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Facilities management research from Service Works Global

Fuelled by technology advancements and the rapidly evolving workplace, FM is firmly in the spotlight. No man is an island, as the saying goes, and the value of collaboration has never been more apparent. Daily challenges experienced by FM teams require teamwork to navigate, and insight can be gained by looking outwardly for recommendations and best practice. Networking and events are seeing a resurgence after the pandemic, and industry surveys remain a cornerstone to share knowledge and experiences.

Service Works Global (SWG) has collated almost a decade of your views, and has just launched a new survey with industry journal, FMJ. Take a look back over how technology in FM has changed over that time, then take part in the survey here – where you can also enter to win a £250 gift card.

Our first survey

In 2012 you told us that CAFM software was seen as a nice to have rather than an essential. Larger organisations with over 500 employees were most likely to use CAFM, but it could also be found at some smaller businesses with several locations and multiple FM services to be managed. Most people found their software via a recommendation.

A decline in Excel

2013 saw CAFM usage growing. You reported a decrease in the sole use of Excel to manage FM operations by 8%, with 33% using FM software from a key industry provider. Most respondents (75%) hosted their FM system in-house, but as web infrastructure improved and the benefits of cloud hosting became increasingly proven, this became a declining trend. In the last survey, in 2020, just 41% hosted their software on their own premises. Mobile apps were positioned as an essential tool for FM, although they weren’t widely used at this point.

Data-led decision making

By 2015 and 2016 respondents are prioritising data and accuracy. 80% of you stated that a key benefit of CAFM was enhanced FM reporting, and 76% experienced improved auditability, greater trust and transparency across the organisation. Despite the introduction of BIM as a mandatory requirement in the UK for new build sector buildings, only 43% felt it would be a significant trend over the next 12 months, instead voting for mobile apps and technology (70%). And in fact, apps saw a dramatic rise in usage by almost a third between 2015 and 2016. Self-service tools (allowing building users to request services via an app or computer rather than calling the helpdesk) took off during this time too, increasing from 44% of respondents using it at their organisation to 66%.

Globalisation of FM

In 2018, four of the top five most used CAFM systems, including our QFM software, were delivered from vendors with both UK and international offices. This reflected the growing trend towards globalisation in FM, and the importance of worldwide collaboration to share best practices and reduce risks for individual organisations – especially as Brexit was occurring at this time. Budgetary pressure was voted the biggest challenge, and self-service the biggest priority. We saw space management jump up the list of priorities as FM shifted towards a ‘workplace’ focus (with the British Institute of Facilities Management rebranded to the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management); and this was tied in second place with energy management.

Tech-savvy and environmentally conscious

By 2020, our respondents were displaying more tech-savvy behaviour than previously, not only using CAFM but also demanding more from it. The vast majority are using it for planned and reactive maintenance and asset management, but only 45% rated their software as satisfactory. They felt it lacked functionality (especially in-house developed systems) and around a third said they sought to integrate their software with other systems like BMS or finance but it didn’t offer the capability to do so. For the first time budgetary pressure was knocked off the top spot by energy management as FM takes the centre stage for managing sustainability and reducing business emissions. Despite significant cyber security risks in recent years, data and system security actually fell from the fourth to the eighth greatest challenge – perhaps reflecting the industry’s relative comfort with technology challenges.

Our 2020 survey was completed before the effects of COVID-19 were felt globally. We hope to see many of you share your views in our latest survey to give an accurate reflection of the challenges you have experienced and how FM has changed as a result.


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