The transition between the construction and operational phases of an infrastructure project ought to be straightforward, but rarely seems to be. Asset operators and users should immediately see the full planned benefits of the project rather than wait for a protracted and stressful handover.

With the right planning, processes and partnership the transition from construction to operation should be seamless. For this to happen the contractor must grasp that their responsibility endures beyond the completion of the construction phase. The transition to operational use is just as much a part of a successful project as construction.

The approach to the creation and approval of O&M manuals can tell you a great deal. Too often they don’t get enough focus throughout the construction phase. This can cause a real headache as the construction phase nears completion and the contractor scrambles to collect complete information from subcontractors and suppliers in the right format or tries to work out the status of drawings supplied (are they working drawings or ‘as built’?).

Expectations for the content and presentation of O&M manuals should be agreed up front. Relevant information can then be collated from subcontractors and equipment suppliers in a timely way in the right format. Customer sign-off (accepting that final ‘as built’ drawings and test certification will need to be added) can also be scheduled and tracked effectively in advance of the construction phase being completed.

The Partnership Dividend

This is another example of where longer term relationships pay dividends. The contractor knows how the customer expects to see information presented and so do their subcontractors. There’s no new learning curve for each project and the relationships and communication protocols are already in place.

Provision of relevant information in the required format should be included in subcontracts and tenders. This will be easier to achieve for contractors like Osborne that actively manage a quality-focused and trusted supply chain.

With better planning, there is less variation from the original job specification, which simplifies the creation of the O&M documentation. However, variations almost always occur based on practical issues presented by the project. Clear communication and rigorous change control is needed. This will also help to manage the addition of the final ‘as built’ drawings and test certification.

Approval of the O&M manual needs to be planned and commenced as early as is practical. This, in turn, supports the planning and delivery of maintenance training so that the operator’s staff are ready to take over responsibility for the asset immediately on completion.

When planning, process and partnerships are right the final technical handover is also greatly simplified. All of the points made about the creation of O&M manual also apply to the Health and Safety File. Most of the information needed to operate, maintain or modify the asset safely can be created in a controlled and measured way throughout the construction phase.

A contractor that is truly focused on quality and value will be planning the transition from construction to operation right from the beginning of the project.