Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

The OIC Rule

June 9, 2011

This is a discussion about the type of data and information needed to effectively manage building services.

This article will explore a theory of the value of information needed to manage effectively.

There is a direct relationship between the specificity of information available about a problem and the cost of resolving a real or perceived failure.

In general, there is an inverse relationship between information and cost: Vague information requires a high cost of correction and specific information necessitates a lower cost.

Item and condition information is very specific in comparison with facility or portfolio-level information, which is very general.

The real value of the item and condition level of information lies in its ability to achieve four things:

  1. Enable the most resource-efficient response to fix problems, errors and failures

  2. Support the continuous process improvement of the service delivery system to prevent the problem

  3. Enable the most resource-efficient response to customer complaints

  4. Support continuous process improvement to prevent future occurrence of the problem that causes the complaint.

The focus on item and condition information is a win for everyone — the customer, the buyer and the service provider.

These benefits are so important that an only item and condition (OIC) rule has been established.

This rule creates powerful advantages for problem fixing and system fixing as a strategy for aggressive management of the performance delivered.

The OIC Rule For Quality

Clearly, the level of information available impacts the resources needed to deliver extraordinary quality by fixing the problem and fixing the system to prevent the problem.

Fix the problem

By applying this rule, management will expend the fewest resources and will resolve the right problem in the shortest time.

It is the clarity of the item and condition level of information that makes this efficient response possible.

The service provider will not expend excessive resources trying to fix a vaguely defined problem; they will understand the specific item and the specific condition that makes it unacceptable.

Information about problems — from defects to failures — may come from the customer, the service provider''s staff or the inspection effort.

Wherever the information originates, the OIC rule is a powerful strategy for efficiently correcting the failure.

Fix the system

It is only at the item and condition level that the problem, defect or failure is connected to the process, procedures and activities used to deliver the service.

This connection also allows management to implement process improvement of current systems to prevent reoccurrence of the failure that causes the performance failure.

Management can focus on the common cause or special cause roots of failure as a basis for systems change and improvement.

Prevent the complaint

It is only at the item and condition level that the complaint can be connected to the process, procedures and activities used to deliver the service.

This connection also allows management to implement process improvement of current systems to prevent reoccurrence of the failure that causes the complaint.

Management can focus on the common cause, special cause or just because roots of failure as a basis for systems change and improvement.

Root-cause analysis enables management to implement specific improvements to current processes.

Overall, the effectiveness and efficiency of the performance management effort is heavily influenced by the value of the information produced from the measurement process.

The information provided should be reflected in a number of key reports that should bring value in management decision-making and in setting supervisory priorities.

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

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

Thus, the more specific the complaint information, the lower the cost and the fewer 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 www.ealtd.com. 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.