• Chris Dowler, FMP


Lack of response to a service request can irk staff members and leave tenants with a bad impression.

A staff member comes to you and mentions that there is no toilet paper in one of the stalls. A visitor mentions that the front entry is ice covered and slippery. A tenant calls to say that there is a slow leak from her faucet.

How these service requests are managed will determine the experience that all three requesters have with the organization. Beyond the positive / negative experiences, risk may be increased, or secondary damage may occur.

Systemizing service requests, or work orders (WOs), efficiently and effectively is essential for maintaining / improving productivity, improving risk management, reducing operating costs, and preserving assets.

Work order management does not need to be complicated.

Managing work orders can be as simple as a pen-and-paper log, or as advanced as a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS). Regardless of the method, the key is identifying the work order, entering it into a system, and responding to the request in a timely manner.

Timely is relative to the nature of the request. Not all WOs require an immediate solution – they do require an immediate acknowledgment, however.

Triage WO requests.

Based upon some predetermined criteria (usually cost and time, and criticality of the system affected) work order requests will be assessed and prioritized.

A good tool to prioritize with consistency is the creation of a RIME matrix. RIME (Ranking Index for Maintenance Expenditures) matrices place asset types / functions ranked from most critical (10) to least critical (1) on the y-axis, and work order type ranked similarly on the x-axis. Those requests with the highest rankings are given priority as they have the greatest impact on the organization.

Get it Done.

Once the proper level of response has been determined and communicated back to the requester, the work needs to be assigned to the appropriate vendor, or in-house staff.

Assignment should include as much information as possible to include description of the work, area where problem was identified, procedures to be followed, and parts or special tools needed.

Once completed, the work order needs to be closed out with a description of what was found, what caused the problem, what solution was applied, and ideally, costs associated with the service.

Finally, the requester should be contacted with a description of what was found and the resolution.

Timely communications are important.

Submitters of work requests will be patient as long as they are kept informed about timing. This is a critical component of the work order system. Nothing is more frustrating than submitting a work order request and not receiving feedback – even if the problem was rectified within 15 minutes of the request. Without feedback the requester will not know that the request had been serviced and that will make them feel ignored.

For staff that may lead to reduced productivity as they kibbutz with fellow staff that nothing is being done; repeated often enough, a tenant may decide to not renew a lease and the owner may never find out the reason.

Work orders should not only be reactive.

Most work orders should be routine maintenance tasks, rather than service requests. Tasks such as fire extinguisher inspections, filter changes, fire alarm inspections, etc. should be entered into the work order system. This will ensure preventive maintenance is performed in a timely manner. This in turn will increase reliability of equipment, reduce risk, and reduce operating expenses.

A well-organized work order system is a valuable management tool.

Efficiently tracking service requests through to their completion (denying a request, if effectively communicated counts as a completion) yields many positive results. Minimizing putting out fires and becoming a proactive organization leads to efficiencies in many inter-related areas.

Reporting reactive versus proactive work orders monthly or quarterly provides additional insight as to how an organization is utilizing its resources.

For more information on work order management contact us at Dowler@DowlerConstruction.com.


Chris Dowler, FMP

Founder and Owner

Dowler Construction Services

a strategic facility solutions firm

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