In this article...
Work order software is a subset of enterprise resource planning (ERP) software and computerized maintenance management software (CMMS) that deals with creating, assigning, and tracking maintenance work orders across an organization. Any organization that uses a maintenance department to handle cleaning and repairs could benefit from work order software to track and organize jobs. Healthcare, manufacturing, property management, and enterprise companies all use work order software; most solutions can be adapted to any industry.
This guide will provide an overview of common work order software features, a list of the best work order software vendors, and several tips for comparing products based on their functions and capabilities.
Like many software verticals, work order software became popular as an alternative to paper and carbon copy work orders. According to a 2011 study, moving from paper documents to a software program reduces total processing time by 3-6 percent, and a separate study by Broaddus and Associates in 2013 raises that mean time savings to 8.7 percent. This study categorizes the saved time primarily in locating building plans and maintenance or asset requests.
Property management companies will find work order management software useful for both maintenance requests and scheduled, regular maintenance. This software can help managers share resources across multiple properties and schedule regular tasks like changing air filters or extermination inspections. When these jobs occur on a regular schedule, your maintenance teams can move from reactive to preventative repairs, and extend the lifetime of major electrical and mechanical assets. Maintenance staff can then devote extra time to aesthetic improvements that would otherwise go undone.
Multi-site facilities including hospitals and universities can use work order management software within their larger computerized maintenance management software (CMMS) to track electronic and mechanical assets and repairs, reduce downtime, and schedule maintenance across multiple buildings. Campus-wide software solutions help reduce costs due to vehicle repairs and asset losses. They also help coordinate work orders and requests across multiple departments, as electronic records can be sent immediately between stakeholders.
Work requests: Electronic work requests eliminate the possibility of a lost or misplaced work order. They also improve internal processes, as required fields within the order creation system ensure that all necessary data is included. Move from reactive to preventative maintenance and improve your overall processes.
Progress updates: As your work order moves across facilities and employees, stakeholders can view progress and order updates, and follow up with key employees. This gives your processes greater transparency, which leads to improvements that increase efficiency.
Cost tracking: Electronic work orders can accurately track project quotes and costs. When each step in the maintenance process has been documented, your employees reduce time losses and extra costs that add up over the course of an assignment.
Asset management: When combined with an asset management tool or feature, your work order software’s efficiency grows exponentially. Asset management gives you the power to check available inventory against existing work orders and preventative maintenance schedules. Your department will keep all physical assets at peak performance inventory and reduce over-ordering costs.
Mobile access: A work order solution that includes mobile access gives your employees the power to check their current status against current and future orders. This drives autonomous work, as employees can build their schedule around expected output. It also decreases time lost to forgotten work orders for dispersed and mobile fleets.
Like any software, work order management comes in several forms. Not every company is best served by a stand-alone solution, just as full-featured CMMS platforms can be confusing for small organizations. As you research work order software, look into these options:
Standalone Tools: These work order solutions often include several features all centered on the generation, organization, and distribution of work orders. Simple work order software will include form builders and file organization for easy look-up of previous orders. Many will also include integrations to other programs like your CRM, asset tracking, and contract management software. When researching standalone work order management software, you’ll want to investigate which of your current software systems integrate directly, or if custom connections are available.
CMMS/EAM: Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) and Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) tools often include work order management modules to facilitate internal maintenance, repair, and scheduled jobs. These platforms are most helpful for organizations that juggle the service of multiple buildings, maintenance teams, and/or material assets. CMMS or EAM software that includes work order features are useful for large industry and manufacturing companies, or multiple property management teams.
Field Service Management: Industries that require distributed teams — like HVAC, plumbing, electrical and utilities, and property maintenance teams — often find success with field service management software that includes work order features. These platforms let you distribute work orders immediately to mobile teams and track vehicles and other assets, including GPS check-in features.
Not every company will need to include asset tracking with their work order software, but you’ll want to ensure that your chosen solution connects the most members of your team with the least amount of data duplication. Look for partnerships and integrations with systems that work well, or ask the support team what options they have for building custom integrations.
Cintas provides uniform and textile production and maintenance for industries across the US and Canada. In 2011, Cintas found a work order software solution with eMaint, a CMMS provider.
Cintas discovered during their implementation process that while they had years of historical data regarding work orders, they had insufficient metrics on the speed and efficiency of their processes. This bled over into a further difficulty in understanding where their processes could improve. By implementing the a work order management platform, Cintas would also discover metrics that would inform their new internal standards:
Cintas and eMaint partnered to install and train several locations on the eMaint platform, including adding over 280,000 physical assets to the company’s database. Implementing an internal auditing program for labor hours, the Cintas team improved their internal processes significantly, affecting an 85 percent improvement in labor accountability, and a 50 percent increase in return on net assets. OSHA commended the company’s safety improvements with a Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) Star Recognition.
eMaint provides work order management within a larger CMMS, and is one of several companies in this vertical that provide effective work order solutions. Leading vendors include: