Quality deserves more than a score

11th of June 2024
Quality deserves more than a score

John Griep at VSR in the Netherlands explains how the organisation assesses cleaning quality.

At VSR, we do not assess cleaning quality by means of a score, but with the Acceptance Quality Limit (AQL), part of our proven VSR-KMS system. For the quality of cleaning delivered, an unambiguous score is simply inadequate. You can’t just lump different types of cleaning work together and make a uniform judgment. This ignores all kinds of important data.

From that point of view we’ve developed the VSR-KMS system, which is based on statistics and percentages. The AQL within this system represents a percentage that indicates the number of errors allowed in a specific room of a specific building. You have different requirements for cleaning a sanitary area than for cleaning workplaces, don’t you?

As soon as the collaboration between a client and a cleaning company starts, the preconditions for the AQL are drawn up. That starts by first identifying the needs of the end user. Think, for example, of office workers who want to use clean sanitary facilities on a daily basis.

Based on these needs, a suitable cleaning programme is chosen. This includes all elements - things that need to be cleaned, such as a desk or office chair - and sample units (an entire workstation). The contracting parties then determine the MAF values (maximum number of error possibilities).

The MAF is a category-building-specific indicator. By combining the number of sample units in the control of a room category (eg, ‘sanitary area’ or ‘open-plan office’) with the MAF value of that category, an approval limit is created. So the maximum number of allowed errors that may result from a sample/check. This is then displayed in a margin of error (AQL percentage) and is the minimum acceptable quality level (AQL) of the service.

Thanks to the AQL method, you can easily determine different quality levels for different types of buildings and spaces. For washrooms, a relatively strict maximum error rate of four per cent is usually used. Offices, classrooms and other common rooms may have an AQL of seven per cent. In specific industries, lower AQL values of one per cent and two per cent are also used. For production environments for food products or treatment rooms of healthcare providers.

The AQL also lends itself very well to identifying trends in cleaning quality. There is a margin between the AQL value and the actual number of errors made if a cleaning company delivers sufficient quality. And this margin can fluctuate over time. The following applies: the larger the margin, the better the delivered cleaning quality and vice versa. Over a period of time you can use the AQL for trend analyses. It is important you can only compare rooms/buildings with the same AQL values.

In practice, we see some parties link the AQL margins to a report grade. At VSR, we don’t allow this. Complex data that says something about a certain type of space within a specific building simply cannot be flattened into a single number. So trend analysis, yes; grade, no.

When the reporting is applied correctly, the VSR-KMS system provides a confidence rate of at least 95 per cent. Thanks to the use of AQLs  both the client and the cleaning company receive a reliable statement about the quality delivered.


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  • ISSA Interclean
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