What makes an excellent software developer? Managing Director of Techies 2019 winner, Evo-soft, explains it to Kate Westbrook, awards judge and Tech Lead at commercial law firm Thrings.
How would you describe your business in two sentences?
Imagine an accounts system that seamlessly marries operations, sales and support to the manufacturing, warehousing and distribution parts of the business – successfully and accountably. In technical speak, Evo-soft develops and implements a unique Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution underpinned by Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central (formerly NAV) specialised toward importation, wholesalers, producers and distributors across multiple verticals.
What’s your customer base?
While we’re best known for our work with auctioneers (and our Evo-Auction product), this only makes up around 12 per cent of what we do. More than half of our customers are importers and exporters and the software we develop is often multi-currency and multi-language. Much of our work comes off the back of recommendations and so we’ve added some pure financial customers and even a restaurant chain to our portfolio!
What are you working on at the moment?
We’re currently working on a variety of projects for new clients, and a host of new extensions (add-ons) for Dynamics 365 Business Central, which is Microsoft’s new (and more affordable) ERP option for small to medium sized companies.
You started trading in 2001. Tell us about your journey
I’m a chartered management accountant who, throughout my career, trialled (and at one point even sold) accounting software. I was inspired to create software solutions that truly worked for the customer. We started in what was a broom cupboard in the Shaftsbury Centre: me, my business partner and two members of staff. Evo-soft grew steadily and organically without taking on unnecessary debt, which is an important lesson learnt in my accounting days.
You now have more than 50 employees. What do you put that growth down to?
Hard graft (personally working silly hours at the beginning) and building good partnerships with our customers. We don’t just put the system in place and forget about it. We work truly collaboratively with our clients to solve their ever-changing business needs as they grow and achieve greater results.
What qualities do you need in your line of work?
Other than being technically accomplished, you must be interested in the client, their business and fully understand what their desired outcome is. We aren’t yes people; we challenge when we don’t understand, and push back if we believe there is a more appropriate way to achieve the objective. Getting that right means that the rest will follow. What helps is to have a broader experience than just programming. Things like sociology, accounting, logistics, engineering and even user experience go a long way at Evo-soft. This is what we continue to build on with our team today.
Your biggest challenges as a business are…?
Finding offices with enough parking, followed by sourcing those multi-skilled people I just described!
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Crikey! I don’t get a lot of it unfortunately. I used to enjoy running but still take my three dogs out. One is a speedy Romanian rescue with a missing a leg. He only seems to realise it when he does a quick turn and topples over.
What has being part of the Techies meant to you?
It was great to be a winner at the Techies 2019 in the Using Tech to Transform Business category. It’s important to have a local focus on technology and beneficial to understand what other tech is going on across Wiltshire. I felt it was really important to get involved. The awards were a great validation of the work we’ve been doing and we’ve even had customers say how good it was to see this recognised.