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O&M manuals for clients with large property portfolios

Clients with large property portfolios are increasingly determined to take control of the documentation relating to their properties and store them in data base silos with a common access and structure.

At first glance this is quite straight forward. Create a database, and tell everybody that they have to provide documentation in that structure….but this is very much the techie solution that ignores the real world issues around working with people.

In practice Architects, M&E consultants, CDM co-ordinators, Main contractors and sub-contractors all play their role in delivering the manuals and they all have views and traditions not only on what should be included / not included, but also on what is the appropriate layout, format and file structure for delivering it.

So in order to impose a rigid structure for the manuals, you have to find ways to impose it at all levels of the supply chain. And no matter how carefully you start the definitions, there will always be special circumstances that require a degree of flexibility and interpretation – which can get completely out of hand if there is not a single point at which arbitration and decisions can quickly be made. 

Any change management is a big task and one that tinkers with entrenched common practices in multiple organisations with complicated legal relationships is fraught with difficulty.  Here are some of the lessons that might help:

Do not be overly prescriptive in the definitions.  There are basic things that have to be done right and a whole lot that can be done in several different ways.

Make sure that the data silo requirements do not make the rest of the manual unusable by the people that need access to it day to day.

Support everybody in the supply chain in meeting these requirements that may well be very unfamiliar to them – carrot and stick.

Focus on the review process

Don’t forget that you may need to include multi-lingual standards for overseas operations, and that a sensible update path should be included.

If using third party suppliers, make sure that you have complete ownership and access to the data that is being created.

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