Asset-intensive businesses can record and manage their work orders in lots of ways! Some may use the old-fashioned pen and paper method, while others may use more sophisticated EAM or CMMS software. In between these two options is the spreadsheet: not as complicated as a specialized software solution, but capable of far more than what can simply be documented by hand. Spreadsheets have a host of benefits: They make a work order easily searchable; they’re easily stored on a computer, so data is less likely to be lost; and they’re helpful for creating reports. However, despite all the benefits they offer, spreadsheets have some shortcomings that make them a risky choice for analyzing and optimizing the effectiveness of your work orders.

Spreadsheets are simple, work orders are not

The trouble with spreadsheets is the limitations they present for documenting and analyzing work orders that may have complex information for an asset with a lengthy maintenance history. For instance, sometimes spreadsheets are locked into a single computer, or can only be accessed by a single or select number of people. This may put the work order data at a greater risk of loss. Workers may not be able to share the work orders if the spreadsheets are not cloud-based. It also puts the plant at risk for more errors or poor decisions due to the lack of discussion that may happen between the very few people who have the authority to access and act upon the work order data.

Tracking the history of an asset’s maintenance and the work orders associated with it may also be tricky using spreadsheets. Spreadsheets are more limited in their ability to document how certain decisions were made, and they may not show what calculations were done to determine certain maintenance metrics across the organization (like which assets require the most time or money for maintenance, what failure codes are the most common, which plant locations request maintenance the most often, etc.). Ultimately, spreadsheets and work order analysis simply aren’t compatible.

Analyze work orders effectively (and without spreadsheets!)

Spreadsheets may seem like an attractive option for analyzing work orders because they’re traditional and seemingly more accessible to more users. However, their limitations and their unwieldiness actually make them a more time-consuming and costly method of documenting and reporting on work orders. The true challenge lies within finding a user-friendly and efficient alternative with the simplicity of spreadsheets but the capability of representing the true complexities of your work orders and maintenance processes. If you’re interested in finding a solution for analyzing your work orders that goes beyond the simple spreadsheet, try clicking on one of our resources below, or book a demo with us to see how NRX’s Work Order Analysis solution can help make your work orders work for you!

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