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a person working on an operations and maintenance manual

Why You Need An Operations and Maintenance Manual

When running a business’s day-to-day operations, there’s something called an “Operations and Maintenance Manual” (O&M Manual) that all employees must follow to make sure that the daily operations run smoothly. For businesses in every industry, Operations and Maintenance Manuals are critical to maintaining smooth daily operations and bringing your customers the quality of product or service they deserve.

The Difference Between Operations and Maintenance

When it comes to the function of the manuals themselves, there are some certain similarities, but they are very different things by definition. 

Operations refer to everything employees do throughout the day. Most of these tasks will be towards fulfilling the greater goals of your company operations. This includes making deliveries to sweeping the facility floors.

Maintenance refers to everything needed to be done in order to keep the machines and facility up and running. In a factory, this is critical as the machines are the backbone of what makes the product. However, restaurant jobs, for example, could be as simple as maintenance on kitchen equipment to keep them running smoothly.

Why You Need an Operations and Maintenance Manual

There are a few benefits other than what has already been mentioned in writing an O&M manual. One of the big ones becomes visible when onboarding a new employee. This manual can serve as a guide for your new hire to get up to speed on how your business works. Whether the employees come to your company from your industry of business or not, each company operates a little bit differently from the rest and there are often small, but important, differences between each of them.

As well as taking on new employees, an operations and maintenance manual can help current employees. When certain situations arise, it may be preferable for your employees to not have to turn to you with every small question. If they do have questions, the O&M manual can serve as their go-to document to find out what their next steps should be. 

The job of writing the operations manual often falls on people such as plant executives, operations managers, maintenance personnel, and HR representatives, to just name a few. Everyone will have different points of view and will think of things differently than their colleagues, so it is important to gather information from a number of sources. However, these employees also have other pressing responsibilities, and it is preferable to turn to the expertise of a technical writer to gather and compile this information instead.

a person working on an operations and maintenance manual at a construction site

Steps to Writing an Operations and Maintenance Manual

Operations and maintenance manuals often involve writing a number of steps. Ensuring your business runs smoothly in both operations and maintenance is vital. You will want to follow these steps to write a good manual. It is significantly easier to delegate this work to a technical writer. However, you can also use these steps to communicate with the writer. This article will help you understand if this documentation process is strong and will work for your business. 

Create an Outline:

Creating an outline is a huge part of making any good document, not just an operations and maintenance manual. Having a good base to start with on this long task of creating an O&M manual is critical. The outline is a good time to consider what personnel will need to be involved in making the manual. This is the step where you define the purpose of the manual for your audience.

Gather necessary documents and information:

You should observe how things actually work before you write the manual. Doing this ensures that you understand how the procedures are actually done. This way you are in touch with the practical application of your manual. You also should compile documents such as OEM guidelines, user manuals, warranties, and any other papers you may need during this step as well.

First draft:

From writing a paper in school to an operations and maintenance manual, a first draft is always important. The first draft is when you will put the outline to use and make the different segments. In addition, creating flowcharts or even using pictures may be useful to get the point across.


After the first draft is done, you should share it with those who have the money in your company and some of the workers who will use the document. This is the time to get feedback, so take notes of what they say. You can fine-tune your manual based on the feedback given. This might be a step you do multiple times until it is right.


Give it one final look over. This step includes published and distribution of the manual. In today’s digital world, all manuals should also have a digital version. A digital version will help your employees refer to it at a moment’s notice. Rather than not have to always take the time to hunt down the paper version 

  • Update your manual on a regular basis: Things change, and change often they do. As time goes on, new information and details become available. You may even change how the workflow of your company happens in order to expand your operations. When things change, so should your operations and maintenance manuals. The business process is ever-evolving and the manual should be kept up to date to ensure harmony.


It does not matter what type of business you do; employees need to understand the proper way to complete tasks. Having the right people in place to perform all duties, from something as simple as cleaning the floors to performing maintenance on the machines your employees depend on, all starts with good operations and maintenance manuals. 

If you do not have the people, resources, or time consider reaching out to a professional writing service that can ensure the operations and maintenance manual fits your needs.

Whether you need a team of consultants to produce a complete line of documentation or a single expert technical writer for a brief project, Essential Data’s Engagement Manager will lead the project from start to finish. At Essential Data Corporation, we guarantee the quality of our work. Contact us today to get started. (800) 221-0093 or

Written by Dylan Friebel