Work order management is the process of logging, approving, updating and resolving issues that occur in a workplace. A work order, or sometimes referred to as a service request, may be submitted by a facilities manager, an office manager or an employee who works in the building.
Service requests are used for minor issues like dead lightbulbs or jammed windows, to more significant problems like deteriorating carpet or faulty HVAC systems. While facilities managers work hard to stay on top of proactive maintenance, things break unexpectedly all of the time. As such, they have to be prepared when things don't go according to plan.
Implementing an efficient and productive work order management process can lead to significant savings of time and money. Work order management software is definitely one simple solution to enhancing your processes. However, there are a variety of things you can do to finetune the way you handle and resolve requests.
- Standardize work order submissions
No matter what system you use, it is hugely important to standardize your work order forms. That's because if you don't set requirements, you'll receive all types of requests. There will be written emails, verbal requests, and maybe even hand-written submissions. Compiling, tracking and closing all of those different things is inefficient, and will take up a significant amount of your time.
Software will ensure that all of the key information you need is included in each request. However, having a digital request form available to tenants is another excellent option.
The process you implement must be easy for tenants to use, too. If there are too many steps, or it's less convenient than what they were doing before, people are more likely to revert back to their old ways of making verbal requests or sending you emails that lack the details you need.
If you are introducing a new software solution like Office Control, make sure everyone understands how it works and how it will benefit them. Follow up with demos for those who aren't exactly sure how to use it. Office Control will even let you send an instructional guide to each tenant or employee.
Work orders should ask for:
- The name of the requestor
- The request type or category
- The office number or floor number if the request is for a bathroom or other room
- The urgency of the request
- A description of the issue or problem
- Photos, if applicable
- The date the request was submitted
If the request was submitted by a tenant, the manager needs to determine who the job should be assigned to.
- Be realistic about deadlines
Assigning a work order to a contractor or vendor without a due date implies that the job is not a priority. Similarly, telling a tenant that a big task can be completed in 24 hours is unfair to both the vendor and employees.
A sustainable work order management process involves clear communication between you, the repair professionals you work with, and the tenants you work for. Setting a realistic timeline helps to manage expectations for everyone.
- Assess the effectiveness of your workflow
If your workflow has you doublechecking paper spreadsheets and using those same documents to re-enter the numbers into Excel, you're automatically creating opportunities for bad data. Every time data is transferred manually; there is a chance the numbers will be incorrectly entered. Plus, this is a tedious task.
Another point to consider is how the information sent from management to the repair professional is packaged. Vendors want to know all of the relevant details before they start so that they can know what they're getting into. However, they don't want to read through a chain of emails or try and decipher a messy note. This is another time where having a standard form or software feature comes in handy.
Depending on the job, you may also want to provide the following information to the repair person:
- Maintenance and repairs histories
- Photos of the asset or equipment
- Associated MRO parts and materials
- Site maps or floor plans
The goal is to have the contractor arrive with a clear idea of what they need to do and what they need to complete the job.
- Be specific
Make sure that each person responsible for assigning work orders knows how to get the request to the right person. They should not be delivered to a team or group. If you send it to multiple people, it's up to them to decide who's going to take the job, and they may not get around to making that decision for days.
- Think proactively, not reactively
Preventive maintenance helps ensure printers, elevators, toilets, etc. won't fail you when you need them the most. Facilities managers that schedule preventative maintenance tasks end up preserving equipment and assets for longer. That also means they spend less on major repairs. You can schedule work ahead of time in a calendar, or use software that has a scheduling feature.
Experts suggest that roughly 80% of work orders should be related to planned maintenance; reactive maintenance should account for significantly less than half of all work orders. However, when pressing repairs do arise, managers should be prepared to move scheduled work and ensure the urgent issue is resolved asap.
- Automate whenever possible
Work order management software is a solution that allows facilities managers to manage all work order information in one place. The centralized platform allows managers to accomplish more in less time. They can create and receive requests, make updates, share information and analyze data. Plus, they don't have to worry about keeping paper records organized. Software gives them the ability to find exactly what they need by performing a quick online search. Some programs even allow requests to be submitted and updated from a mobile phone.
With everything in front of you, you're less likely to forget about requests. You can send updates directly to tenants that submitted requests, assign tasks and close jobs with a few clicks.
- Track work orders
It feels good to cross work orders off as they are completed, but tracking these jobs goes beyond shortening your to-do list. Monitoring the time it takes to have a job completed closes the gap between your operations and maintenance teams, and it keeps everyone accountable.
Both employees and management can see the status of work orders, which helps to manage tenant expectations. Management can also see if contractors are mostly on schedule, or if they are routinely falling behind on projects. If you see that work orders assigned to a certain vendor are frequently overdue, you can follow up with that company or consider looking for new service providers. Use the data you have to make your management process even more effective.
Work order management systems should help facilities managers, vendors and tenants resolve issues quickly and efficiently. A standardized process ensures that each submission provides the same amount of information, no matter who fills out the request.
Software is one sure way to enhance the way you manage work orders, but you don't need to have it in order to work smarter. Just make sure communication between tenants and vendors is clear and consistent, that you are following through with preventative maintenance, and that you update jobs as they near completion.