What is a work order?
A work order is a written or electronic document used to assign and track maintenance on an asset. Work orders can originate from work requests, be created ad-hoc, be follow-ups to inspections or audits, or come from preventive maintenance schedules. Work orders are often tracked in work order software.
What is a work order comprised of?
There are a few basic things each work order should include:
- Who initiated the work order
- Which equipment, locations, or areas need attention
- Details of the work that’s needed or requested
- When and who the work should be completed by
What is work order software?
Work order software is a software program that is used to track work requests and work orders from initiation to closure. Work order software, sometimes referred to as a work order management system, allows users to create, plan, schedule, and dispatch work orders. It also allows users to schedule maintenance tasks and record history on repairs completed. Work order management software is often included in a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS).
In years past, work orders were written on a piece of paper and handed to workers. This process This process made work order tracking difficult, especially when it came to determining which orders had been completed and which had not. In addition, there wasn’t an easy way to track history that can be reported against, plus information could be changed or overwritten easily without knowing who made the changes.
What’s the typical lifecycle of a work order?
When maintenance or repairs are needed, a work request is created within a work order software program to get the attention of the maintenance department. This request includes a priority that the requester believes it to be, for example, low, medium, or high. Once converted into an actual work order, that priority will change according to the maintenance planner and will be integrated into the work order schedule. This step isn’t always required as sometimes the work order can be created without a work request, depending on the situation.
Once the request is reviewed and approved, it is turned into a work order, which is when repair planning begins. Work order management software allows users to add parts to the work order, which helps ensure they will be on-hand when the repairs are done, thus decreasing downtime. Users can also provide an estimate of how long the repairs will take to complete, as well as who will do the work (specific employees, shift, crew, or craft). Planning labor helps make certain enough people are available to get repairs done as efficiently as possible. From there, the work order can then be scheduled. Proper planning takes effort, but it also saves money.
After planning the work order, it can be scheduled. Many software programs give users the choice to schedule it to a specific technician, craft, crew, or shift. Scheduling work orders ensures the proper number of employees are available for the amount of work. Not only does this mean work orders can be completed more efficiently, but also that technicians aren’t scheduled to work when there isn’t enough work for an entire shift.
Closing the work order
Once the repairs are completed, workers can add comments to the work order which explain exactly what was done. In addition, the actual labor can be added, which will allow for more efficient planning and scheduling in the future. A good work order management software system can also provide a checklist for users to check off steps or tasks as they are performed, or to answer a series of questions about the repairs. These answers, as well as the repair history of the asset, can be reviewed and reported on within the software and used for business intelligence analysis.
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How do you choose a work order software program?
After deciding a work order software system is a good fit for your company, you’ll need to begin searching for a system that fits. How do you do that?
- Form a team. Since each department within a company has different needs, at least one person from each department that will be using the system should have a say in what is chosen.
- Define the goals. Prior to selecting a work order system, the goals and desired outcomes of implementing the system must be laid out.
- Decide what features are needed. Once the overall goals are defined, the group should decide which software features are required and which are just nice to have in the work order management system.
- Start researching work order software vendors. Many companies, like Mapcon Technologies, Inc., offer free software trials as well as free demonstrations.
- Consider training options. Software is ever-changing and evolving, so it is important that a work order software vendor offers ongoing training options.
- Make the decision. After all vendors have been considered, meet with the team that was formed. Go over the pros and cons of each work order program and decide which solution fits your company best.
How do you set up work order software?
Create the users and provide them with a login and password for the work order software program.
For larger companies, a security level can be assigned to individual employees or groups that allows them access to areas they need, and to prevent them for accessing more sensitive administrative areas. For example, employees with a lower level of access might be able to write or close a work order, but have view-only access to equipment and lookup details, manuals, or a parts list. Higher level users can be granted access to make changes to those items if required.
Smaller companies can make security much more streamlined, perhaps everyone with a login has full access. This will vary by organization.
Work orders are written to a specific entity: equipment, locations, cost centers.
- The first step in tracking equipment is to assign a unique identifying number to all equipment. The equipment can be set up in a hierarchy, so that charges to the children roll up to the overall cost of the parents. Start with a shorter list of critical equipment and go from there.
- Locations are identified by area of use or responsibility, which can have multiple levels such as building–floor–room.
- In some scenarios the work order is a direct charge to someone’s budget, so a cost center or general ledger number can be used. The Accounting department can help provide a list of those.
The next step is to take the cost centers and add them to the equipment and locations, allowing costs to be accumulated on each entity. This ensures that work orders are written to the equipment or location itself for a proper history in the work order software program, and still allow for charges of labor and material to accumulate into the proper cost center account.
Lastly, begin to track work in the new work order system.