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The continuous growth of the cleaning industry in the last few years has led to the emergence of professional service providers and end users who believe in not only defining and setting standards but also in finding modes to effectively monitor these and in the process also linking them to the comprehensive performances of their businesses. Julian Harison, Strategic Projects Director, OCS spoke on ‘Understanding Key Performance Indicators’ during the 9th edition of the Clean India Show, 2012.

In India, the contractual relationship in the cleaning industry between a client and a service provider resembles that of a master-servant. The service providers are not equals in that majority of the time. All the intellectual property innovations, technology, management processes & development all is left in the hands of the client. This kind of an order makes it hard for the service provider to add value to the client’s core business and this leads to low cost, low price and commoditising of the cleaning business. To change this order there is a need to usher in professionalism in the business by bringing in the technical information of setting up Service Levels Agreements and Key Performance Indicators in the discussion between the service providers and the clients.

KPIs are loosely defined as a tool that helps the organisations achieve organisational goals through managing and measuring the progress and performance of a given task. The expectations of the client are articulate and for a service provider it is necessary to have definitive and concise set of requirements that will help them to deliver accordingly. When a contract is being set up, the client as well as the service provider sees the benefits in defining the service levels and standards, the specifications including what, when, where and how a given task is completed. The KPI enters the picture after the goals have been setup to ensure the goal is achieved and that it is tangible and measurable for monitoring and management.

The KPIs can be linked to incentivisation; in a basic model it is linked to the contract but it can have a direct approach and could be in the form of financial rewards for achieving the agreed standard. The same implies for penalisation, if the standards set are not met. For e.g. while undertaking a contract in a food production facility, the KPI includes ensuring 92% of cleanliness everyday, if the percentage is not achieved the factory comes to a halt until the given standards are met. This has serious financial implications to the client that may be passed down to the service provider in the form of financial penalties.

When a new relationship is started with the client, a discussion is held on service contracts and service levels where the KPIs are identified and defined as part of contract management system.

The KPIs fit easily into the quality management system as it is structured. The service provider has to make sure that the service provided is not just good but in line with the service levels. The service delivered to the clients changes with respect to the end customer. Care has to be taken to see that the customer is the receiver of the service or the occupier of the buildings where the service is provided or the small group of people that tend to liaise with the service providers in regard to the facility service contract.

The KPIs are measured proactively through timely audits that are carried out through different levels. The audits provide with a proactive feedback for the service provider to check if the standards are bring met. The customer or the client both are subjected to have a subjective opinion that may not necessarily be in line to the technical standards already in place. So the commendations or complaints the service provider receives through customer feedback forms a part of reactive feedback that helps the service provider with the information that can be used as an objective while setting future KPIs. If customer perception is measured as the subjective area of the customer, then customer satisfaction can be used as one of the KPIs. Information collected has to be analysed so that the process can be changed as customer responses are based on emotions that have little bearing with meeting technical perceptions.

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