A Guide To Work Orders: Definition, Types, Management Tools & More

Any facility's operational standards are directly tied to maintaining the related equipment and assets. And a work order facilitates precisely that.

These formal documents essentially describe and record the execution of approved maintenance projects.

Yet, getting work orders across all the necessary departments before it finally reaches the appropriate personnel can be daunting.

Some facility managers do this effortlessly, though. The secret to their success?

They have the right tools to support them alongside deeply embedded practices that they follow rigorously.

What is a work order?

A work order is a formal operational record for asset maintenance or property projects.

It contains details regarding the malfunctioning equipment and how to fix the issue.

The scope of such logs differs based on the associated task and the department that issues them.

For example, a facility manager approves a maintenance management work order, be it routine maintenance or ad-hoc, to service electrical equipment periodically or when systems break down.

Types of work orders

Considering that each property project is distinct from another, organizations rely on different types of work orders to resolve specific issues. Some of the primary variants here include:

General work orders

These maintenance work orders include simple tasks such as equipment installation, asset removal, or even repainting a specific facility section.

The primary distinguishing factor here is that these projects are not assigned predetermined schedules and occur only when necessary.

In addition, while unforeseen asset malfunction can be construed as a general project, they fall under a completely different category due to the exact nature of the work.

Preventive maintenance

A preventive maintenance work order is a scheduled maintenance routine to address or avoid potential equipment failure.

Here are the two types of preventive maintenance:

  • Reactive: Project commences upon immediate asset failure
  • Predictive: Maintenance occurs at specific intervals to ensure smooth equipment functioning

Examples include monthly equipment checks, scheduled cleaning, or asset replacement.

Inspection and audits

Property technicians and maintenance personnel often conduct general audits to examine the current state of operations.

These periodic checks occur through an inspection order.

During this work order process, a problem is identified, and a request is raised to correct it.

Afterward, managers can deploy a corrective order to isolate and solve the issue.

Emergency maintenance

Emergency maintenance work orders deal with unplanned equipment breakdowns.

This is similar to reactive maintenance and requires a log of the conducted operations to fix the problem.

For instance, ground personnel could include information regarding what caused the malfunction, the steps taken to readdress the failure, and how to prevent it from happening again.

How is a work order raised?

All work orders, regardless of their type, follow a similar process.

These steps include:

  • Identification of the problem or project (equipment inspection or asset malfunction)
  • Creation of the related work request
  • Approval of the request with the appropriate priority given to the project
  • Assignment of the work order to the associated personnel and its subsequent completion
  • Project compliance evaluation with the order’s requirements alongside its documentation
  • Final analysis of log details

To help you understand this process better, consider these two examples:

Reactive maintenance in a rental site

Say you oversee a rental portfolio, and one of the included properties has an issue with its plumbing system.

Consequently, your site managers or support personnel identify the problem and raise a request.

Then, you examine that request and grant the approval for your team to go through with the necessary maintenance on high priority.

Following this, your technicians finish the assigned work and log in the details of what caused the initial issue, how they fixed it, and how to prevent it in the future.

Finally, you review everything and raise a work order request.

Periodic inspections in an airport

Consider a facility manager at an airport.

Their primary responsibility is to ensure that the site's equipment—including luggage conveyor belts, metal detector gates, and flight information display systems (FIDS)—works correctly.

To do this, the team conducts periodic checks through pre-approved maintenance work orders.

They go through the necessary checklist on either a mobile device or desktop, ensuring they meet the required log standards, and then submit the record for review on a work order system.

Once that's done, they document all the conducted inspections and compare them to previous audits if necessary.

Concurrently, if the team detects an issue with any equipment, they raise a request following all the abovementioned steps.

What is work order management?

Work order management refers to a systematic approach to processing and ensuring the timely completion of maintenance projects to reduce asset downtime.

This depends entirely on your available resources, including personnel efficiency, team size, and even equipment spare parts.

Yet, a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) can negate most of these concerns.

These are essentially software tools that streamline and improve equipment lifecycles by recording information on elements such as:

  • Maintenance schedules
  • Equipment and asset logs
  • Inventory parts
  • Purchase orders

Still, it’s not enough to merely rely on these systems to do all the work for you. You must also strengthen the entire process by adhering to rigorous and stringent operational practices.

Work order management best practices

It helps to follow a few specific steps to ensure that your asset maintenance projects are up to the highest standards.

And while the nature of such tasks may vary depending on organizational requirements, the outline for approaching them remains the same across all cases.

So, here are a few actionable points you can put into practice:

Requiring a formal submission for work requests

Any project, regardless of whether it's raised in a team meeting or explicitly mentioned to you, must be first approved.

In short, make it mandatory for your personnel to submit a request through designated channels. It also helps if you design presets for these submissions depending on the work required.

That way, the process is streamlined, enabling you to execute it faster.

Centralizing all upcoming work orders

Previously, work orders left a paper trail that went through several different departments before being assigned to the relevant team.

This can create unnecessary confusion and delay the overall schedule.

So, create one central directory and give specific departments the autonomy to manage maintenance work orders.

For instance, your property’s engineers can oversee everything related to the site’s electrical equipment. The department head can then issue a new work order at their discretion.

Determining project priority

Assigning the relevant priority to a work order is critical to maintaining overall facility operations.

Thus, it becomes vital to differentiate between work requests to identify which must be reviewed first.

Here’s an example for you to understand better:

A production plant has two equipment malfunctions on the same day.

One is related to a product packaging conveyor belt, while the other is a minor issue with the lighting in the service area washroom.

If you don't prioritize the conveyor belt, your daily operations will come to a screeching halt.

The washroom lights can be fixed even the next day. In short, anything that is instrumental to day-to-day activity must always be addressed first.

Ensuring timely approval deadlines

None of the previous steps will matter if you take a prolonged period to approve a work request. That will only lead to additional delays and could even be detrimental to an asset’s overall lifecycle.

A simple tip here is to assign deadlines to any submitted requests based on their urgency. For instance, high-priority requests, like major equipment malfunctions, must be approved within an hour of submission.

Training your team in comprehensive documentation

Maintenance work orders are only relevant when they capture all the necessary project details. While the details may vary across specific organizations, some standard elements include information on:

  • Equipment failure
  • Conducted maintenance
  • The efficiency of the project/results of the maintenance work
  • Time spent on the task
  • Parts used to replace the redundant asset

So, it’s best to train your personnel to document all relevant details in any work log. That way, you can review the data to ensure that the maintenance team adhered to the required standards.

Utilizing automated channels for scheduling

As a facility manager, you can ensure efficient work order management by relying on automated tools to schedule projects. There are several options here, including CMMS and computer-aided facilities management (CAFM) systems.

Yet, a few specific applications combine the functionality of both into one integrated platform. While there'll be a discussion regarding the same later in the article, you must remember this: any tool that helps you streamline your work order directories will benefit you significantly.

Want to learn more?

Schedule a demo now and learn what Facilio can do for your business.

Benefits of work order management

While most people deem efficient work order management beneficial to their facility operations, few seem to recognize it.

For instance, if you delay your approvals and finally give the go-ahead a few hours later than was required, you're still engaging in the broader scope of order management. The only issue is that it's inefficient.

So, when you focus on it, an efficient management procedure can offer you:

  • Prolonged asset lifecycles & enhanced equipment performance due to consistent preventive maintenance
  • Detailed insight into overall facility efficiency through comparative report analysis
  • Optimized project schedules and minimal asset downtime
  • Reduction in overall maintenance backlog through streamlined inspections and audits
  • Comprehensive oversight over all property operations through a centralized data directory
  • Reduced expenses on equipment replacement due to consistent checks
  • Improved inter-departmental communication regarding any given maintenance tasks
  • Boost personnel productivity by providing set instructions on what needs to be done
  • Agile business and asset operations through streamlined reactive work orders
  • Efficient vendor and third-party contractor tracking and management

Remember, none of the benefits come with a superficial adoption of a work order management process. Instead, it’d be best to follow the previously mentioned practices to transform your existing operational standards.

What is work order software?

Work order software solutions are automated tools that enable you to create, approve, assign and track all related aspects of an asset's maintenance. CMMS is an excellent example here, and so are CAFM tools.

These platforms have a single dashboard that offers real-time updates on a specific project while tracking overall progress. That way, everyone is held accountable while allowing you to deliver feedback on the completed task.

Still, you mustn't rush that decision if you are in the market for such systems. Doing so would only increase the possibility of you opting for disparate tools.

And more often than not, using disparate systems can lead to a siloed database that eventually inhibits your work order management process. In addition, you also have to consider whether these software applications can integrate with your existing infrastructure.

That is why Facilio provides accessible solutions to cover all related aspects of property operations. Moreover, our platform serves as a dedicated avenue to consolidate your site databases and give you comprehensive oversight over your facility management.

Work order management with Facilio

CAFM tools and CMMS have always been at the forefront of efficient property operations. But what if there was a way to blend both functionalities without sacrificing the scope of these platforms?

Facilio’s facilities management software does precisely that. It takes the best of what these systems offer and integrates it into a single dashboard.

Here’s a brief list of our key features:

  • Predictive task analysis and automated scheduling of maintenance work orders
  • Smart tracking of project lifecycles alongside a custom resource planner
  • Access to real-time data regarding current work orders to effectively monitor project progress
  • End-to-end configuration access to cater to specific organization requirements
  • Mobile-optimized application to enable quick, actionable work order management decisions
  • Comprehensive inventory and vendor tracking, including purchase requests and operational & retired equipment

The idea is to provide dedicated support to your location's operations without breaking each segment into siloed directories.

For instance, our work automation feature allows you to schedule maintenance projects with a predetermined priority level. Then, the system alerts you once the task is underway, giving you complete access to consistent information regarding its progress.

As an added benefit, you can track all the peripheral data, like asset inventory and vendor purchase invoices, in other directories. The result? You get a single avenue to process all your work orders.

Streamline your work order management with Facilio

The current standards of property and equipment management require a consolidated approach. More importantly, work order assignments demand automation.

So, ask yourself: Can your site maintain peak operational efficiency without going beyond existing tools? The answer, as you well know, is evident.

After all, you strive to ensure consistently high standards in your facility projects. So, why not rely on tools that help you do precisely that?

Don't take our word for it.

Get in touch with us today and learn more about what Facilio can do for your business.