Maintenance Work Orders Explained: Details, Tips and Tricks + TEMPLATE

In this article, we'll examine maintenance work orders for field service businesses and explore tactics and tools to implement them.

Many field service businesses employ technology to improve business functions. One of these options, used for smoothing out operations, is work orders.

For field service professionals, efficiency and precision are paramount when carrying out various processes. Every task, repair, and maintenance job needs to be executed seamlessly to keep the wheels of the organization turning smoothly. At the heart of this operational excellence, especially when it comes to attending to maintenance needs, is a critical tool known as work orders.

A maintenance work order is a document designed to provide maintenance technicians with the details they need to adequately and effectively perform assigned maintenance tasks. It serves as a detailed explanation of the problems of an asset, the maintenance services it needs, when these services should be provided, and which employee will be providing them.

Think of these work orders as an extensive to-do list of tasks. They provide a structured process for documenting, tracking, and performing maintenance or repair requests in an organization.

With the information of what to do and when to do it detailed in a centralized location, which is usually on paper, field workers can focus on performing the right tasks at the right time.

For many field businesses, maintenance work orders are the key to optimizing maintenance work for better accountability and productivity. In this article, we will dissect the intricacies of what maintenance work orders are, how they work, and how to optimize them for better operational efficiency in the field effectively.

What is a Maintenance Work Order?

The global maintenance, repair, and operations market’s estimated value in 2020 was $616.01 billion.

A maintenance work order is a document for organizing and prioritizing maintenance tasks. It is a formal request or directive typically assigned to a specific technician that outlines a particular maintenance task on a piece of equipment.

The video below provides a quick and easy-to-understand overview of what maintenance work orders are:

At its core, a maintenance work order in a field service business is a communication channel between a field manager and the field technicians responsible for carrying out maintenance operations on tangible assets. These work orders serve as instructions and directives that outline the responsibilities assigned to technicians.

In essence, maintenance work orders are blueprints for the tasks to be executed, sent from an instructor to a technician, detailing what task needs to be done, how it should be done, and when it should be done.

A typical work order consists of details that act as a guide to the maintenance operations to be executed. These details include:

By acting as a central location for all these details to be communicated to the necessary technicians, maintenance work orders play a pivotal role in streamlining maintenance operations by providing a structured approach to managing tasks. They do this by clearly specifying the type or nature of maintenance operation needed and on what assets while acting as a work plan to prioritize maintenance operations.

The centralization of task instructions organized by priority ensures that technicians attend to clients’ most pressing maintenance needs. This not only aids seamless operations but also unwittingly improves client satisfaction due to the timeliness of operations.

Additionally, work orders serve as a professional record of not only the essential tasks to be performed but also important details like resources allocated to these maintenance tasks. This makes it possible to track the history of maintenance for the assets handled by the facility and how resources are expended on necessary maintenance tasks.

All in all, maintenance work orders are highly beneficial to any field business, specifically those that handle large volumes of work over a specific period.

The Importance of Maintenance Work Orders

89% of clients want on-demand, modern technology for technician scheduling, and almost as many would be ready to pay more for it.

Field companies with numerous maintenance tasks to see through often find themself stumped with multiple problems ranging from an inability to keep track of tasks to improper communication of what needs to be done and inefficiency of employees.

Work orders solve these problems by providing a medium where the necessary tasks are allocated to the required employee in detail while doubling as a dashboard to track maintenance history. However, this is not all maintenance work orders are suitable for.

Maintenance work orders serve several benefits for improving productivity and efficiency in field businesses. These benefits include:

Improved Accountability🧾

Maintenance work orders create an urgent sense of responsibility that encourages field technicians to perform their tasks when they should. With a document clearly instructing workers about the pending tasks they must carry out, employees will be more encouraged to perform their maintenance duties, how, and when.

This is a better option than leaving field technicians to their devices, an act that encourages employees to improvise when it comes to operations.

By assigning specific maintenance tasks to specific technicians and documenting the completion of these tasks, field managers can improve accountability at work. Technicians know what is expected of them, and managers or supervisors can track their performance. This new-found feeling of accountability ensures that maintenance tasks are completed on time and at the required standards.

Efficient Resource Allocation🛠

Maintenance work orders promote better allocation of resources, especially in cases where these resources are limited.

For example, a field business running without an effective work order leaves the field technicians to use available resources such as time and spare parts as they like. This leads to wastage, an inefficiency that reduces profit in the long run.

However, by implementing work orders in maintenance tasks, field managers can record details like estimated time, required materials, and material allocation for all maintenance operations. This prevents the over-allocation of resources, maximizes productivity, and minimizes asset downtime due to timely maintenance operations. This encourages the availability of necessary resources at the right time.

Enhance Communication💬

One major problem many field businesses face is ineffective communication, especially when communicating task details.

In the dynamic landscape of field service businesses, effective communication is the lichen of business success. Without adequate information, many tasks are lost in the slew of information provided to the field technicians. With so much information going around, no one knows what maintenance task they should focus on at what moment.

Maintenance work orders fix these problems by providing clear written and recorded instructions that communicate important maintenance operation work orders to the necessary field technicians. This not only minimizes misunderstandings and miscommunications but also bridges the gap between those requesting maintenance and the technicians executing the maintenance tasks.

Essentially, maintenance work orders facilitate a smooth and coordinated workflow due to better communication.

Poor communication reduces workplace productivity by more than 15%.

Data Tracking for Future References📄

How often have you noticed you have no proper documentation of maintenance tasks performed by field technicians in your business?

Incomplete operational history, especially in maintenance tasks, makes it challenging to keep track of asset performance over time.

Maintenance work orders provide historical data that makes it easier to make informed decisions in the future, plan maintenance cycles, and, in the long run, optimize asset lifespans. This is because these work orders become valuable data points that offer insights into the history of an asset’s maintenance.

Overall Efficiency and Effectiveness💯

Collectively, all the benefits of maintenance work orders work together to boost business efficiency and the effectiveness of maintenance productions significantly. It makes this possible by streamlining tasks, reducing downtime, and improving communication, all of which are recipes for the success of any good field business.

Additionally, maintenance work orders help field technicians maximize resources, thereby helping them achieve more with fewer resources. This is an advantage that not only helps to reduce operational costs but also leads to better business efficiency.

Improved Customer Satisfaction 🤝

Other than improved employee productivity, better task management, and strengthened communication between team members, maintenance work orders also help to improve customer satisfaction.

A maintenance work order does this by encouraging timeliness of task execution and improving the quality of these tasks. After all, with clear instructions concerning respective tasks outlined for every field technician to see, all maintenance tasks are well-organized. This minimizes disruptions and contributes to a positive customer experience.

Increased Worker Safety⛑️

Field technicians are humans and predisposed to making mistakes sometimes. These mistakes can be forgetting to wear appropriate gear before beginning a maintenance operation or underestimating certain safety precautions put in place for their safety.

Work orders serve as a medium to emphasize and remind field workers of the necessary precautions before performing certain maintenance operations. This prioritizes a safety-first mindset that reduces the likelihood of accidents on the field.

Challenges in Maintenance Work Order Management

Although maintenance work orders are highly effective, like many technological solutions, they are not exempt from challenges. Like many automated solutions, these work orders can be complex, demanding, and challenging, primarily when mishandled.

Some of the challenges likely to be faced when using maintenance work orders include:


Even with a sophisticated solution like a work order, it is still not unlikely to have miscommunication problems when dealing with a maintenance work order.

This problem might stem from various other issues, such as vague language, incomplete information, assumptions, or last-minute changes. Regardless, it can be problematic, even going as far as leading to field technician safety risks, misunderstandings, and unhappy clients.

Solution: Implement a clear communication channel by establishing standardized procedures for creating maintenance work orders. With rules guarding the creation and updates of work orders, it becomes easy to establish a trusty system of work orders that encourages clear communication. Encourage the documentation of accurate task details and regularly review work orders to make sure they continue to provide nothing short of accurate information.

Data Entry Errors📝

Sometimes, miscommunication might erupt from inputting the wrong data details of maintenance tasks. Needless to say, data detail errors lead to other unanticipated problems like wasted time and resources.

Solution: It helps to upgrade work order systems by integrating computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) or other advanced work order management software to prevent the risk of wrong data input.

These additional tools will make it easier to automate data entry, thereby reducing the risk of human errors and increasing access to accurate data implementation. It is also helpful to create validation or verification checks during the data input stage to correct possible mistakes while the work order is still being developed.

Execution Delays⌛

Sometimes, delays are unavoidable when it comes to performing maintenance operations in the field. However, these delays can disrupt business schedules, create backlogs, and even impact equipment reliability due to the equipment not receiving the necessary maintenance.

There are several reasons why execution delays may occur, even with a work order. These reasons range from miscommunication to errors in prioritizing maintenance tasks.

Solution: Set clear priorities for every work order. It might also help to separate routine maintenance tasks from preventative maintenance tasks and critical repair tasks.

By labeling these tasks appropriately, it is easier to let field technicians know which tasks should be done first to prevent delays. Additionally, create a well-structured scheduling system that allocates tasks to field technicians depending on urgency and available resources.

Poor Resource Allocation🪫

Sometimes, employees dedicate limited resources to the least critical tasks. In many cases, this is caused by the lack of adequate documentation that shows what resources should be assigned to what tasks. Ultimately, the more critical tasks do not get the resources they need. This is a significant problem that can disrupt operations.

Solution: Prioritizing resource allocation is admittedly a complex task. As such, it is crucial to develop clear criteria for prioritization where the more important maintenance tasks will get the necessary resources first. To do this, consider the asset’s criticality, safety, and operational impact. This strategy should align with the organization’s available resources and maintenance needs.

How To Create an Effective Maintenance Work Order

The quality of your work order directly influences the quality of your maintenance operations. As such, it is important to create an effective work order that ensures tasks are created efficiently and accurately.

The process of creating a work order might differ, especially with the numerous work order apps available in the market today. However, a simple work order data creation process can be split into four stages, which include:

Using this simple plan, below is a simple way to create an effective work order.

Collect general details about the maintenance task

An effective maintenance work order begins by collecting vital information about the task at hand. This acts as a point of origin to determine the direction of the entire task. Essentially, the information collected helps orient maintenance technicians to the work to be done.

The critical information to be collected includes:

Identify the location of the asset to be maintained

Next, it is vital to detail which asset needs to be maintained or repaired. This ensures the right asset gets the attention it needs. It also helps the technicians prioritize the tasks for the day when they provide maintenance to more than one asset.

Some details to include at this stage are:

Record additional asset details

After collecting general details, it is vital to collect the more specific details that are key to the maintenance tasks. This information will play an additional role in organizing and prioritizing maintenance tasks.

Although the specific details may vary with the maintenance tasks, some additional information to include in your work order includes:

Include safety guidelines

Although there are general safety precautions for performing maintenance tasks, some may require additional and specific safety precautions. These precautions will eliminate the possibility of an accident, thereby safeguarding the technicians who respond to the work order.

When detailing safety precautions, specify and highlight the instructions clearly.

List materials and tools

Detail the specific materials, tools, and other resources to make this operation possible. Clearly state these tools and spare parts if necessary to prevent delays caused by missing or unavailable equipment.

Create a work order description

Describe the work order in step-by-step formats. The work description may vary with the protocols needed regarding that specific maintenance task. Some examples of protocols include:

Include Closing Details

Close your work order by inputting the work summary and other essential closing details. These include the following information:

Maintenance Work Order Template

Maintenance work order templates serve as a guiding light to creating a maintenance work order for your field business. Although there are different templates for creating these orders, a simple and effective template is shown below. You can adapt this template in your own documents, with your preferred layout and formatting.

In the below example, most items should be filled out by the manager or assigning person, with the technician expected to update the work order status and provide other details as needed.

Work Order





Labor required:

(Include categories like automotive, grounds, plumbing, custodial, etc.)

Best times for service:

Preferred completion date:

(duration or deadline)



Assigned Technician:

Technician’s Skills:

(Include the specific skills needed for the task)

Work Order Approval:

(name and signature of supervisor or manager approving the task.)

Additional Notes:

(Include any other notes)

Work Order Status:

In progress, on hold, completed, etc. (To be filled by technician)

Software Solutions for Maintenance Work Order Management

Maintenance work orders can be quite helpful on their own. However, their benefits are limited if not appropriately managed, which is why many field service companies now depend on maintenance work order management software.

When numerous work orders are generated daily, businesses can easily become overwhelmed and find it challenging to perform seamlessly. When this happens, they need a proper solution to manage and organize their work orders to improve data accuracy and streamline operations. These software solutions have revolutionized how organizations use work orders to plan, execute, and track the maintenance to be performed.

Some benefits of software solutions for maintenance work orders include:

Recommended Maintenance Work Order Management Software

There are numerous maintenance work order management software options available in the market today. However, when choosing the one to integrate into your business, it is essential to ensure it is the right option for your organization and that it aligns with your business needs.

There are various factors that you should consider, some of which include scalability, integration, mobile accessibility, reporting and analytics, and cost.

Are you wondering which software has the best of all features for you?


Now that you’re familiar with the importance of work orders, it’s crucial to embrace software that helps you harness the benefits of this solution.

Workyard has great features to help you create and distribute maintenance work orders to your team. The software is dedicated to helping businesses operate more efficiently and effectively with sophisticated task management features.

Here is an overview of Workyard’s features for work order management:

User-friendly Interface💻

Workyard has a super-friendly, easy-to-use, and intuitive interface that is easy to interact with. This makes navigating easy without requiring extensive, complex, and time-intensive training. With Workyard, you can integrate maintenance work order management into your business and begin sending work orders to your team in a snap.

Real-time Updates📲

Do you need a live display of job status and employee location? Workyard tracks your technicians’ locations in real time, so you can see who is addressing what task, and who could be tasked to new work orders based on proximity. Workyard’s location tracking provides frequent job updates, increases employee accountability, and facilitates transparency in handling all tasks.

Scheduling Made Easy⏰

Do you want to assign maintenance tasks (or any task at all) quickly? Workyard’s worker communications tools let you instantly message your technicians about vital information when they need it. You can manage a handful or hundreds of field workers in Workyard’s easily customizable and adjustable scheduling tool, whether you need someone on-site for an hour or for a month.


Need KPIs to assess your technicians’ output? Workyard analyzes and reports metrics such as job completion rates and response times for you to measure job success rates and identify areas that need to improve.

See how Workyard can streamline your maintenance work orders


Upkeep is a solution known for its simple interface and all-in-one maintenance features appropriate for all business types. This CMMS solution facilitates asset management and offers maintenance teams the tools to run efficient maintenance tasks.

Some of its key features are:


Fiix is a CMMS software powered by artificial intelligence. It is a cloud-based software dedicated to helping businesses plan, track, and optimize maintenance. Fiix offers a comprehensive solution for work order management, asset tracking, and extending equipment lifespans.

The Work Order Management market was valued at $712.24 billion in 2022.

Evaluating Maintenance Work Order Software

The maintenance work order software you choose will directly impact your organization’s efficiency and productivity. As such, it is vital to select software that aligns with your needs based on different factors unique to your field business, such as organization size, specific business needs, business budget, and industry.

Below is a step-by-step guide to choosing the most suitable maintenance work order software solution for your company:

Define Your Needs

Identify and highlight your organization’s needs, goals, and objectives. It is also crucial to consider unique requirements such as industry and company size to ensure you select a software option closely tailored to suit your maintenance operations.

Do Your Research

Research the market for available software options that align with your needs. If your objective is to grow your business size, remember to look for a scalable software option that matches your business needs as you grow.

Evaluate User-Friendliness

Choose a well-designed and simple interface that is easy to adopt and easier to retain. Choosing software that requires extensive training may complicate the maintenance process in the future.

Integration Capability

Ensure the chosen software can integrate with existing software options like accounting software or asset management software. Additionally, select a software that offers mobile accessibility to ensure it can be integrated into technicians’ mobiles for on-the-go access.

Safety Features

From safety measures that protect your business from hackers to data protection requirements, ensure you choose a secure option with effective safety features.


Ensure the software’s initial cost and total cost of ownership, including hidden fees, aligns with your business budget. This makes it easier to sustain the software in the long run.

Vendor Support

Inquire about the level of customer support and training the software provides. Make sure the software manufacturer has the resources to assist you when necessary.

While all these are important, it is important to opt for software that offers a trial period or demo. Going for these options gives you the opportunity to ‘try on’ the software you choose for a limited period, giving you a hands-on experience of what applying the software in your business will look and feel like.


Maintenance work orders are the backbone of smooth, effective, and efficient field service operations. They play immensely important roles in ensuring maintenance tasks are carried out effectively and without disruptions, thereby increasing productivity. With maintenance work orders, maintenance tasks function like one giant well-oiled gear- frictionless and without hitches.

To really enjoy the benefit of maintenance work orders, it is important to invest the time and effort required to optimize their maintenance work order processes. By doing so, you can kickstart your journey toward more efficient and effective maintenance work order management. This plays a crucial role in facilitating other benefits like enhancing service quality, reducing downtime, and ultimately driving business success.

Furthermore, it is vital to consider adopting software solutions to automate and streamline maintenance work orders. Embracing technology saves resources while also paving the way for better productivity and business growth.

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