Although it is one of the most overlooked aspects of the facility management plan, there are some very real, tangible benefits to instituting a regular and robust quality assurance and benchmarking schedule.
For example, manufacturers institute quality assurance and benchmarking for the equipment and products they supply to you. While that is important, it shouldn’t stop there. You should institute quality assurance and benchmarking for how you use those products, and also how you manage your entire operation.
Identify Performance Issues
Putting the best quality assurance process in place allows you to identify performance issues before they become major problems, requiring valuable maintenance time and funds to correct. Assessing performance on a regular basis will give you a feel for how the equipment or process should normally function. A familiarity with all aspects of your operation will help to keep your equipment, systems, and processes running efficiently.
Save Time and Money
One of the effects of good quality management is cost savings over time. By identifying issues at an early stage, you avoid catastrophic failures that come with a hefty price tag. Having to tweak a few settings or replace a part will cost a lot less than having to replace an entire piece of equipment. It will also save time and work hours that can be put toward other preventative maintenance projects. Regular evaluations of processes can streamline tasks so they may be completed more efficiently. In an era where facility management operations are constantly being asked to do more with less, this is a substantial benefit.
Create a Safe Environment
Not only will you reap a savings and time benefit, but you will also create a safer environment for all who use your facility. That leak in the ceiling could become a slip-and-fall hazard. Broken tile or concrete could cause someone to trip. A regular top-to-bottom inspection of wiring, mechanics, and infrastructure helps ensure hazards are repaired quickly and don’t become more serious. A safe environment will protect employees and others in the facility from injury and will reduce possible legal issues going forward.
Improve Employer-Employee Relations
If quality is important at the leadership level, it will become important at all levels. Employees will begin to feel pride in the workplace and a desire to contribute to the overall cleanliness and effectiveness of the facility. A facility that is allowed to become dirty and neglected, and equipment that is allowed to become broken or obsolete, affects morale and employee turnover. Good quality control procedures improve employer-employee relations, which contributes to employee satisfaction and retention.
Quality assurance may also help identify and prevent other issues with personnel. Quality assurance reports will highlight where employees may be underperforming or where there is inadequate staffing. This also presents an opportunity to reward employees who perform well or consistently contribute to good reports.
Are you having to defend your budget against budget cuts every fiscal cycle? Would you rather be able to spend your budget without having to justify every penny? Instituting an effective quality management process will help you anticipate costs proactively, rather than constantly dealing with emergencies and the high costs that inevitably result. When your department is cost effective and running at peak efficiency, more value will be placed on your operation and how it contributes to the institution as a whole.
Choose an Approach
There are many ways to accomplish excellent quality assurance. It can be handled internally by employees, externally by a third party, or by taking a blended approach. With pros and cons inherent in each method, your decision will depend on your options, needs, and the budget and time you have to dedicate to the process.
Done internally by employees, quality assurance is a good way for employees to learn all aspects of the operation and how they should function properly. It will also help them to see how different areas interact with and contribute to the overall operation. It encourages ownership, which fosters a greater dedication to the job that is being done. Adding new employees to the quality assurance inspections as part of the onboarding process will help them learn about the facility and bond with their fellow workers. It is also a lower cost option.
One drawback of the internal approach is that your personnel may be too busy with their day-to-day tasks to perform the inspections needed. Another issue is that they may not want to give a co-worker a low performance score or that their evaluations may be too subjective. A good set of objective guidelines for metrics can help to counteract this, though.
Using a Third Party
When quality assurance is done externally by a third-party service, you avoid subjectivity and the feelings of persecution that can result from asking employees to evaluate co-workers. This approach gives you a dedicated team of experts who are trained to spot issues and to evaluate on an objective scale. You get instant accountability and compliance from individuals who have specific training and the appropriate tools for the job.
With an external approach, you do miss some of the benefits of having it done internally, such as ownership and learning. That can be offset, however, by having someone from your internal team shadow the external team and learn from them. This is also the more costly option and may require some justification to prove its worth.
Using a Blended System
A quality assurance system that allows you to have employees handle some evaluations and a third-party team to handle others may be the ideal way to balance cost and to ensure the best return on your investment. No matter what you choose, it is essential that you institute a good quality assurance procedure as soon as you can, and ensure it becomes common practice and is done on a regularly scheduled basis.
Benchmark to Improve
Benchmarking is another often neglected procedure that should become a regular part of your facility management operations. Benchmarking your facility against those of your peers is important to your facility management strategy, as analyzing other operations can often help us see what we might do to improve.
Benchmarking is also useful in justifying your staff and budget. When you compare your operation to that of another facility that is performing exceptionally well, does your operation seem to be underfunded? This may be a way to advocate for funds to make improvements and upgrades.
Benchmarking can identify whether your building is under- or overperforming and result in improving building performance. It can also show you techniques that may have changed or improved over time that you can apply to your operation. It provides a basis on which to evaluate various industry standards and techniques. It’s also an excellent means by which to evaluate whether your equipment and processes have become obsolete. Once you identify desirable upgrades or new equipment, you can work these expenses into the next budget cycle.
As you can see, a robust, regular plan for quality assurance evaluations and benchmarking can greatly benefit your operation.
A little extra work in the beginning can pay off in increased efficiency in your operations, higher employee satisfaction and lower turnover, and lower costs of ownership.
With such a high return on investment, this is a process you’ll want to start as soon as possible.