What is a Work Order? A simple work order explained

A Work Order is a task or job for a Customer that can be scheduled and assigned to someone. The term is commonly used in the Field Services Industry, where Work Orders or Jobs are assigned to Field Technicians.  Usually, Work Orders are the result of a customer request. However, in many cases Work Orders may be a follow up action from an inspection or audit. A few examples listed below:

  1. A property inspection may indicate the need for several repairs- roofing, plumbing, landscaping, electrical etc.  Here each repair may be an individual work order.
  2. An Organisational Health and Safety Assessment ( OSHA inspection) indicates the need to replace signage,  change lighting, remove hazardous material, de-congest stairways etc. –  each of these items, could be a work order.
  3. A planned maintenance check on a manufacturing equipment indicates the need to change parts, add lubricants, and tune components – which can be one or more work orders.

Consider the example below, from the residential property management industry.

What is a Work Order?


  1. Joe, the team supervisor, receives a request from a customer for support with landscaping.
  2. Joe creates a Work Order and assigns it to Tim, who works in Joe’s team. There are many ways to assign a Work Order – phone call, SMS, or using a professional Work Order  Management software like ReachOut. Using a tool like ReachOut makes it easier for Joe to identify a good date and time, and also to give Tim the address, the lockbox code and other information that he may need to complete the Work Order.
  3. Tim records the information from Joe, and on the agreed date drives down to the customer’s property to do the landscaping, clear debris etc. A software like ReachOut can secure that Tim has the correct address, correct instructions and the correct date in his calendar. ReachOut works with Maps to help Tim find the best route to the customer’s property. ReachOut would also send a notifications so Tim receives a timely reminder about the work order.
  4. In most professional field service companies, field techs like Tim would fill out a form with information about the work executed at the property. Such a form may include – check in and check out times, a checklist for the job and some notes. Some companies, may require customers to sign the form, to confirm that the job was done. All this information may be captured on paper, or using a work order management app on Tim’s smartphone. Using ReachOut, Tim can also take photos with GPS coordinates, to provide proof of work if needed.
  5. Once the work  order is executed by Tim, Joe can invoice the customer for a job well done. Work order management tools like ReachOut help create and send invoices to customers.

Traditionally, work orders were assigned over phone calls. Instructions and forms were  managed using paper and pen. Some companies use laptops to record forms. However, these days teams are upgrading to smartphone apps like ReachOut – where field tech team uses Android or iPhones to receive instructions, forms, notifications, addresses etc. and also to add  job information, pictures, take customer signatures and manage their own work.  Such systems provide the supervisor the ability to manage their teams from anywhere in world, using modern browsers. ReachOut also allows business owners to create multiple teams with different supervisors.

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