and for your maintenance team.

3. Emergency Work Orders

Emergency work orders are created in response to an unexpected breakdown. These work orders require an immediate response to avoid costly downtime. When responding to emergency work orders, technicians should record why the asset failed, what was done to restore its normal operating condition, and recommendations for preventing this type of failure from occurring again.

Tracking your emergency work orders in a CMMS system can help you determine where your maintenance strategy has room for improvement: Do the same machines keep breaking down? How quickly is your maintenance crew addressing these problems? How much time is passing between breakdowns? Tracking and analyzing this information over time can help you optimize your maintenance approach, reduce unplanned downtime, and save on maintenance costs.

4. Corrective Maintenance Work Orders

Corrective maintenance work orders are issued to fix new faults before they become serious. Technicians might discover the fault while performing routine inspections on your equipment. Or, if you’re using a predictive maintenance approach, your AI tools might diagnose a new fault in your equipment. A corrective maintenance work order can include repairing or replacing worn or damaged parts on your equipment. In addition, corrective work orders can be scheduled, unlike an emergency work order.

Examples of Maintenance Work Orders

An effective work order should be clear, specific, and detailed. It must also be precisely worded to avoid confusion or misinterpretation and to provide a clear document trail of the asset’s maintenance history.

Work orders should describe the problem at hand and should answer the following questions:

  • Which asset needs to be repaired? Where is the asset located?
  • Which parts, if any, need to be replaced?
  • Which tools will the maintenance crew need to bring with them?
  • How many workers are needed to perform this job? What kinds of skills do they need? Will you need to call in outside workers?
  • What’s the timeline for performing this job? Is this a preventive maintenance project that must be done on a fixed date? Is this an urgent repair on a key asset that needs to be handled immediately?
  • What costs are involved in this job?
  • Who is requesting the job? Who authorized the work?

Work orders also fill a record-keeping function. Plant managers can look back over past work orders to track how often assets need repairs, or to assess the success of their maintenance strategy.

What are the Different Work Order Management Approaches?

The two primary approaches to work order management are manual (using pen and paper, spreadsheets, and/or whiteboards) and automated (leveraging a work order management software to automate work order creation and documentation workflows).

Manual work order methods were once the norm and can still be effective for smaller organizations that handle a low volume of work orders. However, a CMMS stands above as the most reliable system that makes it easy to prioritize work orders, automatically distribute them to available technicians, and instantly update maintenance records with the most up-to-date information.

Enterprises should adhere to the best practices of work order management to have more control over their work orders. That means employing a model suitable for managing large volumes of requests instead of just relying on a CMMS to get the job done.

eMaint Work Order Management software screenshot

Managing Work Order Requests

Not all work can be planned ahead of time. For corrective work or customer needs, there is a request system. Maintenance managers can tailor workflow processes for request submission, approval, rejection, and completion to the specific needs of their organization. Identifying a workflow process ensures:

  • Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are adhered to by all users
  • Work goes through an approval process
  • Areas of responsibility and expectations are clear for users
  • Periodic process auditing is performed
  • Valid data is being entered into a CMMS
  • Efficient communication flow

eMaint Work Order Management software screenshot

With eMaint, organizations can choose from three work order request submission options:

  1. Work requestors are given an eMaint user login that allows them to submit requests and view the history and status of their requests
  2. Work requestors send an email to a designated email address that gets converted into an eMaint work request
  3. Work requestors submit requests to eMaint through a customized web form embedded on a company’s website or intranet

The work request tools in a CMMS reduce communication errors. Organizations can send requestors automated email alerts when a work request is approved or rejected, followed by an automated email alert with a satisfaction survey once work has been completed.

With modern mobile CMMS solutions, requestors can submit work order requests whenever and wherever using their mobile device. Requestors can attach pictures to their reqs, including pictures of equipment needing repair.

What is Work Order Software?

CMMS software makes it easy for organizations to increase on-time work completion, improve workflow efficiency, keep track of project due dates, and more.

Work order software scheduling CMMS screenshot

  • Work Order Assignment – Using features such as eMaint’s maintenance scheduling tools, maintenance planners and schedulers can directly assign work orders to staff, contractors, or vendors for specific days, times, and locations. Assigned and unassigned work orders can also be viewed on a calendar display, and work can easily be reassigned when necessary.
  • Scheduling Calendar – View a calendar by day, week, or month with all labor resources and open work orders, or adjust calendar views and filter work by employee, work order type (such as Preventive Maintenance schedules), and more. Organizations can also use the PM Projection feature to plan upcoming work and ensure the right parts, labor, and tools are available.

Work order software customizable CMMS dashboard for reporting

  • Reports & Dashboards – Leverage Reports & Dashboards to stay up to date. Categorize work orders by type, technician, department, or any other user-defined field.
  • Mobile Maintenance – Using mobile CMMS maintenance services such as eMaint’s MX Mobile, organizations can access real-time data and perform functions throughout their facilities and on the road, including submitting and approving work requests, signing and closing out work orders, and more.

Tracking Projects

Major overhaul and renovation projects can be a headache, but the management process doesn’t need to be. With eMaint’s project management tools, organizations can easily create projects and assign and track work orders from project inception to completion. A CMMS organizes data in one central place. Assets, inventories, and actions that impact operational goals can all be handled from one platform.

With Gantt Charts, users can get a clear visual understanding of work order completion rates compared to a project’s end date.

Work Order Resources

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