What Is Work Order Management For Fleets? | Definition, Types and Benefits

Work order management is at the heart of any fleet business, no matter how large or small.

With a reliable work order system in place, fleet managers and owners can sustain a structured approach to repairs and maintenance, leading to improvements in the overall performance of the business.

In the following sections, we dive deep into the topic of work order management. We lay out the foundations and provide valuable insights on how to approach work order management for your fleet.

What is work order management?

In essence, work order management represents a system designed to guarantee that maintenance activities, inspections, and vehicle repairs are performed on time.

To understand work order management better, it’s fundamental to address what a work order is.

A work order in fleet maintenance is a formal document that details a specific maintenance task or repair job required for a vehicle within a fleet.

It serves as a directive for maintenance employees, outlining the nature of the maintenance work to be performed, the vehicle or equipment involved, any required parts or materials, and other relevant details.

Some of the key components of a work order in fleet maintenance may include:

  • Description – A detailed description of the maintenance task or repair job to be performed, including specific instructions, procedures, and safety precautions.
  • Vehicle information – Identification details of the vehicle or equipment requiring maintenance, such as make, model, year, license plate number, and mileage.
  • Parts and equipment – A list of required parts, materials, tools, and equipment needed to complete the maintenance task, along with quantities and specifications.
  • Labor requirements – Information on the labor resources required to perform the maintenance work, including personnel assignments, skill levels, and estimated labor hours.
  • Scheduled date and time – The scheduled date and time for performing the maintenance work, based on priority, availability of resources, and operational constraints.
  • Priority level – The priority level assigned to the work order, indicating its urgency and criticality relative to other maintenance tasks.
  • Instructions and notes – Any additional instructions, special considerations, or notes relevant to the maintenance task, such as safety guidelines, special tools required, or customer preferences.

Work orders play a crucial role in facilitating organized and efficient maintenance operations within fleet management. It’s therefore at the heart of effective fleet maintenance.

The work order management process

The work order process flow can differ across every business. It will ultimately depend on the way your organization is structured, your available resources, and other essential factors.

However, the most standard procedure features the following phases.

Task identification

This initial step in the work order process flow involves identifying maintenance or repair needs for fleet vehicles.

This can be initiated by various factors such as routine inspections, diagnostic alerts from telematics systems, driver reports, or scheduled PM intervals.

Fleet managers usually assess the nature of the issue, determine the required maintenance tasks, and gather relevant details such as vehicle identification, location, and any specific instructions or observations.

Work order approval request

Once the maintenance needs are identified, a formal request for work order approval may be submitted.

This request typically includes details of the maintenance tasks, estimated costs, justification for the work, and any associated safety or compliance considerations.

The approval request may need to be reviewed and authorized by designated personnel or stakeholders, such as fleet managers, maintenance supervisors, or financial controllers, depending on the organization’s approval processes and protocols.

Create work order

After approval is obtained, a work order is created to document the approved maintenance tasks and initiate the execution process.

The work order includes comprehensive details such as the nature of the problem, specific maintenance tasks to be performed, vehicle identification, location, and any relevant attachments or references.

The work order acts as a formal instruction document for the fleet maintenance team, providing clear guidance on what needs to be done, where, and by when.

Prioritization and scheduling

Work orders are prioritized based on factors such as safety considerations, criticality of the issue, operational impact, and resource availability. 

Critical or urgent issues are given higher priority to ensure prompt resolution.

Once prioritized, work orders are scheduled for execution based on factors such as urgency, resource availability, operational constraints, and service provider availability. 

Scheduling ensures that maintenance tasks are completed in a timely manner while minimizing disruption to fleet operations.

Maintenance assignment

With prioritization and scheduling in place, work orders are assigned to appropriate employees or service providers for resolution.

This may involve dispatching in-house maintenance teams, scheduling appointments with external service providers, or allocating resources based on availability and expertise.

Assignments are communicated to maintenance personnel along with any relevant details or instructions to ensure clarity and effectiveness in task execution.

Execute maintenance

Maintenance tasks outlined in the work order are executed according to established procedures and standards.

This may involve conducting repairs, performing inspections, replacing parts, conducting preventive maintenance activities, or addressing any other identified issues.

The maintenance team follows the instructions provided in the work order, adheres to safety protocols, and utilizes appropriate tools, equipment, and materials to complete the tasks efficiently and effectively.

Close work order

Once the maintenance tasks are completed satisfactorily, the work order is closed, and the status is updated accordingly.

Closing the work order signifies the successful completion of the maintenance activities outlined in the work order.

Relevant documentation is generated to record details such as service reports, parts used, labor hours, costs incurred, and any additional notes or recommendations for future reference.

This documentation serves as a comprehensive record of the maintenance performed and facilitates tracking, analysis, and reporting.

Review and analyze work order

After the work order is closed, fleet managers review and analyze the completed work order to assess performance, identify trends, and make informed decisions regarding maintenance strategies, resource allocation, and process improvements.

Key metrics such as, maintenance costs, asset reliability, and others are evaluated to gauge the effectiveness of the maintenance activities and identify areas for optimization.

Insights gained from the review and analysis of work orders help drive continuous improvement efforts, refine maintenance processes, and enhance overall fleet management practices.

Work order management styles

When it comes to work order management, there are a few individual styles or approaches that fleet businesses can adopt.

Here are the three core styles worth knowing about.

Paper trail

The paper trail method involves using physical documents, such as printed work order forms, to manage maintenance tasks for fleet vehicles.

In this style, work orders are typically created manually, either by fleet managers or maintenance employees, and documented on paper forms. In this case, the work orders contain details such as the nature of the maintenance tasks, vehicle information, location, instructions, and any relevant notes.

While simple and straightforward, the paper trail method can be time-consuming, prone to errors, and challenging to track and manage, especially for larger fleets with extensive maintenance needs.


Spreadsheets, on the other hand, are commonly used as a digital alternative to paper-based work order management systems.

In this style, work orders are created and managed using spreadsheet software such as Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets.

This approach allows for easy sorting, filtering, and organizing of work orders, and they can also be customized to include additional information or features as needed.

While more efficient than paper-based methods, spreadsheet-based work order management may still have limitations in terms of scalability, collaboration, and integration with other systems or processes.

Fleet maintenance software

The most efficient word order management system is the one implemented in a fleet maintenance software solution.

Management software or digital work order management systems, like Fleetpal, offer a comprehensive and integrated approach to managing maintenance tasks for fleet vehicles.

These software solutions provide a centralized platform for creating, tracking, assigning, scheduling, and managing work orders electronically.

Digital work order management software often includes features such as:

  • Customizable work order templates
  • Automated notifications and alerts
  • Real-time status updates
  • Asset tracking
  • Inventory management
  • Reporting and analytics
  • Integration with other systems such as fleet management software and telematics platforms


By digitizing the work order management process, these software solutions streamline workflows, improve communication and collaboration among stakeholders, increase visibility into maintenance activities, and enhance overall efficiency and productivity.

While digital work order management software may require an initial investment in terms of setup and training, the benefits in terms of time savings, accuracy, and effectiveness often outweigh the costs, especially for fleets with complex maintenance needs or regulatory requirements.

Types of work orders

So far, we uncovered that there are different types of work order management phases and styles that you can implement as a fleet manager or owner.

At the same time, there are distinctive work order types that are also crucial to understand.

The type of work orders that you create and use as a business will depend on the fleet maintenance approach you adopt.


Reactive work, as the name suggests, orders are created in response to unplanned events or issues that require immediate attention, such as vehicle breakdowns, malfunctions, or safety concerns.

These work orders represent a reactive maintenance approach and address unexpected maintenance needs and aim to restore the affected vehicles to operational condition as quickly as possible.

Reactive maintenance focuses on fixing problems after they occur, rather than proactively preventing them, making it a crucial component of fleet maintenance for addressing urgent issues and minimizing downtime.


On the other hand, preventive work orders are scheduled in advance to perform routine maintenance tasks and inspections on fleet vehicles, regardless of their current condition.

Unlike in the previous example, they are part of a preventive maintenance approach.

Preventive work orders are, therefore, based on predetermined PM intervals or criteria, such as mileage, time, usage, or manufacturer recommendations, to prevent potential issues and extend the lifespan of vehicles.

This maintenance style aims to identify and address minor issues before they escalate into major problems, helping to optimize vehicle performance, reliability, and safety while minimizing unexpected breakdowns and repairs.


The third type of work orders that you can create are predictive work orders.

These work orders are considered the most advanced as they leverage data-driven insights and analytics to forecast potential maintenance needs and proactively schedule maintenance tasks based on predictive indicators.

Such work orders utilize predictive maintenance techniques, such as condition monitoring, sensor data analysis, and predictive algorithms, to anticipate equipment failures or performance degradation before they occur.

In a nutshell, predictive maintenance aims to optimize maintenance schedules, reduce unnecessary downtime, and maximize asset reliability by addressing maintenance needs at the most opportune times, minimizing both costs and disruptions.

Benefits of work order management

Here are the main advantages of work order management for your fleet business.

Organized and controlled processes

Work order management brings structure and organization to fleet maintenance processes, ensuring that maintenance tasks are systematically managed and executed.

By centralizing work orders in a digital system, fleet managers can establish standardized workflows, assign tasks efficiently, and track progress in real-time, resulting in greater control over maintenance operations.

Prioritized work

Work order management also allows the prioritization of maintenance tasks based on factors such as safety considerations, criticality of issues, and operational impact.

Prioritizing work orders ensures that urgent maintenance needs are addressed promptly, minimizing downtime, reducing risks, and optimizing resource allocation to maximize fleet productivity.

Detailed documentation

Another key benefit is the creation and maintenance of detailed documentation for all maintenance activities performed on fleet vehicles.

Each work order contains comprehensive information about the nature of the maintenance task, vehicle details, parts used, labor hours, costs incurred, and any additional notes or observations.

This detailed documentation serves as a valuable record for compliance, auditing, and analysis purposes, providing transparency, accountability, and traceability for all maintenance activities.

Improved efficiency

Work order management streamlines maintenance workflows, eliminates manual processes, and reduces administrative burdens, leading to improved operational efficiency.

By automating tasks such as work order creation, assignment, scheduling, and notification, fleet managers can save time, minimize errors, and focus on more strategic aspects of fleet management.

Cost reduction

All of the above-mentioned advantages ultimately lead to fleet maintenance and management cost reductions.

Prioritizing preventive maintenance tasks and addressing issues proactively can help prevent major repairs and extend the lifespan of fleet vehicles, reducing overall maintenance expenses over time.

Better inventory management

A portion of work order management systems is often dedicated to inventory management functionalities. This allows fleet managers to track and manage spare parts, supplies, and materials more effectively.

By maintaining accurate inventory records and tracking usage patterns, fleet businesses can minimize stockouts, reduce excess inventory, and optimize inventory levels to meet maintenance needs efficiently.

Improved monitoring

Last but not least, work order management provides fleet managers with enhanced visibility and monitoring capabilities. This enables them to track the status of work orders, monitor progress, and identify bottlenecks or issues in real-time.

With access to comprehensive data and analytics, fleet managers can gain insights into maintenance trends, performance metrics, and areas for improvement, enabling more informed decision-making and continuous optimization of maintenance processes.

Work order management best practices

If you’re planning to implement a work order management system in your fleet business, we recommend the following best practices. 

  • Ensure clearly defined goals, procedures, and responsibilities – Make sure to define the goals, objectives, and expectations of the work order management process. Establish standardized procedures and protocols for creating, prioritizing, assigning, and completing work orders. Outline the responsibilities of each team member involved in the work order management process, ensuring accountability and alignment with organizational goals.
  • Proactively improve internal processes – Continuously evaluate and improve internal processes related to work order management. Regularly assess workflows, identify bottlenecks or inefficiencies, and implement solutions to streamline operations and enhance productivity.
  • Utilize maintenance software to automate and streamline work – Invest in reliable fleet maintenance software to automate and streamline work order management processes. Use its capabilities to create, assign, track, and manage work orders more efficiently. Utilize features such as automated notifications, scheduling tools, inventory management, and reporting functionalities to optimize work order workflows.
  • Support the internal maintenance team for success – Provide adequate resources, tools, and support to the internal maintenance team to enable them to perform their tasks effectively and efficiently. Invest in training and skill development programs to enhance the capabilities of the maintenance team.
  • Regular performance monitoring and analysis – Monitor fleet KPIs related to work order management and analyze performance data regularly to identify trends, patterns, and areas for improvement. Use insights gained from performance analysis to make informed decisions, prioritize initiatives, and drive continuous improvement in work order management processes.


By following these best practices, you can ensure a stable and reliable work order management process for your fleet business.

Improving work order management with Fleetpal

With Fleetpal, you can take your work order management to the next level. Our fleet maintenance software is designed to fully digitize work orders and provide automation features that make maintenance easier than ever.

Enjoy a range of additional capabilities that aim to enhance work order management.

Not sure how it works? Schedule a free demo with our team and see what the software can do for your business.

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Mike Valnev