If access to tools that help you complete work efficiently and economically strikes you as fundamental to enterprise success, you’re not alone. The enormous variety of work order management solutions available today testifies to a market of software buyers hungry to create repeatable and ongoing process efficiencies. Managing work orders from creation to completion is a complex task. Having the right tool can make it much easier. Read on to find out more about the variety of work order management software tools available and how they can benefit your company.
The Upside of Strong Work Order Management Software
The underlying purpose of work order management software couldn’t be more straightforward. Ultimately, it exists to help you accomplish two critical business goals: complete quality work more quickly and at less cost. Effective work order management software minimizes the friction standing between conveying work instructions and executing them. Additionally, it provides a valuable means for key decision makers to analyze completed work to spot process inefficiencies and identify potential improvements.
Important Capabilities of Work Order Management Software
Let’s take a closer look at some of the most important features and capabilities of a complete work order management program:
- Work order requests and order creation. At its most basic level, work order software allows you to create a trackable document identifying what work needs to be done and how it should be accomplished. Even this most basic step is leveraged for efficiency in work order management systems. Templating and guided order entry tools can greatly improve the ability of employees to rapidly and accurately convey work requests and instructions.
- Rules-based approval management. Very often work order approvals are an important part of the work management cycle. Two fundamental concepts are utilized by work order solutions when managing approvals: access control and conditional logic. Access control allows only certain employees to have higher level privileges within the software (such as approving work orders or scheduling resources). Conditional-logic can be employed to automate much of the approvals process. For instance, work coded to specific areas may require different levels of approval. The level of sophistication found in different work order solutions can vary widely and is an important aspect to consider when reviewing products.
- Scheduling and resource allocation. Determining who does work, what is required to complete it, and when it should be done, is an important task within work order management. Work order management solutions can maintain a database of information that identifies what equipment and materials are required to complete each type of job. Similarly, a work order program will let you identify which employees are qualified for what type of work. Additionally, work order management programs offer a variety of tools to manage scheduling and resource allocation. A capable work order system will include calendaring tools to optimize equipment and labor resources usage and avoid double-booking.
- Change orders. Work orders are not always static documents. Often changes to the scope of work or method of completing it can occur after the work order has been created. A comprehensive work order management program will include the capability to manage change orders.
- Status updates and completion monitoring. Visibility into the completion of jobs is an important part of the value of a strong work order management solution. The ability to benchmark key intervals in the completion of work and report on the attainment of those benchmarks helps stakeholders in the work anticipate completion. Being able to accurately predict work completion can be a critical part of ensuring customer satisfaction.
- Reporting. A work order management system gives you a rich source of data about your operational efficiency. Reporting tools in the work order system help you turn this data into actionable information for improving your processes. Reporting tools can help you monitor key performance indicators on completed work such as error rates, adherence to quality standards, and time to completion. Tracing this information back to who performed the work, with what equipment, and following which processes provides insight into where improvements can be made.
- Web-based work order requests. With some work order situations, it can be advantageous to allow 3rd parties to initiate work order requests directly. The most common method of meeting this need is to set up a web-based portal for customers, subcontractors, or business partners to access when needed. A web-enabled work order request portal represents a more sophisticated level of functionality and is a feature that won’t be found in all work order management systems.
- Remote and mobile access. If your company is performing work in the field, the ability to remotely access work order information is critical. Often this means accessing data via smartphones or tablet devices. To meet this need, many providers have optimized their solution for mobile web access or developed native mobile applications to extend important functionality to mobile users.
Benefits of Work Order Management Systems
Work order management can help you meet a variety of organizational goals related to improved customer service and increased operational efficiency, including:
- Faster turnaround times. A robust work order system can decrease turnaround times, improving customer satisfaction, with quicker work completion via two main methods. First, a work order management system that promotes visibility into your processes can help you spot and address opportunities to complete work more quickly–often in real-time. Secondly, an intuitive, easy to use work order management module reduces the administrative overhead related to processing work orders. The result is that you can more quickly and accurately convey often complicated instructions with fewer communication related delays.
- Decreased downtime. Poor management of work orders can lead to overlapping demands on equipment and employees at some times and idle resources at others. The ability to clearly and easily manage resource scheduling allows for the optimization of your resources and decreased downtime.
- More accurate timeline updates for customers. Knowing where a job is in the work cycle isn’t just important internally. It’s key for maintaining customer satisfaction. Being able to accurately predict work timelines based on both historical information and real-time resource availability means fewer instances of customers disappointed by timeline overruns. Transparency into work completion status also means that in the instances where you are exceeding completion timelines, you’re able to identify it much more quickly and proactively address the issue.
- Lower equipment costs. How does a capable work order management software system lower equipment costs? Mainly by helping companies make more out of less when it comes to equipment. When resource allocation is not optimized, often the easy answer is to simply acquire more resources to prevent bottlenecks in equipment availability. While that can be an easy answer, it’s often not the most cost-effective one. A work order management module can help to make sure that load-sharing and scheduling of equipment gets the most out of those resources before additional ones need to be purchased.
- Improved quality control. While promoting efficiency is a core benefit of work order management, gains in quality outcomes shouldn’t be underrated. Work order management capabilities can eliminate much of the guess-work that can lead to poor quality manufacturing and service work. For example, many work order management programs include the ability to database documents such as equipment manuals, schematics, and process instructions. Simply providing an easy-to-use tool to communicate work order greatly increasing the likelihood that instructions are fully detailed, received, and executed. The tracking tools that allow for monitor for key performance indicators provide a mechanism for enforcing adherence to quality standards and increasing employee accountability.
Considering Software Integration Requirements
Work order management doesn’t occur in a vacuum. Very frequently there is a necessity to pass data between your work order management module and other corporate information systems. For instance, your work order management system may identify parts or materials requirements, but it’s necessary to check with the inventory control system to check on availability. In some cases, it may be necessary to initiate purchase requests in order to acquire the inventory. Additionally, communicating customer order status data may entail links with invoicing or customer relationship management modules. Different work order systems have different integration and data export capabilities. Assessing whether or not real-time or batch integration capabilities are needed, and which systems will accommodate the required approach is an important part of evaluating work order software.
Specialized and Industry-Specific Work Order Applications
There are many types of work order solutions on the market, designed for companies doing all sorts of different work. But there are a few industry-specific sub-categories of work order management that bear a closer look, in terms of understanding how they are optimized for particular industry requirements.
- Delivery and travel related work order management. Having vehicles in the field introduces a number of additional work order related requirements. Many work order systems include routing and dispatching capabilities. Features such as GPS tracking and managing truck inventories are common elements of solutions designed for businesses with delivery or vehicle based needs.
- Custom manufacturing. Manufacturing oriented work order programs differ from service oriented options in some significant respects. For example, incorporating or communicating a bill of materials required for completing a given order is an important part of manufacturing work order management. Additionally, there’s often an elevated importance placed on quality management in manufacturing work order management. Features designed to coordinate product inspections and quality assessment are a hallmark of a work order program optimized for the manufacturing environment.
- Facilities maintenance. Another common utilization of work order software is managing facilities work. Location based tracking capabilities are often especially important for facilities maintenance work tracking. For a property management company, identifying where the work was performed, for which tenant, and which owner is responsible for costs is an important dimension of successful work order management.
Taking the Next Steps
If you are at the point where you are ready to find which work order management software options are right for you, we can help. Through a brief phone call, our software specialists will look to better understand your business and software needs to help you locate a handful of solutions that can address the issues you are currently experiencing. Get started today!