Do you want better scheduling software?
Yes, I want better scheduling. | No, I'll stick with what I have.

Creating QuickBooks Work Orders

Find out how to get more mileage out of your existing accounting software.

Work orders represent a fundamental part of the business for any field service contractor. The work order outlines the items or project to be completed and often stipulates how much these items will cost. It also lists out the payment terms, taxes, and any deposit required.

Think of a work order as an approved estimate. Once a job is completed and the work order is finished, it becomes the invoice. Many contractors turn to their accounting software to handle this process. Most contractors use QuickBooks, so their first instinct for producing a work order system often involves QuickBooks.

In this article, we’ll examine the various work order options in and relating to QuickBooks.

Understanding Limitations

The big problem? Most versions of QuickBooks do not offer a simple “work order” button. Instead, you will need to employ a workaround.

Go Premier

One option is to upgrade. If you get the Premier or Enterprise version of QuickBooks, you will have the ability to create work orders by modifying sales orders. This method lets you create a work order the same way that you would a sales order. The order will link to customers the same way that a sales order does, and it will let you convert it to an invoice. To do this you will need to start by enabling the feature. However, be warned, the process is not straightforward.

  • Go to the Edit menu and click on Preferences.
  • Select Sales & Customers.
  • Click the box that says Enable Sales Orders.
  • Press OK to save your new setting.
  • Go to the Home screen.
  • Select Sales Orders.
  • Click on Create a Sales Order.
  • Now, click Formatting, then Manage Templates.
  • You will see a list of templates. Select Custom Sales Order. Note: if you edit this template, it will overwrite the “custom” template, so you will want to create a duplicate by selecting Copy before you go further. Name your new template, then click OK.
  • When you are in your new template, select Additional Customization.
  • From this menu, select Header and change the name to Work Order.
  • You will also want to change Ship Date to something more work order-specific, like Date Scheduled. Some users will also want to make other customizations. Make any changes you like and click OK.
  • When you need to create a work order, you will go to the template you just created.

The difficulty with this method–other than all the steps involved–is that you need to make the changes manually, and the system will not differentiate between sales orders and work orders.


If you use an older version of QuickBooks, the online version, or a basic version, you will not have the ability to create sales orders. Instead, you can make an estimate. Afterwards, you will be able to see estimates by the following statuses: Pending, Accepted, Closed, and Rejected.

This process is very simple, but it does have its limitations.

  • Go to the Home page.
  • Under Create and Customers, select Estimate.
  • Use the system to create your estimate.

The downfall of this strategy is that it does not help you differentiate between estimates and actual work orders.

Delayed Charge

Another workaround is to use the Delayed Charge feature. This lets you create a transaction but not record it on your general ledger. It will look more like an invoice than an estimate and all you need to do is change the date.

  • Select the + icon.
  • Click on Delayed Charge.

This method works, but again, it doesn’t let you easily tell the difference between actual delayed charges and those you are using as work orders. It can confuse your company’s accounting and make things a little messy.

Use the QuickBooks Add-On Smart Service

While you can use any of the above methods to “fake” the work order process, each is a high-touch procedure that places a lot of complex technical hurdles in front of your dispatchers and technicians. QuickBooks is simply not made to handle work orders out-of-the-box. Fortunately, many third party companies have stepped in to fill the void.

If you handle more than a handful of work orders at a time, you will need a field service management add-on like Smart Service. Smart Service integrates directly into your QuickBooks software (both desktop and online versions) to fill in all the gaps in functionality important to field service businesses. Smart Service serves as an easy, intuitive drag-and-drop scheduler, pulling in all your existing customer info from QuickBooks. Creating a job in Smart Service automatically generates a corresponding digital work order. You can either print this work order or dispatch it directly to your employees’ mobile devices using the Smart Service mobile app. If you’d like to learn more about Smart Service, schedule a free, online demonstration.

Creating QuickBooks Works Orders

There is no perfect, built-in solution for creating work orders in QuickBooks because the software wasn’t explicitly designed for the needs of the field service industry. QuickBooks needs to keep its built-in functionality broad so that small and mid-sized business owners of any kind can use it. You can use a workaround to stumble through the work order process, but the bookkeeping will get confusing, especially for service techs. Leveling up to a QuickBooks add-on like Smart Service just makes sense.