Without context, work orders can be a difficult thing to deal with. On the other hand, smart work order tracking—which will analyze the what’s and how’s of the most common problems—can yield a number of benefits. First, it can lead to lower costs. Second, it can produce a more productive (and happier) workforce. In the delicate balancing act of facilities management, these two things are very important goals. To help you achieve them, here are the most important questions to help you ensure that your work order system is efficient.
Look at what problems pop up the most often. Is it an overflowing sink? Faulty light fixtures? A stuck elevator button? It may be tempting to use a quick and temporary fix for these problems to save time and money. However, if there’s a problem that’s recurring, it will most likely cost you less in the long run to order an extensive inspection of the problem area. Those quick fixes may seem cheap now, but repeat them enough times and they can be a big expense overall.
Tracking the time needed to complete each order can help you improve how you use your maintenance team. For example, let’s say there’s a toilet that’s malfunctioning on the fifth floor. If you track how long it takes a maintenance worker to fix it, you can better plan how you’ll dispatch the team the next time the issue occurs. This will be especially key for large companies, where multiple work orders are generated each day.
If you have multiple people complaining about the same item in the office, that may be a sign that you need to purchase new assets. If the desk chairs keep breaking, it may be time to look at a brand of chairs that are more sturdy. If you receive multiple complaints about the fax machines not working, that may be a sign to order new ones. While it’s understandable that you want to get the most value out of your assets, once they’ve outlived their usefulness, they can be a roadblock for productivity, and therefore have a negative impact on the company’s bottom line.
Another important part of tracking work orders is knowing how much time passes between the order’s submission and its completion. This will vary according to different factors, including the problem’s complexity, the company’s size, the methods used for generating your work orders, etc. Still, regardless of your company’s specific situation, you want to make sure that you streamline the process as much as possible so that interruptions to the staff’s workday do not continue longer than they have to.
For large companies that don’t have an efficient work order system, it can be easy for communication about a problem to break down or get mixed up. How are your work orders submitted and processed? Is information passed via software, paper, or word of mouth? If a worker submits an order, how does he or she know when the order has been processed?
Furthermore, how does the maintenance team know how to prioritize each order? In an office where a worker’s wondering why the request they submitted two months ago hasn’t been answered and your maintenance team’s unhappy because they just got an urgent order when they already had a busy day ahead of them, and both are calling you to complain…well, that’s not good situation for anyone involved.
Photos: Maria Tyutina, Rawpixel, Štefan Štefančík