Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

Letters To The Editor

July 12, 2012

Editor''s note:

A recent discussion with Dennis Parker, a Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS) ISSA Certification Expert (ICE) and sales consultant for Nuvek LLC, about cleaning-related software was shared with us, and we thought it warranted sharing with the Cleaning & Maintenance Management community.

A snippet of the conversation about how software for laptops, smartphones and tablets can improve business and profitability follows below.

While technology in the form of laptops, netbooks, smartphones and tablets has made us more efficient and connected, how are these technologies helping facility service providers?

Parker: Online inspection, work order and reporting software systems tie together multiple locations and various departments, standardizing quality assurance inspections, work order follow-up and automated reporting of cleaning and/or maintenance performance.

These systems provide periodic task scheduling that calendars frequency and extra work, as well as preventive maintenance on equipment, safety and trainings and any other necessary planning and performance execution of the scope of work.

These systems professionalize the communications between the company''s customer service efforts and customers'' understanding and perception of contract fulfillment with online oversight.

You can show benchmark scores against current service performance and show trends of continuous improvement.

These systems track and report regulatory compliance, manage programs such as "green" initiatives, document training and safety programs, conduct customer surveys and automate any number of other data collection and audit tracking functions, even worldwide.

These systems allow for optimization of the coordination of personnel, resources and assets, maximizing the effectiveness of the organization.

They act as a tickler file, sending out action item/work orders by e-mail and text messages, alerting those involved as respondents to complaints or other scheduled tasks and events.

These systems also allow for customers and contractors to enter into a true partnership with more customer oversight and contract disclosure by allowing the customer to view online-submitted inspections, open action items/work orders and run their own reports of contractors'' performance.

They document complaints and operational improvement trends, giving proof of contractor performance.

The data collection can be entered from a number of different sources, including a laptop or desktop computer, or be entered from handheld devices via the Internet.

The inspection system should be customizable, allowing for changes in templates to be created at the customer level, avoiding ongoing programing and additional fees.

The system could be used for numerous data collection purposes, with multiple score values or score types achieving customer satisfaction in the required rating systems for each purpose, during cleaning audits and for safety, risk management, regulatory compliance and so forth.

The system will also calibrate instantaneous scores in the field upon inspection completion, giving the inspector immediate feedback.

Inspections and score results can also be validated through the system''s capability to upload both pictures of deficiencies or corrections and verifying signatures of both the inspector and the customer from a handheld device.

What features of cleaning and inspection software are most helpful in this regard?

Parker: Operational efficiencies can be achieved with these systems because they save inspection time, data input time, consolidation and report generating costs and travel and vehicle expenses.

You can avoid or reduce fines by being proactively prepared for U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), material safety data sheets (MSDS) and Right to Know, hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP), hazardous materials (HazMat) and other audits.

They automate all maintenance inspections such as custodial, landscaping, equipment repair, information technology systems, roofs and others.

These systems also give contract service providers new service opportunities by assisting customers with additional services, consolidating management for the customer and increasing revenue streams for the service contractor.

Service contractors can also manage other subcontractors efficiently through such a system, making them of more value to the customer in their overall scope of services rendered and the reduction of cost.

Companies that are leading their marketing efforts with technological advancements and advantages to their customers through these systems are winning greater contract opportunities from less sophisticated competitors and experience higher customer retention rates.

A few years ago, these systems were cutting edge; now, some new additional features are considered cutting edge, but everyone is automating these operational issues to be competitively efficient.

If you have not reviewed what is in the market lately in the way of new improvements and pricing structure, it is a good thing to take a fresh look at how software for laptops, smartphones and tablets can improve business and profitability.