A work order is a cornerstone of any efficient maintenance operation. It documents a specific task or set of tasks that need to be completed, providing structure and accountability. An optimized work order management process ensures that maintenance activities are performed promptly, efficiently, and to the required standards.

Key Steps in the Work Order Management Process

Here’s a breakdown of the typical steps within a work order management process:

  1. Initiation and Request:


    • Problem Identification: A problem, breakdown, or required maintenance task is identified. This can come from direct reporting, automated alerts from equipment sensors, or scheduled preventive maintenance routines.
    • Request Creation: A formal work order request is created. It captures essential details like the problem description, the affected asset, location, priority level, and the requestor’s contact information.
  2. Planning and Scheduling:


    • Review and Approval: The work order request is reviewed by a maintenance manager or supervisor to assess its validity, urgency, and resource requirements.
    • Prioritization: Work orders are prioritized based on factors such as equipment criticality, safety implications, potential downtime, and available resources.
    • Resource Allocation: The necessary personnel, tools, spare parts, and any external service providers are assigned to the work order.
  3. Assignment and Execution:


    • Work Order Dispatch: The work order is assigned to the appropriate technician(s) based on their skills, availability, and location.
    • Technician Work: The technician travels to the worksite, diagnoses the issue(s), performs repairs or maintenance tasks, and updates the work order status.
  4. Completion and Documentation:


    • Work Completion: The technician indicates that the job is complete, providing details on the solution, labor hours used, and any replacement parts installed.
    • Closure and Review: The work order is closed by the maintenance manager after reviewing the completed work. Further follow-up might be initiated if needed.
  5. Analysis and Reporting:


    • Data Collection: Completed work order data is collected, including maintenance history, failure modes, time to repair, costs, and other relevant metrics.
    • KPI Tracking: Key performance indicators (KPIs) such as mean time to repair (MTTR), first-time fix rate, and preventive maintenance compliance are tracked.
    • Process Improvement: The collected data is analyzed to find areas for improvement in maintenance strategies, work order efficiency, or resource optimization.

Best Practices for Optimizing Your Work Order Management Process

  • Utilize a CMMS: Invest in a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) to consolidate, automate, track, and streamline your entire work order process.
  • Standardize Work Order Forms: Create well-structured templates to ensure all necessary information is captured from the start.
  • Prioritize Preventive Maintenance: A proactive maintenance approach helps reduce unplanned downtime and reactive repairs.
  • Mobile Access: Empower technicians with mobile CMMS access for real-time work order updates, status changes, and information access in the field.
  • Integration with Inventory Management: Link your CMMS with your inventory system to ensure spare parts availability and optimize stock levels.

Benefits of a Streamlined Work Order Process

  • Improved Asset Performance: Efficient work order management leads to better asset uptime, reduced breakdowns, and extended asset lifespans.
  • Enhanced Productivity: Techs spend less time on administrative tasks and more time on value-adding maintenance activities.
  • Data-Driven Decision Making: KPIs and historical data give insights into maintenance trends, improving planning and budgeting.
  • Cost Optimization: Reduces labor costs, downtime expenses, and inventory management inefficiencies.

In Conclusion

A well-structured work order management process is critical for any organization relying on assets for its operations. By following these steps and best practices, you can improve maintenance efficiency, minimize disruptions, and maximize the return on investment in your assets.