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How to Organize Your Work Order System

Bill Wichert

Many people feel that having a work order management system will solve their problems simply by having the system in place. This is not true. Just like any other software, work order management software is a tool. If you do not know how to use it or how to make it work for you, it will not solve your issues. Instead, you need to focus on developing business process and policies around the system and it will significantly help your business. Personally, I helped organizations convert from horrible support and 50% customer satisfaction to 94% customer satisfaction in just a few short months. This was done through clearly defined work order processes and a culture of accountability. If you follow the same path, you can build world class support and dazzle your customers.

Introduction

A work order management system is a very important part of any business. In fact, it has become the backbone of many service companies. Work order management systems are developed to facilitate the flow of tasks and orders. The system allows you to see all tasks and orders that your customers need assistance with. You can issue new orders, approve them, and then monitor them to see if they have been completed. With work order management systems, you can keep track of inventory, track customer requests, prevent over- or under-supplies of products, and reduce the chance of work being missed. These negative effects are discussed in more detail in the HDI article here. Work order management systems are key to increasing efficiency, meeting demand, and boosting sales. Personally, I have helped teams I managed go from 50% customer satisfaction to 94%. We went from customers constantly upset with us to actual fans. It was possible through a great work order system, an amazing process, and a culture of accountability. This type of result can happen for anyone as long as you follow the required steps.

Requirements of a Work Order System

Before you can set up a work order management system, you need to know what a work order is. A work order in most organizations is a job or task assignment. You assign people work and they do the job specified for them. In order to assign the work, you must collect some basic information like due date, address, description, special requirements or tools, and contact person. Once you have all of that knowledge in mind, you are ready to develop a work order management system. Here are some of the requirements of such a system:

• You will need to make sure that all key decision-makers in your organization are aware of it. These systems are used by the entire organization, so buy-in across teams is critical to success.

• You need to define all the elements of data that a work order would require, as I mentioned earlier. This information provides your employees with the information that need to complete their work.

• The system should be easily available to all staff of the company who need to use it.  It should not be limited to only managers or supervisors, or the value of the system is limited.

• You need to define the roles and responsibilities for managing the system and the work.  This will ensure the staff who assign the work are aware of their roles and what they need to know about the system.  It will also help define the processes that will be used to support the new system as it goes into production.

Benefits of a Work Order System

Work order systems have many very important benefits for an organization.  First, they allow you to organize your time and resources effectively.  We are all overwhelmed with the number of tasks that we have to do at work. There are tons of reports to go through, tasks to be completed, meetings to attend, reports to prepare, emails to send, and deadlines to keep. All these things take up our precious time and make it difficult for us to manage our businesses.  Having a work order system is one way to control the chaos that is our daily work and help us to actually have the time and resources to do the things that are essential for our business.  Second, they provide a standardized system for managing work and processes.  This may not seem like a huge issue, but most major daily issues result from people not following standard procedures or from variation in work.  If you can more easily manage the processes and standards, you can reduce the errors in your business.  Last, these systems can drive customer satisfaction and revenues, which help grow your business.  For many systems you buy, there is a cost, but that cost is normally made up by the improvements in your business.  If you are able to maintain clients and improve service, you will drive more sales.  Overall, the goal is to build a more sustainable company and these tools are what it takes to get you there.

 If standards and improved support drives increases in sales, then the software pays for itself.

Decide on a Work Order System

First and foremost, you need to be sure you have a work order system that you can implement in your business.  This means that every system out there may not be the right fit for your business.  If you define your requirements early on in the process, it will make selecting a system much easier.  A software package that runs on the mobile phones of your staff will make your life much easier, so focus on systems that are cloud based for ease of deployment and use. This will allow your staff to complete their tasks on the go and manage their time effectively. Also, ensure you are using a system that allows you to assign the work and it allows you to get reports and data on how well it is being used by your team.  The last point is price.  While it is important, you need to understand how this software will impact your business.  If standards and improved support drives increases in sales, then the software pays for itself.  This is the same for managing staff.  If you do not need to hire extra supervisors because the system tells you where your staff are and if they are working, then you can usually save more than the cost of the system from the staffing reduction.  It is simply that these systems come with a cost, but many times, that cost is easily made up for in business improvement. To see an example of a cloud based system that can help transform your business, check out the Signal Cortex platform.

Process Work Orders

In the above paragraph, we talked about how to actually get your work order system in place. By that, we mean developing a business process, which describes how the work order system is going to be used. Every process needs to be built on specific rules. Each process should be created based on how the work order system is going to work and how your staff will use it.  I mentioned process a few times before, but work order systems do not function without clearly defined processes to support them.  You need to write a workflow and customize it to your company’s needs.  Once you have a clearly defined process, the best next step is to test it with a few of your staff.  Many times, managers implement process changes without talking to their staff.  If you miss this critical data, then you miss the important feedback on the actual work that you need to improve your system.  Once the staff have helped validate your process, you can discuss implementation.

Conclusion

Work order management systems are a critical component of any growing services business. Without a clear process and replicable standards, you run the risk of introducing errors into you customers world. These errors could be the thing that causes you to lose them. This lack of customer service could also cause stagnating growth and limit opportunity. Instead, focus on implementing the right technology and build the best processes you can. With those items in place, you can grow and scale as far as your company can go.

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