What Is A Work Order? Scheduling, Process, and Examples

Table of Content

A work order, whether in print or digital format, outlines maintenance specifics for tools, equipment, or tasks. These documents are fundamental for optimizing maintenance processes and establishing effective record-keeping practices.

Utilizing a digital system for managing work orders enables real-time tracking of repair and maintenance durations. This feature allows you to monitor contractor hours devoted to specific tasks, aiding in expense justifications.

hold critical information for the entire maintenance department, encompassing essential details about the task and safety guidelines. They commonly include:

  • Requester identification
  • Deadline details
  • Step-by-step guidance
  • Visual documentation like photos
  • Specific addresses

Accurately completing and storing work orders is crucial for compliance adherence. When undergoing an audit, having systematically organized readily available is imperative.

Before diving deeper, let’s gain a clearer comprehension of work orders.

What is a work order?

What Is a Work Order?

Maintenance teams generate work orders in response to requests from consumers, managers, or employees. Sometimes, specialized apps can automatically initiate preventative maintenance tasks, such as safety checks or required trainings.

These  are crucial for compliance, audits, and conducting subsequent inspections. They equip maintenance technicians with:

  • Detailed job information
  • Task checklists
  • Location of the job site

Computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) play a pivotal role in enhancing creation. By utilizing a CMMS, not only can detailed be dispatched to the team, but it also provides valuable Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for maintaining records, gauging efficiency, and assessing performance.

Having understood the advantages of digital, here’s a guide on creating your own.

How do you create work orders?

Creating work orders involves several steps:

  1. Information Collection: Gather all necessary details about the task or maintenance needed. This includes specifics like the nature of the job, required materials, location, and any relevant instructions.
  2. Documentation: Use a standardized template or digital system to document the work order. Include essential details such as a unique identifier, job description, priority level, requested completion date, and any attachments or specifications.
  3. Assign Responsibility: Identify the individual or team responsible for completing the task. Ensure clear communication about who is accountable for executing the work outlined in the order.
  4. Approval and Authorization: Depending on your organization’s procedure, the work order might require approval from supervisors or other relevant parties before it proceeds.
  5. Communication: Distribute the work order to the designated personnel, ensuring they understand the requirements and have access to necessary resources. Establish clear channels for addressing any queries or issues that may arise during the task.
  6. Tracking and Follow-Up: Monitor the progress of the work, ensuring it aligns with the specified timeline and meets required standards. Follow up as needed to address any obstacles or changes.
  7. Completion and Documentation: Once the task is finished, document completion details, including any modifications made, materials used, and the time taken to finish the job.

By following these steps, organizations can efficiently create and manage work orders, ensuring tasks are completed effectively and recorded appropriately. Utilizing digital systems or specialized software can streamline this process, allowing for easier tracking and management of work orders.

What information is listed on a work order?

A work order typically includes essential details to guide the completion of a task or maintenance work. This information can vary depending on the organization and the nature of the job, but commonly includes:

  1. Work Order Number/Identifier: A unique reference code to distinguish the order from others and for tracking purposes.
  2. Description of Work: Detailed information about the task or maintenance required, outlining what needs to be done.
  3. Requester Information: Details about who requested the work, which can include contact information or department details.
  4. Priority Level: The urgency or importance of the task, often categorized by levels like high, medium, or low priority.
  5. Deadline: The date by which the work needs to be completed.
  6. Instructions or Scope of Work: Step-by-step guidance on how to perform the task, including any specific requirements or procedures.
  7. Materials or Resources Needed: List of necessary tools, equipment, parts, or materials required to complete the job.
  8. Location: The specific site or address where the work needs to be carried out.
  9. Safety Protocols: Information regarding safety guidelines or precautions to be followed during the task.
  10. Authorization: Signatures or approvals from relevant personnel authorizing the commencement of the work.
  11. Cost Estimates: Estimated costs associated with labor, materials, or any other expenses related to the task.
  12. Completion Notes: Details documenting the work done, materials used, any issues encountered, and the time taken to complete the job.

Including these details in a work order ensures clarity, accountability, and a structured approach to completing tasks within an organization.

What is the work order life cycle?

What is the work order life cycle?

The work order life cycle outlines the stages a work order goes through from its creation to its closure. Though specific steps may vary based on organization and industry, the typical life cycle includes:

  1. Initiation:  is created in response to a request or need, detailing the job requirements, requester information, and any relevant specifics.
  2. Planning and Scheduling: Once created, is reviewed, planned, and scheduled. This involves assigning resources, determining timelines, and ensuring all necessary materials are available.
  3. Assignment: is assigned to the appropriate personnel or team responsible for executing the task. Clear communication of responsibilities and expectations occurs at this stage.
  4. Execution: The assigned individuals or teams perform the task outlined in the work order. This involves following the specified instructions, utilizing necessary resources, and adhering to safety protocols.
  5. Monitoring and Progress Tracking: Supervisors or managers oversee the progress of the work, ensuring it aligns with the established timelines, quality standards, and budgetary constraints.
  6. Completion and Documentation: Once the task is finished, the work order is updated with details of completion, including any modifications made, materials used, and the time taken.
  7. Review and Approval: The completed work is reviewed to ensure it meets the requirements and standards set in the work order. Approvals may be necessary before officially closing the order.
  8. Closure: After review and approval, the work order is formally closed, indicating the successful completion of the task. Documentation may include final reports, feedback, and any necessary follow-up actions.
  9. Analysis and Feedback: Some organizations conduct post-mortems or analysis to evaluate the efficiency of the process, gather feedback, and identify areas for improvement in future work orders.

This life cycle ensures a systematic approach to managing tasks, maintaining records, and optimizing processes within an organization. It aims to streamline workflow, enhance accountability, and improve overall efficiency in completing work orders.

How important is a work order?

Work orders play a pivotal role in numerous aspects of organizational efficiency and compliance. Here’s why they’re important:

  1. Task Clarity: provide detailed instructions and specifications, ensuring everyone involved understands the task requirements, reducing errors and misunderstandings.
  2. Resource Allocation: They outline necessary materials, tools, and resources, helping allocate and manage resources effectively, reducing wastage and unnecessary expenses.
  3. Workflow Optimization:  streamline processes, ensuring tasks are completed in an organized manner, enhancing productivity and reducing downtime.
  4. Accountability: Assigning responsibilities within work orders holds individuals or teams accountable for task completion, fostering accountability within the organization.
  5. Record-Keeping:  serve as documented records of tasks performed, aiding in compliance adherence, audits, and legal requirements.
  6. Safety Compliance: They often include safety protocols, ensuring that tasks are carried out following safety standards, mitigating risks, and ensuring a safe working environment.
  7. Performance Evaluation: provide a basis for evaluating performance, analyzing efficiency, and identifying areas for improvement within the organization.
  8. Customer Satisfaction: Efficiently managed work orders lead to timely completion of tasks, contributing to customer satisfaction and trust in the organization’s services or products.

Overall, work orders serve as a fundamental tool for organizing, executing, and tracking tasks within an organization, impacting productivity, compliance, and customer satisfaction. They are essential in ensuring operations run smoothly and efficiently.


Different types of work orders

From spontaneous, on-demand emergency orders to safety and preventative maintenance, there are several different work orders one can choose from​​. However, they all have an essential role to play in day-to-day facilities management.

Unscheduled/on-demand work

Unscheduled or on-demand work refers to tasks, repairs, or maintenance activities that arise unexpectedly or outside of planned schedules. These can stem from various sources such as equipment breakdowns, sudden malfunctions, customer requests, emergency situations, or unforeseen issues that require immediate attention.

Handling unscheduled or on-demand work involves:

  1. Immediate Response: Addressing the issue promptly to minimize downtime, potential hazards, or customer dissatisfaction.
  2. Assessment and Prioritization: Evaluating the urgency and impact of the issue to determine its priority compared to planned tasks.
  3. Resource Allocation: Allocating necessary personnel, tools, and materials to resolve the issue efficiently while balancing ongoing scheduled work.
  4. Documentation: Creating work orders even for unscheduled tasks to maintain records, track time and resources spent, and ensure compliance with protocols.
  5. Communication: Keeping stakeholders informed about the situation, potential delays, and revised schedules due to the unscheduled work.
  6. Follow-Up: Conducting post-task assessments, documenting resolutions, and ensuring that the issue is fully resolved.

Handling unscheduled work effectively is crucial in maintaining operational efficiency, managing unexpected challenges, and ensuring customer satisfaction by addressing issues promptly and effectively.

Preventative maintenance

Preventative maintenance refers to proactive measures taken to prevent equipment failure, machinery breakdowns, or system malfunctions before they occur. It involves scheduled inspections, repairs, and upkeep tasks aimed at identifying and addressing potential issues early to avoid larger problems or unexpected failures.

Key aspects of preventative maintenance include:

  1. Scheduled Inspections: Regularly scheduled checks of equipment, machinery, or systems to identify signs of wear, damage, or potential issues.
  2. Routine Maintenance Tasks: Performing routine tasks such as lubrication, cleaning, adjustments, and parts replacements as recommended by manufacturers or based on historical performance data.
  3. Predictive Maintenance: Utilizing data and analytics to predict when maintenance is needed based on equipment performance, allowing for more targeted and efficient maintenance interventions.
  4. Equipment Monitoring: Employing sensors, software, or monitoring tools to track performance metrics, detect anomalies, and provide early warnings of potential failures.
  5. Documentation and Record-Keeping: Maintaining detailed records of maintenance activities, including dates, tasks performed, parts replaced, and any observed issues for reference and analysis.
  6. Cost and Time Savings: Preventative maintenance aims to reduce unexpected downtime, increase equipment lifespan, and save costs by addressing issues before they escalate.

By implementing preventative maintenance strategies, organizations can enhance equipment reliability, improve safety, reduce operational disruptions, and optimize the overall efficiency of their assets and systems.

Third-party work orders

At times, there might be a lack of available personnel to handle equipment maintenance. In such cases, hiring external entities becomes necessary to complete the tasks.

Managers frequently find cost savings in avoiding training expenses and overtime by engaging specialized external professionals. In fact, certain smaller enterprises rely solely on outsourcing maintenance tasks to third-party service providers.

Manual entry work orders

Even in the present day, numerous businesses continue to depend on manual work orders for organizing their employees. Despite these orders having designated “mandatory” sections, there isn’t always someone available to guarantee their accurate completion.

Consequently, many manual work orders remain incomplete, contain errors, or fail to reach their intended recipients. Additionally, storing these manual work orders poses a challenge as it requires sufficient physical space to retain them.

As time progresses, the challenge of finding storage space for these work orders becomes more pronounced. Ultimately, this often prompts companies to opt for digital backups of these work orders, realizing the necessity of digital storage despite their initial reliance on manual processes.

Work Orders in CMMS: Streamlining Maintenance Management

In a CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management System), work orders are fundamental for organizing and managing maintenance tasks. They serve as formal instructions for completing maintenance, repair, or operational activities, ensuring efficient workflow and effective asset management.

Key Features of Work Orders in CMMS:

  • Centralized Data Hub: CMMS stores all work order information in one place, including:
    • Asset details
    • Task descriptions
    • Assigned technicians
    • Priority levels
    • Due dates
    • Progress updates
    • Labor hours
    • Material costs
    • Service history
  • Workflow Management: CMMS automates and streamlines the work order process:
    1. Initiation: Work orders can be triggered by:
      • Planned preventive maintenance schedules
      • Reactive requests from users
      • Inspection findings
    2. Assignment: Tasks are assigned to qualified technicians based on skills and availability.
    3. Scheduling: Work orders are scheduled according to priority, asset availability, and technician schedules.
    4. Execution: Technicians access work order details, update progress, record labor hours, and add notes.
    5. Completion: Work orders are closed upon completion, and relevant data is stored for reporting and analysis.
  • Reporting and Analytics: CMMS generates valuable reports based on work order data, such as:
    • Work completion rates
    • Mean time to repair (MTTR)
    • Labor and material costs
    • Asset downtime
    • Compliance with maintenance schedules
    • Technician performance

Benefits of Using CMMS for Work Order Management:

  • Improved Efficiency: CMMS automates tasks, reduces manual errors, and accelerates maintenance processes.
  • Increased Productivity: Technicians have clear instructions and access to necessary information, leading to faster completion times.
  • Reduced Costs: CMMS optimizes labor and material usage, minimizes downtime, and prevents costly equipment failures.
  • Enhanced Asset Management: CMMS tracks asset health, maintenance history, and performance trends, enabling proactive maintenance strategies.
  • Better Decision-Making: Data-driven insights from CMMS reports help organizations optimize maintenance strategies and resource allocation.
  • Improved Compliance: CMMS ensures adherence to industry regulations and internal maintenance standards.



Work orders play a crucial role in the maintenance operations of any business. Their absence would result in a considerable decline in audit compliance and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

Every maintenance request should be meticulously managed. Move away from paper-based orders and elevate your maintenance operations. Utilizing an advanced CMMS enables you to generate work orders while efficiently monitoring time, employee efficiency, and locations, propelling your maintenance business forward.







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