Scottish public sector organisations are under increasing scrutiny to meet ambitious net zero targets of all greenhouse gases by 2045, alongside a multitude of other sustainability goals. For those which have large estates and property portfolios, the challenges are as multifaceted as Scotland’s geography and its communities.

In many cases, building assets are old, planned maintenance is challenging, supply chains are heavily reliant on legacy systems and there is rarely a single holistic view of requirements. This in turn leads to estate management operations being overly complex, susceptible to risk and in the long-term financially unsustainable.

Despite the potential complexity, there’s a real opportunity for organisations to completely re-evaluate their estate management strategy and assess what insights they have available in order to make data-driven decisions that will drive much needed transformation. This approach will help to ensure spaces are optimised as workplaces of the future, focused on the evolving needs of everyone using the estate.

Margaret Moore, Director of Citizen & Devolved Government Services at Sopra Steria, said: “Working towards and investing in a future that will be cleaner, safer and healthier, starts with small steps in the right direction and most importantly, it starts with understanding where we are and mapping out where we need to get to. In essence, the wellbeing of the future depends on the decisions we make today, and to make informed decisions, we need to start with collating the right data and insight.”

The data challenge
Data is of course a vital asset, but not when it is stored in a closed environment, only providing retrospective information or not even utilised to its fullest extent across an organisation. For data to provide dynamic insights, it needs to be integrated, open, actionable and those using the data must understand the true value when collating and using the data to its full benefit. 

The challenge facing organisations over the coming years will be figuring out how to use the data that is available to them, refine it into information, and from that information harvest actionable insights to drive decisions.

While technology plays a big role in enabling this transformation, there is a tremendous need for data professionals to interpret data, classify it and put it into the context of business problems that need solving, which of course includes overcoming issues to achieving net zero, meeting social value commitments, as well as ensuring economic sustainability.

Effective decision making
By optimising digital technologies and integrating data and digital networks, estate and facility management teams can optimise best practices, address issues before they escalate and prioritise time and investment in the most relevant areas which support the organisation’s strategic objectives to drive meaningful change.

This includes assessing how estates are being used and how improvements can be made by finding pathways to meet policy by more effectively managing resource consumption, improve the use of space and ensure a sustainable and ethical supply chain. A people-centric approach is also important to ensure the right approaches are integrated within an estate management strategy and plan, which is able to adapt and evolve to meet the changing needs of employees and users. Policies and processes which support new ways of working, for example, will help to create a more resilient and productive working environment whilst simultaneously contributing positively to improving and optimising wellbeing.

Digital technologies
Through the use of digital technology, estate management can help solve some of the world’s biggest challenges, such as climate change, air and water pollution, and resource shortages. Technologies that will help Estate Management teams to achieve their goals are evolving, in particular, advances such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning, which will help to make Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) data more actionable. Those who can use this data in a meaningful way will be well-positioned for future success. However, digital technology can have environmental costs too, in the forms of resource consumption and depletion, earth and water pollution, and its own energy and carbon footprint, which is something that needs to be considered when developing the roadmap to net zero.

About Sopra Steria
At Sopra Steria, we help estate and facility managers to utilise data to create efficiency savings whilst building a more sustainable and optimised property portfolio for their organisations. Combining fresh thinking and insight with our digital and business process transformation credentials, we design intelligent and innovative solutions, delivering positive business outcomes that create lasting sustainable value.

For more information contact Sopra Steria.