Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

Mind The Gap

September 19, 2010

How is your cleaning organization''s operational efficiency?

How about its environmental footprint?

Are all safety regulations being followed to reduce the risk of injuries and accidents?

Even if you think your cleaning operations are running quite well, there is no way to answer these questions accurately until you really take a closer look.

That means taking a deep dive into all areas of your operations and evaluating the difference between where your operations are and where you would like them be.

This is also known as conducting a gap analysis.

Every organization, regardless of size or type, should perform an annual gap analysis of its facility operations to ensure it is operating at the highest quality and the most productive way.

Performing a gap analysis requires a tool or a standard to measure operations against.

The elements of the standard or tool set the bar or tell you where your operations should be.

In the cleaning industry, the Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS) is the most comprehensive gap analysis tool available, offering a detailed checklist covering the six key areas of facility operations: Quality systems; service delivery; human resources; health, safety and environmental stewardship; management commitment; and green buildings and service.

With CIMS as your guide, you can perform a gap analysis with just four steps.

Step One: Identify The Gaps

Each of the six categories of CIMS includes a checklist of criteria.

Identifying the gaps within your cleaning organization is as easy as reading through each list and determining whether or not your organization meets the requirements.

You might find that in some areas, your organization''s documentation is incomplete, inaccurate or missing altogether.

Some organizations require a written scope of work for every building, for example.

But in a large organization with many buildings, it is easy for documents to slip through the cracks.

The CIMS checklist prompts organizations to look for and gather data such as this to ensure that it exists and is available to ensure that scope of work is being followed.

During this process you will find that you''re not only identifying problems and potential problems; you''re also seeing strengths and opportunities within your organization.

Step Two: Identify Causes To Problems And Potential Problems

Once you begin to find gaps between your cleaning operations and the CIMS checklist, you will start to see why you might be having problems in some areas.

You will also notice potential problems well before they arise.

For instance, if you find that you are missing one or two items in the category of regulatory compliance, it is a huge red flag for potential employee injuries and for fines with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and local regulatory organizations.

While looking for gaps, you might find that your organization is actually exceeding CIMS criteria in some sections.

Step Three: Identify Possible Solutions

If you''ve pinpointed some problems and potential problems, don''t stop there.

The purpose of a gap analysis is to help your organization improve operations and eliminate problems and potential problems by coming up with solutions.

Depending on where the gaps are, you might find that your organization needs a better training program, team building, more detailed standard operating procedures, better documentation or restructuring.

Step Four: Close The Gap

Implementing the right solutions is going to help you close your organization''s gaps and become a more quality, customer-centered organization.

Part of this process includes communicating your efforts to improve, especially if your solutions involve restructuring.

Share your gap analysis with organizational leaders, administrators and financial decision makers.

It is important to let them know: How you''re contributing to the organization''s sustainability mission by meeting CIMS-GB (CIMS Green Building) criteria; how you''re operating more efficiently by workloading to meet each building''s scope of work; and how you''re managing the cleaning budget.

The added value is being able to answer, in detail, when your organization''s executives or your customers ask, "How are you doing?"

David Frank is a 30-year industry veteran and the president of the American Institute for Cleaning Science. AICS is the registrar for the ISSA Cleaning Industry Management Standards certification program.