As a team of five, you can easily keep everyone in the loop of all processes, connect more often and maximize your operational efficiency.
But as a team of fifty, you're prone to miscommunication, inefficiencies, inconsistency and operational ambiguity. So, you wonder if there's a way to avoid all this chaos and set your team up for success.
Enter — operation and maintenance (O&M) manual.
An O&M manual lays down the guidelines to streamline a company’s regular operational and maintenance processes when a larger workforce is involved. This manual acts as a reference point for all employees to produce consistent outputs, meet quality standards, avoid errors and reduce the risk of accidents.
This quick guide will give you a complete breakdown of what an O&M manual is, how to create one of your own, and a free operation and maintenance manual template.
What is an operation & maintenance manual?
An operation and maintenance manual is an instructional document outlining the guidelines for the operations and maintenance of a property. It covers best practices and instructions like rules for operating different machinery, safety protocols and maintenance workflows.
Here are a few standard inclusions in an O&M manual:
- Minimizing maintenance expenses.
- Increasing the safety of all workers.
- Framework for managing inventory.
- Guidelines for increasing asset lifecycle.
- SOPs for reactive maintenance and inspection.
- Reducing the occurrence of unplanned shutdowns.
- Improving coordination between vendors and contractors.
At its core, an O&M manual standardizes business operations. It brings the entire workforce on the same page about all the processes and streamlines the many moving parts involved in running a business. This maximizes consistency in outputs.
To that end, an O&M manual is not limited to factories. Companies can use an operation and maintenance manual template for these use cases:
- Help desk support.
- Software and IT infrastructure.
- Human resource management.
- Product setup and maintenance.
- Manufacturer and supplier relations.
Now that you’ve learned what an O&M manual is, let’s clue you in on the five main reasons why you need such a manual.
Why you should create an operation and maintenance manual
Running a business is a lot like playing a video game—you'll unlock new characters, face different challenges and upgrade your tools to put up a competitive performance. One thing that can prepare you for the long run and keep you going is the game's manual. It includes instructions to help you navigate the changes as you progress.
For businesses, this is exactly what an O&M manual can do. Take a look at the five key ways in which this manual can help your business:
1. Train & inform new employees quickly
Your operation and maintenance manual can accelerate the training for new hires. This detailed document will familiarize them with the business's functioning. Not just that, but it'll also give them a better idea of your company’s workflows, equipment and people.
Put simply, an O&M manual can simplify new hire onboarding and bring these new recruits up to speed with your business operations.
2. Equip your workforce to optimize operations
Besides training new hires, a maintenance manual template guides your existing workforce about the company's operations. It's a single reference point for all processes, departmental duties, machinery and other operational questions.
With this manual, your team is better equipped to work efficiently and coordinate well.
3. Reduce downtime & unplanned crisis
Unplanned downtime or crisis can be costly for any business. Creating an operation and maintenance manual template provides clear guidelines on every process, reducing the possibility of errors and downtime.
Even if there is an unplanned outage, your team can quickly identify the cause and fix the issue using a documented manual.
4. Meet all quality benchmarks
Without proper documentation, you have to struggle with operational ambiguity. Employees would be mostly unaware of who’s responsible for what and how.
Instead, creating an O&M manual establishes quality standards and strict protocols to keep your team on track for operational excellence. It reduces discrepancies and informs employees of their responsibilities to produce high-quality outputs.
5. Maintain the safety of the workforce
One of the most crucial benefits of an operation and maintenance manual template is ensuring the employees’ safety. This manual outlines clear and stringent guidelines for using and maintaining equipment. It also sets down the safety standards employees should follow to avoid accidents.
5 essential components of an O&M manual template
Planning to create a fail-proof operation and maintenance manual template, but need help figuring out where to start? Here are five must-have elements to include in your template:
- Summary: Add an overview of your business with details like company history, organizational chart and employee information.
- Facility details: Include crucial information about your facility/property, such as floor plans, building code, materials and site survey.
- Standard operating procedures: Add detailed SOPs for your business processes and workflows. Make SOPs for operating different machinery, completing a task or performing an action.
Use Scribe to document SOPs for your O&M manual. Record your processes virtually and Scribe will turn them into interactive, step-by-step guides. You can compile all your SOPs into a single library with Pages and you’re all set to share it with your employees.
Alex highlights the convenience of creating SOPs with Scribe!
- Maintenance guidelines: Explain your maintenance approaches (preventive and corrective) with details like procedures, responsibilities, schedules and troubleshooting guidelines.
- Emergency procedures: Create an action plan for the crisis mode, elaborating on the steps to take when dealing with an emergency situation.
With this list of components, you’re ready to draft your O&M manual template. Let’s see how.
How to create an operation & maintenance manual template?
A good operation and maintenance manual template means your job is half-done. You can use this template to design airtight manuals for any use case.
Here’s an actionable guide for creating this maintenance manual template:
1. Agree on the scope of the manual
Start by outlining the scope of your O&M manual. Define its purpose, key stakeholders and target audience. Think of this step as establishing a solid foundation for your manual. It ensures that you cover all the bases to strategically plan this manual instead of abruptly designing it.
2. Design a seamless structure & layout
Once you've done the legwork from step one, it's time to structure your manual correctly. Create an outline of the main sections and subsections it'll include. These are the broad ideas you want to cover in the document.
Defining this layout simplifies the next steps, where you have to collaborate with the stakeholders to collect the information. Since you know exactly what to cover, reaching out to the right people becomes much easier and more focused.
3. Involve all stakeholders to contribute
Work with your outline to gather input from the right employees. Communicate with them via questionnaires, survey forms or interviews to collect the information you want to add to your manual.
As a best practice, you should reach out to frontline employees and supervision leaders. They can offer tried-and-tested insights on critical aspects of the manual, like safety protocols, equipment handling and asset maintenance.
4. Choose a good documentation tool
An often overlooked aspect of creating an operation and maintenance manual template is the tool you use to design and share the manual. Printed manuals are a thing of the past. Even PDFs might not fit the bill anymore because your O&M manual is bound to get regular updates and modifications.
So, you need a documentation tool to:
- Easily create and modify your manual.
- Share the document publicly among large groups.
- Manage edit permissions and control versions.
Luckily, you’ve found the perfect tool for creating your O&M manual template — Scribe.
With Scribe, documenting all workflows, guidelines and SOPs is a cakewalk. You can document everything in a stepwise guide format and share every Scribe with a shareable link or export it in multiple formats.
Not just that, you can make your manual complete and easily accessible with Pages. Put all the guidelines and Scribes on a single Page and share it with your entire workforce—it's that simple!
5. Gather feedback and make final changes
Before you roll out the manual for everyone, remember to test drive it with a smaller group and collect feedback. A feedback exercise will flag any major or minor issues with the manual, giving you a better idea of the gaps you can fill.
Set up a system for review, modification and approval of changes. So, no matter who takes over the manual, all changes are consistent with the original guidelines.
Grab a free operation & maintenance manual template here
As your team grows, you'll inevitably face dipping performance, more errors and a lack of consistent outputs. This happens because everyone's taking their own route to complete a task, and there's more chaos than ever.
You can bring this situation under control with an operation and maintenance manual. It's an all-inclusive guide to your business's operations with instructions about different equipment, workflows and maintenance schedules. This O&M manual is your key to unlocking better employee performance and higher operational excellence.
So, create your O&M manual template today with Scribe and say goodbye to your operations woes forever!