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July 25, 2019

Facility Management Evolution Series: 1970s & 1980s

Analysis of the article “The Evolution of FM” by Nancy Johnson Sanquist, former VP of Global Strategic Marketing at Planon

OSo, how did facility management evolve to become an official field? As discussed in my previous blog, with the introduction of additional computer capabilities throughout time, we have seen many professions technologically grow and expand and specialized abilities have become present as a result. Throughout “The Evolution of FM” Nancy Sanquist pinpoints the key historical events and developments of the 1970s and 1980s that solidified the FM profession. 

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In the 1970s, the overall look and feel of computers was becoming a bit more advanced. Even though they were still bulky, prices were gradually decreasing, and computers were becoming more accessible throughout a wide array of industries. The predictions that had been surrounding the uses of computers were coming to light and there started to be an increased amount of their involvement in our everyday professional lives.

Computerized process growth with the newly structure field of FM in the 1970s

When analyzing how exactly the FM field became legitimized, it’s important to recognize significant attributions made by two key individuals. First was William Mitchell, who wrote a paper, “Notes on approaches to computer-aided space planning” in 1970. He later became a founder of one of the six Computer-Aided Facility Management (CAFM) companies that were formed within the decade. Secondly, Herman Miller, who hosted the Facility Influence on Productivity, a conference in 1978. This conference was called Facility Influence of Productivity, which allowed for the formal stamp on the FM industry as we refer to it in present-day. The ideas that prospered here led to the groundwork within our field and the initial concepts to sprout and evolve.

Sanquist mentions that “from the very beginning, several key designers of FM software arose from architecture and space planning, engineering, maintenance and real estate to computerize FM business processes.” We knew our future ahead was bright, with computers we could expand upon our own knowledge and foster computerized capabilities within the field that is FM.

The introduction of Computer-Aided Facility Management solutions during the 1980s

The International Facility Management Association (IFMA) has played a major part within our field in terms of recognition. In 1980, IFMA was founded and contributed to the global support of FM and its professionals. Its creation came at the perfect time, just before six companies created Computer-Aided Facilities Management solutions between 1981 and 1988, including Planon who at the time was an engineering consultancy before starting with automating maintenance functionality. Since its founding, the support of IFMA created a community that has fostered an enormous amount of growth and expansion throughout the past several decades. The developments of the 1980s, supported the efforts and strides of the 1970s to help establish the Facility Management industry as an official field. 

Abdel el Ouasghiri
Account Manager