Making manuals that work

Digital O&M Manuals

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Advice to Project managers - 3 Steps to good quality O&M manuals

1. Start preparing them at the beginning of the project
If you leave it to the last minute just as the Handover looms, then it will always be second best. The detailed requirements have to form part of the contract with sub-contractors so they can prepare the information in good time. It is also inevitable part of the cycle of a project that the last stage is the most intense, and if the manuals are not well advanced by then, you will not have the resources to catch up.

2. Make sure that everybody understands what is required for inclusion in the manuals, is agreed with the client team
A classic issue is the question of an asset register.  Some clients require a detailed Asset Register with every item being tagged and a database listing it position, expected life, service requirements etc. Others are quite happy with limiting the requirement to a schedule of equipment. Both can be accommodated but it is a lot easier to manage as the equipment is being installed than trying to play catch-up at the end.

3. Actually review the manual
Building up a manual is a collaborative enterprise between the main contractors, the suppliers, the client team, the architects and everybody else.  It is not surprising that the quality of contribution can be variable and a classic issue of too much wood obscuring the trees. Judicial editing by somebody who intimately understands the work that has been undertaken, will make all the difference.

In most Design and Build projects the detailed design lasts right up until the work starts.  It is a requirement of the manuals that they describe the work that was actually done and not just the intention specified in the design intent documentation. It is not good enough to copy the design specification as the 'description of work' and even changing from the future tense (as used in the specification), to the past tense, is not satisfactory.

Final revision drawings from the architect are also not the same as As Built drawings from the subcontractors.


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