Home > Leadership, The Monday Musings Column > Musings from the facilities front #2

Musings from the facilities front #2

Service Level Agreements; where would we be without them? A lot better off in the case of most of those that I have inherited and I would like to tear them all up.The need to be specific about things is self-evident, but it needs to be thought through. Sadly common sense seems to be one of the first things that vanishes when people get into the nitty-gritty of the SLA; take this example.

At one of the sites that I am helping out at the cleaning was outsourced more than 20 years ago. There have been a few changes of contractor along the way, but the contract specification, SLA and KPIs are pretty much unchanged since the outsourcing. Also, with TUPE, some of the cleaning team are folks who were once direct employees at the site.

One of the buildings has a tiled area running across the entire frontage. As part of the original cost saving it was decided that instead of mopping the whole of the frontage only a portion in front of the main entrance would be cleaned on the daily schedule with the rest to be done monthly. So far so good, but where does the daily clean stop? Someone came up with the answer that the daily clean should be the area in front of reception plus a three paving slab width either side.

Now this site is not fenced off and is open to the public with the inevitable consequence that people pass through at all hours of the day and night and some leave evidence of their passage. One such passer-by had left behind the contents of their stomach and by chance their gift to us straddled the join between the third and fourth rows of slabs from the entrance.

You know where this is going; the cleaner had cleaned the mess from their area and left the rest. Oh, the joys of demarcation. The cleaning company manager was apologetic, but they have their targets to meet and are under pressure, like the rest of us, to do more with less, but this is where poorly thought out SLAs and KPIs fail us all, clients, suppliers and end users. If not done well they do not encourage sharing the objectives and become divisive. It is all done with the best of intentions; ensuring accountability, value for money, measuring performance and more, but the end result is all too often inflexible, confrontational and more of an impediment to progress.

A far better way is to have agreements and measures that are about how we all contribute to delivering the objective; it is about us, not us and them. And don’t be afraid to change measures over time. Holding on to something that was a valid measure 2 years ago (let alone 20) really has little value. To move measure along and have them evolve with changing needs is far more practical, adds value and helps to motivate those who have to deliver.

If anyone is still wondering about the puke on the pavement, well I cleaned that up; leadership starts at the top.



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