The Cleaning Industry Management Standard


Frequently Asked Questions

Please explore the FAQ about CIMS below. In case you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to reach out. 

The Standard is available for the United Kingdom at or by contacting ISSA at or call +44 (0)7342 349156.

The ISSA Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS) describes the procedures and principles to be considered in designing and implementing quality management programmes for cleaning organisations. This Standard applies, without respect to the size of the organisation, both to cleaning organisations that self-perform cleaning and to cleaning contractors.

Existing programmes apply to:

  • People (managers and technicians)
  • Products
  • Cleaning Procedures

CIMS applies to an entire cleaning organisation. It focuses on the organisation’s management systems and the processes used to deliver quality services.

CIMS recognises and complements existing industry certification programmes. Since CIMS is a framework for assessing an entire organisation, existing programmes should play an important role in helping an organization demonstrate compliance with the Standard.

No. ISSA cherishes the diversity that is woven into the fabric of our industry. The Standard, therefore, is “non-prescriptive” and its goal is to act simply as a quality framework. As such, recommendations for products, equipment, procedures, and systems are explicitly not part of CIMS and each organisation retains the flexibility to choose how it can best meet the Standard’s requirements. Cleaning organisations are free to select manufacturers, distributors, products, and educational tools that best assist them in complying with the Standard. 

The Standard is administered by ISSA. ISSA, which is a not-for-profit association founded in 1923, prides itself on being the leading association for the cleaning industry worldwide. ISSA administration ensures that there is no commercial bias to any group.

The Standard was developed through a true consensus-based process. Experts, representing all sectors of the industry, including the facility management and purchasing communities, were selected by the ISSA Board, staff, and alliance partners to participate on standard-development technical committees. The committees worked directly with ISSA and its partner, the American Institute for Cleaning Sciences (AICS) to draft the Standard, which was subject to full peer review prior to official publication.

ISSA provided organisational oversight by leveraging its unique role in the industry. ISSA’s diverse membership is comprised of:

  • Manufacturers
  • Distributors
  • Manufacturer Representatives
  • Facility Service Providers
  • Industry Consultants

The shared interests of its membership base enabled ISSA to provide the necessary oversight. In addition, the many alliances that ISSA has developed with leading organisations in the cleaning and facilities management industries gave valuable insight to ensure a balanced and comprehensive approach.

The Standard is based on universally accepted management principles and consists of five sections of management best practices and one optional pillar “Green Building”:

  1. Quality Systems
  2. Service Delivery
  3. Human Resources
  4. Health, Safety, and Environmental Stewardship
  5. Management Commitment
  6. Green Building

Certification indicates that an organisation conforms to the requirements set forth in the Standard and has successfully demonstrated compliance to an independent, accredited auditor.

No. The Standard was designed to focus on performance and recognises the need for flexibility and practical application. Organisations seeking certification must demonstrate compliance with all mandatory provisions and at least 60%, per section, of those provisions that are included as recommended elements of the Standard.

An organisation achieves certification by demonstrating that its management structure and processes conform to the Standard. The certification process is simple:

  1. The organisation meets with ISSA representative in the UK
  2. A bespoke proposal is agreed and an official contract is finalised indicating the estimation of audit days
  3. The organisation joins the two-year CIMS programme
  4. ISSA Certification Expert (I.C.E) training is delivered to the organisation’s key personnel (focus group) to prepare for CIMS
  5. The organisation sets audit dates and undergoes a comprehensive assessment by an auditor to demonstrate compliance with CIMS
  6. Organisation achieves certification
  7. Yearly focus group meetings with ISSA account management team to assess compliance
  8. ISSA submit a fresh proposal for the next two-year programme

Cleaning organisations will have their systems and processes reviewed by an auditor. An auditor is an independent third-party that has earned accreditation by demonstrating their ability to competently and independently verify that an organisation meets the Standard’s requirements.

Yes. The Standard applies to – new/small businesses, larger contractors/facility management companies, and end users/sector leaders – regardless of organisation size.

  • To promote structure and consistently deliver high quality
  • To challenge and improve overall operations
  • As a competitive advantage to win more contracts
  • As a standard requirement for end users (sector leaders) to ensure quality service delivery
  • As a step towards “greener” operations in cleaning
  • As a guide to best practice and growth for new/small cleaning contractors
  • As an account development tool for larger contractors / facility management

Distributors, manufacturers and manufacturer representatives will play an essential role. Since the Standard endorses systemic approaches to product selection, training, and management, it will be a catalyst for sales. Other benefits include:

  • Closer ties to customers
  • Enhanced professional image for the industry
  • Growth opportunities
  • Distinctive marketing position
  • Business resource to customers

An I.C.E is a key member of staff who possesses the underpinning knowledge and skills to understand and sustain the CIMS standard within an organisation.

CIMS and ISO are similar in many respects, but CIMS has the advantage of having been developed specifically “by the cleaning industry and for the cleaning industry” (with a large dose of assistance from the facility management and purchasing communities) and therefore offers tangible benefits.
CIMS deals with the unique issues faced by cleaning organisations on a daily basis whereas ISO was originally developed for manufacturing and was drafted to address that industry. One of the primary concerns with ISO, as it applies to the cleaning industry, centers on the fact that ISO auditors generally, are not coming from the cleaning sector. On the other hand, CIMS auditors are required to have relevant industry experience and knowledge and therefore are able to understand the distinctive aspects of the industry. 

ISSA Headquarters
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Northbrook, IL 60062 USA
Phone: 800-225-4772

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Phone: +49 6131 6367820

Any questions? Please call us!
+44 (0)7342 349156

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