Maintenance & Operations

Quality Control: A Continuing Responsibility For Facility Managers

In his book “Let’s Talk Quality,” Phillip Crosby says that, “not having a common understanding of quality puts more pain into an organization than anything else I have ever known.”

As facility managers, we concur. We’re in a constant state of continuing and improving quality; where we’re involved in carrying on functions, repeatedly — the results must reflect our appreciation and value of quality in each service we provide. If, in fact, quality is a characteristic or standard measure of excellence, then quality must be a measure of the degree to which our product or services meet our customer’s standard of expectation; of our internal standard of service.

Facility managers are not “single-service” professionals. We’re involved in ensuring that every aspect (from plumbing to flag poles) in our schools reflect our commitment to quality: planning, preparation, execution and production in a way that our customers are assured of our role as quality assurance specialists.

As we respect the value of quality in what we do, the magnitude and seriousness of our mission is defined in our customer partnerships. This is possible as we establish and maintain credibility, guarantee customer satisfaction and cement the underlying quality assurance aspect of service our customers have come to expect. The bar has been set. We must be all about quality assurance but should not abandon the concept of quality control.

As quality control ambassadors, our real job title is “problem solvers” and, in this role, this responsibility has (over time) redefined the role of facility service provider. The importance of response to and interaction with those requiring and evaluating the quality of our services continues to be paramount in addressing quality and value.

Facility managers have personal ownership in controlling quality in service and product in a way that associates quality with everything we own. We own the standards and operating procedures of those we serve, and this can be the single, most important task we perform. Our customer’s perception of the quality of services we provide is the only perception that truly matters. As service providers we are the ones who define “service.” Quality reflects the pride we take in what we deliver, consequently, satisfaction is defined by the customer.

Quality is a service; it is a product. It is not what you put into it, it is what the customer gets out of it. The journey of quality control is always before us. As educational service providers, we are obligated to assure and control every aspect of quality associated with facility maintenance and operations service. Relaxing our standards is never an option.

We are responsible for delivering consistent high-quality performance, allowing nothing to undermine the effectiveness of our job. Quality must always be the priority. Our assurance of quality must prove, repeatedly, that our organization is committed to “prior service”, “during service” and “after the service” of review and correction and innovative strategies for improved practices.

We embrace quality standards during the various steps of our processes. We employ quality assurance practices that distinguish actions we take to remedy challenges, we identify performance challenges, their causes, propose solutions and remain in constant communication with all players so that corrective actions can be taken and remedies realized. This is what we believe leads to quality control.

Facility managers are obligated to focus on “quality intervention” in an ever-changing educational climate, and, in doing so, instill a culture of quality at all levels. An appreciation of quality standards means we adhere to parameters that define our services — at all levels. We learn, through quality control, to prevent problems rather than becoming experts at fixing them. From our customers’ perspective, quality (whether assured or analyzed) is best described as “perceived excellence.” Bottom line? Quality, it’s expected.

“‘Quality,’ as used in quality control and quality assurance, has always meant goodness because people were permitted to make value judgments everyday. Goodness is really what quality was all about.” (Phillip Crosby, Let’s Talk Quality.) As a continuing responsibility for facility managers, we make the value judgments that produce quality, practiced repeatedly, a standard by which excellence is measured, in our product, our service and our reputation.

We work at continuing excellence, at implementing quality on every level. Delivering quality is essential in our business — there is little room for error and there are limitless opportunities for excellence. Uncommon outcomes are obtainable when we’re consistent, have established standards, practice immediate and responsive follow-through and leave absolutely no loose ends.

This article originally appeared in the August 2013 issue of School Planning & Management.

About the Author

Alyce Honore’-Hubert is the supervisor of Facilities Maintenance and Operations for the Houston ISD. She won the National School Plant Manager of the Year award for 2011 from the National School Plant Management Association (NSPMA.)

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