With the rush of the holiday season and then coming back after the new year, you may have missed one of the biggest developments the British FM and maintenance industries have seen in decades — in November 2022, for the very first time, the British government announced an official FM Strategy for the country for the period 2023-2030.

Let’s set the scene with some key numbers found in the report: 

  • The UK FM sector contributes an impressive £65 billion to the UK economy.
  • We could cut 20% of maintenance costs with “early problem-solving” — there’s proof that preventive maintenance is all it’s cracked up to be!
  • The UK Government has set expectations from the off that change needs to happen now — their goal is a 5% reduction in FM costs by 2024.

Enhancing Lives, Enabling Success & Ensuring Value 

The paper is divided into 3 values and, from a tone perspective, is full of optimism, hope and vision:

  1. Enhancing Lives — Sustainability and prioritising facility user’s health
  2. Enabling Success — Efficiency and providing the right tools 
  3. Ensuring Value — Collaboration and better contract management. 

When we “zoom out” and look at this government report, the pandemic’s impact and the valuable lessons learned by society (and our industry) are undeniably present. The reasoning behind the set goals makes total sense now — perhaps 5 years ago, they wouldn’t have.

The pandemic forced our industry to look inward, engage in some much-needed introspection and work out what we needed to do to survive. Any regular readers of this blog will be very familiar with terms like human-centric maintenance and of course, Maintenance 5.0.

See how beautifully and seamlessly these themes slot into the UK Government’s 3 goals?

This is excellent news — it shows that the same clarity and ambition being shown by FM and maintenance companies on the ground is matched by the policy and legislation-making bodies of our country. It shows the industry has been on the right path and is a major stamp of approval for continuing in the same direction. 

Now, one by one, let’s deep dive into the 3 visions and explore them in detail. 

Enhancing Lives — Sustainability and prioritising facility user’s health

Considering that the report has a particular focus on the public sector (13 of those £65 billion!), it’s very interesting to hear the way the government paper frames the facility manager’s duty to serve and protect facility users. They describe how government buildings need to be “environments that support [users’] well-being and allow them to be at their most productive.” In other words, this means “greener, healthier and more sustainable facilities and buildings.

It will come as no surprise to anyone that much of the Enhancing Lives pillar is about cutting carbon emissions and increasing sustainability. 

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is portrayed as a success story of how companies can lead by example. Since 2009/10, they’ve cut their carbon emissions by nearly 60% using renewable energy and leaner decision-making processes, with low energy-consuming HVAC and air handling units as part of their redesign.

Seeing the UK Government incorporate sustainability into the fabric of their 3-point vision for FM across their buildings should be an inspirational sign for all FM businesses. It is a firm endorsement for investing in these processes. The challenge to green our estates is considerable, but the good news is that the technology does exist! It’s just about integrating it into the core of our operations and making wise decisions in all areas of our business, maintenance management included. 

Enabling Success — Efficiency and providing the right tools 

There are many reasons for the well-documented FM and maintenance talent shortage. One thing is for sure — attracting and retaining talent is a problem the IWFM (Institute of Workplace and Facility Management) predicted in 2015 for the upcoming decade… Update: there are only 2 years left of that decade and unfortunately, things don’t seem to be getting any better. What can we do? 

For starters, there’s a need to take measures to make the role more appealing and interesting for future generations. This means deconstructing traditionally held notions around work and encouraging digital tools and remote work (much like every industry).

This still may not be enough — even more than providing flexibility, to truly tackle the brain drain from this industry, we need to make it easier for professionals to excel at the facility maintenance they trained so hard for. Nobody wants to spend hours doing boring, repeated admin, especially when what really matters is going unresolved under your nose. Once again, technology provides the answer.

Automation will play a crucial role in speeding up or even altogether replacing frustrating data entry and repeat jobs, adding value and intelligence to operations.

Indeed, the report itself recognises the fundamental importance of data. It explains how across the market today, data is mostly used as a simple KPI tracker for supplier (and/or technician) performance. “Ensuring that there is the capacity as well as the capability to use this data is key to maximising the potential of these [CAFM] systems”

Ensuring Value — Collaboration and better contract management 

Let’s start this section with a quote from Sean Haley, CEO UK and Ireland at Sodexo

“SMEs make up 75% of our supply chain and 44% of our spending, but we can’t expect them to navigate net zero overnight.”

Sean is describing the complex and often murky realm of managing relationships between facility managers and service providers. Instead of tackling it from the most commonly thought of efficiency angle, he’s approaching it from a fresh perspective — sustainability.

Collaboration and seamless procurement processes are central to this report. By 2025, the government wants “smooth and secure procurement processes across all government FM contracts”. This shift aims to move away from major corporations in favour of small and medium-sized enterprises, which play a crucial role in promoting local, sustainable supply chains.

This is what is happening at a national level and the same requirement for simpler procurement and collaboration processes most certainly exists in the private sector. For far too long, Facility managers and suppliers have been hindered by uninformed decisions based on a lack of choice and an inability to find new partners.

On the other hand, supply chain disruptions, stock mismanagement, and lack of real-time information are some of the most damaging events for a business while dealing with supply partners. Communication is key here. And so is technology.

3 goals, 7 years — challenge accepted? 

The FM and maintenance industry traditionally has the reputation of being an old-fashioned industry. Whilst this was rooted in the truth, it couldn’t really be further from the case now.

The collaboration between big and small businesses to adapt to the changes brought about by the pandemic and work towards meeting the government’s 3 goals is a major accomplishment and something we can all be proud of.

Solutions like the Infraspeak Network™ are the future. Shared workspaces like these simplify communication and allow users to find better business opportunities using more streamlined quote management and job execution processes. It will help on all three fronts described in the paper: 

  1. Smaller companies trying to operate more sustainably will close more deals because they’ll have easier access to potential buyers.
  2. Valuable time wasted on the phone and email threads will be saved so that vital maintenance work can be executed more efficiently.
  3. Companies will start sharing contacts, accrued knowledge and expertise with other parties in a more collaborative approach to facility management.

At all levels, technology is the answer. Whether you’re a facility manager using a CAFM to monitor a physical site using building information modelling (BIM) files or an accountant using an invoicing tool to send out quotes and invoices to prospective customers, these actions ultimately must be rooted somewhere and play into your maintenance operation. This is where integrations become crucial to tackling the maintenance challenges of tomorrow.

Using an IMMP with an API-first mindset such as Infraspeak allows you to have all your tools articulated with one another, and places the IMMP as your centrepiece.

Indeed, integrations also bring opportunities that previously were unavailable to facilities and maintenance managers since they will help to streamline your operation, guarantee compliance and sustainability standards, and even perform functions you never knew you needed. 

We have successfully made our first strides towards achieving the 3 goals set out by the UK government… we’re gathering pace.

It’s now time to run!