Work Orders in Facilities Management
Work orders are an essential tool in facilities management that help keep stakeholders informed, organized and on task.
Traditionally, these documents have been filled out by hand and kept on file tucked away in a cabinet. That can make it difficult to share details of the work order with other stakeholders, track progress, have an at-a-glance view of costs associated with a job, and more.
These days, digital work orders and work order software have largely replaced physical copies to boost their efficiency and effectiveness.
But what goes into a work order, how many types are there, and what information should they include? Here are some need-to-knows about work orders and how they’re used in facilities management.
What is a work order?
A work order is a formal document that outlines authorized and/or approved work. They’re used in various industries and organizations to initiate and manage a specific task or project. This can include, but is not limited to, a maintenance or service request, cleaning, landscaping, and more.
A work order serves as a written directive that highlights the details of the work to be performed and provides instructions to the individuals or teams responsible for carrying out the job order.
Traditionally, pen and paper have been the typical method used for work request creation and documentation. While that is still a viable option for some industries and organizations, it’s important to consider other options so you’re confident that you’re making the right choice.
Alternative methods for work order creation include spreadsheets and dedicated software for creating digital work orders.
Work orders are an essential tool for organizing, tracking and documenting work activities. Most importantly, they serve as a communication tool that helps align staff or stakeholders on work that needs to be completed.
Work orders are common in many different industries; however, they are most expected in these industries:
- Facilities management
- Property management
- Service industries
Work request vs. work order
While similar and often confused, a work order and a work request are two distinct documents. Simply put, it can be described as idea vs. action—the work request being the initial document highlighting a need for work, and the work order being the one that authorizes the task.
The former is often sent by staff members or customers, while the latter is issued by the maintenance department responsible for completing the task.
Get started with a free work request template
Why are work orders important for facility management?
Facilities managers are responsible for overseeing and maintaining large physical spaces, which is already challenging. Work orders help these professionals keep a record of maintenance issues and actions so they can do their jobs more efficiently and effectively.
In facilities management, work orders help to accomplish the following:
- Structure maintenance department tasks and streamline the work order process
- Allocate resources
- Ensure adherence to safety and compliance regulations
- Optimize workflows and asset management
- Make it easier to document and report on projects
- Improve cost control
Types of work orders in facilities management
There are quite a few different types of work orders. However, as far as facilities management is concerned, some are more relevant than others.
Reactive maintenance work order
This refers to an order that’s created in reaction to an asset failure or realized need. For example, if an electrical failure happens and a request is issued, a reactive maintenance work order is created in response to address the request.
Routine maintenance work order
For items that require regular servicing on a recurring basis, like landscaping, a routine maintenance work order is used.
Inspection work order
This type of order is used when a technician or auditor needs to inspect the condition of a particular asset and may or may not require further maintenance.
Installation work order
When a new asset is being installed, an installation work order outlines the specifics of the installation, including estimated costs, duration, and even detailed instructions on how to complete the work.
Predictive maintenance work order
This type of work order is issued in response to a predicted need for maintenance based on collected data for a particular asset.
For example, if a piece of equipment is being monitored with sensors and the collected data shows the potential for failure in the near future, a predictive maintenance work order is generated.
Among these types, a more specific service order should be created based on the type of request. These can apply to a range of service types across a facility, including the following:
- And more
Given the range of work orders and service types, facilities managers start to run into obstacles when manually creating and managing a work request for a unique project.
With work order software, a maintenance manager is able to specify a particular type of work order request or task, like landscaping, and the platform will automatically filter form fields to include only relevant entries for that job.
This type of automation saves a lot of time on behalf of the maintenance manager. Not only is it easier to fill out, but also less complicated to file and reference in the future.
Information to include in a work order
To capture the necessary information about a job, it’s important to ensure that a work order includes fields for the most common and helpful data for that service.
With a dedicated work order software solution, many of these essential details can be automatically tracked, managed, and viewed more quickly than traditional methods.
Here’s what an optimal work order form should look like across different services and jobs:
- Work order number
- A unique identifier for tracking and reference purposes.
- Requester information
- Details of the person or department requesting the work, including their name, contact information, and any relevant identification or authorization codes.
- Description or scope of work
- A detailed description of the work to be performed. This should be specific and include any necessary technical details, measurements, and materials required.
- Location of the job
- The location where the work is to be carried out. This might include specific addresses, room numbers, or descriptions of the physical location.
- Assigned personnel
- The names or ID numbers of the individuals or teams responsible for carrying out the work.
- Priority level
- The level of urgency or importance associated with the work. This could be categorized as high, medium, or low.
- Dates and times (requested; start/end dates)
- The dates and times when the work is expected to begin and end. This helps in planning and scheduling resources.
- Labor, material and resource requirements
- A list of any equipment, tools, or materials required to complete the job. This can include quantities, specifications, and any special considerations.
- Cost estimates
- An estimated cost for completing the work. This can include labor and material costs and any other associated expenses.
- Associated attachments
- Any supporting documents, drawings, plans or reference materials that are relevant to the job.
- Special instructions
- Any additional, unique or specific guidance that’s necessary to complete a task or job safely and accurately. This may include safety procedures, technical details, environmental considerations, regulatory compliance and more.
Get a head start with a free downloadable work order template
How work order management software helps keep you organized
Beyond being a centralized and accessible work record, work order management software helps you keep even the smallest details of jobs organized.
For example, FMX work order management software automatically arranges and categorizes incoming requests and can even assign the most appropriate technician for the task based on their skills, experience, and qualifications.
During the job and afterward, stakeholders can quickly access any relevant documentation, such as equipment serial numbers, warranty information, and user manuals.
For time-sensitive jobs, real-time notifications and alerts for high-priority tasks help keep you and your team up-to-date. Track spare parts and consumables in near real-time to know what materials you have in stock, ready to go. Then, easily track and summarize costs across all of your tickets to improve decision-making and budgeting for your entire maintenance operation.
The work order lifecycle
Nearly every type of work order goes through a typical lifecycle, from identification of the maintenance issue or need to creation, approval and closure.
Here’s what that typically looks like and what happens at each stage:
- Identification and initiation: A need is identified, such as a repair, and a work order is created.
- Prioritization, planning, and scheduling: Priority level is determined based on the severity of the situation or task, a plan is created, and a schedule is set.
- Assignment and execution: Crews are assigned and sent out to complete the maintenance request.
- Monitoring and reporting: While the work is being completed, progress is monitored and recorded for future reference.
- Quality assurance and inspection: Once the job wraps up, an inspection may be complete to ensure it meets expectations and standards.
- Completion and closure: Following the project, feedback may be gathered from internal stakeholders or clients to help enhance efficiency and quality in the future.
Work order prioritization
Some work orders are more important than others, and it’s up to your organization to determine which should be completed first and which can take less priority.
Effectively prioritizing work orders can help reduce wasted man hours and money, keep things running smoothly and help your organization achieve its business goals.
It’s imperative to weigh the criticality of an asset against the operational risk it may pose if the request for maintenance is not completed quickly. This becomes extremely important in cases where health and safety are immediately threatened or significant production loss could result, for example. In scenarios like these, it’s critical that organizations have their ducks in a row when it comes to their work orders, so they can get back on track as soon as possible.
Prioritization is another instance where having dedicated work order management software proves invaluable.
How work order management software streamlines the whole process
Unlike paper- or spreadsheet-based work orders, dedicated software is designed to reduce inefficiencies, increase productivity, and provide better insight into service operations.
FMX work order software offers a roster of capabilities for your maintenance operation, enabling some valuable benefits:
Full mobile access: Having on-the-go access is important for any maintenance technician to make quick changes and updates or to reference project details quickly. FMX software allows quick and full access to your work order management system from your phone or tablet.
Robust reporting dashboards: Automatically generated, real-time reports with FMX work order management software make it easy for the maintenance department to gain insight into performance and make adjustments as necessary to improve customer satisfaction and bring down costs.
Facilitating better communication: Maintenance technicians use a variety of communication tools, from email and phone to word-of-mouth. FMX work order management software consolidates each point of contact onto one platform to reduce strain and confusion among your maintenance team.
Explore how FMX work order management software can help your maintenance team stay on task, on time, and in the loop about maintenance tasks—from identification to completion.
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Related work order management resources
- Work Order Management
- Work Request
- Work Order Management Software
- How to Create the Best Work Order Process: Ensuring Maintenance Success
- Maintenance Work Order Form Template: What to Include on Your Facility’s Work Order
- How to Manage Reactive Maintenance
- Spare Parts Inventory Management Best Practices