Healthy Facilities™

12 Steps to Developing a Cleaning Production System™ or CPS™

By Rex Morrison, President PC4HF

A production system is designed to produce something, thus in setting up a “Cleaning Production System” (CPS) - it is important to identify what you want to produce. For the purpose of this discussion, we believe step number one is to:

1.   Start with the right philosophy, then identify the right process.

Process Cleaning for Healthy Schools (PC4HS) Consortium members believe in cleaning for health (CFH). This is what we want to produce – a healthy indoor environment through cleaning. The right process flows from this approach in almost all instances. This involves adopting procedures that remove rather than re-distribute contaminants. The drive toward cleaning for health with today’s limited resources has led the PC4HS group to identify methods of soil handling that remove and do not introduce pollutants into the indoor environment, and also eliminate wasted steps.

2.   Create flow - work like the tortoise not the hare.

Flow occurs like a row of falling but carefully aligned dominos; one domino - once nudged forward - moves the next one forward and creates perpetual motion with little new external energy applied. So it is with cleaning: when tasks are so well defined and synchronized that one task leads into another, then flow is naturally achieved and the work resembles the steady forward movement of a purposeful and energy-saving tortoise, not the mad rushing of a hard working but unsustainable hare. PC4HS levels out the workload so no one works hard, everyone enters a state of flow, and everyone works steadily – like the tortoise not the hare.

3.   Get quality right the first time.

It often takes twice as much time to re-work or re-clean a poorly cleaned area, so you should always strive to clean once and do it right the first time. This also boosts morale because it’s better to get compliments from work done right and consistently the first time, then complaints about areas needing more work.

It is vitally important to test procedures, practice them, and measure outcomes using objective assessment tools such as ATP meters or even newer allergen-level sampling or testing tools, to determine what works best - then use that quality-delivery process consistently, which leads up to...

4.   Standardize tasks and processes, then keep improving and re-standardizing.

You cannot have peace of mind and good hygienic results if you have 450 ways to clean a restroom stemming from 450 custodians each cleaning restrooms their own way as we did in one of our pre-PC4HS school districts; therefore, we repeatedly emphasize: standardize your processes and succeed. Without a standardized way of doing things, you cannot have repeatability or effective and consistent training, and you will, instead, have chaos and confusion. Also, a standardized way of doing things, gives you a clear and understandable baseline to improve upon. So keep looking for improved ways of doing things, then once you find a better way, make that the new standardized process and keep improving and re-standardizing the improvement.

5.   People are visual creatures; take pictures or video of the ideal work, processes and procedures.

Taking and sharing photographs of areas that have been optimally cleaned and organized and helping your staff “get the picture” helps them to achieve desired results in your CPS. Recording video, with permission, of your best workers in action – as well as others – can provide a visual how-to-do-it guide (as well as a how-not-to-do-it guide) for staff while also permitting constructive “Monday morning quarterbacking” of your cleaning “plays” to help the entire team improve and win.

6.   Technology should serve the worker not vice versa - Investigate new technologies very carefully, but once proven, implement them system-wide almost w/o exception.

Technology is a wonderful slave but a terrible master. Test and prove the benefits of technology before turning it loose in your operation. Certain proven technologies make sense as effective, high productivity “slaves” in your CPS. Examples include backpack vacuums for classrooms, and spray-and-vac machines for restrooms. These tools clean better and save time over older methods. Use them.

7.   Grow leaders from within who deeply believe in the philosophy of CFH and teach it by word & deed.

Grow managers from among your staff rather than hiring from the outside. Develop “T-type” leaders with broad experience across specialties at your own facility while having deep roots in cleaning at your own facility (see sidebar, Developing T-Type Leaders). These managers should lead by example first then words, in the spirit of “show and tell”.

8.   Establish a strong culture or DNA within your CPS.

The Cleaning for Health philosophy should be deeply instilled in everyone on your team, and every decision should revolve around the question: “Does it lead to clean and healthy?” This should be part of your organizational DNA.

9.   Respect your network of suppliers and partners - challenge them to grow with you.

Suppliers often have the deepest expertise in useful products, as well as an objective outside perspective to share with you; look for suppliers and business partners who share your Cleaning for Health philosophy and DNA. They can help you and you can help them the most.

10.   Clean the building yourself to understand the problem.

Never ask a worker to do a job you have not personally done yourself. This is hypocritical and never works. Get your hands dirty and learn with your crew and staff from time to time. Preach only what you practice.

11.   Ask "why" several times and ask each member of your crew, to build consensus - decide slowly and implement quickly.

Involve your entire team in decisions affecting them, and keep asking “why” up to five or more times when important issues are on the table. Achieve consensus slowly, then implement agreed-upon solutions quickly.

12.   Become a teaching and learning organization, and keep exposing your own mistakes and limitations so you can grow.

Each person on your staff should be teaching you something every day and you should be teaching them too – this makes both of you simultaneous and humble learners and teachers. Teaching something is the best way to learn something and to grow, since you must stay ahead of the “students” - which is everyone.


About Rex Morrison, President PC4HF

Rex Morrison is president of the nonprofit Process Cleaning for Healthy Facilities (PC4HF). Morrison is formerly the housekeeping training coordinator for the Washoe County School District (WCSD) in Reno, Nevada, one of the few districts in the nation to achieve ISO 9001 certification due to its focus on quality and standardized process. He pioneered Process Cleaning for Healthy Schools (PCHS) in 100 schools in Washoe County, and more recently developed PC4HF. Morrison is also a Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS) ISSA Certification Expert (ICE) ready to provide training and consulting services to cleaning organizations interested in complying with and preparing to be certified to CIMS.