Tag Archives: contract cleaning

Tomorrow’s Cleaning (Jan 2017) – "Integration, Integration, Integration"

We’re featured in the January 2017 issue of Tomorrow’s Cleaning

Even though the workforce accounts for every cleaning contractor’s largest expense, the value of workforce management data often goes unnoticed.

Not any more, however. Developments in workforce management software and cloud integration means contractors can unlock the value from their workforce data to drive business efficiency. Nick Whiteley from Vanquish Integrated People Solutions explains.

Workforce management for the cleaning industry has come on leaps and bounds.

Gone are the days of having to putting up with the frustrations and errors associated with timesheets and spreadsheets or ‘off-the-shelf’ systems that are unable to cope with the idiosyncrasies of the industry.

After much development work, solutions dedicated solely to the cleaning industry have started to emerge.

These have been developed in close collaboration with leading contractors to deliver the tools and features that contractors have long yearned, such as the ability to –

  • Centralise the workforce in a single software solution
  • View the workforce from a contract perspective
  • Track ‘actual’ worked hours against hours forecasted
  • Collate real-time data from remote client sites and track staff movements
  • Apply different pay rates for staff working on multiple contracts
  • Simplify the management of multi-tenancy buildings with Building Reference functions
  • Assign ‘best-fit’ and ‘best-cost’ to meet strict budgets
  • Create ‘Teams’ of workers who regularly work together for fast scheduling
  • Configure ‘Assumed Hours’ to manage workers

Collectively the advanced functions enable contractors to gain total transparency of the workforce, better plan and manage workers to meet the requirements of each contract and gain a better understanding of their labour costs.

Integration – the key to unlocking value from your workforce

As powerful as workforce management systems are on their own, their return and strategic value is heightened profoundly when integrated with other key business functions.

Cleaning contractors typically rely on a myriad of systems, such as CMS, accounting, payroll and HR to run their business, but a lack of direct integration with workforce management means contractors are left with an incomplete and disparate picture of how well a business is performing against customer expectations, costs and quality.

Workforce management systems provide the only opportunity to engage with the workforce at the point of service delivery. Subsequently, the data is critical to gaining an insight into contract costs and staff productivity.

In the absence of true integration valuable time is often spent duplicating data, leading to the potential for errors and inaccuracies to occur.

Innovations in cloud technology and API platforms have made integration with workforce management easier, faster to implement and more cost effective, opening up the possibility for ‘best of breed’ back-office systems to profit from workforce data to enrich their own functionality.

Data can now be ‘pushed’ and ‘pulled’ from connected systems in real-time without hiccups, allowing core business functions to be automated and streamlined without the need for further data entry.

With easy and open access to their workforce management system, contractors have the flexibility to leverage all the industry-specific features from a dedicated system, as highlighted above, and then extract whatever data they need, however and whenever they need it.

For instance, they can apply the necessary pay rates for each contract, prepare team rotas to meet service level agreements, and then track on-site activity to ensure staff have arrived and finished on time.

Attendance data can then be ‘pushed’ back to the central hub to populate timesheets required for payroll and invoicing.

Strategic benefits

Integrating core business functions with workforce management brings both administrative and strategic benefits.

With all data entered once and made available in a single database, which is always up-to-date, contractors can gain total a holistic view of their entire operation and make better informed decisions based on ‘one version of the truth’ to drive a more profitable business.

For instance, they can make a direct comparison between how long each contract takes to clean and hour many hours were budgeted for, and use this information to determine which contracts are profitable and those causing excessive drain on resource.

With this information to hand contractors can enforce best practice and cost out more accurate quotes safe in the knowledge that their margin is protected.

Meanwhile, on a day-to-day basis, time and cost savings are achieved through reduced data duplication, the removal of errors, and fewer payroll and invoicing enquiries from employees and clients.

The fact it’s all hosted in the cloud, means managers can access the data anytime, anywhere from any web-enabled device and the return on investment is immediate as there are zero demands on placed on the contractor’s network infrastructure.

The final piece in the jigsaw

For far too long, there has been a tendency for workforce management to exist as an isolated business function.

But with the workforce representing every contractor’s largest expense, as much as 75 per cent of overall costs, workforce management systems hold some of the most meaningful data available to contractors.

Thanks to new feature and integration capabilities, workforce management can now release its value and move to the heart of the decision-making process, where it rightly belongs.

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Tomorrow's Cleaning Jan2017

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Cleaning & Maintenance (Dec 2016) – "Integration Streamlines Core Processes"

We’re featured in the Dec 2016 issue of Cleaning & Maintenance magazine.

In the current issue of Cleaning & Maintenance, Vanquish-IPS Software Developer, Matt Hawkes and Managing Director Nick Whiteley explain how the development of a new API platform is helping cleaning contractors to seamlessly integrate Vanquish with third party software without the need for further data entry.

In particular, they highlight how real-time integration with Vanquish workforce management data helps contractors  to drive efficiencies right across the business and gain a clear picture of how they are performing against client expectations, costs and quality.

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Cleaning & Maintenance Dec 2016

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We're featured in the Feb 16 issue of Tomorrow's FM

With stricter sentencing guidelines now in place for Health & Safety offences, our Operations Director Christian Berenger explained to Tomorrow’s FM Magazine how workforce management software can help contractors meet their obligations.


Carelessness Costs

Changes to the Corporate Manslaughter and Homicide Act should act as a wakeup call to facilities management contractors to consider how they safeguard the welfare of their workforce.

From February this year judges can take into account the company’s turnover, profits and directors’ pay when deciding what fine to impose so that it is large enough to have an economic impact on the organisation involved.

That means major companies, with an annual turnover of more than £50m convicted of corporate manslaughter could face fines of up to £20m under new sentencing guidelines, and up to £10m for fatal health and safety offences.

The Sentencing Council says stricter fines are required to reflect the severity of the crimes committed and should act as a deterrent to bring home to an organisation the importance of operating in a safe environment.

With tougher sanctions now in place, the onus is now on facilities contactors to prioritise worker safety by evaluating their compliance procedures and putting robust systems in place to safeguard the welfare of workers.

Increased visibility

Workforce management systems have evolved to provide contractors in the FM industry with the tools they need to protect lone workers, mitigate risks and streamline compliance obligations.

They no longer simply automate employee start and finish times, but are powerful tracking applications that provide a true insight into what’s happening at site level, allowing managers to manage multiple sites, monitor worker movements and demonstrate proof of service delivery.

The real-time nature of today’s systems means managers can immediately spot if a worker arrives late on site.

If a worker fails to clock in at a scheduled time, the software will highlight the anomaly to managers so they can respond immediately and make contact with the employee to check their welfare.

Direct integration with on-site fire alarm systems also supports managers to account for every individual in the event of an emergency. Should an evacuation take place, automatic roll call reports can be sent out to the muster points so they can determine exactly who was on site at the time of the incident.

Mitigating risks

Active management of compliance documentation and deadlines also helps contractors enforce their compliance to regulations and optimise workforce utilisation.

Serving as a comprehensive HR tool and document management solution, the latest systems make it easier to store, access and stay on top of individual’s Right to Work eligibility, Visa applications, qualifications, skills and licences, eliminating over-reliance on paper files and spreadsheets.

Alerts can be configured to inform managers when important expiry dates are approaching to ensure that all licenses and certifications remain fully up-to-date and valid.

With more contractors operating a one-stop service, detailed intelligence about each worker’s background, credentials and skill sets empowers managers to create accurate rosters by allocating the right workers, with the right competencies, to each job.

Skills shortfalls are also easier to identify. A good example is if a cleaner is appointed to a contract at a school or hospital and fails to have a relevant DBS check or a specific shift fails to include a designated fire marshal or first aid representative; this will be automatically flagged up so they can make necessary adjustments to minimise risks.

Meanwhile, the capacity to record risk assessments, briefing meetings, specific job instructions and safety guidance allows workers to view and acknowledge that they have understood them before commencing their work.

Proactive approach

All too often a contractor’s health and safety failings are only highlighted in the aftermath of an incident following an investigation.

But with tougher penalties now in place, the implication of a serious incident in the workplace is not worth thinking about.

Prevention is always better than the cure and a move to workforce management now provides an opportunity for contractors to adopt a proactive approach to worker safety and keep on top of compliance processes.


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Gain a competitive edge with robust costing methods

Robust costing is key to improving margin growth says John Karakashian managing director at JK Business Support who argues the case for contractors to adopt workforce management technology in an exclusive interview with Vanquish-IPS.

cleaning matters jan2016

cleaning – robust costing

Client contracts are the backbone of any cleaning business. But, building and sustaining a profitable portfolio is impossible unless contractors know the cost of delivering their service.

Most cleaning companies don’t have the resource or time to step back and look at the way they are doing their business. But they must evaluate their internal procedures if they want to be competitive in today’s ‘price driven’ industry.

Rising costs and increased competition have pushed down profit margins. At the same time buyers have become more professional and astute about how contracts are costed. They expect more from their supplier and want to know that they are receiving the service they are paying for.

As a result contractors are now under pressure to look at their prices and come up with innovative ways to offer the most competitive product possible.

Resource management

With labour costs accounting for between 65 and 75% of overall operational costs, Karakashian says workforce management technology can help contractors to cost out and deliver more profitable contracts.

Cloud-based workforce management systems developed specifically for the cleaning industry, like Vanquish, provide contractors with a real-time view of staff utilisation and onsite activity so they can deliver ‘true wages’ for the work completed and clearly demonstrate what work has been carried out to the customer.

Every cleaner is different and they work at different work rates. But by monitoring staff attendance against assigned tasks and shifts, contractors can identify the productivity ratio of each cleaner.

With detailed intelligence about each worker, including their skill set and availability, managers can allocate the right amount of hours and resource to meet strict budgets.

Costing knowledge is power

The ability to calculate how long each contract takes to clean means managers can drive a more profitable business. If a contractor costs out a contract at 10 hours a week and the actual work is carried out in nine they can deliver a more profitable job by doing things more efficiently. In my view, that’s not being fraudulent towards the customer but applying productivity to do the same job in less time.

In turn, with greater clarity of costs, contractors are better placed to maintain existing contracts and win new tenders in today’s cost conscious environment.

If contractors can deliver an accountable service they can prove to the customer that they know the contract inside out. This will instil client confidence and help to establish a long-term relationship.

Inevitably competitors will attempt to undercut the current supplier. But unless they know the cost of delivering their service they simply have to rely on guesswork. Guess wrong and they end up either losing money, by throwing too much resource at contracts, or delivering an inferior service which leads to the customer paying more for what they are actually getting.

By using workforce management technology contractors can calculate contracts as accurately as possible using a historical audit trail of data, and prepare new quotes with the knowledge that their profit is protected.

Customers don’t necessarily want the cheapest price. They want value for money and proof from contractors that they can deliver what they say they will.

Tomorrow's Cleaning Dec 2015 – The Aston Martin of Management Technology

We’re featured in the December 2015 issue of Tomorrow’s Cleaning magazine, in which Vanquish is labelled the Aston Martin of Management technology.

Our Operations Director, Christian Berenger explains the benefits that can be achieved when facilities managers make the decision to maximise their resource by investing in workforce management technology.

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HR professionals have limited access to workforce analytics

The majority of HR professionals do not have access to workforce analytics, a recent study carried out by Source for Consulting in partnership with business applications and service provider, Advanced Business Solutions, has revealed.

The survey of executives 297 UK SMEs suggests that just 17 percent of HR professionals use analytics software.

Respondents overwhelming agreed that insights into their workforce could help them make better informed decisions but 83% of people admitted that they simply didn’t have access to the relevant software.

Despite many organisations investing in other areas such as Marketing (48%), Strategic decision making (44%), Finance (38%) and Operations (37%) it seems that workforce analytics technology is not on the radar.

Respondents put forward a number of reasons why they felt their organisation should invest in analytics. 86 percent felt the main benefit would be to make better informed decisions, followed by the need to improve the understanding of why things have happened and operational efficiency (both 69%).

Earlier this year, Professor Rob Briner from the University of Bath’s Management department speaking at HR magazine’s ‘HR in the boardroom event’ urged HR directors to spend more time on evidence based decision making.

There’s more to your workforce than £ signs

So, why do so many organisations overlook workforce analytics technology?

The problem is that it is too easy to consider your workforce simply as a cost of doing business rather than a strategic asset.

Yes, your workforce probably accounts for your largest expense. But when you think how every action and decision your workforce carries out every day directly impacts your overall productivity or performance- whether for better or worse – their value is far greater than simply £ signs on the payroll. All the more reason to optimise your workforce, don’t you think?

Workforce management software can help you ‘think’ beyond the payslip and leverage your workforce to drive your business and improve operational efficiency.

By integrating key functions such as time and attendance, rostering, absence management, job costing and payroll into a single centralised system you can automate routine processes to pro-actively control labour costs and improve workforce productivity.

Real-time workforce analytics provide the insight you need to discover exactly what’s really happening across your business and respond with evidence-based decisions.

To put this into context, let’s look at how a contract cleaning company faced with intense competition from other contractors and tight profit margins used strategic workforce management to improve business outcome.

Case study –  How a cleaning contractor increased profitability using workforce analytics

As an employer of a large disparate hourly-paid workforce spread over multiple sites, the contractor required verification that workers had completed the hours required as part of the Service Level Agreement so they could demonstrate this to their clients.

Manual timesheets were proving inadequate because they were prone to errors caused by data duplication and there was a significant time lag between the shift and the HR team receiving the timesheet. Subsequently, the contractor had no means of accounting for staff movements as they carried out their work.

Investing in a workforce management solution has enabled the company to centralise the management of its remote workforce into one system and balance the cost of labour with service delivery. Via an analytics dashboard, managers can instantly see at a glance in real-time that workers have arrived on site and determine the ‘actual’ hours worked during their shift.

Visibility of what’s happening at site level enables managers to account for staff movements at all times so they can demonstrate their compliance to Health & Safety regulations and identify exceptions such as lateness and absences immediately so they can respond promptly to maintain service delivery.

Workforce analytics have also consolidated the billing process with all invoices calculated using audited data, thereby minimising any discrepancies.

The contractor has also made efficient use of rostering software to optimise staff schedules to meet contract demands and budgets.Filling each contract with the exact number of staff means the contractor is able to evaluate the precise cost of service delivery.This transparency allows them to manage labour costs to budget so they can monitor the profitability of each contract and build profit margins based on past experience into future quotes.

Cost savings have also been achieved through a reduction administration time as well as payroll errors and overpayments.

Time to invest?

When you consider the key factors that impact your productivity and bottom line, it’s amazing how many of these can be traced back to your workforce. However, it is impossible to make strategic improvements without the right tools for the job.


We are featured in the April issue of Tomorrow’s Cleaning

In the current issue of Tomorrow’s Cleaning, Christian Berenger, Business Development Director at Auto Time Solutions draws on his experience to discuss how workforce management software can help cleaning contractors gain a competitive edge and operate profitably within tight margins.

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Tomorrow's Cleaning - Apr2015

Click to download the pdf

We are featured in the April issue of Tomorrow's Cleaning

In the current issue of Tomorrow’s Cleaning, Christian Berenger, Business Development Director at Auto Time Solutions draws on his experience to discuss how workforce management software can help cleaning contractors gain a competitive edge and operate profitably within tight margins.

Related links

Tomorrow's Cleaning - Apr2015

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We are featured in the current issue of Cleaning & Maintenance

In the April 2015 issue of Cleaning & Maintenance, Christian Berenger from Auto Time Solutions draws on his 20 years’ experience to provide a valuable insight into how integrated time and attendance systems can help contractors operate profitably within tight margins.

 Related links – 

Cleaning&Maintenance-April15 thumbnail

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We are featured in the current issue of Cleaning & Maintenance

In the April 2015 issue of Cleaning & Maintenance, Christian Berenger from Auto Time Solutions draws on his 20 years’ experience to provide a valuable insight into how integrated time and attendance systems can help contractors operate profitably within tight margins.

 Related links – 

Cleaning&Maintenance-April15 thumbnail

Click to download the pdf