Secure Cloud-Based Consultancy Software
Take two former senior police officers with extensive change management consultancy experience. Add their sophisticated, proprietary, spreadsheet-based business analysis toolkit and rave reviews from a major UK retailer. Now introduce awareness that full commercialisation of the tool – and their future business success – relied on the tool’s enhancement to meet client needs and ensure secure Cloud-based delivery.
In 2017, this challenge faced Dave Hayler and Andy Williams as they sought help to realise their management consultancy vision. It’s the story of developing and perfecting a tool that helps them transfer their skills and knowledge to giant corporations and start-ups…
Sagaciti co-founder, Andy Williams explains:
'Exploiting spreadsheet capabilities to their fullest, we had the idea of creating something to capture all our collective learning and skills so they could help other organisations. Dave created an amazing spreadsheet that we populated with an analytical framework, capable of assessing any organisation, department or team. Our original ‘Toolkit’ – now called ‘Insight Software’ – is a fully tested and commercially proven change management tool. Insight supports detailed organisational analysis at multiple levels, attachment of commentary and evidence, and the granular or summary reporting required by clients. The output clarity from the straightforward RAG (red, amber, green) ‘traffic-light’ system belies Insight’s sophisticated underlying coding and programming. And the use of functionality that’s well beyond many spreadsheet power-users. Unfortunately, the spreadsheet interface and system capability limitations caused us to seek another solution to help us focus on winning new clients. Something had to change.’
A secure Cloud-based platform
‘We realised that the spreadsheet needed further development,’ says Andy. ‘This would be the key to it becoming a Cloud-based platform with the required user interface and flexibility. And having the robust security needed to successfully deliver Insight for clients’ ad hoc bespoke toolkits, consultancy support or licensing under a managed service model.’
Around this time, an acquaintance recommended Evergreen. After comparing them with other prospective suppliers, Sagaciti chose Evergreen's 42-page proposal for the PHP-MySQL-HTML-driven project.
Friendly, bespoke, culture
‘Their friendly, intimate, bespoke culture really appealed,’ says Andy. ‘Being local ticked another box. Plus their impressive understanding of our vision and reassuring confidence about delivery. In late 2017, Evergreen’s team began transforming our spreadsheet into a powerful Cloud-based tool that mines and prioritises evidence-based data from multiple levels and sub-levels within client organisations.’
The clock was ticking on a project in which Andy and Dave had invested their skills and experiences from decades of police and consultancy work. A year on – after the inevitable project refinements and teething troubles embracing the arcane detail of complex averaging, cascading scoring logic, numerical rounding and graph updates – Insight went live.
Respect for Evergreen’s capabilities
‘This was our first experience of developing software’ adds Andy. ‘We recognise the challenges and realities of a world where, for many reasons, things don’t always go to plan. We faced the odd glitch but Evergreen’s expertise, problem-solving, responsiveness and determination to deliver a quality product have showcased their talents. They’ve delivered a masterclass in developing client ideas into a precisely specified bespoke product.’
Sagaciti’s founders quickly accepted the likelihood that the project would evolve with time – leading to schedule overruns. Dave Hayler: ‘Insight must be right, and will be, so we’ve made allowances. Even after a few glitches following testing on both sides, we’ve been really pleased with the commitment and progress made by Chris [Rollin] and Martin [Bampton]. Their technical skills, professionalism, and understanding, while turning an incredibly complex spreadsheet into a Cloud-based tool, have been exemplary – we have real confidence in them.’
Firing corporate imaginations
Co-op Retail Group (Customer and Membership Services) had already validated the commercial value of Sagaciti Insight Software™ – using the original spreadsheet toolkit. Only time will confirm the promised client benefits of its Cloud-based evolution. Suffice to say that, within weeks of launch, the platform is firing corporate imaginations. Interest is coming from organisations as diverse as a pan-European technical consultancy and the healthcare sector. The key to its power remains unchanged. It’s an innovative, evidence-based approach to change management with a flexible input hierarchy and proven RAG system for identifying and prioritising actions.
Andy Williams again: ‘Taking the concepts behind Insight and translating them into evidence-based information was always at the heart of Evergreen’s work. For me, one of their key successes was articulating the input-capture and reporting mechanism for data at multiple levels. Bespoke reports then present evidence-based output at different detail levels. These range from top-level summaries to ultra-granular output for framework assessment audits and other change management work.’
An interesting ‘Wow!’ moment
For Andy Williams, the intellectually-taxing explanation of the relationship between Insight’s high-level Principles and its underlying hierarchy gave the project’s ‘Wow!’ moment. ‘No one knows our methodology better than us. But using software it was always a challenge to graphically display the relationship and hierarchy within the system – I said as much to Evergreen’s Chris Rollin. It’s indicative of the team’s capability that within minutes he analysed the problem, designed and elegantly articulated a framework hierarchy to relate our Principle oversight to the rest of the system. This really impressed me. Not only was it a specific example of problem resolution, but it typified Evergreen’s whole approach to our brief. I understand from Chris that Evergreen considered Insight to have been developed from the most complex, “brain frazzling” spreadsheet they’d ever seen!’
Recommendations for Evergreen
Despite inevitable developmental glitches, Andy Williams and Dave Hayler can’t praise Evergreen’s work enough. They’re also quick to recount how impressed third parties are by the transformation of the spreadsheet ‘toolkit’ into today’s Cloud-based platform. And, yes, they’ve already recommended Evergreen several times. ‘This includes,’ says Andy, ‘an academic institution seeking support for delivery of an online course.’
Summing up their relationship with Evergreen, Andy Williams says: ‘We’re delighted to recommend Evergreen. We’ve got to know each other well since 2017; it’s been key to our successful partnership. Their intimacy has helped immeasurably to develop a product that we’re extremely pleased with. From first enquiry to resolving post-launch glitches, their responsiveness to the inevitable development issues has impressed us throughout.’
A mark of good suppliers is their ability to stick with challenges and consistently apply first-class problem-solving skills. ‘That’s what we love about Evergreen,’ adds Andy, ‘and what gives us complete confidence that, even if we take longer than planned, we’ll get the product we want. Sagaciti’s future depends on Evergreen’s input. We trust them implicitly to deliver. It’s a bonus that they’re also thoroughly decent people and we have really enjoyed working with them.’
Forging Sagaciti’s future success
That’s praise indeed from two professionals whose backgrounds include the highest, most-demanding, echelons of tactical and strategic policing. Now, as they forge Sagaciti’s future in change management consultancy, traditional crime-busting tools have been replaced by the Insight Software that Evergreen has helped them develop.