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How Work Order Management Works

Work orders are common among workplaces and if you are still using a non-software-based approach they are probably a good source of headaches.

Work orders are generated from several sources such as customer requests, created as part of a follow up to inspections or audits and maintenance requests. They are a way for companies to be able to organise the job, track the job and ensure it is completed. The number of work orders produced each day will vary in proportion to the scope of the company, which can range from a few to hundreds or even thousands of work orders a day.

Work order management systems cover a variety of issues relating to maintaining a worksite. Some of the things they cover are the needs for repair and new equipment installation as well as product requests, leave forms and orders to employees and contractors.

Work orders have traditionally been completed on paper and then submitted through a variety of means to the relevant maintenance department. These requests are then triaged to sort out the importance of the work orders from least to most pertinent. This helps the people in charge determine the skills and equipment that are required for each request. The task is then assigned to the person who is perceived to be the most suitable for them. Assigning the people to the most pertinent orders first should allow less time to be wasted on smaller jobs.

Unfortunately, this system has many potential flaws and as such errors occur. Having errors is obviously not ideal when you are wanting to stop a leak, replace light fittings or fix the heating. Nevertheless, these errors occur and occur for a number of reasons with some being due to the way people handle the requests, record the data of each work order, organise what is needed for each one and store them. These issues can lead to delayed or non-existent response times and be further compounded with other issues such as requests being lost, missing date and time, location not on the work order, orders being misplaced, or orders never actually being handed in (even if they are completed).

For a person or group to keep track of incoming work orders and not fall prey to these issues requires an effort of Brobdingnagian proportions in strategic thinking to deal effectively with the work orders requiring coordination, timetabling and possibly accounting across many departments (as mentioned above the actual demand this represents will vary depending on the company’s size and the amount of people dealing with sorting work orders, never the less errors are to occur from both those creating the requests and those processing them).

To reduce/avoid these issues or ‘gremlins’ occurring, dedicated software is needed to assist and, in the process, remove paper versions. This will greatly reduce the potential stress and risk of the above-mentioned problems occurring. In turn this can generate a better flow of information to improve response times on requests and free up resources to help in areas where the need is greater.

Other issues often found when using a paper-based system include missing or incomplete work, and lost revenue. However, increasing and/or saving revenue and productivity are not all that transitioning to a software-based system has to offer. It allows jobs to be allocated easily and to the appropriate people. What could take hours or longer can now be done in far less time with the information being readily at hand. The level of completion can also be tracked online via the software. Response times can then be greatly reduced and the potential conflicts of who is responsible for which area or two teams being sent to the same task can be a thing of the past. Work orders can now be more closely matched up with the most appropriate skill sets and therefore more experienced employees are freed up to handle the more pressing jobs. Once the work order is done completion notifications can easily be sent off, allowing for relevant parties to be informed as soon as possible.

Using software to handle incoming and outgoing work orders makes far more sense than relying on paper. It helps to reduce the human error components and creates a far more pleasant experience for all concerned. Work orders can be tracked from beginning to completion and worksites have greater accountability and safety.

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