Everyday view from a doctor's
Everyday view from a doctor’s “dashboard”. Image from brykmantra.

World-class service really begins with a thorough checklist.

Take air travel for example. Airlines are in the business of getting travellers to and from destinations quickly and safely; they’re responsible for thousands of lives every day. For a successful flight, airplanes and pilots need to meet a set of standard safety requirements prior to take-off.  Planes come with a variety of checklists that simplify complex processes, including an engine-failure checklist, a pre-boarding checklist, and a cleared for take-off checklist. The last thing anyone wants is for a pilot to forget what to do during a time of crisis. Having a checklist on hand can remove the guesswork that comes with time-sensitive, critical issues like in-flight emergencies. In the case of flying, a proper checklist can save the lives of thousands of people.

Another industry that utilizes checklists and thorough inspections is the healthcare industry. Just like aviation, the healthcare industry relies on checklists to help simplify complex processes that have a direct impact on the wellbeing of a patient. If a surgeon fails to follow proper hygiene protocols, they could risk getting their patients sick and end up with a tremendous lawsuit on their hands. In healthcare, hygiene, something we take for granted, is so important even the World Health Organization has a checklist on how to wash your hands.

Much like healthcare and education, to deliver high quality service, your cleaning company needs to implement regular inspections and checklists for all of your processes.

Skipping over a routine inspection is like a surgeon performing surgery without checking to see if his equipment has been sterilized. The lack of action has real consequences that can result in harming another human being. When it comes to public health, contractors and in-house facilities should be taking the necessary steps to meet quality standards. No shortcuts to deliver world-class service.

Still not convinced? Here are several reasons why your business should incorporate an inspection and checklist process today:

They Protect Against Failures
Atul Gawande says it best in The Checklist Manifesto: “Checklists seem to provide protection against failures. They remind us of the minimum necessary steps and make them explicit.” Inspection processes establish a set of explicit steps and checks in place to provide the standards used to measure your team’s work. Without clearly defined and repeatable items you can easily check, it’s impossible to truly understand how your team is doing.

Once you have a set of criteria in place, you need to maintain frequent inspections. A single inspection once a year won’t produce useful information for contractors and in-house crews looking to improve their service. You want to have your inspections reveal problems as they arise in order to fix them and you won’t get that with a once-a-year inspection. Repeat your checklist process as often as possible to ensure you have an accurate picture of what is happening at all times.

Inspections Provide Actionable Reports
Surgeons use display monitors to alert them of a patient’s vitals and to alert them if there is a complication. Your inspection process should work in the same way for your business. Regular inspections provide up-to-date information that lets you know if one of your clients hasn’t been scoring as well as they should be. Gathering data lets you take action with employees at a particular location that’s suffering to resolve issues before they become big problems for your customer.

Without an inspection, there is no clear way to see issues and trends as they happen. Going back to our examples, a lack of continuous inspection is like a surgeon turning off his display monitors during surgery or a pilot flying without his radio. The doctor is simply guessing what’s going on with his patient and hoping he doesn’t mess up; similarly, the pilot is assuming everything is smooth sailing and is putting his passengers in danger. With actionable reports, you can collect information on all of your services and clients and improve your services as the information comes in.

Simplify Your Employees’ Lives
It’s tough to keep track of complex processes; it’s even tougher to keep track of complex processes that involve hundreds of employees and multiple locations. Simple steps can be easily overlooked and can result in massive headaches for managers trying to determine where things went wrong. “People can lull themselves into skipping steps even when they remember them,” writes Atul Gawande. “If you miss just one key thing, you might as well not have made the effort at all.”

No matter how many times you repeat a process, creating a checklist can help you stay organized and aware of what’s going on at all times. Your employees have a lot on their plate already; the last thing you want is to force your employees to commit complicated steps to memory, even if they perform those same steps every few weeks. Cleaning services are already under the strain of providing clean facilities that support human health so take away the stress of remembering steps with checklists. A checklist is not the same as holding someone’s hand as they walk through a task – it’s simply a way to remind employees of every step in a process and to eliminate any ambiguity they might have.

For any repeatable process, simplify your life by turning a complicated process into an easy-to-read checklist. Routine inspections and mandatory checks keep your business organized and ready to tackle any projects thrown your way. Your world-class service starts with thorough inspection processes – do you have your checklist in place?