Are You Getting the Most Out of Your Online Documentation?

Working in the service or construction industries means that you have many different responsibilities to uphold. A lengthy project typically involves many different systems and components which your client will ultimately have no idea how to manage. You’re not expected to offer them after sales support forever, so you need to create a comprehensive Operation and Maintenance manual to ensure that they have all the information they need once you reach the handover stage.

As long as your documentation is neatly presented, organized and informative, your client will thank you for the job well done and offer positive feedback which can greatly help to improve your future prospects. Unfortunately, writing an Operation and Maintenance manual is time-consuming, difficult and not something that a construction and services business would typically specialise in.

Thankfully, there are effective solutions such as Dokkit which can help you drastically cut down on the amount of time you spend producing documentation while also providing clients with digital documents that they can view from virtually any smart device.

What industries make use of online documentation?

Any industry that is required to produce formal documentation for a completed project is an eligible candidate for online documentation. This can include electrical work, security jobs, flooring renovations, HVAC replacements and so on.

Creating faster Operation and Maintenance documentation

One of the keys to creating documentation faster to complete a job is to make sure that you’ve got the right tools. One of the most common programs that companies use to produce documentation is MS Office because it supports templates which can be tweaked to the needs of the specific project you have. Unfortunately, templates are difficult to work with because of potential layout incompatibilities and it generally takes longer to finish the documentation because it’s purely focused on writing.

Instead, the best option for producing online documentation is a service similar to Dokkit. Dokkit can help you great documents at a much faster rate while still being incredibly accurate because it taps into your existing workflow solution such as simPRO. This essentially means you can re-use cloud data that already exists in order to produce more accurate documentation for your client, and you’ll also save time since you don’t need to look through records and old documents.

Advantages of online documentation versus physical

One of the big advantages of having your documentation online is that you don’t need to worry about printing costs. Printing off many pages of text and diagrams is slow and consumes a lot of ink, meaning you’ll likely need to purchase specialised printers just for the sake of printing out an Operation and Maintenance document at an efficient cost.

Instead, the entire document can be viewed online, printed by the client if needed and also searched through much like a website or an interactive document. This makes finding the right information much easier and generally improves the customer’s user experience. It ultimately saves a lot of time, money and effort that would other be used solely on the documentation of your project.

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If the sheer mention of “O&M” fills you with fear, read on.

An operation and maintenance manual (O&M manual) contains essential information required for the operation and maintenance of a building. The main contractor is legally required to provide a comprehensive health and safety file on completion of a job with information about access, security and safety systems. This also includes the operation and maintenance manuals of all work carried out by any sub-contractors.

In some cases compiling this information for handover can take days to produce.  So how should you go about putting an O&M manual procedure in place to streamline the process?

Here are a few tips:

  • Negotiate a price for providing the O&M manual at the outset. In your estimate include a paragraph saying that if your own O&M manual format is not acceptable there will be an additional charge.
  • When you get the contract, examine it for the O&M manual instructions and make a note of the name and number of the person who will be dealing with it.
  • Prepare an O&M template which you can use for most projects. Firstly, this should f have a cover sheet which states clearly: “Operation & Maintenance Manual” as well as the site address and type of works. Include also your firm’s name, address, phone number and website. In the following pages describe your works, give full operating, cleaning and maintenance instructions, list any hazards involved, tools required and safe disposal instructions. Where relevant give a list of products and suppliers for items including manufacturer data sheets which the client may need to go out and buy. For example, if they need to replace sockets they will need to know the manufacturer and product codes.
  • Keep your data in simPRO, or similar job management database, up-to-date and relevant as it will save you time later on.
  • Always keep electronic copies of the O&M manuals you send out. If the main contractor loses your O&M manual, or it gets sent to the wrong department, they will ask you for it again a few months later. If you have saved a copy you can resend it straightaway.
  • If possible send your O&M manuals by email to reduce the cost of printing and postage. Always find out what the preferred format is in the early stages of the project to save you time later on.
  • Even if the main contractor insists you complete their own template, in most cases you can persuade them to accept your own version, especially if you have prepared it well. If you have made it clear in your estimate that there will be additional charges for a different version, they may decide to take a look at your own O&M manual template and accept it.

Finally, the most important time saver for your company will be automating the production of O&M manuals. Dokkit can help you prepare your O&M manuals in less than a minute. Sign up now.

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