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Cleaning up the Work Order Backlog


The queue of open work orders in any CMMS system should be an accurate reflection of work not yet complete. It is very common that the queue has hundreds of open work orders that are no longer relavant as part of the backlog for various reasons detailed below. An excessive amount of open work orders not only presents an artificial backlog, but it also slows the system when retreiving data. The steps below will help to clean up the backlog.

Step 1 – Query for open work orders

A sure way in Mainsaver to capture all open work orders regardless of status is to query on WO OPEN field which has a value of Y for open, N for closed.

Step 2 – Communicate list to responsible personnel

Data can be printed through a LIST report in Mainsaver or export the open work order list to a spreadsheet. Sorting the data by responsible planner will make the process easier.  

Step 3 – Determine work orders to close

In a recent article in the Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals journal Solutions, Blane Jarchow, CMRP, presents a set of criteria for cleaning up the backlog. This list is reprinted below with Blane’s permission.


Work orders with any of the following characteristics should be removed from the backlog, unless their status is changed by consensus at the joint review meeting:

• Duplicate WOs
• Corrective maintenance (CM) work types that are already or could be covered by a preventive maintenance (PM) work type
• Identified and combined work that has been saved to different locations in the hierarchy, but it is really the same work
• Old WOs
     - Older than 90 days should be closely considered for purging
     - 180 days or older are candidates for review and probable purging, if appropriate
• WOs written and still open on obsolete or retired equipment
• Unapproved capital projects
• WOs still in an "emergency" work status
• Lower priority WOs
• WOs for which work is complete or closed, but the status is not accurate

A review of this magnitude may take a few meetings to complete. It is important that the attendees are people who have knowledge of the plant and the ability to determine the disposition of the WOs. A work backlog is not a dirty word. A healthy backlog enables the rest of the work management process to take place. Following the initial review and purging of the backlog, there needs to be a periodic review of the backlog to ensure it continues to be valid. I recommend once per month at first, backing off to once per quarter when the work management process is dependable.    

Step 4 – Close or Cancel the work orders

In Mainsaver, work orders may be closed, cancelled or deleted on an individual basis. There is also a tool to mass close work orders however this option should be limited to administrators. Comments on the data cleanup process will help to clarify the final disposition of the work order.


Mainsaver offered a variety of CMMS solutions that matched the way our business works. They provided customizable solutions and integration options that effectively manage our maintenance requirements and save us quite a bit of money in the process.