What is a Work Order?

A work order (WO) is a document that includes all the relevant details for completing a maintenance task. They make it possible for managers to assign work, prioritize their team’s efforts, track performance, and maintain efficient maintenance processes.

How to write a work order?

Including all the relevant details in your work orders helps ensure that technicians complete each task as effectively and efficiently as possible. Your organization should develop a work order template to both optimize and simplify the full work order lifecycle

Whether you’re relying on paper work orders or sending out digital work orders, you’ll want to include these essential details: 

  1. Requestor’s name and contact details: Who initiated the work order? Including their name and contact information makes it easy to ask follow-up questions. 
  2. Approver’s name and contact details: Tracking WO approval promotes accountability across your maintenance program and simplifies scheduling. 
  3. Assigned technician’s name and contact details: Whether you’re assigning a task to a single team member or a team of technicians, including their details ensures you can track their performance and connect for follow-up conversations. 
  4. Details on the affected piece of equipment: Your team is responsible for maintaining dozens or even hundreds of assets, potentially spread across numerous locations. To avoid wasted time, bar codes, serial numbers, or QR codes can help ensure they know how and where to find the asset they need.  
  5. Description of task: Include a step-by-step guide for seeing the task through. Try to address any questions that might arise by including answers to FAQs on your work order. A maintenance checklist can help technicians ensure they’ve completed the task correctly.  
  6. Relevant dates: In addition to the dates you opened and assigned the request, make sure to include a clear due date and space for the technician to note their actual completion date
  7. Urgency: Some maintenance tasks should never go into your maintenance backlog. Details on urgency will help managers organize their priorities accordingly to eliminate safety risks or mitigate the impact of shutdowns.  
  8. Required parts and materials: You don’t want your technicians stopping and starting because they don’t have everything they need. Make sure your work order lists all the necessary tools for completing the task. Learn how building maintenance kits can make equipping your team simpler. 
  9. Images: Illustrations and photos can help make it simpler to both create and carry out work orders.

Free Work Order Template

Free customizable work order template with best practices gained from thousands of customers that will help you standardized work orders.

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Need help building a template for maintenance work order? Explore our free maintenance templates & checklist library. 

Work orders vs. work or maintenance requests

Though the terms sound similar, work orders and work requests are not the same thing. Anyone can submit a work request and bring a task to your maintenance team’s attention. The request becomes formalized when your maintenance planner approves it, creates a work order, and submits it to the appropriate technician.  

Types of maintenance work orders

Maintenance teams perform a wide variety of tasks. As such, you’ll encounter a range of different types of work orders

Repair work orders

  • Low-priority malfunctions or low-priority assets experiencing functional failure can trigger a repair work order for corrective maintenance.

Inspection work orders

  • This type of work order directs a maintenance technician to carry out a routine inspection to assess the condition of an asset. If the technician identifies a maintenance issue like signs of an incoming breakdown, they might fill out another work order

Emergency work orders

  • When broken-down assets require immediate attention, emergency work orders ensure your team knows what to prioritize. They’ll include details for quickly and safely addressing the issue.  

Preventive maintenance work orders

Corrective maintenance work orders

  • These reactive work orders address problems that have already occurred. For example, corrective maintenance tasks may include replacing faulty components or repairing malfunctioning pieces of equipment.  

Safety work order

  • This special type of emergency work order assigns a technician to address an immediate safety risk. A safety work order might walk a technician through repairs for an essential asset or instruct them on cleaning up a spill. 

General work orders

  • There will always be some work that isn’t easy to categorize. Equipment installations and upgrades, sensor retrofits, and non-destructive tests are among the common types of maintenance tasks that don’t fit easily into the categories above.

Introducing a work order management program

Transitioning to a formal work order management system may sound daunting. Put in the effort, however, and you’ll avoid plenty of complications in the future. Clearer processes will help your maintenance staff to excel and more detailed insights into your facilities management and maintenance operations will enable continuous improvement. 

Create unique work order templates

Build a detailed work order template for each type of maintenance task that you ask your team to perform. Taking the time to ask the right questions and capture all the relevant information ensures your technicians can go about their work with confidence. 

Here’s how Limble CMMS simplifies work order management. 

Implement a work order workflow

Like a piece of equipment, each work order has a lifecycle. You’ll need to build and maintain a multi-stage workflow to keep your team efficient and maximize the value of your assets. 

To build and refine your workflow, ask questions like: 

  • How do I want to receive new work order requests
  • What are my expectations for following up with requesters? 
  • Who approves work orders and ensures they’re assigned to the right technicians? 
  • What types of approvals and sign-offs are required? 
  • How do we document completed work orders for audits

Monitor and manage your work order system

Your work order management system should evolve over time as you gather more data on your team’s performance and the health of your assets. Tracking and reporting on crucial maintenance KPIs will help you identify opportunities for improvement. Make sure to consult your technicians. What do they like about your current system? What would they improve?  

Best practices for managing work orders

Get the most out of your work order management processes with these best practices. 

  1. Define goals and KPIs: Ensure your work orders are tied to essential maintenance metrics and that you introduce methods for tracking performance. 
  2. Outline roles and responsibilities: Clearly defined roles and responsibilities boost productivity and help to avoid non-compliant or duplicate work orders
  3. Create a schedule with the appropriate triggers: Scheduled work protects your business against the various costs of unplanned downtime and maintenance. Identify the right triggers for initiating work orders. For example, you might organize work based on the condition of assets or assign time-based tasks.  
  4. Analyze your processes: Introducing methods for assessing the efficacy of your work order management process ensures you improve over time. 
  5. Transition to a computerized maintenance management system: CMMS software centralizes and simplifies the full work order lifecycle and positions you to build a more strategic organization. 

Learn more about Limble

Limble is more than just work order management software. With Limble, your maintenance department gets one mobile-accessible platform for managing requests, work orders, scheduling, inventory management, purchasing, vendors, asset management, regulatory compliance, and more.

Get started with a free trial or get in touch with our amazing support team to learn how Limble can streamline maintenance work at your facility.

  • Bryan
    Have you considered the RPM method?
    The RPM method was designed based on the definition of maintenance: “to repair; prevent,” . The RPM method is simple. Each work order priority is define as “R”;repair, “P”;preventive, or “M”;modification. These three components in the RPM method would increase the success of your CMMS system.

    Would your customers like to know the annual Repair, Preventative and Modification costs to each piece of equipment?


  • Hi Fred,

    I’m sure some readers would like to know more so I left the URL in your comment.

    While not being closely familiar with the RPM method, I think we do something similar in Limble CMMS. In general, if you do a repair you schedule a WO, and if you do preventive maintenance, you schedule a PM. You can use these variables later to create specific reports and track costs associated with preventive work vs reactive work.

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