Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

The FABRIC Of Information

May 5, 2011

The facility, area, building, room, item and condition (FABRIC) of information model is made up of two strands of interwoven, interconnected ideas: The more specific the process information, the better; and the need for resources is directly related to the available information.

The guiding principle to the FABRIC concept is that without specific process information, substantial resources are expended to resolve problems and satisfy customers.

In the diagram, if all you were told is that performance for the facility overall was unsatisfactory, is it clear how to respond or improve the service?

No, there just isn''t enough information.

If facility information was broken down into areas of the portfolio, would it then be clearer how to respond or improve the service?

Yes, but only a little clearer.

While you could focus on poor performing areas and expend fewer resources, you''ve got to work hard to resolve problems in an entire area.

If area quality or complaint information were broken down by building, would it then be clearer how to respond or improve the service?

Yes, but only slightly.

If building information could be broken down by type of room, would you finally know how to respond or improve the service at the least costs?

No, not really.

Even though most complaint and problem-related information tends to be associated with a specific type of room, you must focus resources on all the cleaning procedures for that type of space.

Yet, in today''s market, this is the level of information most often provided.

With room level information, many managers identify performance failures and leap into action to respond to the problem and expend resources.

These actions are still inefficient and unnecessarily costly.

And, this level of information is all about finding and responding to service failure.

What if you could identify the problem at the item and condition level of information?

For example, if you knew that the system-wide problem, failure or complaint was with mirrors that were streaked, would you finally know how to respond or improve the service at the least cost?

In fact, if you know the item and condition causing the problem or complaint, you now know which process to improve.

With this maximum level of specific information, you will expend the minimum labor and other resources to both fix the problem and improve the system to prevent future occurrence of the problem.

This idea of continuous process improvement is the core value of the FABRIC of information concept; and, it is only possible at the item and condition level of specificity.

With these ideas in mind, a performance measurement and data collection system can be designed to produce information to fit this model at all levels of specificity.

There is also an important distinction between having a large volume of detailed information and having specific information at a level of detail appropriate to efficiently and effectively respond to the service failure and improve the delivery process.

The real value of information lies in its ability to support fact-based decisions that drive actions that are both effective and efficient.

Information can be gathered by an inspection, survey or measurement process that is drawn from the customer, measurement of the building surfaces, fixtures and contents and even the service delivery staff.

The level of detail and specificity of the information communicated has an inverse relationship to the resources required to correct the problem and please the customer.

Thus, the less specific the information, the higher the cost and the more resources needed to satisfy the customer and deliver high-quality performance.

Vincent F. Elliott is the founder, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Elliott Affiliates Ltd. of Hunt Valley, Maryland. For more information, visit He is widely recognized as the leading authority in the design and utilization of best practice, performance-driven techniques for janitorial outsourcing and ongoing management.