When a maintenance issue occurs, it needs to be reported, and service to correct the problem requested. In this blog post, we’ll examine what a maintenance request is, the goals for maintenance requests, what to include in a maintenance request, and how maintenance requests become work orders. We’ll also cover how computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software can be used to manage maintenance requests.
What is a Maintenance Request?
A maintenance request is a formal request for a repair to be made or problem to be fixed, ranging in severity from urgent to low priority, that is submitted by a party outside of the maintenance department. Maintenance requests bring attention to an issue that may be preventing a machine from working or a building from functioning properly. Other terms that may be used in place of maintenance request include work request, service request, maintenance service request, or maintenance ticket.
What are the Goals for Maintenance Requests?
While organizations may have several goals for using maintenance requests, there are a few that are most common.
For the Maintenance Team
The main goal of using maintenance requests for the maintenance team is to standardize the way they receive request information. They want to receive requests in a single channel with enough details to effectively describe the problem so that they can gather the tools and information they need to complete the work. Another goal for the maintenance team is to gain visibility of maintenance needs that go unnoticed through regular maintenance work. Maintenance workers cannot be everywhere at all times, so it’s important for others to report issues as well as workers notice them.
For maintenance requesters, the goal of using maintenance requests is to ensure their maintenance-related needs are taken care of in an organized and efficient manner.
Who Usually Submits Maintenance Requests?
While anyone in the organization can submit maintenance requests, some roles do so more than others.
A machine operator might find an abnormality during a routine inspection or normal operations and inform the maintenance team through a maintenance request. They are likely concerned that the issue will damage the machine or interrupt their work. On the other hand, the machine may be malfunctioning already and they need a repair to be made before they can continue to use the machine.
Employees from other Departments
In addition to machine operators, employees from other departments might report maintenance issues through maintenance requests if they impact their workspace or job function. For example, a broken garage door would affect shipping and receiving duties and a maintenance technician might be responsible for fixing or replacing it. Other examples include a plumbing problem in the restroom, a warped doorframe, or overgrown weeds on the property.
In the property management industry, tenants can submit maintenance requests for work they need done at their apartment, condo, or business unit. These requests typically have a longer turnaround time because there is not usually a dedicated maintenance team to handle these tasks. In other words, the same team that deep cleans a unit for new renters or completes renovations may also respond to maintenance requests.
In some property management companies, maintenance work is outsourced to a contracted company. However, if the company is large enough, they will have their own on-site maintenance team. There may also be an emergency maintenance hotline.
While this is less common, in some instances, partner companies will submit service requests to the organization’s maintenance team. These partners are schools and offices who use outsourced maintenance vendors to complete maintenance jobs. They will call these vendors when they have a problem or task that requires maintenance expertise.
What to Include on a Maintenance Request Form
Submitting a maintenance request won’t do much good unless complete and accurate information is included on the form.
Description of Problem
The most important detail on a maintenance request form is, of course, a thorough description of the problem. The easiest way to submit a problem description, along with other information needed in a maintenance request, is through a request system that is part of computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software. There are usually several lines or a large field available to describe the problem. There is often the option to add a photo of the asset part or other problem as a visual aid. If applicable, the requester can provide their opinion about what is causing the problem and a suggestion for a solution, but that isn’t necessary.
If the maintenance team finds that poor problem descriptions are being submitted, they can provide guidelines for what details to include, or create fields on the form that are required. Having an adequate problem description enables the maintenance team to act promptly and spend less time troubleshooting.
This seems obvious, but it’s important for the requester to include their name on the maintenance request form so that maintenance staff can go to the requester for additional information, or to provide them with instructions on what to do until the problem is fixed. It will also ensure that the right person receives updates on the maintenance task. The requester becomes the contact person for that particular maintenance request.
Date and Time of Request
The date and time the request is made should be included because it will help the maintenance team prioritize tasks that are of the same level of importance or severity but were requested at different times. It also helps them ensure the task is completed within the department’s acceptable turnaround time.
Location of Asset
It’s important that technicians know the exact location of an asset that requires the maintenance specified in the request. That includes the location within the facility and if known by the requester, the specific area or part on the machine that is causing the problem. Many times, this information can be selected from a drop down list so that the location is described in a universal way.
How a Maintenance Request Becomes a Work Order
Most requests do get approved and become work orders as long as they meet certain requirements. In short:
- The requester fills out and submits the form.
- Maintenance gets notified of the request and the person assigned to reviewing requests reads the information.
- They make a decision about whether or not to approve the request and turn it into a work order.
- If the request is approved, it gets prioritized as emergency, high, medium, or low priority.
- Then the requester is notified that the request is approved.
With CMMS software, the work order is often created automatically upon approval.
When a Request May Not Become a Work Order
A useful maintenance request will contain information that is complete and accurate. Otherwise, the maintenance team might reject it or ask for it to be resubmitted with more information. For example, requesters should be able to identify the location of the asset and the problem. In some cases, they might be rejected due to missing documentation.
For example, if a machine operator wants the safety guards to be changed, that requires an approved engineering change order first. The problem must be described accurately, and the location of the problem must be included. It also depends on whether or not the work requested is within the scope of maintenance. Some requests might be outside the scope of the maintenance department, for example, janitorial work.
There must be resources available in the maintenance budget to accommodate the work that is requested. Oftentimes, the work does fit within the budget, but if the request entails something unimportant such as repainting an office wall, or it requires expensive parts and extensive labor, it might not be doable at the time. Some jobs might require a specific technician’s expertise, or parts and tools that aren’t in stock. In this instance, the request may be put on hold until the appropriate technician is available or the parts come in.
Finally, the priority of the problem that is described in the request will determine whether or not it gets approved. Approved requests are prioritized already, but if something is not important and the maintenance team is already busy, the request may get denied at that time.
How to Effectively Manage Maintenance Requests
Ensure Problem is Described in Full
As mentioned earlier, it is important to ensure the problem is described in full. Having required fields on the maintenance request form may help to do this. Anyone that submits maintenance requests should know what information is necessary to fully describe the problem: the location of the asset, the equipment number (when applicable), and if known, an accurate explanation of the affected parts (blower motor for example) as well as what is occurring (making a loud humming noise, won’t start).
Establish Guidelines for Submitting Requests
There should be established guidelines for submitting requests. In some instances, requesters might be making a request that requires approval before submission.
Make Work Request System and Process Simple
It is essential that the work request system and process is simple. Prioritization guidelines should be set because the maintenance department receives many requests at once from different locations. The method for prioritizing requests should be based on predetermined criteria.
Implement a Maintenance Request System
Having a standardized system for requesting maintenance work is one of the most important ways to deal with asset repairs efficiently (aside from keeping up with preventive maintenance to help avoid unexpected asset failures and downtime). The maintenance department needs to specify who can submit requests, which may include the roles we mentioned earlier, as well as individuals that are specific to the industry or organization. There should be designated personnel in the maintenance department responsible for reviewing and approving requests.
Maintenance Request Management Software
For organizations that are struggling with managing maintenance requests, software such as a CMMS can help. This will give them a good place to start when it comes to getting their maintenance request queue under control. It prevents requests from getting lost or forgotten.
For organizations that already have a maintenance request system but they want to use it more effectively, they need to remember that it saves them time because they don’t have to manually enter in these work orders. It also saves time on follow up for requesters because they will be notified about the job status. This also saves time on documentation. Instead of having to manually document work that is requested verbally, it is already done on the request form. Status updates are also handled through the software rather than manually on spreadsheets or paper.
If an organization is using their maintenance request system but need to improve the management of their service requests, they should focus on the minimum requirements first, making the system more approachable and easier for requesters. It doesn’t require much training, but requesters need to know how to use the form, so a simple instruction sheet can be helpful. The maintenance team needs to get the employees to make more requests so they can get a better idea of what tasks are being overlooked, what is being requested consistently, and what requested work may be past due.
Most maintenance request systems have useful features such as alerts about when requests are submitted and reporting capabilities. Reports may include information such as the number of requests submitted, the percentage of requests completed on time, and which requests were closed without completion.
Organize Your Maintenance Requests with FTMaintenance Select
FTMaintenance Select offers superior maintenance request management functionality. Requests can be issued from a web browser, mobile device, or desktop application and automatically generate work orders. Schedule a demo today to learn more about what makes FTMaintenance Select the best software for organizing your maintenance requests.