Work Order Basics

A work order is a formal digital or paper request made to replace, restore or repair a particular asset. Typically, each work order is assigned to a particular technician, and it can be generated as part of scheduled maintenance, in response to an emergency, or in response to an audit or inspection.

Today, this work order definition has changed slightly, as work order requests are becoming digitized in computerized maintenance management systems or EAM software. This can help ensure that the work order is seen and completed in a timely manner. It can also help users be sure to include all important details. That said, the fundamental work order meaning remains unchanged.

What Is a Work Order Used For?

A work order’s purpose is to provide clear information about work that is supposed to be performed, along with the data needed to execute, monitor and update that work. Ultimately, a work order can help organizations maintain uptime and streamline operations and maintenance in any business that has assets.

When considering how to make a work order, it’s important to keep in mind that work orders are used to:

  • Initiate tasks
  • Explain what needs to be done
  • Establish start and end dates
  • Keep an asset running.

With an effective work order software, organizations can maximize uptime, control labor costs, remain compliant and make incremental improvements to their operations

What Are the Types of Work Orders?

There are many types of work orders or work order categories, including:

1. Inspection: These work orders are especially important in highly regulated industries, as they help verify the functionality and the performance of key assets, asset components and business systems.

2. Maintenance work orders: Maintenance work orders include any work orders meant to help with corrective, condition-based, preventive or predictive maintenance strategies (more on this in the next section)

3. Electrical: Electrical work orders deal with installation of wiring, electrical repairs and more.

4. Emergency: Emergency work orders are created to address critical and urgent emergencies. They are used to solve immediate problems and protect the life of assets.

5. Special project: Installing a new asset? Looking to increase productivity or efficiency? A special project work order can initiate this task.

6. Safety: Safety work orders help start activities that reduce the risk of harm and injury from falls, chemical spills, COVID risks and more.

What Are the Maintenance Categories That Work Orders Help With?

Within manufacturing, there are a variety of maintenance and repair work orders that can be created to maximize uptime and streamline maintenance tasks. These maintenance work order types include:

1. Corrective maintenance: This type of maintenance is carried out when an anomaly or flaw is detected. The goal of this maintenance practice is to fix the flaw and maintain uptime. Corrective maintenance tasks may be more cost-effective than preventive maintenance in the short-term, but its short-sighted nature makes it an ineffective long-term strategy.

2. Preventive maintenance: Preventive maintenance strategy involves scheduled, forward-thinking maintenance based on key metrics and data points. An effective preventive maintenance strategy can ultimately increase asset life, maximize revenue and decrease equipment downtime.

3. Condition-based maintenance: Condition-based maintenance aims to prevent failure through regular asset-checkups and performance monitoring. In other words, equipment is constantly assessed and maintained, which requires significantly more coordination and manpower than other strategies.

4. Predictive maintenance: Predictive maintenance, as the name suggests, aims to preemptively predict asset failures before they arise using data, sensors and IoT technology. Because it relies so intrinsically on data and technology, predictive maintenance comes with a higher up-front cost, and it is not yet feasible for many organizations.

Understanding Maintenance Work Orders

A maintenance work order is a formal request for maintenance or repair tasks, ensuring that facilities and equipment are running efficiently and safely. These work orders are critical for managing resources, tracking progress, and maintaining a history of completed tasks. They streamline the process of organizing, prioritizing, and assigning responsibilities within the maintenance team.

What is a maintenance work order? What are the primary maintenance work order types?

A maintenance work order is any form that helps initiate a repair or replace task. There are many types of maintenance work order forms and service orders that can help with each type of maintenance, though the term “service order” generally refers to work completed for external entities, while a “work order” is more frequently in-house or internal. The types of work orders include:

1. Standard: A standard work order is generally issued for non-critical, routine maintenance tasks. For example, setting up a new piece of equipment or hauling away an old asset would fall under the standard work order category.

2. Preventive maintenance: Preventive maintenance work orders are forward-thinking work orders that focus on scheduled tasks and repairs. The goal with preventive work orders is to address maintenance needs before they become larger concerns, thereby extending asset life, reducing equipment downtime and decreasing expensive repairs over time.

3. Reactive: A reactive work order, on the other hand, is generated when there is a breakdown or an emergency with a piece of equipment. The issue needs to be addressed ASAP when a reactive work order is issued.

4. Corrective maintenance: A corrective maintenance work order aims to resolve flaws or asset issues that are not emergencies by nature.

5. Prepare for inspections: A prepare for inspections work order is a work order that uses predetermined inspection parameters to help ensure that assets – and your facility as a whole – remain compliant with inspections.

CMMS Software Pricing Calculator

This comprehensive pricing calculator is designed to provide you with a clear, customized cost breakdown for Maintenance Connection’s CMMS software to help you streamline your work order management.

Work Order Creation and Completion Process

The work order process flow is the entire stream of steps in which maintenance is requested, completed and documented. There are six primary steps to the work request process:

1. Task identification: This can be noticed reactively (I.e. you see a noticeable malfunction) or proactively using time-based or usage-based triggers.

2. Creation of work order: Using a CMMS like Maintenance Connection, the entire work order request process can be completed through a centralized, easy-to-use interface.

3. Approval of work order: This step is generally completed by a maintenance manager. This is also when any special parts or equipment are ordered.

4. Assignment of work order: When considering how to prioritize maintenance work orders and assign them, you can do so based on factors like urgency, team workload, overall impact of the issue and individual technician skillset

5. Work order close: Information included here includes time spent performing maintenance, any associated costs and images.

6. Review of work order: This can be done immediately upon completion and periodically as part of a more comprehensive preventive maintenance schedule.

What Information Should a Maintenance Work Order Request Include?

To streamline this flow and make sure the task is completed correctly, you must be thorough about how to complete your work order. Any maintenance work order forms should include key work order details like:

  • The requester’s name
  • Who is authorizing the work order
  • The name of the technician completing the work order
  • The details of the task, including relevant documentation or spare parts
  • The requested date of completion
  • Any prerequisites needed to complete the end goal (documentation, inventory parts, tools, etc.)

This information will help schedule resources, establish costs for repairs and labor, provide instructions and explain the work order’s purpose.

Similarly, a formalized work order approval process will proactively catch and prevent any work order submission issues.

Where Can I Find a Maintenance Work Order Example?

Here are examples of a maintenance work order that show you how to complete a work order within the Maintenance Connection CMMS system and MC Express mobile app:


How to Create a Work Order In Maintenance Connection

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How to Create a Work Order In MC Express

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Work Order Management Styles

What Is Work Order Management?

Taking a step back, you encounter work order management more generally – which, as the name suggests, refers to broader work request management. This is the process by which you submit work order requests, manage work requests and more.

And there are many work order management styles still in use today. These include:

1. Pen and paper management: Pen and paper systems rely on printed forms to request, schedule and document work order requests. This method may work for small organizations with few employees and work orders, though this increases the risk of incomplete work orders, duplicate information and less-than-ideal collaboration.

2. Whiteboard management: This is like pen and paper management, though maintenance managers usually organize work order requests on a whiteboard. This can be a great way for managers to see all maintenance tasks at-a-glance. That said, some work orders can fall through the cracks and maintenance managers could lose efficiency and big-picture metrics.

3. Spreadsheet work order management: The next option is to organize work orders via Excel or Google Sheets. Companies that use this strategy often use Google Forms as work order request forms. Though this strategy is digitized (and therefore more readily available than paper or whiteboard options), it can be hard to modify these e work orders, share data or gather all relevant information.

4. CMMS software: Computerized maintenance management system software is the most comprehensive work order management system. Using a CMMS repair work order software, technicians and managers can create work orders, attach all relevant documentation, update information, gather inventory data and more. Managers also have a clear work order management dashboard, and they can easily access a work order status report whenever necessary.

How Does CMMS Work Order Software Work?

To facilitate work order management tasks, you can use a web-based work order system like a CMMS software or an enterprise asset management (EAM) system. This kind of cloud-based work order software or on-prem software will streamline work order management and automates key processes. It will also help you execute tasks like:

  • Downtime tracking
  • The processing and management of work order requests
  • Data mining
  • Inventory management
  • Warranty tracking
  • Compliance tracking

A CMMS work order system can help you create, view and update your work orders effectively so you can maximize uptime, improve efficiency and streamline maintenance practices in your organization.