How Work Order Apps Streamline Operations

By Brian Sugarman on March 4, 2021
Tags: Business Operations, Productivity

Filling out form on ipad in truck

Work order management is the process of ensuring that a work order process is in place for organizations. This entire process begins with work requests and ends with either a denial or approval and the subsequent work that happens.

The workflows surrounding work orders leave many opportunities for errors and inefficiencies. But with the use of work order apps, organizations can easily streamline the work order process to improve maintenance teams’ performance and improve overall workflows for their business.

This article will highlight some of the top challenges with work orders using paper-based forms and we will explain some of the top reasons why companies are switching to mobile apps instead.

 

Problems with traditional work orders

The standard work order has typically been a paper-based form, but there are several pitfalls and problems that can arise with paper-based work. Here are some of the problems that exist when using paper-based work orders:

  • Lost work orders: Losing work orders can become a real problem when you are dealing with paperwork orders. It’s common for papers to get lost, they can also be misfiled by accident, or they can sometimes even be thrown away inadvertently. These potential problems can lead to the need for multiple copies or submissions of work orders, ultimately delaying maintenance tasks and impacting metrics that matter to organizations focused on responsiveness and efficiency.

 

  • Illegible handwriting: Illegible handwriting can be a significant problem with all sorts of paper forms. This can happen if workers are at a job site and they happen to be holding a tool bag while trying to write up a work order or if the worker is in a hurry to get to their next appointment. No matter the excuse for the messy handwriting, this seemingly minor issue can lead to real problems. For example, if a field technician is filling a work order, messy handwriting could lead to misunderstanding the intent, overlooking important details, or struggling to find the correct location.

 

  • Calculation errors: For work orders with integrated pricing and parts costs, field service technicians or maintenance workers may need to calculate costs for supplies quickly. Not everyone will have the time to check their math and paper work orders that require manual calculations can create cost overruns for companies or cause the ordering of the wrong quantity of supplies.

 

  • Misinterpretation of information: Intent can sometimes be difficult to convey clearly. If a work order requires information in a narrative or long-text form, then misinterpretations can easily occur. Likewise, paper-based work orders do not allow users to attach annotated photos without physically printing images, which hinders the real-time fulfillment of a work order. 

 

  • Increase in downtime: Paper forms require users to either scan them in and email them or physically deliver them. In the work order management process, this can be a significant hindrance to efficiency. 

 

  • Inability to automate: Businesses cannot integrate paper forms into software applications without additional steps, which makes incorporating automation into the work order process difficult. Without automation, the submission of work orders cannot kick off specific steps such as scheduling maintenance follow-ups, invoicing parties that may be required to pay for work performed, or changing maintenance schedules as a result of escalated maintenance work.

 

Benefits of using work order apps

For mobile apps used to generate work orders, there are many benefits that maintenance teams and workers can realize. Here are some of the top benefits of using work order apps:

  • Expanded functionality: A mobile app that works on iOS or Android platforms can create robust and detailed mobile work orders, by utilizing the native functionality of the phone, such as its camera, GPS, accelerometer, and touch screen. This functionality also allows users to include photos of areas that require maintenance or work and users can even annotate specific regions on an image to show exactly where work is needed. GPS also allows for location-based service requests to be issued and provides evidence that a service request has been fulfilled. Additionally, software on mobile devices that allow for push notifications means that service personnel can immediately see work orders in real-time.

 

  • Improved workflows: Efficiencies in work order management or field service management can create significant cost savings for organizations. Through the use of work order apps, users can submit work orders through the mobile device, which then triggers a series of automated events, resulting in the dispatching of a maintenance team without any human intervention. 

 

  • Standardized work orders: Apps used to submit work orders can utilize standardized templates so that work orders are consistent. This consistency reduces the likelihood of errors such as missing a critical field.

 

  • Ease of use: Mobile devices are relatively ubiquitous, and most people are comfortable with using them. Facility managers or maintenance departments can customize a mobile work order app to be incredibly user-friendly and intuitive. Ultimately, this ease of use improves the completion rate of work, while also making the entire workflow surrounding a service request much more efficient.

 

  • Improved asset management: Organizations with assets requiring regular maintenance can use work order apps in conjunction with work order management software. This combination allows users to schedule preventive maintenance automatically, maintain upkeep of equipment, and generate warnings if maintenance requests to mission-critical equipment or assets are submitted.

 

How work order management impacts different industries

Many industries can benefit from improving work order management by using apps for submitting maintenance work orders. Some examples include:

  • HVAC companies can use work order apps to escalate problems or broken systems so that technicians can more rapidly complete work on HVAC systems, which can be a matter of public safety in very hot or cold climates.
  • Small businesses can benefit from efficiencies usually reserved for larger companies through a robust and scalable work order management system coupled with work order apps.
  • Property management companies can ensure that the proper scheduling of preventative maintenance occurs and that tenants receive status updates related to the work performed.

Ultimately, the benefits of using a work order app and management software can be significant and highly beneficial for organizations that need to streamline their operations and reduce their reliance on paper-based forms for collecting data.