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Work Order Management Software

October 4, 2020

What Is Work Order Management Software? 

Word order management software is a centralized platform used by facility managers to efficiently track, assign, and monitor preventive maintenance tasks; respond to facilities requests; and strategize action plans. Sometimes referred to as Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS), up to 53 percent of organizations use some type of work order management software. Common alternatives are spreadsheets, paper records, and whiteboards. 

Overview

It’s inevitable—every maintenance team reaches a tipping point when work order software becomes essential to daily operations. Facility managers responsible for managing dozens, if not hundreds, of assets eventually require the convenient categorization only a digital solution can provide. 

Essentially,  work order software systems provide operational managers with a bird’s eye view of which maintenance tasks are in the pipeline, who is responsible for completing them, and a more user-friendly task prioritization method.  

However,  most modern work order management software programs do much more than schedule recurring work orders. While relatively simple software applications are available, the majority of today’s apps also function as data management systems. This maintenance software allows companies to streamline operations with meaningful data calculations, known as Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which help inform more cost-effective maintenance strategies. 

Though work order management software is used across several industries, it’s most commonly used by manufacturing facilities needing to organize massive amounts of daily work requests within a central application. 

Features of Work Order Management Software

Each work order management software comes with a unique set of capabilities depending on its vendor. However, most platforms share the following basic features: 

  • Work Orders: The primary feature of any work order management software is work orders. Work orders are modular templates that can be customized based on industry and individual needs. As long as your facility takes a work-order approach to requesting, performing, and logging maintenance work, you will find the software crucial to your operations.
  • Work Requests: Work requests deal with the way maintenance or repair work is requested. Anyone in the system can submit a work request and assign it to the appropriate maintenance team depending on factors such as the area, type of maintenance work requested, and maintenance schedule. Some work order management software also automatically generates work requests in response to certain triggers such as a specific fault or failure on a given machine.
  • Contractor Management: Most software offers a customizable contractor database so you can assign particular work orders to onsite or offsite contractors. 
  • Inventory Control: Instead of cataloging asset history in a cumbersome spreadsheet, work order management software allows for a cross-indexed database of asset information. Managers can import hundreds of asset entries,  complete with asset serial numbers, service dates, locations, and manufacturer recommendations. Once asset entries are imported, team members can quickly generate asset reports to determine customized maintenance needs. As an organization accumulates data history, the software will gradually generate more meaningful KPIs to improve maintenance decision-making. 

Unfortunately, it’s not unusual for work order requests to fall through the cracks when communicating via email, text message, and paper stacks. Most software options don’t solve this common communication dilemma. 

MaintainX is the only work order tracking solution that includes integrated chat functionality so information is never lost. Using the MaintainX smartphone or desktop app, managers can instant message technicians via individual chats, group chats, and directly within individual work orders for quick troubleshooting. 

Who Uses Work Order Management Software?

Work order management software is used across industries. However,  it’s most commonly associated with the following verticals:

  • Manufacturing Industry: The manufacturing industry uses this software for preventive maintenance applications. Maintenance personnel receive work orders to perform maintenance tasks on a piece of equipment to prevent unnecessary downtime. These orders can be created manually during equipment inspections or automatically for routine maintenance tasks. The work order contains documentation, inspection checklists, logs of the maintenance personnel’s actions, and their observations.
  • Housing Industry: The housing industry relies on work order management software to create maintenance and repair requests. Tenants or facility staff can create work requests on the system indicating what work needs to be done. These can be simple tasks such as unclogging a sink or as complex as repairing a cracked pipe. The software also helps to schedule work with the right service provider, such as a plumber or pest control agency listed in the contractor database mentioned above.
  • Contractors: Contractors use work order management software to respond to work orders from customers. The work order may contain work schedules, requested materials, prices, and service locations that the contractor fulfills then sends back to the client. This can serve both as a service log and an invoice.

How Do I Organize My Maintenance Department With Work Order Management Software?

Work order management software is only a tool; it won’t magically transform your maintenance department into a well-oiled machine. When implementing your software, prioritize the following actions:

  • Hire Qualified Maintenance Personnel: Your team should be knowledgeable on the type of work order management software you’re using. The people you hire should also be open to learning as new technologies emerge everyday, and your team will need to stay up-to-date on the latest technologies in use. Hiring unqualified people leads to the increased need for outsourcing and overtime.
  • Clearly Define Communication Lines: Everything is much easier and issues can be handled effectively when the communication lines are clearly defined. Use a connected-workforce solution like MaintainX, Slack, or Lua that offers real-time chat to ensure everyone is on the same page with program changes. 
  • Consistently Review and Improve Systems:. Work order management software provides insightful data that often reveals deeper insights for growth. Set aside time each month to review your organization’s KPIs and improve your team’s ratio of preventive to reactive maintenance efforts. 

Remember, you don’t have to start big. Laying a solid foundation by implementing a preventive maintenance program that involves your most critical pieces of equipment, supported by user-friendly work order management software, will pay huge dividends over time. You can always add more assets to the database as your team increases in proficiency. 

What Is the Best Work Order Management Software? 

Great work order management software can be hard to find, especially if you’re unsure of your non-negotiables.. Know where to start. To procure your organization’s best platform, list your needs, requirements, and objectives before shopping. Other factors worth evaluating include:

  • Cloud-Based: This means your data is stored on shared remote servers, allowing you to receive the benefits of enhanced security, decreased monthly service fees, and scalable plans that grow with you. 
  • Barcoding: Larger organizations may want to tag their assets within the database for enhanced organization. 
  • Mobile-First: Only a handful of applications in the marketplace provide mobile access, and even fewer specifically designed their initial software for smartphone usage. Don’t underestimate the importance of convenient, intuitive, and user-friendly work order management software. 
  • Freemium: Look for the availability of free trials so you can see how it fits your needs before committing to paid subscriptions.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why Is Mobile App Integration Important for Work Order Management Software?

There are times when managers and in-house technicians need to remotely dispatch, manage, and track work orders. This is why it is important for a work order management software to have a mobile app integration. It also helps the organization to send work orders to third-party contractors and service providers and receive prompt responses. Additionally, mobile apps make it easier for field technicians to check in and out, contact their managers, and update their work orders in real-time.

What Is a Work Request?

A work request is a document that describes the type of maintenance work needed at a facility. It is usually issued by an individual or another department to the maintenance department and, when approved, a work order is created and scheduled for completion.

What Is a Work Order? What Is the Purpose of a Work Order?

A work order is a maintenance task scheduled and assigned to a technician. It provides details of the job to be completed. A work order enables a company to organize and manage maintenance activities so that nothing is overlooked. This improves efficiency, workplace safety, and regulatory compliance. It also helps optimize maintenance costs.

What Should Be Included in a Work Order? 

Typically, a work order should contain information on where the task is to be performed, work instructions, maintenance checklists and forms, and any other information relevant to the technician assigned the work order.

How Do You Manage Work Orders?

It can be difficult to manage all your work orders if they keep coming from different channels. You should insist on a formal submission process for all orders and keep them in one place in your system. Approval and scheduling for work orders should be done based on priority levels. 

Conclusion

Work order management software simplifies the way maintenance teams interact with huge amounts of information on a daily basis. It helps automate recurring work orders, simplifies preventive maintenance, enhances communication, and provides meaningful insights into improving maintenance programs. 

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