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Should commercial real estate managers spend time keeping track of time?

It’s a strange question, but the short answer is yes.

Tracking the time it takes to complete work worders is the easiest way to get a truer sense of the costs required for maintenance work. Moreover, tracking this information empowers you to make informed decisions about future repairs. It helps with performance analysis and improvement. It gives managers a way to identify trends. And, it can also help when it comes to managing tenants’ expectations.

Documenting job completion times doesn’t have to be a time-consuming process, either. Using software with a work order feature allows you to streamline and simplify this process.

A quick intro to work orders

A work order is a task that is scheduled and assigned to a specific person or group of people. A work order is created after a service request is submitted, often by an employee or tenant, to the manager of the office or facility.

The work order should give the person performing the repair key details about the job. They detail where the location of the problem is, provide a description of the issue, and the tasks that need to be completed.

Details to include in a work order

Job description

An essential part of a work order is the description of the work that needs to be performed. If a contractor has to go back and forth with a manager about details of the job, that wastes time for both parties.

When creating work orders to address equipment breakdowns and repairs, pictures or videos can be very useful. You can send visuals to the vendor via email. Commercial real estate management software like Office Control also allows admins to attach files to work orders.

Asset location and ID

If you are in charge of caring for a bigger facility, or multiple locations, you’ll want to ensure that the exact location of the broken item is included in the work order. A good work order should have the exact location of the item, and include a number that uniquely identifies the asset (for example, a serial number).

List of available materials/spare parts

Including the list of materials and spare parts available to the vendor on a work order gives them an opportunity to see if anything is missing. Orders for additional parts can be made before the work begins, as opposed to midway through the job. This can significantly reduce idle time and speed up completion time.

Due date

Don’t hesitate to include a reasonable due date in your work order. Vendors who don’t see one will assume that the job can wait. Eventually, all these projects start to pile up, which ultimately impacts your tenants’ productivity.  

Completion notes

The main purpose of completion notes is to document anything important that might be relevant for future work on the asset. Technicians may write down the cause of failure, how problems should be addressed in the future, any odd extra steps they had to take, etc.

Having this information saved as a part of maintenance history can help you figure out why certain assets are so finicky. More importantly, asset history can help vendors speed up their diagnosis and repair process.

Methods for keeping track of the time it takes to resolve a request

There’s more than one way to track time. Some methods are more efficient than others, but the best method is the one that works for you.  

Manual time tracking

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Manual time tracking entry is beneficial because management can include lots of details. It is a source of valuable insights in knowledge-based work. The data helps identify process flaws, weak points, and room for work optimization. And, it is highly customizable.

The downside to this is that it requires a lot of time, and details that should be documented aren’t always written down. If a job started a week ago, but management forgot to take down the date, it becomes much harder to accurately track completion times. It’s also a lot of work to put those numbers into meaningful charts and graphs.

Excel spreadsheets

Excel spreadsheets are a step up from pen and paper. It digitizes records Excel digitizes records so that files are less likely to be damaged or lost. It’s also easier to search for specific information and create reports.

But, while spreadsheets are easier to manage, there are some factors that make this method less than ideal. Some spreadsheets can only be accessed from a single desktop, which makes it difficult to see up-to-date information on a work order if you aren’t at your desk. Spreadsheets also cannot create or track work requests/work orders. Inputting data and creating reports require several hours, and some knowledge of the program. There’s also a limited ability to track the progress of work orders, which leaves you a step behind.

Digital tracking system

Digital work orders that are created and updated through software allow management and technicians to document materials and time spent on a project. Since the field and forms are standardized, it’s much easier to collect all key data, including project start and end dates.

Software designed for facility management automates the entire process, which means work orders can be filled out in less time, and there’s less work involved for you. The software may also send out email and push notifications to the appropriate vendors. Technicians can open work orders on their mobile devices, access important asset information, see the due date, perform the work, and close the job. Upon completion, notes, time spent, materials used, and other key information is logged and can be used to generate useful reports. 

Advantages of tracking work order completion times

Transparency and traceability

Timekeeping data that is available in raw form and summarized in reports allow managers and vendors to ensure invoices are correct. Management can also access insights into how specific jobs were performed and what projects take the most and least amount of time.  

Easier planning

The next time a tenant submits a work order, management can provide them with an educated estimate about when the item will be fixed based on previous repairs.

Timekeeping data can also help management avoid time-consuming mistakes, or optimize the work process for future jobs.

Better management

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Managers will have the information they need to provide vendors with realistic deadlines based on the previously collected data. If a job is taking longer than it should, you’ll be aware of it and will be able to take proactive measures to ensure there isn’t a backlog of projects to be completed.

When it comes to making budgets, managers will also have a more accurate idea of how much time and money will be required for next year’s repairs.

Happier tenants

This point is huge! When items get fixed on time, tenants can continue working with minimal distractions. Happier tenants are more productive, and will be more likely to stay put when it’s time to renew their lease.

Conclusion

Documenting job completion times is more beneficial than many managers may realize. This process doesn’t have to be another chore if you use the right tools for the job. Software with a work order feature allows you to track and analyze time data with minimal effort.

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