Easy to use. Powerful software. Priced right.

The Maintenance Management Blog

June 26, 2023

CMMS Work Order Strategies

As a supervisor, devising CMMS (computerized maintenance management system) work order strategies for your maintenance workers, means many factors are taken into consideration. What details should be included so the worker understands and is best prepared for the job as possible?

Since many readers know I'm a published author, I want to relate the plotting and writing of a novel to plotting and planning work orders.

Image: maintenance man looking at a plane's wing

Work Requests

Before work orders, there might be work request submissions. An employee sees something needing repair or other maintenance attention. This ranges from a hanging light to a broken machine to deicing the sidewalk.

I compare these submissions to story ideas that often come to me. I have to sort through them to see which are worth following up on.

Of course, a supervisor can't let work requests sit for a long time. One of the determining factors is priority. It is suggested that emergency not be used for a work request. Otherwise, most requests will lean that way. However, the supervisor must judge the merit of each request.

I mention this because I do let ideas sit for a while. If I try to force something to be "solid," it won't be as good as I first thought. If an idea holds on or "bugs me" after a time, then I'll proceed.

Work requests can require authorization. The supervisor decides whether to okay the request. A quality CMMS can convert this to a work order.

If an idea stays with me, I'll move to the next step. The "work order" for me is an outline.

Image: maintenance workersstudying plans

Work Orders

Putting aside the work request conversion to a regular work order, let's focus on initiating a new work order. The logical place to start is to decide the type of job this is. Options could include preventive maintenance, safety work, corrective repair, regulatory maintenance, and equipment move. The type gets the worker in the right frame of mind.

Type equates to the genre of books. Usually, I write action mysteries but have been known to delve into horror. A recent idea took me into the science fiction area. Like maintenance jobs, where the type gives an idea of "what's needed," each genre has its own rules to follow.

As with work requests, priority is a key factor for work orders. Emergencies are accepted here. Again, the supervisor judges the urgency and importance of the job. Immediate attention? Within a few days? By the end of the week?

Priority for story writing can be what to write first. It can also be part of the outlining process. Usually, stories flow in a sort of rollercoaster pattern. High points or action scenes followed by low moments, follow-up on the action, or gathering more information. Of course, there is the end climactic scene. The priority is the placement of these high and low scenes.

Efficiency and productivity in maintenance can be affected by the location of the job. Travel time to and from the site is important to know. Is the job on top of a 200-foot tower? In a basement? Then miles to the back grounds of the property? Location, of course, is the setting in stories, Where and when. 1930s Britain? Outer space? Present-day Africa? Since most of my stories are set in Des Moines, Iowa, the next challenge is the location in the city where the scenes take place. Location is a factor that determines the efficacy of a story.

One option in a quality CMMS is to establish routes for maintenance jobs. Instead of sending a worker on one job at one location, then creating a second work order for the same job elsewhere, initiate a single work order to cover both—or more—places. Examples: Gutter inspection for all buildings. Lighting and fire extinguisher inspection. Having a route helps increase efficiency.

The route through a story can also be its timeline. Is it linear, moving the storyline through a day, a week, or twenty years? Are present-day scenes mixed with historical scenes? Does a book start at the 'end' with the narrative working through the plot to where it all began?

Supervisors help the workers by including any safety issues and checklists on the work order. This only makes sense. The safety measures could be common throughout a company or specific to the asset or job. Ditto with checklists for jobs that have a certain order of completion.

"Safety" and checklists in writing are following the rules and using the various tools of the writing craft. Yes, writers break the rules at times—which is NOT recommended for maintenance workers—but only if it works for the particular scene or story. Otherwise, as on the job, follow the rules. It's necessary and expected.

An obvious part of a work order is assigning it to a worker. Is this for an individual, a team, a specific craft, or a shift? This goal is to dispatch the jobs to those best skilled. Again, that may be obvious, but strategizing is needed when there are multiple work orders, and the entire team is fairly evenly skilled.

In writing, this relates to characters and character development. Who is the protagonist, and who is the antagonist? The writer must decide how to present both as well as secondary and minor characters.

One strategy a maintenance supervisor can use is to attach a bill of materials. Call up the inventory list and choose the needed items. Perhaps kitted parts and supplies have been created. This saves time for workers. No need to gather items each time the job comes up when the same inventory is needed.

In writing, I think of this as adding more to the setting. It's usually better to be specific. For example, rather than a character driving a "car," give a specific make and model. If the story is set in the past, the reader enjoys historical references such as music, mode of dress, technology, cultural norms, and language phraseology.

A CMMS should track any purchases associated with the job. These can be part of the work order. This information can help get a better accounting report on labor and material costs.

It'll be a stretch of the imagination, but I relate purchasing to edits and rewrites, those extras needed for a quality story. They are essential parts of story development to have and track. Many authors save previous versions of the manuscript or sections of removed text for the possibility of future use.

A beneficial strategy for a work order is to have an attachment. An image. Those safety protocols. Perhaps a weblink for video instructions.

One strategy writers use is laying out a storyboard. This may be something as simple as a bunch of index cards or more intricate features of writing assistant software where scenes and chapters can be put on a virtual corkboard. The writer has a nice overview of the story.

Once the work order is finished, it may go into a list of jobs to be scheduled. A supervisor or another employee has a CMMS calendar, the list of work orders, and just like making appointments on the hanging calendar at home, puts the jobs on the schedule. This is also another way to dispatch the jobs.

I have set times to write. Other days, I make time. A friend and I created calendars and put down writing goals to achieve. This keeps us motivated and accountable.

A supervisor who uses a quality CMMS will see increased productivity and efficiency from the maintenance team. Work orders are near the heart of a CMMS. The strategies for an effective work order can change for each job, but it's necessary for smoother operations.

If you're wanting your maintenance operations improved, then the decision to call Mapcon Technologies at 800-922-4336 is one of the best you'll make all day. Get details on work order strategies for your company. MAPCON will deliver!


Stephen Brayton

About the Author – Stephen Brayton


Stephen L. Brayton is a Marketing Associate at Mapcon Technologies, Inc. He graduated from Iowa Wesleyan College with a degree in Communications. His background includes radio, hospitality, martial arts, and print media. He has authored several published books (fiction), and his short stories have been included in numerous anthologies. With his joining the Mapcon team, he ventures in a new and exciting direction with his writing and marketing. He’ll bring a unique perspective in presenting the Mapcon system to prospective companies, as well as our current valued clients.


Filed under: work order management, CMMS, maintenance — Stephen Brayton on June 26, 2023