There are many reasons why cleaning managers want to obtain analytical inspection data from the spaces they’re responsible for. Struggling teams should utilize quality assessment inspections to show them information that is relevant to making improvements. But how do these inspections work?

The first aspect of inspections that managers must consider pertains to what is actually being inspected. Managers should ask themselves: “Are we building our checklist with cleanable items in particular, or are we evaluating the cleaning tasks in each space?” This determines the type of data you will be analyzing once an inspection is finished. Once you decide on how the checklist will look, it’s time to define the method of scoring, which is essentially your definition of “clean.”
Here are a few popular methods of scoring, how they work, and the pros/cons of using each system.

1. Scaling System
This system of scoring can take many forms, depending on the preferences of the person who writes the system. Essentially, the idea is that a rating is applied. One popular scaling system uses a range of numbers. For example, on a scale of one to five, how well did we vacuum the carpets in this office if we consider five to be “exceeds expectations?” 
These number scales can be highly customized, which is the case of the very popular APPA scoring system. With the APPA system, APPA 1 (“Orderly Spotlessness”) is the highest level of cleanliness, while APPA 5 (“Unkempt Neglect”) is the lowest level of “clean”.
The Pros: Scaling systems are a good way to adhere to institutional standards such as APPA, described above. They’re deliver a generalized understanding of how effective a cleaning program can be. A scaling system may be appropriate for a particular company with a single inspector.
The Cons: If more than one inspector is required to complete inspections, the scaling system can sometimes get confusing. Inspectors need to have a strict understanding of what their company considers to be “clean,” otherwise they will start to see variability in the inspections. 

2. Verbal Affirmation
For the lack of a better term, the Verbal Affirmation system is a system that is similar to the number scale but it uses words instead of numbers. It is a system that relies highly on inspectors’ comments, and includes a combination of generalized words such as “Poor,” “Fair,” “Acceptable,” “Good,” and “Excellent.”
This also works like a rating system, and like the scaling system, its values may be defined by the inspector. The Red/Yellow/Green system is similar to the Verbal system as well, switching out these descriptive terms with colors. 
The Pros: This system forces inspectors to be more descriptive of the problems they are seeing in their spaces. It makes the follow-up cleaners read the comments that are associated with the inspection. It also makes cleaners feel good when they are told that they have “excellent” work. 
The Cons: Variability becomes an issue again with multiple inspectors. It also makes tying together cleaning trends and other types of analytical studies more difficult. 

3. Pass or Fail
The pass/fail system is a simple way to get clear-cut results from your inspections, and it raises the standards of what a manager would consider to be clean. Instead of evaluating the intensity of an item or how well a task was completed, it simply prompts a yes-or-no answer.
The pass/fail method can be thought of as the best of both worlds, encompassing the positive aspects of the two systems we discussed earlier in this blog, while remaining more objective and analytical. For example, the percentage score that results from a Pass/Fail system can be automatically translated to a scaling system or verbal affirmation – making the inspector’s job that much simpler. 
This system was designed to take variability into consideration. Inspectors would go into their inspections looking for cleaning deficiencies rather than spending time trying to rate the extent that a cleaning task has been completed. 
The Pros: Managers and cleaners can make clear-cut determinations of what they consider to be clean. It limits variability and allows report analytics to be more accurate after an inspection is completed.
The Cons: It may take a while to determine what can be considered an acceptable level of cleanliness versus what should be considered unacceptable. It’s an objective system that is unforgiving and blunt.

The right assessment system will help showcase your inspection team as one of the best in the industry. While there are pros and cons to each system, it’s important to remember that any system can work – so long as the team clearly defines its expectations and definition of “clean”.