Last week I wrote for the European Cleaning Journal on the benefits for facility management companies of implementing and running IT systems and procedures to improve front and back office operations.

In today’s era of ubiquitous portable technology I am surprised at the low level of adoption within our industry of such easily available resources. Internet based applications can differentiate a business from its competitors through improved service quality, and efficiency and profitability of back office procurement tasks.

Despite the availability of standard or customized internet based solutions I have seen facility management companies and executives struggle with key tasks such as workforce planning, service programming or online purchasing automation.

For a service deployment manager one of the least desirable things is to have a poorly programmed day with resources sitting idle. And for a procurement VP, dealing with more than 100 product and equipment suppliers, the net provides amazing opportunities for automation. Let me explain where I see the two biggest potential areas for facility management companies.

Front end applications for improved service quality

Having worked for many years with the leading actors in the field, I have seen the best innovation coming from tools such as computers or hand-held devices that are simple to operate. Centrally managed and locally deployed, these tools offer a powerful way to achieve optimal work-loading and allocation, labor and cost estimation, inspection, and optimization:

  • Work-loading and allocation: scheduling routine/daily tasks, balancing workloads, generating and printing assignments
  • Labor & cost estimation: calculating employee and budget needs, managing inventory, supplies and equipment.
  • Inspection: PDA and PC-based inspections helping to capture critical observations and identify areas demanding immediate attention
  • Optimization: real-time reporting, employee performance analysis and continuous improvement.

These workforce planning tools allow your facility management company to do more with less, and significantly differentiate you and your business; they elevate professionalism, enhance productivity and improve the level of cleanliness of buildings.

And then there are the labor savings…

Back end applications for efficient and profitable procurement

Knowing that the number of tools regularly used to deploy a good facility management task is just too high, there is a level of complexity that needs to be managed efficiently.

There is a need to enhance cleaning operations through optimization of the supply chain. E-procurement systems are good at this, with the capability to deliver significant benefits by streamlining processes and improving financial performance.

Because there are very few dedicated online procurement systems for building service contractors, my suggestion is to create a small team to research the options available and ask your chosen vendor to customize a system that is right for you.

The main benefits of E-procurement systems are:

  • Standardization and harmonization of product ranges to streamline business processes
  • Control and visibility of spending to lower operating costs
  • Robust reporting to deliver powerful business intelligence
  • Improved operational efficiency and supply chain management.

For one building service company with 2,500 customer locations – spending of 17 million euros with 58 suppliers for janitorial, uniforms, office supplies, etc. – a procurement system designed for cleaning operations supplies and consumables achieved annual product spend reduction of 10 percent and reduced admin processing costs by 80 per cent, saving 346,000 euros per year.

Another European building service contractor was able to reassign 16 full time employees in its accounts payable department by using electronic invoice matching capabilities.

We call upon businesses in our industry to start adopting such tools – for their own sake. The bigger your business, the bigger the rewards. There is nothing riskier than doing things the same old way.

Read the full article in the European Cleaning Journal  here.