On 24th November CAFM Explorer exhibited at the Future of Facilities Management and Property Services in the Public Sector Conference in Manchester. Organised by University of Salford's OneCPD department the event was a great opportunity to showcase our work with the university (see our case study here)  and meet with existing clients and new contacts within council and university facilities departments.

Here we look at some of the key issues in facilities management highlighted during the event:

Facilities management can be summarised as creating the optimal environment for an organisation's primary functions, taking an integrated view of the business infrastructure, and using this to deliver customer satisfaction and best value through support for and enhancement of the organisation.

Efficiency savings are a key element to facilities management. However, this approach to cutting costs is unlikely to produce the required savings and may harm the organisation's ability to deliver the most appropriate services. For facilities management to offer maximum support to core activities, the organisation must recognise that cost and quality are inextricably linked and should not be considered separately.

Factors such as environmental taxation and increasing utilities costs have placed energy management and carbon reduction as an area of real focus for facilities managers.

Technology is increasingly at the forefront of facilities management, this is a sector which the British Institute for Facilities Management estimates is worth between £40bn and £95bn per annum. Therefore, integrating technology in this sector is highly beneficial for those working in facilities. Handheld mobile technology has also revolutionised the work of the maintenance manager, saving time and improving efficiency and access to information.

While buildings designed recently still build in the entire infrastructure required to manage large fixed cable computer networks, the arrival of high capacity wireless networks, combined with the explosion in the use of mobile devices is rapidly reshaping the technical requirements of many organisations - this includes cloud computing technology, which is being adopted rapidly.

Cloud computing is now becoming prevalent for both businesses and consumers, particularly collaborative working and document management. This allows organisations to benefit from reduced costs, increased productivity and speed to market.

Facilities Management software companies are encouraging their customers to embrace this technology, because the cloud is changing the software delivery model to the benefit of the end user. IT facilities managers can now reduce the amount of physical data centre resources that are directly in use.

Implementing such innovations in technology in the public sector could pay large dividends, as could more focus on strategy. The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) estimates local government could make £1bn per annum in efficiency savings. RICS suggests that a reluctance to invest in, and embed a dedicated facilities management programme within an organisation - an approach it calls 'Strategic FM' (SFM) means that many public sector organisations could be missing out on huge cost saving opportunities. Salisbury Group, a Facilities Management organisation, estimates that those in the public sector using facilities management in a strategic capacity could be saving themselves as much as £120,000 each per annum on average.

Good facilities management structures have the potential to make organisations significant amounts of savings.