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The Importance of Work Orders

Robert White, IV ARWA Energy Circuit Rider
Robert White, IV
ARWA Energy Circuit Rider

By: Robert White, IV, ARWA Energy Circuit Rider

Every once and awhile, the Alabama Rural Water Association gets a call from a system that has experienced a dramatic turnover of employees or decisionmakers and has fallen into an area of danger that might jeopardize system operations. It is at times like these that Circuit Riders must swiftly move into action and try to assist the folks now in control of that entity understand their current situation and gain control of operations so that the system does not fall into a state of
non-compliance or financial distress.

One of the places we always start is by analyzing the available paperwork of the system. Done correctly, creating the appropriate paper-trails can not only leave clues that might save a struggling system, but also assist in streamlining the day-to-day operations of a well-managed system like yours.

Allow me to explain one particularly important point of recordkeeping; system work orders. Work orders do more for the system than allow a manager to hand out tasks to the crew. When used properly, work orders complete your system’s data picture in a way that allows the office information to match field information as closely as possible. This is hugely important when trying to understand exactly where your system stands as it relates to maintenance and replacement of assets, as well as the current status and history of all customer accounts.

Every standard billing and account management system offers the ability to generate and record work orders. Every person who interacts with that system should receive training to ensure that the work order system is in place and being used appropriately. This information can be used to ensure that customers with bad debt aren’t able to simply move about within your system and accrue more debt. This information can also be used to leverage grants and loans from various agencies. Most importantly, however, this information can be used by employees and administrators to better plan improvements to the system, and resolve any customer conflicts that come along the way.

First appeared in Waterline, Summer 2017

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Alabama Rural Water Association is a non-profit organization representing water and wastewater systems serving rural communities and towns and commercial firms which support these systems.

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