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Has the UK FM Sector Reached Saturation Point with CAFM Systems?

CAFM

26/04/21 | Rebecca Drewett

Are FM teams across the UK getting the most out of CAFM solutions, or are new opportunities emerging to enhance their usefulness even further? FSI Global Sales Manager Jon Clark offers his thoughts.

Organisations across the UK will always have a need to seek out the rigour of management, the visibility of spend and the optimisation of efficiencies. These are essential for facilities to function flawlessly and enables them to evolve with the industry as a whole.

However, have we reached the saturation point with CAFM systems designed to deliver these much-needed elements to teams across the FM sector? Are we at the point where these solutions have permeated the industry as a whole and are enabling teams universally to manage properties, assets and people more effectively than ever before?

In my opinion, while in the past decade many big firms have made the switch from traditional, bygone approaches to modern CAFM solutions, we are far from saturation point. As long as there are organisations relying on spreadsheets to oversee their operations – and there are still plenty of these around – there will always be a demand for CAFM systems.

How is the industry evolving, and what role will CAFM play in supporting this?

In the past decade, many organisations have evolved their approach to incorporate more remote and flexible working practices, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some might initially consider this as easing the burden of responsibility on FM teams and the systems they employ day-to-day, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. If anything, this shift has made things more complex.

Regardless of whether a company’s team is working from the office full-time or employing some kind of hybrid approach, buildings and assets still need to be maintained to maximise their performance. And this might need to evolve in relation to how facilities are now occupied – static, traditional approaches might no longer deliver the efficiencies you hope for.

Then you must consider the people aspect. If most of your workforce is now remote, systems have to be in place to get services to them where required. If you have a flexible workforce, you need to consider what employees will be around at particular times and where, and how the building must operate to meet their needs.

What about space management, people management and organisation of external contractors and how this applies to maintaining social distancing requirements? What about the need to forward-plan meetings and events based on who will be available on given dates, and making sure these environments are prepared properly for those occasions?

As you can tell, life for FMs has potentially become a lot more complicated. It isn’t the case that fewer people will rely on these services every day – arguably there’ll be more demand than ever before. The application of an up-to-date CAFM system is integral to overcoming these fresh challenges and empowering FM teams to evolve with ever-shifting circumstances.

Ensuring your CAFM system is up-to-date

Alongside teams still dependant on spreadsheets and similar antiquated techniques that should look towards CAFM to improve their facilities’ performance and rise to the challenges that have been accelerated by the pandemic, other teams find themselves relying on systems installed 10+ years ago that are no longer in-sync with the demands on today’s organisations.

This is just as problematic – if you stick with the same rigid, outdated approach, how can you expect efficiencies or performances to improve? How can you deliver a better service if the technology that allows this doesn’t grow with you? In the years that this system has lay dormant or has been used in the exact same way from when it was first implemented, CAFM technology has improved by leaps and bounds.

The advent of AI, with how we cope with sensory data, the improved analytics that can be produced out of any given system – this all can deliver an immense amount of data to guide the future of your facilities and provide a holistic view of your entire operations.

For me, investment in technology and surrounding services is exactly where FM teams need to turn their focus to in order to see the growth and improvement they want to see in their overall service delivery. Simply put, we are far from hitting CAFM’s “saturation point”.

Fortunately, we are steadily seeing many big firms ditch their outdated techniques and embracing the difference that modern, regularly updated CAFM systems deliver to support their requirements. For many of these, the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns were the epiphany moments they needed to recognise that they needed a solution that will help them readily adapt to changing circumstances, rather than rigidly stuck to their status quo.

With more and more teams developing that hunger to work smarter, not harder, harnessing technologies such as CAFM for your estate and surrounding services will spur the growth, return on investment and, ultimately, the quality of service you offer in an ever-evolving landscape.