Online Work Orders: The Secret to Doing More with Less

The tenant in unit 101 (we’ll call him Oscar) has a problem with his plumbing. His kitchen sink is backed up, so Oscar calls management and leaves a message on Saturday evening.

It’s now Monday, and management has been in and out of the office, has been listening to many other messages from the call center, and has been busy handling other requests. They haven’t yet had time to get back to Oscar.

Oscar is slightly annoyed and he follows up Monday afternoon—still in need of assistance. He offers an explanation of the problem to management, who sends the service technician (a.k.a. Donny) over to help. Donny is unsuccessful because he doesn’t have the right tools to fix the problem, and says he will schedule a plumber with the right tools needed to complete the maintenance.

It is now Tuesday. Donny calls a plumber he knows and gives him detailed instructions on the work that needs to be performed. The plumber takes a few notes, estimates the labor, materials and resources needed to complete the work and tells Donny he’ll be out to fix the problem soon.  Management, meanwhile, is somehow supposed to be tracking the work that is being scheduled as well as creating records for all maintenance and repair work that has been performed. And this is just one of the many manually created “work orders” that the team must create this week across its many properties.

While, in the moment, it might seem like verbal, email and paper-based work orders are easier to create, if any of the above sounds even slightly familiar, when looking at the bigger picture, you can see how the method has many unforeseen challenges that make it not the most reasonable long term (or large scale) solution.

Issues associated with this method typically include confusion, added expenses, delays and rework by the many parties involved (not to mention that paper-based work orders are environmentally unfriendly and all around inefficient).

No matter the property type, things need to be fixed and routine maintenance needs to be performed. A collaborative operations software, such as Common Areas, can help save tremendous time routing work orders to the right person to perform the right service. It can also help managers receive service requests and quickly assign the job without having to re-enter information from your smartphone, tablet, or desktop computer.

When there is a resident/tenant issue, you can get the notifications of that issue on your phone. You can then easily dispatch and manage the right techs and vendors and then keep residents/tenants informed and up-to-date with automated in-job emails and text messages.

Another plus is that by digitizing work orders, all of the transaction data is captured. Digital solutions automatically store all jobs and corresponding files in a database that is searchable online 24/7. This eliminates the need for paper filing cabinets and makes misplaced work orders a thing of the past.

The result? Oscar will no longer get frustrated, and the repair process will be simplified considerably. There will be an interactive solution in place making it easy for everyone involved to organize, schedule, and track their teams and tasks online, so everyone knows exactly what’s getting done at each location in real-time. Talk about organizational efficiency!