The Problem with Manual Work Order Management

In the digital era, the word “manual” is a term we now often associated with headaches. Manual represents the “old” way, the “slow” way. Even the word itself seems to imply that there is a better “non-manual” solution out there. The truth, of course, is that there often are better-automated alternatives to the manual processes we work with. In the world of facility management, the task of work order management is no exception.

This blog is the second in a three-part series that explores the ways in which organizations can save time, money, and resources by changing the way they handle facility maintenance and work orders. In our first blog, we defined work order management and looked at how it is typically handled by businesses. In this blog, we’ll dig into some of the challenges manual work order management presents. Finally, in our third blog, we’ll delve into a cost-effective solution in work order management software (or CMMS) which mitigates or eliminates the challenges introduced by the manual management of work orders.

With this in mind, let’s begin with the old axiom “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  Let’s start by taking a look at the process of manual work order management. Is there anything wrong with it?

Processing a work order manually

Work order management begins when a facilities-related issue arises. An operator or facility manager who notices the issue then creates a task to fix the problem (a work order). This required maintenance or repair must now go into queue amidst other outstanding tasks.

From there, the work order must be prioritized. To do this, the facility manager must consider what the specific work order is. Is it for a piece of revenue generating equipment that is down? Or do we need to make sure the windows to a storefront remain crystal clear for our customers?  You can generate work orders for any issue, from a request for a scheduled HVAC filter change to a front door replacement after a break-in, so urgency must be considered.

After the work is prioritized, a facility manager must determine who they will delegate the work to. Is this something the facility manager can handle himself? Is a specialist needed? If the work is to be outsourced, the facility manager will ideally seek several quotes from reliable vendors.

Once a quote is approved and the work is awarded, the task of the facility manager is to ensure that the work assigned is completed in a timely manner. Only after the work has been verified as complete can the work order can be closed out.

Now, imagine completing this process with dozens or even hundreds of work orders at several locations – all of which have competing priorities with unvetted vendors. Even the most organized facility manager will have to invest significant time into juggling tasks, priorities, and follow-ups – likely still falling short of efficiently keeping up with all open repairs.

How does work order management software work?

Let’s revisit our initial scenario.

In a company that has a work order management software in place, an operations or facilities manager notices an asset in need of repair. Using their software, they enter the nature of the work needed. A central system receives the work order and assigns a priority based on criteria initially provided by the client company.

Next, the system assigns the work order to a third-party customer service representative. It is then deploys to a pre-vetted, specialized vendor in the geography where service is needed. The customer service representative then works with the performing vendor to ensure that they understand the scope of work, that the proper equipment is available, that the repair appointment is made, and any other logistical issues (special access needed, etc.) are worked out.

The customer service representative and vendor then work together to update the status of the job on the software, streamlining communication between the service rep, vendor, and client, keeping the client updated as the work order progresses. This continues through the completion of the job.

The best part? You can repeat this process with as many work orders as necessary – simultaneously. This is because work order management softwares do more than act as a repository for work orders and assign priority. They also streamline workflows by automating even more of the work order management process. This frees up hours of facility management time (more on this in our next blog).

Work Order Management that is Right for YOU

How does your current work order management system work for you?  Do you manage your work orders effectively?  Does your organization stay on top of each day’s “to-do” list and keep equipment operating at optimal levels? Is information about your work orders available at your fingertips so you can make informed business decisions? Does your work order system save your company time and money?

Trillium uses facility maintenance management software and experienced people to help organizations manage, monitor, and control maintenance including: equipment, resources, and regulatory compliance. Let us handle your facility and work order management needs and help your organization save time and money. Interested to see how easy facilities can be?  Sign up for a Demo or email us at

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