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Service Works Global turns 30

This week we’re celebrating our 30th birthday, so we are taking the opportunity to look back over the last three decades of our history and the evolution of the FM landscape.


Having emerged in the 70s with the introduction of offices with computer cubicles; by the 90s facilities management was still a young profession. Its influence was limited to maintenance and cleaning, but as the office evolved so too did the scope of the work. Professional bodies like IFMA, then later the FMA in Australia and BIFM (now IWFM) in the UK were established to provide guidance to their members, and computer-aided facilities management (CAFM) software started becoming more sophisticated to assist with the sector’s growing challenges.

Service Works Global’s CEO and founder, Gary Watkins, felt the systems at the time were disjointed in that FMs couldn’t use them cohesively to manage both hard and soft services, so our CAFM solution, QFM, was first developed to address this need in 1994.


The launch of broadband and networking improvements in the early noughties revolutionised business communication. CAFM software could be hosted in the cloud instead of on-premise which made it accessible from any browser window rather than a specific desktop terminal, and allowed organisations to outsource management of security, upgrades and performance away from their busy in-house IT teams. Mobile phones transitioned from bricks with short battery lives to internet-enabled devices, like the Blackberry, and started to become essential kits for consumers.

Backed by several big-name clients, SWG was able to expand into Australia’s growing FM market in 2004. The first office opened in Melbourne and then another in Sydney to meet growing demand across the region. Then three years later, we entered Canada, a market with a strong user base of FM service providers responsible for delivering services predominantly in public-private partnerships. QFM P3rform’s ground-breaking, fully integrated payment mechanism was the first of its kind to bring complete transparency and auditability between stakeholders and remains so to this day.

Global financial instability towards the end of the decade put immense pressure on FM teams to deliver services with low expenditure. The data within CAFM software started helping FM become more competitive by helping teams make informed decisions to reduce the element of risk.


CAFM software usage was growing but by 2010 was still more likely to be used by larger organisations with over 500 employees but could also be found at smaller businesses based across several sites with multiple FM services. However by 2013, a third of FMs reported using CAFM software from a key industry provider, jumping to 43% just three years later. Mobile apps were the industry ‘must have’, and data accuracy and reporting became the priority with 80% stating this was the key benefit of CAFM software.

Integration of other software into CAFM also became a hot topic, as this allowed FMs to access data securely from a range of systems such as BMS, finance, security and space management. For example, in QFM, this data sharing reduces work for the FM team as the system gains a degree of autonomy. When the BMS identifies a fault, it is raised as a job automatically, allocated a priority and dispatched to an operative who has the required skills, works in the vicinity and has availability in their schedule.

With more emphasis on data came an increased commitment to data security. 2016 saw our organisation secure ISO 27001 for information security management, and also 9001 for quality management – which we retain to this day.

In 2017, SWG was acquired by Nasdaq Sweden-listed Addnode Group. Joining this like-minded, entrepreneurial-led organisation provided us the opportunity to deliver a broader technology and services platform to a wider audience. A subsequent merger in 2019 with the FM division of our Scandinavian sister company, Symetri FM, firmly established us in the Nordics and bolstered our building lifecycle management offering with software for BIM and digital twins, as well as a range of digitisation services.


During 2020, Addnode Group acquired UK business Excitech Ltd, and its CAFM team transitioned to SWG. This broadened our range of software and expertise in space and workplace management software, which became invaluable in supporting flexible and hybrid working patterns.

According to consulting firm Gartner in 2022, one in every four organisations spent 16% to 30% more on property and facility management software compared to the previous year. Technology has firmly taken hold in FM, in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic which saw those with paper-based or non-centralised spreadsheet systems suffer due to periodic lockdowns and widespread homeworking.

With the profession gaining more visibility and recognition due to its work especially around cleaning and enabling hybrid offices, FMs faced the challenge of an increased workload with no corresponding budget increase. According to our 2022 FM Survey, just 17% of respondents felt their CAFM software was flexible enough to support changing workplace demands. Meanwhile, SWG was able to support clients with pandemic-related challenges such as hot desk and locker bookings, auditing tools to support the delivery of high quality maintenance and cleanliness, and space planning software to help organisations identify underused space that could be repurposed or leased out.

Software previously labelled as ‘futuristic’ has now started to become more mainstream in FM. AI, for example, is predicting and preventing equipment failures before they happen for our client, Jernhusen at Stockholm Central Station. Digital twins are coming to the UK’s formerly technology-averse national health service (NHS) to manage building data and drive efficiencies across the portfolio, and BIM is being used in PPP projects to aid decision making across the building’s life, improve sustainability through better energy management and increase transparency between partners.

2030 and beyond

Commenting on our 30th anniversary, departing CEO Watkins said: “The company has evolved beyond expectations over the last three decades. It’s testament to the hard work and dedication of our global teams, as well as our loyal clients and strong partnerships. SWG is at the forefront of a hugely exciting industry with so much opportunity for growth and innovation. We’re all celebrating this milestone and looking forward to the next 30 years.”

Mats Broman, currently head of SWG Nordic, will succeed Watkins on 1st May 2024 and adds: “I’m honoured by the opportunity to build upon the legacy that Gary and our team have created over the years, and I’m excited to lead SWG into the future. We are well positioned to capitalise on the significant opportunities ahead, combining software and industry knowledge to create sustainable value for our customers.”

We offer complete building lifecycle software, from CAFM to BIM tools for operational FM, with a range of digitisation services. With strong backing from Addnode, three decades of international experience and an ethos of entrepreneurial teamwork, we are ready to embrace the next chapter.