Complete Guide to Work Order Requests [+ Free Checklists]

Published on:
January 17, 2024
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Modern chief engineers and maintenance managers are responsible for spearheading simultaneous on and off-site operations spanning inspections, preventive maintenance, and corrective actions – often in a high stakes environment where safety, compliance and profitability are actively at risk.

The million dollar question is: How does one person digest, delegate and oversee all these deliverables without losing the big picture? The solution is to digitize and optimize work order requests.

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What Is a Work Order Request?

A work order is a formal document that communicates the critical details of any maintenance inspection, preventive or corrective action that drives workplace safety, compliance and quality.

A work order request is the process of identifying, documenting and communicating issues that require work orders to fix to the correct team member. Work order request processes must be consistent and detailed to ensure communication is clear and documentation is standardized over time. 

Historically, this task has been handled with pen, paper, clip boards and radio in a well-defined process that must be followed by all maintenance staff. Work orders act like a guiding compass that helps workers and managers to navigate through complex, deadline-oriented processes for successful completion. The goal of each work order request is clear and timely communication of relevant details to ensure proper action. 

Before the inception of software solutions such as CMMS tools, facilities relied heavily on radios and long paper trails to complete a work order request. However, modern-day technological breakthroughs have simplified the process of maintaining and assigning a work order request, significantly decreasing the time to resolution and increasing asset lifespans.

Critical Components of a Work Order Request

The key components can vary depending on the work order request and the software used to create one. However, in most cases, it generally stays, more or less, the same.

  • Work Order Description: What is the nature of the work? Is it a mechanical failure, maintenance-related issue, or scheduled inspection audit? The description needs to have a summary of the type of problem and (if possible) small details of the circumstances leading to it.
  • Work Order Assignee: Name of the technician or the technicians working on the task.
  • Location: The exact location where the work order needs to be executed. Some CMMS solutions can narrow down locations by site’s sub-levels. E.g., hotel rooms, floors, areas, etc. 
  • Description of Completed Work: A brief description of work order completion and steps taken to rectify the problem. 
  • Description of Incomplete Work: If the said team or a frontline technician couldn’t complete the work, what was the reason behind it?
  • Checklists: Summarize the steps to ensure successful work order execution and completion. Checklists are generally created in accordance with industry standards, compliance, and regulatory policies
  • Sign Off: Ensure that the issue has been resolved with third party review from a co-worker or manager. This protects against pencil whipping, a term used to describe workers who sign off on work that is not complete. 

Additionally a work order request may involve the following variables:

  • Work Order Priority: Often called task priority levels, they are used by managers to prioritize the task’s urgency. Xenia has different priority levels to enable escalation if required, as per the nature of the job.
  • Work Order Assigned Date: When was the work order created and assigned?
  • Expected Completion Date: When is the task scheduled to be turned over for a final fail or pass check from the supervisor or a concerned manager?
  • Documents: Many activities require photographic evidence of completion. The ability to take photos and upload them in the CMMS for managers to review makes it convenient for technicians to support their claim of successful task completion.

6 Common Use Cases of Work Order Requests

Seeing that work order requests cover different verticals in facility management and safekeeping, let’s take a look at some of them right now:

1. Scheduled Inspection

A scheduled inspection is a detailed review of the facility and its facilities maintenance.

This is done on a regularly to ensure that the facility is in compliance with all regulations, as well as to ensure that the facility is being taken care of properly.

Inspections can include checking for cracks in walls or floors; ensuring that doors open and close properly; checking for broken windows or lights; looking at fire alarms; checking for leaks in plumbing; testing air quality; and examining electrical systems.

Scheduled inspections are important because they provide a way for you to make sure that your facility is being taken care of properly by making sure you're following all regulations and standards. 

2. Hazard Correction

A hazard is any factor that poses a threat to humans or their surroundings.

A hazard identification involves identifying all possible hazards in a given area, as well as determining whether those hazards can be corrected. Even if equipment or facilities are not broken or damaged, they can still be a hazard and require a work order request to resolve.

The most important part of hazard identification is making sure you have a system in place that allows you to identify hazards quickly and easily. If it takes too long for you to identify potential problems, then it might be too late by the time you do—and the solution might cost more than it's worth! 

3. Preventive Maintenance

Preventive maintenance is the art of preventing a piece of equipment from breaking down.

It's important because it helps to ensure that your equipment is in top condition, which can save you time and money in the long run. Preventive maintenance work order requests can be asset inspections, cleaning , oiling or any other action that will decrease the likelihood of breakdown.

Preventive Maintenance Time vs Usage Based Chart

For example, if you notice that your air conditioning unit is starting to make strange noises, it might be a sign to create a work order request to analyze the system.  It may just need a new filter or cleaning. Ignoring the noise, could lead to more serious issues, like a broken fan belt that requires  corrective maintenance, which tends to be more expensive.

4. Corrective Maintenance

While working on preventive maintenance work order requests, if a technician stumbles upon something that needs to be fixed, an additional work order request is created to resolve the issue. Corrective maintenance is the process of fixing this broken or damaged property prior to significant technical or life-threatening problems. 

It's important to facilities maintenance because it helps prevent these more serious problems from happening down the road. It also helps keep your building in good working order, which is good for you and your employees and customers.

Corrective maintenance is often done by a facilities manager or a contractor, but sometimes it's performed by someone with specialized knowledge or training. The frequency of corrective maintenance depends on the type of property being maintained—if you're maintaining a warehouse with heavy machinery, you'll probably need to do more frequent corrective maintenance than if you're maintaining a small office building.

5. Emergency Maintenance

Emergency maintenance is maintenance that needs to be done immediately to protect the safety of staff and customers and continuation of business services. This differs from corrective maintenance in that the stakes are higher and the impact on operations is greater. 

For example, if a technician notices that there is a crack in a wall, they may request a corrective work order. If that technician notices that crack in the wall is allowing bugs to infest a food storage room, emergency action is warranted. The issue in both of these situations is a crack in the wall. But the repercussions and urgency of the matter is very different.

Emergency work order requests require fast and detailed communication to resolve before the problem escalates further. More extensive post work inspection and sign off is needed before business operations can resume.

6. Asset Installation

Work orders aren’t only used to identify and put out fires. They are essential for facility improvement and ongoing renovation. For example, if a manager of a hotel needs a TV installed in 50 guest rooms, they create a work order request for the chief engineer to complete the task. 

Work orders provide direction and tracking for these requests so that management can understand the cost and time needed to complete similar work in the future. This can also be used to compare the work efforts of multiple departments and employees to ensure that the best people for the job are assigned the work.

6 Benefits of Using a Digital Work Order Request Platform

6 Benefits of Digital Work Orders

1. Increased Speed To Issue Resolution 

In large facilities, there can be dozens of work orders that are created every day.

Maintenance managers can quickly get buried in requests, thus need to be able to organize and prioritize work to increase speed to resolution. Here are some ways a Centralized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) can help with this:

  • Immediate communication with mobile push notifications
  • Clear, typed description of work needed to eliminate handwriting decoding
  • Task prioritization to ensure critical tasks are escalated

Furthermore, a CMMS can improve time tracking and provide data analytics to identify patterns to improve preventative maintenance and reactive work orders. All of these factors greatly increase speed to resolution.

2. Centralized Operation on Desktop and Mobile

With a digital work order request system, managers can finally ditch pen, paper and radio for a robust solution that works on both desktop and mobile devices. This improvement allows for multiple people to view the same work order and track progress to resolution in real time, no matter where the user is. 

Assign work from a desk and have a technician begin work in the field immediately. No more lost paperwork or damaged reports. All of the data is safely and securely stored in the cloud of retrieval and analysis. 

3. Easy Checklist and Procedures Attachment

Digital work order request systems often allow management to add comprehensive checklists detailing the steps to complete a specific work order request successfully. This cuts back on miscommunication and improves the likelihood of a successful work order.

CMMS solutions, like Xenia, have a massive library of checklist templates that apply to different use cases ranging from inspections and preventive maintenance to emergency work order standard procedures. All of these tools can be modified and deployed in the field in seconds, acting as an in house operations consultant without the price tag. 

4. Ability to Attach Images

Digital work order systems allow frontline workers to attach photographic evidence of work at every process step to ensure that management has a clear understanding of the scope and detail of the job. This is critical for quality management and accountability on the front line, especially when managers cannot review the work in person. 

Furthermore, using a digital system will store these images in the cloud for future review and compliance audits. With a digital system, your documentation of asset work is clear, safe and easily accessible so that you can sleep easy knowing that any audit would be a breeze.

5. Ability to Maintain Work Logs

Computerized maintenance systems are versatile and can be used to record tons of different types of equipment data.

For example, if you are conducting preventative maintenance on a commercial washing machine, you could use the log to record fill and drain times. Over time, you will be able to identify changes in this time as a means of identifying a possible issue with the machinery. 

Furthermore, some CMMS solutions, like Xenia, provide detailed report logs for every completed checklist. These logs show every work order step, with time-stamped digital audit trails so that any manager or  supervisor can follow the entire activity from top to bottom. This feature equips managers to combat pencil whipping and lazy work effort.

6. Real-Time Collaboration

Finally, the time has come to put down the two-way radio.

On a digital system, work order assignees can easily collaborate with teammates or managers with the help of built in chats. Many CMMS solutions have a chat module built into the app, but some even allow you to loop in others into the work order itself for a more direct approach.  This way, the person who is looped in, has all the details to easily and quickly understand the problem.

4 Best Practices For Maintaining Work Order Requests

Now that you have a good understanding of what work order requests are and the benefits of digitizing them, we need to cover best practices for deploying them in the field. The following are our four favorite pieces of advice that we see managers use every day.

1. Align Goals & Expectations With Roles and Responsibilities of Staff

Before any work orders and work order requests are set up, it is helpful to clearly communicate that the data collection itself is just as important as the work being performed in the field. 

Without consistent and complete data, the value of a CMMS is greatly limited. As a manager, communicate that you expect accurate and complete data to be collected and define your maintenance performance indicators to reflect this mission.

This ensures that your team understands their role and responsibilities in the effort to provide continuous facility improvement. It also helps management to identify high and low performers across both domains.

2. Understand In-House Abilities and What Needs to be Outsourced

Given the vast nature of the work order request, your staff may not always be equipped with the right tools or training to do the job. I

t is best to identify this early and understand what needs to be outsourced to a 3rd party for completion. With maintenance, it is never a good idea to wing it without proper training, as it can put the employee and asset in serious risk of harm. 

3. Conduct After-Action Reviews For Performance Evaluation

An after-action review is when a manager analyzes a process from start to finish to determine areas to replicate or improve upon in the future.

For work orders, this means looking at how the issue was identified, the process that was taken to create the work order request, the process of completing the work order, the data collected from the action and the end result of the process. By breaking the process down into these steps, managers can identify the bottlenecks to correct, as well as measure the impact of previously improved processes.

4. Measure Time to Resolution and Cost of Repairs

Time to resolution is measured by recording the time that the issue was identified or the time the work order was created (depends on the software capabilities) and the time the work order was completed.

The span of time between these measurements is the time to resolution. This data can be used to evaluate averages across employees and processes to create a baseline for improvement. 

In addition, managers should track the cost of repairs for each work order. This data is essential for accurate cost projections as well as determining whether a specific item should be repaired or replaced. Without this data, managers can waste money repairing faulty equipment that will continue to have issues in the near future.

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