O&M MANUALS | Guide, Format, Documents, File, and Template

Last Updated: August 28, 2023, by

Usually provided upon handover, an Operating and Maintenance Manual (O&M Manual) is a single, reliable, comprehensive document that includes detailed information about the various systems, components, and equipment installed in within a facility. It serves as a valuable resource for building owners, operators, and maintenance personnel, offering guidance on effectively operating, maintaining, and troubleshooting the facility through its life cycle.

Below, we run through what an O&M Manual is, including how to write one, format it, and what to check for, and have made available an O&M Checklist and Operating and Maintenance Manual Template for download [see the end of this article].

🟩 O&M Manual Meaning?

The initials O&M can mean slightly different things depending on where you are reading from.

In the UK they tend to mean ‘Operating and Maintenance Manual’, whilst in the USA can mean ‘Operation and Maintenance Manual’. They both mean the same thing.

🟩 Other Names Given to Manuals

We have seen the manual being referred to many different ways including:

  • O&M Manual
  • Operating and Maintenance Manual
  • O and M Manual
  • Building O&M Manual
  • Construction O&M Manual
  • O+M Manual
  • OM Manuals
  • O/M Manual
  • OnM Manual

🟩 Why Do We Issue Operating Manuals?

Operating and Maintenance [O&M] manuals are issued for several important reasons:

βœ… Effective Operation: Providing detailed instructions on operating the various systems and equipment within the facility helps ensure that the systems are used and operated correctly.

βœ… Proper Maintenance: Including planned maintenance schedules and guidelines will provide the information needed to ensure that equipment and systems are correctly cared for.

βœ… Troubleshooting: Including troubleshooting guides, usually within the manufacturer’s literature, will help maintenance personnel identify and address common issues that may arise.

βœ… Safety: Safety instructions are included to make the building operator aware of any risks and safety items that should be considered, preventing accidents, injuries, and potentially hazardous situations.

βœ… Consistency: This is vital to ensure that no matter who works within the building it is managed and maintained the same – keeping operational and maintenance practices consistent.

βœ… Transitional Knowledge: Knowledge transfer is critical from the project team to the facilities team upon completion of the project to ensure they understand the systems and equipment. This ensures that the facility can be operated and maintained correctly.

βœ… Compliance: Within many areas of the world, regulatory requirements mandate the issuance of O&M manuals.

βœ… Warranty and Support: Understanding the warranty information for the installed systems and equipment.

βœ… Emergency Preparedness: Including emergency procedures within the manuals helps ensure the facility engineers know how to respond in critical situations, minimizing risks to occupants and property.

βœ… Efficiency and Cost Savings: Properly operated and maintained systems are more energy-efficient, reducing operational costs over the building’s lifespan.

βœ… Documentation for Future Reference: O&M manuals are a historical record of the building’s systems and equipment. This can be valuable for future renovations, upgrades, or building infrastructure changes.

🟩 When are the Manuals Developed and Issued?

The issuance of the manuals should align with the construction project’s milestones, and commissioning process, to ensure that they are available to the building personnel when the facility becomes operational. To ensure this, the process would usually be in line with the following 5 stages:

🟨 Stage 1 | Design and Pre-Construction:

  • During the preliminary stages of the project, the format and building systems/equipment should be developed that will require O&M manuals to establish the documentation requirements,
  • Ensure that the manual requirements are specified within all tender documentation.

🟨 Stage 2 | Early/Mid Construction:

  • Oversee, manage, and coordinate the writing of the operating and maintenance manuals for draft submission,
  • Submit ‘draft’ manual for initial owner/building operator review in line with agreed formats,
  • Update manuals in line with comments received.

🟨 Stage 3 | Late Construction/Commissioning:

  • Ensure all testing and commissioning data is included within the manuals that has been created.
  • Insert all relevant training information and data that has been completed,
  • Issue the manual to the owner’s team for review,
  • Incorporate any changes or feedback from the review process.

🟨 Stage 4 | Project Closeout/Handover:

  • Issue the ‘final manual’ to the owner,
  • Owner and other stakeholder ‘approve’ the final O&M manuals,
  • Owner issues manuals to the building operatorHandover: The O&M manuals are officially handed over to the building owner or operator, marking the completion of this phase.

🟨 Stage 5 | Post-Construction and Operational Phase:

  • Building operators and maintenance personnel use the O&M manuals to operate, maintain, troubleshoot, and manage the building’s systems and equipment.
  • As the building systems are modified, upgraded, or replaced over time, the O&M manuals should be updated by the building operator detailing any changes.
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🟩 Who Manages and Creates the O&M manuals?

Creating the O&M Manuals is not generally a one-person mission. Instead, writing and producing a superb manual will require the input and work of multiple people from most disciplines across the project.

The people usually involved and their responsibilities will be:

Client/Ownera. detail the format of the O&M manual.
b. review and comment on the draft, revised, and final manuals.
c. approve the overall manual.
Commissioning Agenta. support the owners in detailing the format of the O&M manual
b. oversee the general/main contractors' management of the process
c. review and comment on the draft, revised, and final manuals.
Architecta. support the owners in detailing the format of the O&M manual
b. review and comment on the draft, revised, and final manuals.
Designera. support the owners in detailing the format of the O&M manual
b. review and comment on the draft, revised, and final manuals.
Building Operators/Facilitiesa. support the owners in detailing the format of the O&M manual
b. review and comment on the draft, revised, and final manuals.
General/Main Contractora. to fully manage the process.
b. write and consolidate the information.
c. ensure programme dates are met, by issuing documents.
d. update the manuals in line with any comments received.
Sub Contractora. report to general/main contractor regarding own requirement for the manuals.
b. write, consolidate and issue the required information to the general/main contractor.

Vendorsa. report to general/main contractor regarding own requirement for the manuals.
b. write, consolidate and issue the required information to the general/main contractor.

🟩 How Should the Manuals be Used?

Once manuals are issued and the facility is in operation, how should they be used?.

🟨 For Orientation and Training: New building operators and maintenance staff should receive orientation and training sessions that familiarize them with the content of the O&M manuals. This training ensures that they understand the systems, equipment, and procedures outlined in the manuals prior to working within the facility.

🟨 For Daily Operations: Operators should consult the manuals to ensure they are following the correct procedures for starting, running, and shutting down equipment.

🟨 Routine Maintenance: Any routine maintenance shoud be checked via the manuals for guidance on items such as cleaning, lubrication, and filter replacement.

🟨 Safety Procedures:A O&M manual should include safety information on the equipment and systems of the facility. Operators and the maintenance staff should familiarize themselves with these instructions to ensure safe operations and response in critical situations.

🟨 Troubleshooting: When issues arise, the troubleshooting sections of the manuals offer guidance for diagnosing common problems and implementing solutions.

🟨 Coordination with Manufacturers: The manuals often include manufacturer information, if equipment issues require technical support, operators can use the document to find contact details.

🟩 How to Format the O&M?

The manuals are typically outlined within the projects contract documents/specifications, providing a clear understanding to all stakeholders of how the manuals should be prepared, formatted, and delivered upon completion.

🟧 Typical O&M Manual Format

A typical manual format should be designed to provide organized and easily accessible information about the systems, equipment, and procedures within a building or facility. While the exact format can vary based on project requirements, industries, and company preferences, here’s a general outline of what a typical one may look like. We have included a manual template that can be downloaded at the end of this article.

-Front PageTitle of the project, the particular element of the project covered by the manual, the relevant manual reference, and the date of issue of the manual.
-Version Control PagePlace to manage the document changes/revisions.
-Table Of Contents PageA fully detailed index of the O&M Manual. Title/Page number etc.
1.0IntroductionDescription of the manual content and structure. How to use it and why it is being issued.

[could be standardized across all your projects]
2.0Project InformationInclude detailed information on the project.

[can take information from the OPR, BOD, Specifications, Cx Plan]
3.0Consultant & Contractor ContactsInclude information about the project consultants, suppliers and contractors.
4.0Project SpecificationsInclude registers and as-built drawings covering layouts and schematics for all systems and services installed within the project.
5.0As-Built DrawingsInclude registers and as-built drawings covering layouts and schematics for all systems and services installed within the project.
6.0Electrical Discrimination StudyInclude the approved discrimination study report for the electrical systems.
7.0BMS DocumentationInclude BMS Graphic, Points Lists and Access documents.
8.0Summary of Systems InstalledProvide a summary of each systems components, location, and how they are designed to operate.

[can take from specifications, drawings, control logics]
9.0Asset RegisterInclude a detailed list of equipment for each type of system that has been installed.

1. Equipment ID
2. Type
3. Manufacturer
4. Model
5. Size/Rating
6. Building/Floor/Room

[usually taken from the progress trackers that were created through the project]
10.0Manufacturers Literature/InformationInclude all the manufacturers information relating to the equipment, ancillaries, and systems.

[Use the asset register for reference of what would be needed]
11.0Health and SafetyInclude items, lists, documents and procedures covering - Electrical Lockout Tagout Procedure, Arc Flash Study, Risk Assessment Register, Emergency Procedures [EOP], Hazardous Materials & Handling Procedures, Working at Height Procedures, Confined Space Procedures.
13.0Disposal of Equipment/ProductsProvide information on how equipment and products should be disposed of at the time of replacement.
14.0MaintenanceInclude planned maintenance lists covering weekly, monthly, and yearly checks/tasks for all plant, equipment and systems.
15.0Equipment/System SparesInclude lists of spares that have been provided under the contract and also note any that the building operator should consider.
16.0Service Level AgreementsInclude information from the suppliers, vendors, and contractors relating to any Service Agreements/Warranties that are to be included for the operation of the building and systems after handover
17.0Final Testing and Commissioning ReportInclude the Final Commissioning Report that is usually to be written and issued by the Commissioning Agent/Authority.

🟧 Hard Copy O&M File

If there is a requirement to present the manual in hard copy format using folders or binders, the materials used should be highly durable and designed to withstand the aging and dusty/dirty environments to ensure they last for the time required.

Within each folder/binder, each section should be clearly labeled, segregated using a stepped divider, user-friendly, and cross-referenced back to an index.

The index should itemize the stepped segregation dividers, be numbered and displayed at the beginning of the first binder, if using multiple ones, or within the front section of a single-binder manual.

In today’s age, this type of format should be avoided as it uses a lot of paperwork, and the information can get lost or easily damaged over time.

🟧 Digital O&M Manual

Digital manuals are becoming more common in today’s market, especially since clients, end users, and facilities operators see their benefits in how cost-effective and efficient they are to use, update, maintain and integrate with other systems such as BIM.

Stored in the cloud, the formats will be similar to the ‘hard copy’ manual incorporating the same information, but hyperlinks will be utilized instead of using stepped dividers.

πŸš€ Where digital manuals are stored on a server or in the cloud, ensure that all users can access them from their computers and mobile devices. Also that the document is backed up off of site.

🟧 Hard Copy Vs. Digital Manuals

Manual FormatPro'sCon's
Hard Copya. quick and easy access, especially if stored in an accessible location.
b. can still gain access during power failures.
a. no search function like would have with PDF.
b. challenging to keep up to date.
c. can easily lose information if it is removed from the manual.
d. documents can be damaged or marked easily.
e. no access right management.
e. manuals can sometimes need a large amount of storage space.
f. not very environmentally friendly as use a lot of paper and sometimes need more than one copy.
Digital Copya. easy to access.
b. can access remotely from multiple locations.
c. information can be searched.
d. easy to update information and keep records.
e. not able to lose information unless physically deleted.
f. can provide and manage access rights.
g. not printing lots of paper
a. secondary power sources needed to ensure during power failures, access can still be gained to the system.
b. information needs to be backed up, incase files are corrupted.
c. ongoing costs of licences and data storage.
d. client/owner needs to manage and own the system incase the building operator is removed from site, or leaves.

🟩 O&M Manual Checklist

If your role needs you to review an O&M Manual, the below provides a good checklist that can be used. We have included a checklist template that can be downloaded at the end of this article.

Front Page1. Project Title Included
2. Document Number Included
Version Control1. Version Control Page Included
2. Document Version Included
3. Authors Name Included
Table of Contents1. Clear Table Of Contents Included
Introduction1. Clear Introduction Included
Project Information1. Project Name
2. Project Address
3. Project Type
4. Green Building Certification
5. Defects Liability Period
Consultant & Contractor Contacts1. Client
2. Owner
3. Architect
4. Project Manager
5. Commissioning Provider
6. MEP Designer
7. Green Building Consultant
8. General Contractor
Project Specifications1. Full Schedule of Specifications
2. Builders Work [attached]
3. Building Management [BMS] System [attached]
4. Control [SOO] System [attached]
5. Electrical [EE] System [attached]
6. Extra Low Voltage [ELV] System [attached]
7. Fire/Life Safety [FS] System [attached]
8. Mechanical [HVAC] System [attached]
9. Plumbing & Drainage [PD] System [attached]
As-Built Drawings1. Full Schedule of Drawings
2. Builders Work – Layouts – Schematics [attached]
3. Building Management [BMS] System – Layouts – Schematics [attached]
4. Control [SOO] System – Layouts – Schematics [attached]
5. Electrical [EE] System – Layouts – Schematics [attached]
6. Extra Low Voltage [ELV] System – Layouts – Schematics [attached]
7. Fire/Life Safety [FS] System – Layouts – Schematics [attached]
8. Mechanical [HVAC] System – Layouts – Schematics [attached]
9. Plumbing & Drainage [PD] System – Layouts – Schematics [attached]
Electrical Discrimination Study1. Latest Study & Report
BMS Dcoumentation1. BMS Graphic Document [attached]
2. BMS Points List [attached]
3. BMS Access/Security [attached]
Overview Of Systems1. Full Schedule of Systems
2. Builders Work [overview]
3. Building Management [BMS] System [overview]
4. Control [SOO] System [overview]
5. Electrical [EE] System [overview]
6. Extra Low Voltage [ELV] System [overview]
7. Fire/Life Safety [FS] System [overview]
8. Mechanical [HVAC] System [overview]
9. Plumbing & Drainage [PD] System [overview]
Asset Register1. Full Schedule of Registers
2. Builders Work [attached]
3. Building Management [BMS] System [attached]
4. Control [SOO] System [attached]
5. Electrical [EE] System [attached]
6. Extra Low Voltage [ELV] System [attached]
7. Fire/Life Safety [FS] System [attached]
8. Mechanical [HVAC] System [attached]
9. Plumbing & Drainage [PD] System [attached]
Manufacturers Literature/Information1. Full Schedule of Literature & Information
2. Builders Work [attached]
3. Building Management [BMS] System [attached]
4. Control [SOO] System [attached]
5. Electrical [EE] System [attached]
6. Extra Low Voltage [ELV] System [attached]
7. Fire/Life Safety [FS] System [attached]
8. Mechanical [HVAC] System [attached]
9. Plumbing & Drainage [PD] System [attached]
Health and Safety1. Electrical Lockout Tagout Procedure [attached]
2. Arc Flash Study & Report [attached]
3. Project Risk Assessments [attached]
4. Emergency Procedures [EOP] [attached]
5. Hazardous Materials & Handling Procedures [attached]
6. Working at Height Procedures [attached]
7. Confined Space Procedures [attached]
Disposal of Equipment/Products1. Disposal Document/Report [attached]
Planned Maintenance1. Full Schedule of Planned Maintenance [attached]
2. Builders Work [attached]
3. Building Management [BMS] System [attached]
4. Control [SOO] System [attached]
5. Electrical [EE] System [attached]
6. Extra Low Voltage [ELV] System [attached]
7. Fire/Life Safety [FS] System [attached]
8. Mechanical [HVAC] System [attached]
9. Plumbing & Drainage [PD] System [attached]
Equipment/System Spares1. List of Spares [attached]
2. List of Recommended Spares [attached]
Equipment Warranties1. List of Warranties [attached]
Service Level Agreements1. Service Level Agreements [attached]
Final Testing and Commissioning Report1. Final Commissioning Report [attached]
Designer ChecksEnsure that the designer has checked, commented, and approved the Manuals
Commissioning Authority ChecksEnsure that the commissioning authority has checked, commented, and approved the Manuals
Client/Owner ChecksEnsure that the client/owner has checked, commented, and approved the Manuals
Facilities/Building Operator ChecksEnsure that the facilities department/building operator has checked, commented, and approved the Manuals

🟩 Updating of Manuals

As the facility and its systems undergo maintenance, renovations, or upgrades, the information in the O&M manuals could become outdated or incomplete. Regular updates will ensure that the information remains accurate, relevant, and useful for building operators and maintenance personnel. Here are a few reasons why manual updates are important:

To facilitate the updating of the manuals, it’s usually good practice to establish a system or process that tracks changes, revisions, and updates to any of the buildings systems and equipment; which will then allow updating the documents.

This might involve assigning responsibility to a designated person or team and setting regular intervals for reviewing and updating the manuals.

🟩 3rd Party O&M Writing Services?

There are companies that specialize in writing Operating and Maintenance [O&M] manuals to help contractors, building owners, and building operators create comprehensive, well written and well-structured manuals, with manuals being tailored to meet any specific project requirements.

If you are considering hiring a company to create your manuals, it’s important to evaluate their experience, expertise, and previous work as the quality can significantly differing from different writing services.

🟧 Service Levels

The majority of O&M companies will offer different service levels, so if your budget does not cover writing the complete document you will still be able to get something done.

An example of these levels can be seen below – taken from a company called O&M I.T. Ltd based in the UK:

🟨 Level 1 – Complete Service

Taking the specification, drawings, procurement timeline, list of installed equipment, and other details adn design data provided by the project, the authoring company writes and issues the whole project operating and maintenance manual, providing a complete service.

🟨 Level 2 – Owner/General Contractor Managed Service

The O&M writing company will issue and manage info-gathering tempates to the General Contractor, who will then consolidate the required information. Once the information has been received the authoring company will write and complete the manuals.

Any additional information required will also be sourced by the General Contractor.

🟨 Level 3 – Owner/General Contractor Managed Service

Similar to Level 2, but in this level the termplates are issued to the Owner or General Contractor who will fully manage them, ensuring that the information is complete, chasing anything that is missing.

Once the Owner/General Contractor has recevied the information they will conduct some basic checking before forwarding to the authoring company for inclusion in the overall manual.

🟨 Level 4 – Owner/General Contractor Writes Manual

The authoring company issues the main operating and maintenance template to the Owner/General Contractor, who will then manage and write the manual before sending through for checking and converting to an electronic format.

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🟩 What is an O&M Cover Page?

A cover page will usually be an official letter or document accompanying the manuals when issued to the client/owner.

A cover page is the first page of the manual that provides essential information about the manual itself and the project it pertains to. It serves as a quick reference for recipients providing an introduction to the content within the manual typically incorporating the following information:

🟨 Title: The title of the document, often listed as “Operating and Maintenance Manual”,

🟨 Project Information: covering Project Name and Project Location/Address,

🟨 Date: The issue date of the manual,

🟨 Issuing Party: Name of Issuing Organization and Contact Information,

🟨 Project Contacts: Names and Titles of the key individuals involved in the project, such as project managers, engineers, and architects, also include their contact information.

🟨 Document Control Information: Include Document Number, Revision Number and Date of Last Revision,

🟨 Logo/Branding: Include the logo or branding of the organization responsible for issuing the manual.

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◻️ O&M Manual Checklist & Report PDF Template

🟩 O&M Manuals and the Legal Requirements [UK]

Whilst the legal requirements do not specifically note ‘operating and maintenance manuals’, we have found within the UK that there are a couple of conditions that need to be met within the πŸ”—Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 [sometimes abbreviated HSWA], for the following:

🟧 Paragraph [2][1] – It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety, and welfare at work of all his employees:

◻️ Paragraph [2][2] – Without prejudice to the generality of an employer’s duty under the preceding subsection, the matters to which that duty extends include in particular:

◻️ Paragraph [2][2][a] – the provision and maintenance of plant and systems of work that are, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health;

◻️ Paragraph [2][2][b] – arrangements for ensuring, so far as is reasonably practicable, safety and absence of risks to health in connection with the use, handling, storage, and transport of articles and substances;

◻️ Paragraph [2][2][c] – the provision of such information, instruction, training, and supervision as is necessary to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety at work of his employees;

◻️ Paragraph [2][2][d] – so far as is reasonably practicable as regards any place of work under the employer’s control, the maintenance of it in a condition that is safe and without risks to health, and the provision and maintenance of means of access to and egress from it that are safe and without such risks;

🟧 Paragraph [6][1] – It shall be the duty of any person who designs, manufactures, imports, or supplies any article for use at work

◻️ Paragraph [6][1][a] – to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the article is so designed and constructed that it will be safe and without risks to health at all times when it is being set, used, cleaned or maintained by a person at work;

◻️ Paragraph [6][1][b] – to carry out or arrange for the carrying out of such testing and examination as may be necessary for the performance of the duty imposed on him by the preceding paragraph;

◻️ Paragraph [6][1][c] – to take such steps as are necessary to secure that persons supplied by that person with the article are provided with adequate information about the use for which the article is designed or has been tested and about any conditions necessary to ensure that it will be safe and without risks to health at all such times as are mentioned in paragraph (a) above and when it is being dismantled or disposed of; and

◻️ Paragraph [6][1][d] – to take such steps as are necessary to secure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons so supplied are provided with all such revisions of information provided to them by the preceding paragraph as are necessary because of its becoming known that anything gives rise to a severe risk to health or safety.

🟧 There are also other requirements to provide information for staff and operatives relating to the equipment and systems that have been installed under new/refurbishment works:

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