The COVID-19 pandemic has taken all of us in surprising new directions. As we at OrangeQC have talked with our teams, interviewed industry experts, and listened in on webinars, one theme has constantly come up: the increasingly prominent role of janitorial services.
That theme came up again when we spoke with Judy Gillies, president of The Surge Group, earlier this month.
“This pandemic has actually highlighted how important cleaning is,” says Judy. “We’ve never been so high on the pecking order.”
Of course, with that visibility comes additional scrutiny.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, some customers may have been willing to take cleaning teams at their word about their processes, especially if the end result looked good. But now, cleaning and disinfection are front and center on peoples’ minds, and looking good isn’t enough.
That’s where a written quality plan and transparent quality tracking come in.
“Everybody should have a quality plan,” says Judy. But that doesn’t mean they do — or that they’ve written it down.
“What this pandemic has done is that everything that should have been in place before, and isn’t quite there, is coming out.”
If you’ve never written down your QC process — or you did, but haven’t been following through — you probably don’t need to start from scratch. We talked with Judy about the necessity of a plan, as well as the most effective steps teams can take towards making one.
What a quality plan does for your team
A quality plan bridges the gap between good intentions and clean, safe buildings.
That’s more important than ever when you’re sanitizing against a virus that’s invisible to the naked eye — and when clients are counting on you help them keep their customers, residents, or stakeholders safe.
Judy says that when she helps companies hire a cleaning contractor, “we want to know that they actually have the stuff that’s in their marketing document.”
Proving that means having processes written down and actively being used, with the paper (or digital) trail to prove it.
Where to get started
Judy pointed to CIMS as a good starting point for getting organized.
Teams that are CIMS certified by ISSA must meet a long list of criteria across a range of areas, from quality systems to health and safety. (Check out our recent blog post on CIMS for more context.) The checklist that CIMS assessors use is available online, and it provides a great starting point for cleaning teams who want to make sure all their ducks are in a row.
Judy says that when she helps organizations hire cleaning contractors, they often look for CIMS certification as a way to verify that the cleaning team has good processes in place.
“If you’re CIMS certified, you’ve got it all in place,” Judy says. “It has to be documented.”
While the independent verification is important, and CIMS certification is especially valuable from a sales standpoint right now, any team can apply the standards to their own organization.
The value of quality control inspections
Of course, a good plan is only the first piece of the quality control puzzle. The next piece is follow-through.
Just as quality plans need to be written down for everyone to see, so too should inspection records be available for review.
“The cleaning industry has never been that great at documentation,” Judy notes. “That’s what OrangeQC gives you. Are you improving or getting worse? It’s all in writing.”
Judy sees teams that have previously relied on an ad-hoc process now developing checklists to ensure that everything is disinfected. Cleaners must check off to verify what they’ve done.
Showcasing inspection data and cleaning sign-offs is an “easy way to communicate that they actually do have the stuff,” Judy says.
Questions cleaning teams can ask themselves
- Do we have a robust quality control plan in place? Our Quality Control 101 series is a great place to start for teams who have never created a written plan before. For teams who do have a written plan, walk through the first section of the CIMS certification checklist and see how many points you have covered. If you aren’t currently CIMS certified, you may want to start that process, which includes additional guidance and support from ISSA.
- Is our quality plan working for us now? The entire point of a plan is to follow it. If your plan isn’t being followed, find out why. Does everyone on your team know about the plan? Have access to a copy? Understand it in their own language? Have the time they need to follow through?
- Can we be using tools to collect and use data more efficiently? If you’ve created a quality control plan and are following through on it, you’ll be creating lots of data. Be sure to review that information regularly and use it to run a data-driven operation. For example, if you log into your OrangeQC web app, you’ll see high-level metrics on your dashboard and can drill down further into specific reports. Setting those reports to be automatically emailed to stakeholders sets that part of the process on auto-pilot.
These questions are worth pausing to reconsider on a regular basis. The day-to-day demands of keeping up with business can sometimes push out those important, but less urgent concerns, so set a date to review and be sure to prioritize what matters in the long run.
If you’re looking for more help getting started, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. As we said above, our Quality Control 101 is also a great place to start.