Reflecting on the first year...
This week marks the first anniversary of a turning point in the life of geoworx and my own life for that matter.
I had over three good years with Eagle Technology, where I worked with some great people and some great clients. The problem, if there was a problem, was that I had reached a ceiling. The GIS community appeared to consider me as a ‘techie’, and I was in some ways at the top of the technical career ladder. There was nowhere to grow, and I still felt that there was room for personal growth. Since arriving from the UK, nine years ago, I have only held positions that present me as a techie and a GIS guy. In the UK I had worked in several non-GIS roles. I had worked in banking, the travel industry, and in both administration and project management roles within Local Government. Believe it or not, I also spent three years as a Royal Engineer in the British Army! I think that makes me well rounded, and not just ‘a techie’.
geoworx has existed for five years, but I had only looked after a single customer in the UK for the first four. I was looking to wind up geoworx as I had delivered all of my customers’ requirements. Then, a contract with Transpower presented itself that I could not resist. Professional services projects tend to be a quick turnaround, and as a consultant, you do not always see the result. The opportunity to work with a single customer and deliver numerous quality outcomes, over an extended period, was attractive. In accepting the contract, the recruitment agency asked me to run everything through a business entity, and so geoworx was destined to live! Instead of being wound up, it received a new lease of life.
Unbelievably it is now a year since making that decision. At the time, several friends, customers and colleagues said that geoworx would not last a year! The argument was that “as a techie” there was no way that I would be able to grow a customer base or manage the business aspects. I understood their concerns, but I knew that I had those other skills and experiences behind me that may come in useful, and they have. Even, if at times, it was just the British Army training to pull some long hours to complete the job on time!
It has been an enjoyable year, and I have learnt a lot. Unfortunately, the Transpower contract did not renew, but at the same time, I had quietly grown a customer base which allowed geoworx to evolve into the next phase rapidly. My current portfolio of clients’ cut cross multiple business sectors:
Local Government (both Regional and Local)
Engineering and Environmental Consultancy
Infrastructure and Construction
Other GIS Professional Service companies that need to sub-contract specialist skills
The good thing is that most of the above customers have worked with me on previous projects or through existing relationships. In some cases, though it has been because of reputation or recommendation. This, I feel, shows that there is a need for geoworx and that there is trust in what it can deliver.
The work that is coming towards geoworx is both challenging and exciting. The overall package of work, beyond just the technical, has given me the personal growth that I needed. Running geoworx is, therefore, just what I needed. I believe that I’m delivering the best outcomes that I ever have, and that geoworx is making a difference to its customers. That difference could be through clear communication and mentoring, making complicated things understandable, or it could be quality technical outputs. Some of the most significant comments I’ve received over the last year have been:
“Thank you for making that understandable. I just didn’t get it before.”
“I like having catchup conversations with you because I get a quick response to technical questions, and I can move forward without waiting for a follow-on call with a consultant.”
“The way you accepted the mistake means that you have just gained our trust, the response shows you are committed to your customers and doing the right thing. That is our own style of business, and the type of organisation we want to partner with. ”
"Those three days of handover and mentoring cost less than a traditional training course. They delivered value to the whole team and that will help us get the most out of our new system."
Some geoworx engagements have been short-lived, but the aim is to build an enduring relationship. geoworx believes it is possible to hold a ‘technical relationship’ with clients through consultancy led engagements. There is no middle (sales) men. geoworx is committed to listening to your requirements, defining the package of work with you, and then delivering the project to a high standard.
This approach works, it seems there is a place in the NZ GIS Community for it, and the geoworx order books are full for the next three months or so. The responses to my work so far are that geoworx is transparent, ethical, modest, and delivers quality.
I believe in some of those old school values, and that's why geoworx is more interested in the relationship than the profit. The overheads of a small business are low. That allows geoworx to be flexible in the way it engages with customers.
The simple truth is that geoworx has increasingly found that customers are using traditional approaches to data management and workflows. While this may be ‘safe’ and ‘comfortable’, it is not allowing customers to get the best performance or outputs from their GIS. Staff are getting held back, and not able to deliver as much as they would like due to slow systems and lack of training. geoworx aims to remedy the performance issues while empowering the staff to challenge their current ways of working; it encourages the team-member to review the best approach continually and to optimize the deliverables.
geoworx does not sell software or licensing, so there is no incentive in recommending more software to you. If we tell you that you need more, then it’ because you do, not because it affects our bottom line. That level of independence is building trust between geoworx and its customers. They are observing issues and need a second opinion on what is a very specialist area. They like that the advice given is purely to help them and to help their organization grow and adopt best practice. If you are having issues with your Enterprise GIS and you want a health-check or a roadmap to lead you towards a better state, then reach out.