MRO Magazine

Importance of a work order management system as a communication tool

Many years ago, the first work order management system emerged as an evolution sign in maintenance management. Importantly, all these years later, many manufacturing companies are still lacking a work order management system.

March 8, 2023 | By Ignacio Garrido Fernandez

Photo: ipuwadol / Adobe Stock

Photo: ipuwadol / Adobe Stock

While attending a module of PEMAC Maintenance Manager Professional Certification in years past, I had the opportunity to share the classroom with many other maintenance professionals. Through these classes and by sharing experiences, several of them revealed that they didn’t have a work order management system in their companies, and although they knew about them, they did not consider them required.

Someone asked “Is it really needed?”

The answer was an obvious yes, but for the participants of this course, it wasn’t that obvious, as they have been operating “on the go” for many years (considering it a strategy).

Benefits of a proper work order management system


– All maintenance tasks in one place and the notion of what activities to carry out in the plant;

– Depending on system, ability to visualize all tasks according to priority;

– A way to request, assign, and track work performed by the maintenance team or contractors;

– Serves as a communication tool between different teams; and,

– Sets work order standards.

Photo: VR Studio / Adobe Stock

However, many companies still do not consider this tool essential, as they believe we can manage all issues from their minds without using the tools we have today.

The case study with the clearest example is one of our customer’s facilities, where during an assessment, we found out their maintenance management maturity level.

When I interviewed the plant manager, the first question was “If I could help you solve the biggest problem that you have right now what would it be?”

The plant manager said, “there is a production machine that has given us many quality defects for some time. We have already made some attempts to fix it, but it still forces us to do rework because of these quality defects, causing more problems than benefits, which is why we are seriously considering replacing this machine.”

After the interview with the plant manager, I approached their production team to get first-hand data about this machine and prepare a list of issues. Later, I met with the maintenance coordinator to collect more information about these issues and got feedback. When asked for his opinion, he commented that he was unaware of current issues on this machine and any other previous issues that were reported had been solved.

Therefore, there wasn’t a technical problem, but rather a communication problem, and this is where a work order management system helps. It begins when there is a problem with an asset, a record is made and adequate follow-up from different teams is given, until the issue has been solved.

In this situation, the production personnel communicated with the maintenance personnel, and at the time they were able to carry out some superficial maintenance, but there was no adequate follow-up from any team, nor records of what was initially requested from their production team, or what had been already solved by their maintenance team.

If a work order management system were in place, this would have been the scenario:

The staff would have raised a work order to repair the machine, and there would be a record of activities that were done in this machine within the same work order. It would have described how it was resolved, if any spare parts had been requested, an approximate delivery date, and whether some communication remains to be done between production and maintenance personnel.

This makes it easier to access all information with the latest updates on the status of the machine and follow up accordingly.

After establishing a work order management system in this company, the machine got back to perfect working order, nothing was spent on it, and finally, we solved the root cause problem, that not only existed in that machine, but in all others, as it was a communication problem between departments.

Therefore, yes, you need a work order management system.
Ignacio Garrido Fernandez is the CEO of Factory Care Corporation


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