Learn about the definition of a work order, its importance and difference with other related forms, tips on writing a job order with an example, and how to stay on top of work order management.
Published 8 Sep 2023
A work order is a document managers authorize for workers to complete tasks. Also known as a job order or a service order, work orders are commonly used to manage maintenance operations across industries. They can also be utilized for follow-up actions from conducted inspections or audits.
Additionally, a work order is a job or task being requested by a customer, another business entity, or internally. A common scenario for requesting a work order is when a need for preventive maintenance or repairs is identified. Work order forms assist both parties—the requestor and the person assigned—in formally documenting what the job or task entails.
Basic Work Order Example | View Sample Work Order
Work orders constitute the heart of any maintenance management system. Not only are they simple tools for scheduling and assigning job tasks, but they also help monitor the variety of resources spent on maintenance. It also serves as one of the integral components of field service management with field service reports. Work orders are important because they play an essential part in standardizing maintenance workflows, particularly that of submitting work requests to closing work orders.
While a work order (WO) is sometimes called a job order or a service order in other parts of the world, they essentially mean the same thing. However, although related to one another, work orders cannot be used interchangeably with work requests and purchase orders because each term has a different meaning:
The difference between a work order and a work request is their source and sequence, or where they originated and when they’re triggered. Generally, work requests come from non-maintenance personnel, leading to the creation of maintenance work orders. For example, machine operators usually submit a work request for an equipment problem first, and then maintenance managers approve a WO designated to mechanics.
The difference between a work order and a purchase order (PO) is how they’re used in connection with maintenance work order workflows. While work orders detail specific tasks or services to be carried out, purchase orders itemize materials or products required to complete a WO. Typically, a work order includes a PO with the new parts and items to be used when repairing or servicing a piece of equipment.
There are several ways to create a work order, depending on company requirements and customer needs, among other factors. Whatever the case, a streamlined process for opening WOs can ensure that maintenance work will be done on time. Listed below are some general guidelines to help teams write work orders more efficiently:
Writers of job orders should not only refer to the details indicated in work requests, but they should also gain a thorough understanding of exactly what needs to be done. When in doubt or if certain information seems vague such as the equipment symptoms and initial safety considerations, they should be confirmed with the requester at the onset to prevent work duplication.
Upon having a clear grasp of the work requested, think about the elements needed to do it. Anticipating which tools to use, stocks to check, and parts to buy can help avoid costly delays. Moreover, it is crucial to assess if the task can be performed alone, with another maintenance team member, or with colleagues from other departments like engineering and industrial design.
Basically, a sample work order format contains the work description, assignee(s), requester details, cost breakdown, schedule or deadline, and authorized signatures. The key to writing WOs efficiently is presenting all the necessary information in an uncomplicated manner. Reaching the balance between brevity and comprehensiveness can help minimize the risk of discrepancies during work order implementation.
When breaking down the cost of labor, materials, and equipment for any job, specify reasonable amounts. Asking for too little or too much might eventually hold back the processing of work orders. Apart from budget allotment, one of the biggest challenges in work order management is scheduling. Priority levels and due dates should be made in relation to technician availability, maintenance schedule, and other ongoing tasks.
Work orders written on paper can be difficult for the management to arrange because they tend to be easily damaged and misplaced. A digital work order form, on the other hand, can be completed on any mobile device, making it easier for teams to write WOs from wherever they are. Unlike traditional paper-based service orders, digitized work orders not only minimize data input errors but also save time and effort in sending them for authorization.
Create Your Own Work Order Form Eliminate manual tasks and streamline your operations.Get started for free
Eliminate manual tasks and streamline your operations.
Learn more about how contractors organize job orders efficiently using a work order software.
A work order system should enable employees to do maintenance tasks more efficiently, not slow them down. To streamline work order processing, first gauge the company’s performance using industry benchmarks. Compare your findings with the sample work order procedure below and identify areas of improvement for the organization’s context:
For teams in any labor-intensive line of work, time is of the essence. Reduce administrative inefficiencies with the award-winning digital platform for operations management, SafetyCulture (formerly iAuditor). Here’s an overview of how you can stay on top of work order management and gain visibility across daily operations using SafetyCulture:
SafetyCulture Work Order Management Example | Start with this Basic Work Order Template
Get everyone on the same paperless page with work order templates teams can download and use for free. To fulfill company-specific requirements, these industry-standard templates can also be customized with SafetyCulture’s easy-to-use template editor.
Jona Tarlengco is a content writer and researcher for SafetyCulture since 2018. She usually writes about safety and quality topics, contributing to the creation of well-researched articles. Her 5-year experience in one of the world’s leading business news organisations helps enrich the quality of the information in her work.
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