How to set up Cleaning Audits

How to conduct cleaning auditsProgrammed cleaning audits are a key factor in maintaining and improving cleaning standards and maintaining high standards of hygiene in healthcare.  Cleaning audits are being implemented in an increasing number of commercial contracts to measure value for money from cleaning services and to minimise risk.  A properly managed audit process can provide a balanced scorecard forof the total cleaning process, improve safety for cleaning workers and building occupants, promote efficiencies and generate significant performance outcomes, including cost savings for both service providers and building owners.

The key aspects of a comprehensive cleaning audit process include:

  1. Clearly defined specifications
  2. Compliance with Occupational Health and Safety requirements
  3. Clearly defined objectives for the audit program
  4. Clearly defined outcomes for cleaning service delivery
  5. A scoring system and minimum standard benchmark that enables accurate and objective assessment and measurement of outcomes
  6. Software to enable real time measurement,reporting and tracking of outcomes
  7. An ongoing audit program
  8. Trained auditors

Cleaning specifications.  Your Cleaning Specifications should describe the tasks to be performed and specify both minimum frequencies of tasks and expected outcomes in terms of levels of cleanliness and consistent delivery to expectations.  They should also be tailored to the type of area, rather than be generic.  Both staff and contractors should have explicit information and criteria on the expected outcomes in their areas or with the facility as a whole.  Without defined base-level standards, ie a baseline, then there is nothing to measure your audit process against.

Occupational Health & Safety. Compliance with Occupational Health and Safety requirements is an essential component of cleaning audits.  OH&S audits should include chemical safety and storage, equipment safety and test and tag compliance, site safety manuals and training records, operational safety, hygiene compliance (e.g. compliance with colour coding, cleanliness and laundering of cleaning cloths and mops, cleanliness and hygiene of the storage area and security of storage areas are part of an OHS audit).

Define your objectives.  What do you want to measure, why do you want to measure it, what  do you want to compare the data against and how will this measure quality or improve outcomes?   Do you want to capture data for immediate verification, or do you want a longer term measurement of the cleaning outcomes to monitor trends?  Are your concerns related to just cleaning or do you want a broader measurement of cleaning services such as health & safety compliance, efficiency, people management, value for money, asset performance, (i.e. life cycle costs of floorcoverings) contractual compliance and stakeholder feedback?

Define your outcomes.  Create your Key Performance Measures (KPM’s) to describe the required outcomes.  KPM’s are points of reference that describe the standard expected for each task you are measuring.  For instance, a KPM for cleaning windows and partition glass might be ‘On completion of the task all glass surfaces, frames and sills, must be clean, and free of streaks, marks and smears’.  A clear description of what is expected will allow both the auditor and the cleaner to do their jobs better.

Scoring of selected tasks should be balanced to the requirements of the facility and may be weighted to reflect crucial issues within an area. For instance, a hospital may focus on clinical touch points rather than the standard of external window glass by weighting the audit score and demerits accordingly.  Hollistic scoring should be based on a defined benchmark target score

Software.  Electronic data capture  using tablets and mobile devices  using specialist auditing applications is probably the simplest way to collect, correlate and interpret data.  A flexible audit software system is essential to ensure that outcomes can be measured accurately and rectification is conducted in real time.  Audits need to include photos to show samples of issues and inspection workflow is required to enable tracking of rectifcation of service shortfalls.  Audit data can provide risk analysis and risk management, facility benchmarking, performance management and data comparisons, limited only by the breadth of the data base and the flexibility and accessibility of the software system.

One of the most flexible and comprehensive  performance management programs is VivantFM Contract Management Software (www.vivantfm.com.au).  With the right software and auditing systems,  Facility management can measure and manage and report on performance today, last week, over any given period of a contract, area to area, cleaner to cleaner, building to building, facility to facility, or even establish and measure against national benchmarks.

Programming of Audits. The method, frequency and timing of data collection is an important consideration.  For instance, data may be irrelevant if cleaning is in the morning and the audit is performed in the afternoon.  The timing is important, as is the randomness of the process.  If audits are performed to a strict timetable or pre-advised, then cleaners know when to put in the most effort and the audit will not return a true picture of cleaning performance.  Continuous auditing means continuous improvement – a single audit will not pick up all the potential weak links in your program. Transparency and Real Time availability are paramount.

Trained Auditors.  Finally, you have to decide who will collect the data.  Relying on internal audits or self audits has limitations as the results can be influenced by good intentions gone wrong and lack of objectivity.  Ongoing training and assessment programs for internal  auditors is recommended to ensure objectivity and fairness.  Auditing has to be an independent objective analysis of cleaning standards .  The best solution is a balance of internal and external audits conducted by trained industry specialists.  One of the leading organisations specialising in set up and provisioning of comprehensive performance management processes is FM Contract Solutions.

An Audit program should not be a punitive process.  Rather, it should be seen as a management tool to ensure value for money, expose inefficiencies and promote processes of improvement.  Ideally, audit frameworks should enable you to monitor both cleaning inputs and outputs and to enable you to look at all the elements involved in the cleaning process to identify not just what has failed, but why it has failed and how can the failure be eliminated in the future by more effectively managing resources.

For more information or for a quote to provide audit services for your facility please contact us now.

© Brian Clark  FM Contract Solutions 2019