Work order management is a critical function that ensures problems are swiftly resolved by qualified people in a timely manner.

At least that’s what happens when everything works smoothly.

But when work order management breaks down it can cause significant problems that can affect equipment availability and your ability to meet customer needs.

Garbage in, garbage out

Having perfect workflows that are executed flawlessly is important, but they are completely dependent on having the right information. When you start with the wrong or incomplete information, you can forget getting the right result. Without the right information it can be impossible for the work to be started or completed.

The right information ensures worker safety. Information about hazards and safety protocols, such as the need for specific personal protective equipment, can be the difference between a safely completed task and a workplace accident – or worse.

Ensure your work order management system is maintained with the correct information about assets, people and the required work so field service workers can arrive on site confident that they understand what is expected of them.

Communication is critical

Having the right information is just the start. If you can’t share it when it’s needed and ensure that it’s updated correctly work order management falls apart.

Knowing there’s a fault with a HVAC unit and recording it doesn’t mean much until the information is relayed to the right person. That needs to happen promptly, so issues don’t escalate, and so the comfort of those affected by the equipment isn’t compromised.

The processes you design and tools you use for work order management must have robust and reliable communication. These communications need to work on the platforms that make sense in different contexts. For example, calling a technician on site to share new information may work for some situations but relaying information via a text-based alert may make more sense in other situations.

If you’re still in the age of paper and phone calls – it’s time to move on. Shuffling pieces of paper might work in a small site. But as soon as things become even a little more complex, an electronic system can be the difference between fixing problems or letting them get worse.

Work on the right things

Successful work order management is about two things: doing things right and doing the right things. Working on the wrong task can lead to unhappy customers and faults that go from bad to worse.

Poor prioritisation means important tasks might be missed in favour of less critical ones. This can happen for many reasons. Sometimes, it’s because a specific customer is more likely to complain so they are attended to ahead of someone with a more critical issue. Or it might be because an easier task is placed ahead of a more complex one.

Get your prioritisation rules right, make sure they are understood and ensure that your work order management processes can tell the difference between a squeaky wheel and one that’s about to fall off.

Automate for repeatable success

When a process is well understood and repeatable, it can be automated.  When something works well, automate so the success is repeatable.

Automation frees up your staff so they can focus on higher value tasks. If you know where your technicians are through location services in your work order management software and understand their skills and qualifications, you can start to automate work order allocation.

Ensuring you collect the right data, share it in a timely way, automate when it makes sense and prioritise work ensures you can get the most from your work order management processes. Poor processes impact customers and cost you time and money.

Investing in work order management ensures you can get the best from the resources you have. You can avoid missing service level agreements, non-compliance with maintenance schedules and minimise the risk of extra costs caused by rework and extra site visits.