Photograph: Sebastian Danon (photo: Sebastian Danon)
Photograph: Sebastian Danon
06.06.2014, 13:25

A Clean State of Mind

Dianna Steinbach, Director of Industry Outreach & Marketing at ISSA – The Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association, discusses the link between international cleaning standards and maintaining a facility’s brand equity.

Dianna Steinbach, Director of Industry Outreach & Marketing at ISSA – The Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association, discusses the link between international cleaning standards and maintaining a facility’s brand equity.


Historically, cleaning has been regarded as a cost centre by facility managers and building owners, since it accounts for between 30 and 40 per cent of the typical facility’s operating budget.

The potential impact of poor cleaning on a facility’s brand will weigh more heavily on the minds of most FMs than price, however, which explains why many will only consider service providers that guarantee delivery to international standards.

In a 2013 report on the United Kingdom’s £110 billion integrated facilities management market, Grant Thornton observe:

“Big clients want that brand protection – they don’t want an endless list of suppliers that could potentially destroy their brand overnight through the actions of one bad security guard or cleaner, etc.”

The authors of the report also point out that these concerns have led major multinationals to question whether they should turn to self-delivery; notwithstanding the significant outlays that will be required to establish effective cleaning infrastructures in different locales.

Fortunately, however, this approach is unnecessary since both major global cleaning industry associations, the British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc) and United States-based ISSA, publish standards to help FMs identify cleaning contractors who are making a concerted effort to meet their needs.


ISSA’s Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS)

Launched in 2006, ISSA’s CIMS programme is a consensus-based model for contracted and in-house cleaning personnel and was developed with input from facility stakeholders and experts. The standard is used to certify compliance with cleaning standards in five key areas that are considered critical for facility managers.

To achieve certification, cleaning providers must undergo a comprehensive, on-site assessment by an independent, accredited auditor who will evaluate:

  • Quality Systems
  • Health, Safety & Environmental Stewardship
  • Service Delivery
  • Management Commitment; and
  • Human Resources

Providers are required further to demonstrate their ongoing commitment to maintaining the highest levels of service delivery by renewing their certification periodically.

CIMS therefore provides third-party validation of a cleaning contractor’s credentials and an assurance that they are meeting key management needs.

Case Study: Seneca One Realty, Buffalo, New York

Kim Tripp, Director of Building Services for Seneca One Realty in Buffalo, New York, requires certification of any contractor who bids for cleaning of her facility (a multi-tenant, Class A office building comprising approximately 968,000 square feet spread over 40 storeys).

She feels strongly about the overall value, noting that a CIMS-certified provider will have procedures in place to deliver consistent, quality service that will result in a cleaner, healthier building for the occupants of One HSBC Centre.

“We believe that the CIMS certification provides a standard for establishing a customer centred organisation”, notes Tripp, before adding that “such an organisation is exactly the type of business we want to partner with”.

Following a quality management framework such as CIMS supports the need of facility managers for a well-managed, dependable cleaning operation focused on professionalism and a commitment to excellence

Following a quality management framework such as CIMS supports the need of facility managers for a well-managed, dependable cleaning operation focused on professionalism and a commitment to excellence. When a cleaning operation’s principles align with facility management principles, it helps facility managers make better, easier decisions regarding cleaning.

In fact, executives gain increased confidence in their chosen contractor by using CIMS as a powerful pre-requirement for tender and bids.



Much Needed Connections

The International Facilities Management Association (IFMA) research report, “Facility Management Forecast – Exploring the Current Trends and Future Outlook for Facility Management”, identifies several issues that influence the direction of facility management.

The CIMS Standard helps match many of those specific needs.


Some internally driven trends

The increasing quantity and complexity of data available to facility managers through new reporting protocols poses challenges and opportunities for the profession. More facility departments have added the ability to convert raw data into usable and meaningful information that fosters informed decision making.
CIMS requires cleaning organisations to gather and have available various valuable data as outlined in its Quality Management and Service Delivery principles – work loading numbers, budgets, costing data, industry benchmarks, etc. All of this will be more easily available for facility managers.

Finding top talent is gaining greater importance and it is necessary to recognise that facility management may not necessarily be the first career choice of new graduates today. Yet the expectation that reliable individuals will be brought into facilities is high and the profession will need to increase/improve its branding and outreach.

CIMS’ Human Resources principle focuses on efficiently and effectively managing “human capital” in a way that enhances organisational performance. This includes written plans for recruitment, selection, and retention; as well as a plan for management training.

There is a growing desire to elevate facility management to improve the recognition and perceived value of the profession within the corporate hierarchy. Many have achieved success in this arena through careful alignment with their organisation’s mission and by emphasising facility professionals’ role as managers of significant assets and enablers of the organisation’s mission, vision and values.

CIMS certification provides cleaning organisations with third-party validation that an operation is well-managed and quality-driven. Moreover, certification helps to elevate and enhance the professionalism of cleaning organisations within the facility management function.


Organisationally driven trends

Increasingly, organisations are expanding their expectations of facility management to include both technical and business acumen, which drives the need for an evolving skill-set for those in the profession. While the technical aspects are generally well understood, the increased focus on business acumen will require facility professionals to think and act strategically and to communicate their positions in the language of the senior management team.
CIMS helps ensure facility managers have the cleaning operations data that is needed to present to executives looking for numbers and the impact on bottom line profits. Work loading and budgeting data required by the Service Delivery principle, along with results from surveys and inspections as covered in the Quality Management principle, will help to illustrate the outcomes of changes in labour numbers and cleaning frequencies.

There is a growing recognition that facility management contributes to the health and well-being of building occupants, thereby benefiting efficiency, productivity and profitability — key pillars of an organisation’s bottom line.
The Health, Safety and Environmental Stewardship principles ensure quality cleaning and maintenance services are safe, healthy and sustainable. They also positively impact the built environment. Proper cleaning procedures and frequencies also outlined in the Standard reduce the spread of infection and help decrease worker absenteeism due to illness.
When such important interests are proven to be adequately covered, the peace of mind for facility managers is priceless.
With your brand in the right hands, cleaning operations may start to look less like a cost centre and more like a value centre.




The CIMS programme is currently available in the United States and the United Kingdom and Ireland (where it is administered by ISSA partner, BICS Business Services).

Managers interested in learning more about CIMS, or requiring it of their service providers, can visit BICS Business Services at or contact +44 (0)1604 678710 for more information

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