What Is a Service Work Order?

Mary McMahon

A service work order is a request for services on a formal document that provides as much information as possible about the situation so an appropriate person can fill the work order. Service work orders act as a formal documentation of an order to perform work. If any problems arise, it will be possible to consult the order to learn more about what may have gone wrong, or to enforce a request made within the boundaries and rules of the organization.

Man with a drill
Man with a drill

Most organizations have a form they use for service work orders. The person filling out the document must provide contact information and authorization to indicate that the order is legitimate. This may require a cross-signature or other endorsement from a person empowered to finalize work orders. The document details the issue, what services need to be provided, and any relevant notes. It might indicate that a secretary's computer has a virus, for instance, and will ask the information technology department to send a technician to resolve the problem.

Service work orders can also have notes documenting the urgency associated with the order. Some projects may be time-sensitive and need immediate attention, as for example if a customer has no phone service and the phone company needs a technician to look at the line. Other matters may be less timely, and could be put off or rescheduled if necessary. The service work order may include an urgency rating or a deadline for the benefit of the service department.

When a department receives a service work order, it can enter the details in a computer system to open a record, and assign a technician to the task. Some companies use automated systems that can page workers in the field or as they work around a building. These can allow for real-time rescheduling to accommodate changing needs. The technician takes the work order to the site, performs the work, and signs off to indicate that the order is complete.

Completion of a service work order may require several visits if a technician needs special parts or equipment. The recipient of the work may also need to sign off along with the technician to indicate that the service was performed, and is satisfactory. In the event of a dispute about any stage of the process, such as a claim that work wasn't done, the service work order can provide information and context to resolve the issue.

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