Change management is the formal process for organizational change that includes the sharing of applicable knowledge. Although change management is necessary for operational improvement throughout all organizations, it is particularly crucial when a building service contractor (BSC) begins working on a new contract with a facility management team.
In these new relationships, both the facility manager and the BSC have their credibility on the line and want to ensure a smooth transition. Since no two facilities or contractors operate in exactly the same way, this means a considerable amount of change will always be required, no matter how much each side would prefer to avoid it. Thus, implementing change management can be one of the most difficult tasks for a facility manager or BSC to execute properly.
In my experience, the first 30 days of any new contract are critical to the success or failure of the business relationship. During this time, four key factors will help the BSC develop a strong relationship with the facility manager, especially during the new contract start-up process:
- Communication: A new cleaning program affects every level of the organization, from the cleaning crew up to the president. Everyone involved needs to know how the program will be rolled out and what its impact will be. Therefore, it is critical to discern what type of messaging will be required for each level. For example, the president may need only broad high-level information, while the cleaning supervisor would require more detailed information. The BSC should anticipate these concerns and implement an easy method for its clients to receive timely responses to address their concerns/questions.
- Delivery and Follow-up: The BSC must be familiar with all the elements of the Request for Proposal and ensure that its operational team knows what its sales team committed to in negotiations. If the sales team promised a biometric time clock, there needs to be biometric time clock. Even though this sounds obvious, it is easy for things like this to fall between the cracks. The facility manager is expecting all of the deliverables so the BSC must deliver.
- Training: Standardization is an important element in any efficient cleaning operation, and standardized operations require standardized training. The BSC may determine that new cleaning products, technology, or equipment will increase labor productivity for the new client. Or perhaps the facility manager requested that cleaning be done in a way that is different from what the BSC does in other facilities. These expectations must be communicated to cleaners. Then the cleaners must be trained in standardized procedures to assure they won’t revert to the old cleaning methods.
- Reporting of Operational Results: New technology enables real-time inspections, trend tracking, and tickets/work orders for deficiencies. The BSC should work with the facility manager to determine which reports are required, the frequency of those reports, and the preferred format (summary vs. detailed or formal vs. informal). Then the BSC needs to provide the reports on a timely and consistent basis.
Even with the best plans, surprises and glitches are inevitable. However, following these four keys will bring problems to light quickly and make them much easier to resolve, leading to a strong, long-lasting relationship.