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Apps in FM & housekeeping yay or nay?

 

Industry experts talk about apps and their importance in FM and housekeeping…

 

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Technology
 
December 1, 2020
 
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Apps in FM & housekeeping yay or nay?
 

Cleaning, to be effective, has to be systematic and process driven. High levels of hygiene can only be achieved if it is not left to the whims and fancies of different individuals and preferences. Contemporary management and technology are our knight in shining armor as far as cleaning is concerned. Clean Middle East speaks to industry experts to learn their take on the usage of apps in FM and housekeeping.

AKSHI SINGH, CLUSTER DIRECTOR OF HOUSEKEEPING, CROWNE PLAZA & HOLIDAY INN AL THURAYA CITY, KUWAIT

Apps help us to plan, prioritize and execute cleaning to perfection by ensuring that it is at the right time, right place, with the right devices & equipment and in the right frequency & duration. At IHG, we are committed to the well being of the guest as well as colleagues. IHG is working closely with a team of medical experts at the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic to develop guidance as well as resources for the same.

This includes guidance and training on various specialized apps like RIZE POINT to achieve a high level of cleanliness & hospital grade hygiene. These apps are very systematic and show us a critical path to cleaning and checking of various areas with specific equipment and aids. Using modern day apps is highly recommended as it not only increases manpower and machine productivity but also simplifies scheduling and prioritizing, generating useful reports, ensuring consistency, accuracy and timely high-quality cleaning protocols.


 

ALI DERYAN, GENERAL MANAGER, TANZIFCO EMIRATES

Our world is becoming more efficient by the day via apps and new technologies, and it is only logical for all industries to follow this trend. The cleaning industry using apps to organize itself is a much needed move since it will not only help us be organized but also become more efficient. It will also allow us to see where improvement is needed - whether it is in our manpower or machines.

Tanzifco has collaborated with a startup named The Cleaning Portal (TCP). It’s an online platform that connects the entire cleaning industry. An entity of TCP is ‘Yalla Cleaning’ (YC), which is responsible for generating leads for any registered companies whether it is a cleaning service or even selling a cleaning product online. The future seems to be heading to a state where an application can cater to an entire industry. And the cleaning industry will be no exception.


 

ANDREA YOKO, HEAD OF SOFT SERVICES, EJADAH

Apps have become an integral part of our lives and lifestyle and therefore natural to be present in our working environments. Using them to monitor cleaning schedules, equipment and effectiveness is a tremendous step forward and one that should continue to grow in strength and versatility. We have witnessed, for several years, the possibility to monitor the hours a machine has worked, frequency of charging and unnecessary charging, collisions and user misuse and with geofencing the area it has worked.

I would love to see every piece of equipment automatically come with an app that would record daily actual date and time of use and location and most importantly send an alert at the end of each day to notify which vacuum bag was not checked, which ‘yellow must clean daily touch point’ was not cleaned, send an alert to say it was not feeling 100% or performing to its maximum potential as it requires minimum maintenance attention: before the machine breaks down and requires an expensive and reactive a major service.

All of these are checked daily by supervisors, but as their work load increases and changes with manpower reductions/availability, the reliance on an app to prompt automatically on a daily basis is a tremendous step to increased productivity and efficiency.

We use Maximo CAFM, which already captures all our soft and hard services data (such as locations, cleaning activities and schedules, etc.). It allows supervisors and managers to track the status of the regular soft services activities and audit the quality of the completed ones through digital checklists. We have implemented a mobile app for the Shabaka Operations team (technicians and supervisors), which maximizes the effectiveness and outcomes (productivity, time and cost) and enhanced workforce efficiency.

The app has eventually improved the field services with automated paperless workflows and real-time access to information. An app such as Report and Run is ideal for quick observations that can readily be communicated and rectified. The team working within Ejadah’s mission statement of sustainable services through innovation created an internal Ejadah AR app. It allows a smartphone user to scan a barcode/tag, installed in a predefined location.

A live step-by- step training video regarding the cleaning task to be carried out in that particular location pops up. It includes an interactive button menu linked to a library of online checklists and documentation. Mobile apps are faster, offer instant online and offline access, push notifications and instant updates, interactive engagement, personalized content, improve productivity and support cost reductions. These apps are not just limited to cleaning but can be also used to monitor outsourced contracts while observing working from home and social distancing.


 

BENJAMIN WESSENDORF, BUSINESS HEAD AT ISNAAD, IMDAAD

An app is merely the short form of ‘application’ or software that is tailored to your mobile device. Considering this, we have nearly unlimited opportunities to make use of it in today’s hyperconnected technological world. Through Imdaad’s new holistic Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system solutions by Oracle, we are now able to utilize the Computer-aided Facility Management (CAFM), auditing, and field cloud models through easy application for our cleaning operators and have the opportunity to incorporate cleaning schedule asset tracking to use equipment and machinery more efficiently. The system also allows us to incorporate schedules for essential tasks like machine maintenance and PAT testing in a properly planned manner.

We also use a Maximo application in selected output-based projects to track the closure and scheduling of PPMs in cleaning services. We also use another app that is provided to us by our chemical supplier, which allows us to identify all chemical-related documentation and application procedures. In addition, we monitor project performance digitally. This allows us to measure the status of our projects on a monthly basis, rate them, and ensure any improvements necessary are made before being highlighted to us by the client.

The future is driven by technology, but we need to understand how to use these technologies and transform their benefits into enhanced customer experience and satisfaction. During this challenging time, we have seen the important role technologies have played in keeping us productive and how our society benefits from digitalization to help us remain efficient. The adoption of applications is therefore essential to help ourselves and our clients – without them, a company won’t develop further and may lose its competitive edge.


 

BHAWANI BHARGAVA, DIRECTOR OF HOUSEKEEPING, PARK HYATT DUBAI

Apps are a very effective way to monitor cleaning schedules, equipment and effectiveness of cleaning. They are paperless, easy to understand and very user friendly. There are apps that can help record and document the quality of cleanliness with a provision to attach images as well. This makes the inspection procedure very transparent for the room attendants to understand and supervisors to complete the inspection.

Additional benefit is that the inspection checklist can be personalized as per requirement of the inspection criteria. We use an App called HotSOS in both a desktop and mobile version. All room attendants carry a mobile device which has the HotSOS app on it. This is primarily to allocate their rooms to clean for that day. The app is color coded for clean and dirty rooms for easier understanding. The app even reflects guest names and their preference to personalize our service, which is being provided to them. Also, since the device is always with the room attendants, we manage data privacy of the guests well. In near future I plan to introduce an app called iauditor for inspection.


 

DEEPTI AHERGUPTE, EXECUTIVE HOUSEKEEPER, RADISSON BLU HOTEL DUBAI WATERFRONT

Applications help the housekeeping department in many different ways. Operations run smoothly, are time efficient and provide a maximized, effective service to guests. At Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Waterfront, we plan to install an app called Hotel Kit. This is an application that will help us save a lot of time and provide effective communication. As a result, it will minimize complaints since communication will reach the team member correctly.

For me, one of the biggest advantages of apps is that they help the housekeeping department communicate with other departments of the hotel, therefore, providing an integrated and a consistent message. Additionally, it interfaces with the PMS and provides the required reservation and room status data for a faster room assignment to attendants as well as checkers. Lastly, the progress of cleaning can be monitored in real-time. All these factors would affect the hotel positively.

Applications like these offer a variety of tools such as repairs, checklists as well as shift handovers, which would streamline daily operations and internal communication. It would also fulfil daily working routines more efficiently. However, in order to benefit from these types of applications, the entire team involved must know how to use it. This can be done through regular training to allow the team to fully understand all the features.


 

DOROTHEE STEIN, HEAD OF SERVICE AND HOSPITALITY PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT, DUBAI AIRPORTS

Apps are a useful support to managers and operatives to monitor efficiently and effectively the performance of various aspects of facility management including service levels, KPIs, contracts, assets. At Dubai Airports, we have tried a good product ‘off the shelf’ and based on that we have started to develop our own application with the support of the in-house IT team. I would advise the industry to embrace cleaning apps to capture performance and quality of services of Cleaning Service Contractors/ Service Providers, especially while using the Performance Based Contract type. Further, a real-time monitoring application provides instant feedback and enables fast rectification of findings.


 

EDDIE IGNATIUS, CORPORATE DIRECTOR OF QUALITY & BUSINESS EXCELLENCE, TIME HOTELS

A hotel’s entire operation is dependent on software, starting from sales, marketing and property management to online guest reputation surveys. In housekeeping & engineering, we have implemented many softwares and systems, and these help teams across the industry, manage their operations effectively.

For instance, one can update the room status online using a smartphone, as well as pass the maintenance repair orders to the engineering team and communicate with visual aids by attaching pictures for better understanding of the issue. These applications have proved reliable and helped increase operational efficiency including accurate monitoring of schedules and systematic planning, cutting short on delays and ultimately, enhancing customer experience.

We are currently using a system called ‘Aladdin’, which is a maintenance management software. It assists us with task scheduling, preventive maintenance management, asserts inventory, energy conservation, etc. We also have the ‘Tenex’ application, which helps our long-term guests connect safely with the community, get realtime updates about fire alerts and any other announcements, requests for apartment cleaning, among others.

Using applications considerably reduces time spent on administrative and logistics tasks in each department, as the team will be making use of the mobile apps most of the time. The service delivery time is reduced, as the response time to resolve issues and complete requests is faster. Additionally, they reduce human error in accounting, especially when doing inventories and help the team meet their deadlines more accurately. Overall, these applications enhance guest experience and ensure a happy and satisfied customer.


 

ENG. MOHAMED AL HILALY, SR. OPERATIONS MANAGER, DALMA MALL

The use of apps makes the cleaning inspection checklist an efficient, easy-to-use solution for managing staff, stock, and schedules. Also, housekeeping teams can be linked up, and tasks can be monitored easily from a smartphone or mobile device. They’re a perfect way of saving time, effort, and stress! At Dalma Mall, we use an app called Yardi, which is used for many purposes and helps out many departments within the management office such as accounting, leasing, facilities management and operations.

One of the main advantages of cleaning inspection checklist apps is to increase workflow efficiency. Our supervisors can achieve this by updating manager(s) quickly with accurate data, which in turn improves decision-making. This process also saves time by streamlining and centralizing reporting processes; with reports and other data all safely held in the one place, unnecessary paperwork and emails are reduced. For managers in particular, apps like this can have an incredible timesaving impact. They facilitate planning, inventory (checking costs and available resources), scheduling, staff communications, and logistics.

They can also bring some extra motivation to our cleaning staff through the creation of customized goals or scores based on our customers’ reviews. Of course, we are relying on the app for all this; therefore, we need it to be functional and easy to use. Fortunately, Yardi can work offline, so if our staff is moving from job to job or working in a location without Internet access, they will still be able to submit data without an Internet connection (data is then sent and synchronized once a network connection becomes available).

When our cleaners/ supervisors submit their reports, we’ll be able to see how efficiently our business is running via the completed checklists (these can include helpful reminders to make sure our staff aren’t forgetting one of their tasks). This also comes in handy when it comes to managing staff performance. The apps increase workflow efficiency and save time by streamlining and centralizing reporting processes. They play a very important role in our daily/weekly and monthly operations work in general & housekeeping work in particular!


 

GOPALAKRISHAN, OPERATIONS DIRECTOR, EMRILL

The soft FM sector is extremely competitive, subject to pricing pressures and growing customer expectations. In order to remain relevant and competitive, the early adoption of technology that can increase efficiency is essential to soft service providers.

Mobile apps especially have never been more accessible or necessary when managing a mobile workforce across multiple sites. Mobile-based apps put technology in the hands of site-based and supervisory employees, seamlessly connecting them. The use of such apps enables the optimisation of routes and tasks, GPS location monitoring, geo-fencing and generation of paperless reporting and documentation. Users are empowered to increase efficiency while maintaining quality standards. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the urgency to implement technology, such as apps, which has enabled the quality of cleaning services to be enhanced while reducing the need for physical onsite supervision.

In 2019, Emrill developed and launched Effy App, an efficiency-enhancing app, developed in collaboration with Technopurple, an Indiabased technology provider. We use the Effy App for soft FM service delivery across multiple projects and it has helped us to optimise work schedules and the movement of machinery and employees. It has also enabled us to identify areas for improvement so we can increase efficiency and proactively manage service delivery.

Effy App has enabled us to eliminate paperbased checklists, which has greatly reduced manual work for our teams and is also good for the environment. We have also found that the use of the app has positively impacted employee morale. Onsite teams feel empowered by technology, and we have witnessed real enthusiasm from the teams using the app.

Time stands still for no one, and neither does technology. It is imperative that organisations delivering soft cleaning services continuously innovate, look to embrace and imbibe technology to more effectively meet ever-increasing customer expectations. We are seeing it more than ever before – our customers are more aware of technology and what it can be used to achieve, so they increasingly expect their partners to adopt the tools that are available to provide a better service at reasonable costs.

The only way to remain competitive and bridge the gap between what was offered and what customers now want is to adopt technology and use it to its fullest potential. While new technology requires a capital investment, the cost of not embracing it is being left behind.


 

JOHN MANOHAR, CLUSTER EXECUTIVE HOUSEKEEPER, J5 HOTELS PORT SAEED & J5 RIMAL HOTEL APARTMENTS

Hospitality is on the cusp of change in how it will adapt to customer service in the post pandemic era. Contactless or minimal contact interactions with the safety of the guests in mind is of paramount importance. A mobilebased application could transform the way guests experience hospitality. It could personalize the experience and at the same time empower the guest to choose and customize his/her own experience.

The guest could use the mobile app to check in from there and also pay for the stay through the app itself; food and beverages could be ordered from the menu in the app; guests can choose to book various hotel services like spa and concierge from the mobile app; guests can also call for housekeeping services, amenities, change of linen or laundry. The entire hospitality experience could be brought to the palm of the customer through these apps. Due to the pandemic situation and reduction of headcounts in the hospitality industry, hotel operators will soon latch on to easy handling apps that can be used by room attendants and cleaning crew.

The housekeeping app is a tool to help the front desk team to stay informed on the room status while the housekeeping team can use the app to organize the cleaning of the rooms. It will show the housekeeping team which rooms should be cleaned and the type of cleaning that is required. The housekeeping team will be able to register cleaned rooms. As the housekeeping app is connected to the cloud, the front desk will be informed in real time on the room status (clean, dirty or in progress). In order for the Manager and Supervisor to have a better view of the daily schedules, it is essential to use apps that can provide real time schedule updates, which can help the housekeeping manager to be proactive in managing the situation.

The cleaning equipment can be integrated into the asset handling module in the App to schedule preventive and routine maintenance of it to avoid breakdowns. Additionally, the use of IoT (Internet of Things) sensors fitted into the cleaning equipment can provide better insights of its healthiness and to make informed decisions.


 

JULIAN KHALIL, DIRECTOR-SOFT FM, FARNEK

Apps automate what used to be timeconsuming and tedious administrative tasks for any company involved in the cleaning service industry. Digital mobile systems can facilitate tasks management and scheduling, monitor the location of the support team and identify equipment and products needed for the tasks at hand. Additionally with IoT we can now manage, supervise and audit facilities in real time and work much more efficiently, without wasting time on anything unnecessary. On top of that, algorithms start to capture patterns and propose changes in cleaning schedules, meaning we are moving slowly into predictive cleaning based on the actual requirements of a facility on different days and or during different timings.

The Farnek Smart Washroom app implemented at Dubai Mall is an in-house solution with the objective of increasing customer satisfaction, as well as working smarter and more efficiently. With our solutions, we are able to track and understand the customer experience, manage consumables, support our cleaners and supervisors when needed, employ a virtual supervisor and increase productivity. Our in-house Smart Watch App enables us to work much more efficiently with visibility of the closest cleaner and provide immediate communication.

Through GPS tracking, we can work out the most efficient allocation and emergency services. The Farnek App / Face recognition attendance monitoring system has reduced the overwhelming majority of our administrative workload. Along with registering staff for work, it also takes the temperature of all staff as well. We also have audit apps, which save supervisors and managers time by conducting snap audits, without having to go back to the office and enter everything manually into a report format.

Operational efficiency leads to cost-efficiency, which ultimately leads to value for the customer. Apps help in this process. I think it is very difficult to use ‘off the shelf’ (Apps) products across different projects. Bespoke and highly customisation are key. In general, app developers are misunderstanding end customer needs and requirements; they should be involved from the start. You can’t provide a solution if you don’t understand precisely what the issue is.


 

MINAR ALIYAR, CLUSTER EXECUTIVE HOUSEKEEPER & CERTIFIED ALLSAFE OFFICER AT ACCOR HOTELS GRAND MERCURE & IBIS STYLES DUBAI AIRPORT (PRE-OPENING)

It is very essential for Executive Housekeepers & Hospitality Managers to be updated with the latest trends and technology in the market that helps to make housekeeping operations much easier. Traditional methods involved manually creating cleaning monthly and annual work schedules and then strictly monitoring them ensuring nothing is missed out. These methods were prone to human error, involved a lot of effort to recreate documents every time, printing a lot of papers , posting on notice boards, etc. With the introduction of applications there is a lot of time being saved.

Currently, we are using the latest version of Opera Property Management System (PMS) on our smartphones; it simplifies room management, eliminates printing documents daily, updating room status from anywhere in the property rather than traditionally from a housekeeping office. Reporting maintenance has become so effective as this app allows one to click photographs of the issues which is self-explanatory. Since it is cloud based, storing a lot of information is easy and reports can be easily generated with just one click. In addition to this we are soon going to implement an application called Message Box, which is a new version of Task Management Program with an escalation system that helps execute different types of tasks to various departments of a hotel in a timely manner hence enhancing the guests experience.

Using such apps definitely helps to communicate better, simplifies complicated procedures & eliminates human errors. Even though it does help to reduce the dependency on manpower partially & monitor quality better, these apps still require someone to constantly update and execute the tasks. However, it is very important for hotel management to understand and analyze the costs involved in introducing such methods in their operations. Most or all apps are sold to properties at a very high rate.


 

MOHAMMAD SHAHNEYAZ, CLEANING MANAGER, SERVEU

I think the use of technology is as vital as in soft services delivery as it is for hard services. Proper use of a backend application not only enhances your service delivery but also saves the cost and time to meet clients’ expectations. A service provider using the technology to its core process stands out among its competition, especially at the time of signing a new contract. We, service providers, tend to agree to a certain level and deliverable at the time of contracts being awarded, which later could be slipped out quickly if not configured in system for instance in CAFM.

We at ServeU have been using mobile applications backed with a fully integrated CAFM system enabling us to optimize our reactive, routine and periodic tasks. We have replaced the typical checklist for cleaning activity with NFC Tagging for most of the clients. We use it for task allocation and its real-time status update in the system. We maintain our assets in the same system as well as their utilization. Our resources are being tracked and monitored using a set of apps.

At last, our clients' reports are generated from our system, which is prepared by the ops team using the mobile app on ground. I think these apps are important to complete the task on time, within the SLA timeframe, use resources optimally, increase productivity and offer a better customer experience.

We have seen that trained staff can work twice as much as one without the use of technology and manual process. Having technology integrated into your workflow enables you to utilize the resource in the field without having supervision, which is expected by clients to reduce the operating cost in the given pandemic situation.


 

RENJITH CHANDRAN, CLUSTER GENERAL MANAGER, DANAT HOTELS & RESORTS

Apps have taken over the world since the last couple of years. Organizations are going paperless currently to contain the spread of infection, and hence the usage of apps to monitor cleaning schedules and hygiene levels have become more relevant. We should definitely use efficient apps to implement and monitor modern cleaning methods. Using such apps also will give us an insight to the usage of manpower, follow up on the schedules and even to produce as proof of the areas being maintained.

We use a handful of apps in our day to day operations, from the reservations, loyalty program, guest services to cleaning and maintenance. It will mainly serve the purpose to effectively engage with guests and team members and proactively stay close to their needs. Apps will ease our efforts and help to avoid unnecessary hassles in our day to day life. We can focus on revenue generation, guest experience enhancement instead of manually updating everything in the system.


 

SALIM ALI AL-HARTHY, GM-AVIATION, MUSCAT INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

We use a number of apps and softwares to enhance the soft services of Muscat Airport. For asset management and services such as purchasing, inventory, management of locations, service desk, and work planning, we use Maximo. It provides insight for all assets, their conditions and work processes, for better planning and control. Users can log in to the system, sites, applications, menu and can choose options each user wants to access. It also helps to reduce assets downtime and increase operational efficiency through preventive management.

For Airport Management System, Scenario Planning System, and Operational Forecast, we use Beontra. Forecast helps us to utilize the manpower based on the traffic during the days and plan for future work as well. While getting updated information through Beontra every hour, all the cleaning activity can be planned depending on the availability of the area. Major activity can be postponed or preponed as per the information provided without affecting the operation.

Then, we use Data Form which collects information from stakeholders with the main objective of improving the quality of service and the satisfaction of the end customer. End of the day every feedback received helps to improvise and provide better service to the client and customer. And lastly, we use Happy or Not. With the help of this device we can collect real time feedback of passengers and can react immediately to the feedback and provided by the system in order to improvise the service . Information and feedback collected also helps to improve the service quality in the long run.


 

SYLVIA DARVI, DIRECTOR OF HOUSEKEEPING, ATANA HOTEL

Apps are important in this modern world to automate the entire process of housekeeping operation. They are aligned with go-green initiatives and eliminate the manual typing of the reports in excel.

We use a room operations app for housekeeping and guest requests. All room attendants use section tablets with this app installed, and this system automates the room cleaning procedure, which integrates with Opera for room status. Housekeeping supervisors inspect the rooms once the room attendant updates the clean status in the app. When there is a queue room request room attendants get the notification automatically and this app will allow them to proceed only with the queue room first .

Using apps has many advantages, productivity is monitored real time; the supervisor uses the app for real time discrepancy reports; maintenance is at a click go, just click the photo and send, the engineering staff on duty gets notification; the Director of Housekeeping has full control of the housekeeping operation in the hotel, and we can pull out the operation reports in all formats; ‘lost and found’ is also incorporated in the app itself.


 

TATJANA AHMED, HOUSEKEEPING MANAGER, FUNCTIONAL SPECIALIST HOUSEKEEPING, SAHARI VILLAGE HOUSING COMMITTEE, GRAND HYATT DUBAI

Software developers are launching new initiatives to help hoteliers with post-Covid-19 hotel operations. Newly designed checklists, which include touch points, are available to assist hotels during the re-opening of their properties as many cleaning protocols need to be implemented without fail. Checklists are designed to follow the hotel’s new standard operating procedures, which include all the new cleaning measures and hygiene protocols.

Some also provide instructions on the new health and safety policies and procedures. Another feature that is often provided assists to manage proper sanitation methods of high-touch points and areas with high foot fall. Cleaning in the post-COVID-19 era is certainly more complex and more time is needed to turn around rooms when including all the needed protocols. Therefore, it is quite important to have an app that can support the operation.

Overall, I think the time in which we print papers and fill in forms are now over and we should switch to smarter systems in which we can store data electronically. However, we must remember that training and re-training are extremely important as often the apps are not used to their full potential.

 

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