5 Work Order Best Practices to Boost Completion Rates

Creating high-quality work orders and using them effectively is easier said than done. Learn more about the best practices for work orders.

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    The work order is such a basic document that many field service managers take it for granted. Write up a job, assign it to a technician, and bill it when done. Rinse, repeat. That is all there is to it, right?

    That approach may work, but it could be more efficient and scale better. With just a little optimization, you can make your technicians more productive, boost their first-time fix rates, and boost their total completion rates. All it takes is to follow some simple best practices.

    This article explains five best practices for managing work orders efficiently. Whether you are a small field service agency or a regional market leader, following these best practices can help you close work orders faster and improve key field service metrics.

    Why Are High-Quality Work Orders So Important in Field Service?

    A work order is a form that tracks all the vital information needed for a field service technician to complete a specific job. But more importantly, a work order is actionable, meaning while a work order exists, someone needs to do something with it—for example, contact a customer, schedule an appointment, complete work, or issue an invoice. They’re a critical and fundamental component of field service operations.

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    That means it is vitally important for your work orders to be well-structured, easy to extract necessary information from, and easy to update. You need high-quality work orders to ensure all your core business practices occur on time and are seen through to completion.

    5 Best Practices of Work Order Management

    Creating high-quality work orders and using them effectively can be easier said than done. Here are five best practices spanning the entire lifecycle of a work order that will help your field service company work more effectively.

    1.    Require essential information work order submissions

    It all starts at intake. The rest of your work will suffer if you cannot gather all the necessary information from a requester at intake. Your CSR might need to go back and forth with the assigned technician, call the customer, or look up service agreements to ensure the work is scoped properly. All while the reported issue sits there unresolved.

    Most field service companies leave too many information fields optional in their work order submission form. Clearly specify all required information that a CSR must collect, or a customer must provide at intake for a work order to move ahead. At a minimum, which should include the following:

    • Contact information of the requester
    • Contracted customer contact information
    • Location of the problem
    • The business impact of the problem
    • Nature of the problem
    • Resources needed to resolve the problem, including tools and parts

    2.    Approve work orders before they are assigned

    No intake process is perfect. Mistakes happen even with detailed intake requirements. The best time to catch them is before sending a technician out on a job. Designate a manager, rotating senior technician, or other knowledgeable individuals responsible for approving work orders during an assigned shift.

    They should have the experience to evaluate every work order created in your service center to determine if any information is missing, reality check the business impact suggested by the customer, and link relevant manuals and knowledge base articles that will help the assigned technician resolve the problem quickly. Link or generate specific checklists to follow for quality assurance. This approval process should happen before the work order is prioritized and assigned.

    3.    Prioritize the work order according to established company guidelines

    Prioritizing work orders should be an objective process. The opinions of field service customers, assigned technicians, and supervisors are important, but to ensure the highest quality of work on all of the orders your staff completes, you need to follow some objective criteria when setting new work order priorities.

    Your specific priorities will depend on the nature of your field service business, your customers and the SLAs you’ve established with them, and the nature of the equipment you’re servicing. As a baseline, though, some standard priorities you can establish include:


    At this priority, a problem does not impact a customer’s business operations but does need to be resolved to restore optimal service and appearance. For example, cosmetic damage to medical instruments or nuisances like a loud, whirring fan.


    Medium priority issues have a small impact on operations or are low priority problems with the potential to escalate in severity if left unaddressed. For example, loose cabling on a telecom switch, minor plumbing leaks, or low pressure on a forklift tire. Medium priority requests should be addressed before low priority ones.


    High priority problems have an immediate business impact or threaten human safety. For example, a broken elevator, damaged life support equipment in an emergency room, or a damaged power line. When assigned a high priority work order, a technician should complete whatever tasks they are currently doing and then work on the high priority request next.


    Emergency work orders are assigned when there is an immediate risk to human health and safety or a mission-critical failure that impacts current and future business operations—for example, a gas leak, fire, natural disaster, or total loss of power. When assigned an emergency work order, a technician should immediately stop what they are doing and move to resolve the emergency before returning to their prior schedule.

    4.    Schedule work orders according to priority, location, and other key factors

    When scheduling work, the main factor to consider is its priority. But if your company services equipment in a large region, it might not make sense to send a technician downtown to address a high priority work order in the morning, a medium priority issue midday in the suburbs, and then back downtown for two low priority issues in the afternoon.

    There is no perfect formula for balancing different business considerations. When scheduling, assigning managers must consider priority, location, customer SLA, and other factors.

    In our example, it might make sense to batch those two low priority downtown requests with the high priority one to reduce driving time. But if the medium priority request is for a major customer you want to stay on good terms with, what is most valuable for your business might be ensuring their problem is resolved as quickly as possible.

    5.    Properly complete the work order

    You need to create a digital paper trail and document everything. Everything about the nature of the problem, the work carried out by the technician, and the materials used. You can do this on paper, but it is significantly easier in a robust, automated field service management platform like Dynamics 365 from Velosio.

    Velosio Can Help You Optimize Work Order Management

    Field service software, like Dynamics 365 from Velosio, can help streamline your work order management process. Customizable workflow support helps you generate work orders specially tailored to your field service company’s needs. As a result, you will get work delegated faster and resolved more efficiently.

    If you are ready to optimize your work order handling, contact Velosio about Dynamics 365 for Field Service today.

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