Measurement matters more

Nils J.van der Zijl, VP Sales & Marketing at Softbank Robotics EMEA, reports on the measurement gap in cleaning.

A lot has been said about the need for the cleaning industry to adapt to the challenge of COVID-19. Improved cleaning and hygiene standards are seen as critical in protecting against the spread of the virus, and in instilling confidence in workers and customers around the safety of buildings during the pandemic and, critically, as people return to their workplace.

For FM providers and cleaning contractors, the pressure is on to drive performance and productivity, whilst managing cost and resources against a challenging economic backdrop.

As contractors strive to deliver enhanced levels of service for clients and provide clean and safe spaces for building end users, many simply don’t have the processes, technology and data to measure performance improvements and demonstrate this additional value.

Recent research of FM leaders in the EMEA region exposed the extent of this measurement gap within the cleaning industry. A mere 17% of FM organisations currently report on KPIs such as return on investment (ROI) and total cost of ownership (TCO), and a staggering 18% don’t formally measure or report on cleaning operations at all.

Worryingly, for all the focus on innovation and productivity, 80% of FM leaders admit that measuring cleaning performance and validating cleaning results is still a challenge. For an industry seeking to develop longer-term, strategic partnerships with clients in order to protect and grow margins, this represents a huge problem.

How can FM providers and cleaning contractors demonstrate value and business impact to clients when they’re often unable to point to any hard metrics?

Time out

With cleaning in the spotlight like never before, now’s the time for service providers to review approaches to measurement and develop new strategies which deliver meaningful and timely metrics around the things that actually matter to clients and end users.

Rigid input-focused KPIs, based around time and resource, aren’t relevant in a dynamic, agile and unpredictable business environment. As with other industries, measurement should be output and outcome-centric, based on real-time data and insight around quality, productivity and business impact.

Our research found that FM leaders want measurement to evolve dramatically over the next five years to cover a wider range of measures including health, sustainability and employee satisfaction.

There has to be a move towards measuring the real business 50 | TECHNOLOGY

impact of creating clean, safe and comfortable building environments. Within the airline industry, that’s the time it takes to get passengers through airport security and into retail and hospitality areas. Within professional services, it’s how quickly and seamlessly organisations can get people into the building and performing fee-earning work.

During these challenging times, this is what really matters to business. Can cleaning be performed to such a standard that workers and customers feel safe and confident visiting buildings? Can it drive improved employee wellbeing and retention? And how can we measure this?

Measurement is key

Once FM providers and cleaning contractors enter into these types of conversations with clients, demonstrating how improved cleaning performance can have a tangible impact on business performance and profit, and providing real consultancy and advice on re-opening buildings, that’s a major turning point for our industry.

We’re seeing some of our clients using data and insight generated through cobotics to create a dashboard of hard, business-focused metrics which can be used to track performance, prove value and optimise operations in real-time. This leads to performance-based contracts with shared risks and rewards, something that’s much needed to meet the needs of businesses now and in the move towards smart buildings.

It’s time to take a more strategic and robust approach to measurement, using data to showcase improvements in hygiene, productivity and bottom line business impact. That’s what’s needed to tackle the current challenges to transform our industry and get our economies working again.

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