Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

Defining Excellence

September 19, 2010

You may feel like you have in-depth knowledge and understanding of your cleaning organization, including such aspects as staffing and performance, cleanliness levels and quality of service.

But, can you prove it?

Unless you have documentation covering all facets of your operation, it is going to be very difficult to support your claims of operational excellence.

To stand apart from your competitors and really demonstrate to financial decision makers that you''re managing a quality cleaning organization, you have to be able to show it.

ISSA''s Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS) provides testimony for cleaning organizations of all types and sizes, requiring compliance with six management principles: Quality systems; service delivery; human resources; health, safety and environmental stewardship; management commitment; and green buildings.

Cleaning managers for organizations that follow CIMS principles and/or are CIMS-certified are well-prepared to demonstrate to customers, property managers and financial decision makers exactly how and why their cleaning organization is a quality, high-performing one.

They''re also equipped to answer any tough questions regarding cleaning operations, whether it is coming from a potential customer or their organization''s executive management.

Are Service Requirements Being Met?

Every organization should have documented cleaning service requirements, detailed in a scope of work.

Without this, there is no way for cleaning managers to determine whether or not the cleaning organization is meeting or exceeding expectations.

CIMS requires organizations to have a scope of work or performance outcome describing cleaning service requirements and aligning with the organization''s mission and purpose.

Any changes to the scope or requirements must be documented as well.

Organizations must also have a quality plan describing the process for determining whether or not cleaning service requirements are met.

They must measure and document performance against the scope of work and service requirements.

Additionally, organizations are required to use another measurement tool, such as a customer survey or management inspection, to assess performance.

With this information, cleaning managers can review the scope of work and assessments with anyone at any time and easily review how well the cleaning staff is following the requirements.

Are Buildings Overstaffed?

Regardless of cleanliness levels and performance assessments, a building could still be overstaffed.

To avoid this situation, CIMS calls for organizations to use an industry-accepted method of workloading, or determining the number of labor hours needed to accomplish work requirements as specified in the scope of work.

Also required is a staffing plan based on workloading results, industry benchmarks, budgets and customer requests.

By following an industry-accepted workloading method, cleaning managers scientifically figure exactly how many workers are needed to complete the scope of work for each building.

As cleaning requirements change, managers can adjust workloading numbers to ensure staffing levels change accordingly.

Are Standard Policies Being Followed?

CIMS-certified organizations must have in practice many policies, ranging from a human resources policy to an environmental policy.

CIMS requires cleaning organizations to adhere to many of the standard policies followed by all types of businesses.

By doing so, cleaning organizations reach a level of professionalism equivalent to other departments and operations within the company or organization in which they serve.

With this increased professionalism comes respect and trust from customers and organization executives.

The green buildings (GB) principle of CIMS is largely based on the sustainable cleaning requirements found in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Existing Buildings: Operations and Management (LEED-EBOM).

This alignment with LEED-EBOM gives CIMS-GB-certified organizations a headstart toward LEED certification and makes the cleaning department a valuable player in the quest for green building status.

With CIMS, cleaning managers — now more than ever — are prepared to not only run a quality, well-managed operation, but are equipped to answer any difficult questions coming from customers and/or financial decision makers.

The once industry-acceptable "standard operating procedures" are no more.

Cleaning organizations are raising the bar and defining operational excellence by following CIMS, and managers are using the standard to prove it.


Dave Frank is a 30-year industry veteran and the president of the American Institute for Cleaning Sciences. AICS is the registrar for ISSA''s Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS) certification program.