BUILDING a business which would enhance the performance of other firms was the focus for entrepreneurs Ian Mechie and Derek Reid, when they established their specialist SAP consultancy, now known as Absoft, in 1991.
Renowned for its work in oil and gas, Absoft has endured two of the biggest downturns to hit the energy sector – close working relationships with long term customers and success in other industries, has been crucial to Absoft’s continued success.
Co-founder Ian Mechie says that while the firm’s reputation for delivering a return on our customers’ investment in SAP ERP was cemented through oil and gas, that profile has helped secure work across a wide range of sectors including transport, local government, pharmaceuticals and manufacturing industries worldwide.
As the firm marks its silver anniversary, Absoft continues to expand into new markets, buoyed by its reputation for optimising SAP systems to run at peak efficiency.
‘We’ve achieved the longevity we have by being consistent and focussing on what we do best’ says Mr Mechie. ‘Like any business, we’ve made choices along the way which haven’t worked out, but we’re stronger for them today’.
‘I think we can be proud that many of our clients have stayed with us – we have customers who have remained with us since the beginning, and our approach is always to build those kinds of relationships with all of our customers’.
‘In every industry, we work with our customers to develop innovative SAP solutions which improve processes, streamline procedures and help to protect their bottom line’.
Work in the oil and gas industry was, for many years, the focus of our business however, in our 25th anniversary year, things have changed significantly, with nearly 50% of our turnover stemming from other sectors while the downturn has affected the energy sector.’
Mr Mechie, 59, joined RGIT as a programmer in the early 1980s, before studying computer science as it emerged.
Founded and headquartered in Aberdeen, Absoft has a significant footprint in Norway, where some 20% of its energy sector business is focussed, in addition to customers throughout the UK, continental Europe and the US, across a diverse range of sectors.
Absoft’s work is focussed on process optimisation, mobile user-interface solutions and system migration services during M&A transactions.
These services are enhanced by an integrated SAP support and managed service offering where Absoft’s consultants monitor and patch SAP ERP systems, in-house or remotely, to achieve optimum efficiency on behalf of the customer.
Mr Mechie says that Absoft’s ability to develop new solutions for its clients within SAP’s continuously-evolving systems has been critical. The company was an early-adopter of SAP HANA, which processes huge volumes of data to enable effective stakeholder decision making in real-time.
‘Around a year ago, I attended a predictive analytics event at RGU, where a group of representatives from IBM were talking about the automotive industry and what it has done to change the way it works by analysing huge volumes of data, and using what it has learned to improve results’, says Mr Mechie.
‘There are a number of industries, energy included, which could benefit from using the automotive approach to changing the way they work – and that’s exactly the approach we’ve brought to all our work in SAP, particularly in the last decade, as systems have evolved, bringing opportunities for companies of all sizes to improve’.
‘We’re bringing the best practice methodologies we first created in oil and gas to every sector, with every piece of work we complete bringing an opportunity to add value for a customer in another area or industry’.
‘In the last six months alone, the growing reputation of our SAP support team has been further enhanced through a significant volume of new work, with a surge of contacts from sectors outside of oil and gas’.
‘We all thrive on providing innovative solutions for customers looking to address a whole host of common business challenges – going into those businesses, working closely with them to find and circumvent the issues they face.’
Mr Mechie says that continuing the successful diversification Absoft has achieved is crucial to the company’s future plans.
‘A lot of hard work has gone into the past 25 years and while it may take another few years for the oil and gas industry to stabilise, the fact that we have grown beyond the sector, and are not reliant upon it, gives us confidence’.
‘We have the skills across the business to continue growing, building up the strength of our multi-sector offering to the marketplace. By supporting the development of our people, nurturing new talent and building on the long-term client relationships we are renowned for, there is a bright future for the firm.’