By Aleks Sheynkman
Director of Engineering
The everyday aspects of facilities management are a group effort. When the bathroom’s motion sensor lights don’t work or a computer needs IT attention, it’s the responsibility of employees to report problems. From there, work order management is the duty of a facility manager, and the team servicing work orders depends on the nature of the problem.
There’s a chain of custody for maintenance tasks and facility maintenance is only as good as this chain enables it to be. Breakdown at any point in the work order management process likely means the problem isn’t resolved. Myriad other problems arise where the disconnect occurs.
- Unheard employee concerns continue to affect morale, comfort, and productivity
- Misdirected work orders don’t make it to appropriate problem-solvers
- If tickets don’t generate and prioritize work orders, there’s no system for servicing them
- Unseen or unserved work orders mean the problem continues to linger
The list of potential problems is endless. Every step of work order management is important, from submission to solution. It’s why more companies use a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) to ensure better facilities management at its most basic level.
What is work order management software?
A CMMS is work order management software. It’s the software used to structure work request automations—from processing employee input data to routing the work order to the right place.
More importantly, a CMMS serves as an all-in-one framework for work order management. Rather than coordinate the transfer of information between different inputs/outputs and through makeshift automations, it all happens in the CMMS. All facilities managers need to do is build the right processes.
Step 1: Ticketing systems and portals
Employee input is an essential first step in any work order management system. This means either one clear point of entry or many methods of submitting data in a uniform way.
John’s scheduled to work at Desk 22 for the day. When he arrives, he finds a broken chair. He can report the problem to facilities in several ways:
- Use the command/report in the #facilities channel of the company Slack workplace
- Submit information about the problem through the company’s intranet platform
- Send a templated email and subject line to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Open the company’s wayfinding software app to take a picture of the problem, then submit it
No matter how John reports the problem, the information goes through the CMMS. The CMMS grabs the information from each channel: map descriptions, images, keywords, submission info, timestamps, etc.
Step 2: Directing the ticket through the CMMS
After creating a ticket from incoming information, the CMMS needs to direct the ticket to the right destination. Is it an IT problem? Furniture issue? Active hazard? The CMMS uses machine learning to direct and prioritize tickets. This ensures problems like a downed WiFi report goes to IT, while spills go to Maintenance.
This is a critical stage of the work order management process because it ensures timeliness. What would happen if Maintenance got WiFi-related tickets? Would they ignore them? Forget to forward them to IT? Even if they did forward them, how long would it take for IT to wrangle the problem? The whole system devolves into chaos without proper delegation through a CMMS.
Step 3: Automating the work order
Support tickets need a way to become official work requests once they’re routed to the right place. Moreover, support staff needs to know how to keep track of work orders once they get them. Here again, a CMMS is instrumental. The system can prioritize tasks based on time received, proximity, severity, and even specific keywords. Work orders show up in the appropriate queue, in the best order, with information organized in an actionable way.
Step 4: Facilitating the solution
Work order management doesn’t just notify facility support staff about problems and prioritize those issues—it also informs the solution. This means a biohazard spill takes priority over a spilled yogurt, and janitorial knows what they’re walking into before they get there. Less time to identify the problem means a quicker response and resolution to it.
This works especially well in large facilities where multiple people may submit the same maintenance request in a short timeframe. If 10 people report downed WiFi in the span of 15 minutes, the CMMS is smart enough to move that problem up the queue. It can also attach new details to the work order from each new submission. IT support staff knows when the initial problem occurred, what symptoms it shows, and the scope of who’s affected. The action plan becomes clear in real-time.
Work order management for seamless solutions
Breaking up work orders into four basic custody checkpoints creates a path to seamless solutions. Employees report problems, a CMMS routes the support ticket, work orders queue in the right department, and the right party solves the problem. Whether it’s a burnt-out light, crashed workstation, or a prominent hazard in the workplace, good work order management is what gets it fixed.
Keep reading: What’s the Difference: IWMS, CMMS, CAFM and EAM