Circle IT Solutions

Origins

The opportunity to start Circle IT arose when the founders’ previous employer was downsizing and wished to discontinue the IT support part of its business. They were offered the chance to break away and take the existing IT operation as part of their own business - it was very amicable and Circle IT still provides support services to the founders’ old employer. As a new IT start-up, company cashflow was an issue and in its first week of trading, Circle IT received an order for £15,000 worth of hardware. As the company was a start-up, suppliers would not provide credit lines, so this period was extremely challenging as it was funded out of the directors’ own pockets. As the company started to win new business, it needed staff, which was another new challenge as they had never interviewed before, let alone recruited staff and the directors had to learn about the recruitment process from scratch. After eight months of successful trading, Circle IT was invited to join forces with a telecoms company, as they potentially had a large base of customers who would also require IT services. They also offered to give the company financial backing to help it gain credit lines with the large hardware suppliers. However, it became clear after a time that companies were operating in different environments. IT companies need to form a close bond with their customers as there is a constant on-going relationship, whereas telecoms companies are more likely to sell the system and have limited contact thereafter. After two years of working together, turnover had only increased from £660,000 to £900,000 and employed just five people. So an MBO was undertaken and Circle IT was back in the founders control, allowing them the freedom to take the company in the direction they wanted - rapid growth.

Success Factor

Since completing the MBO, the current directors have had control of strategy and have continued to reinvest all profits into the company, creating the most robust internal systems for client service and providing customers with unrivalled levels of service. The current management team has been very active in the implementation of procedures and processes to deliver the best possible services to customers, as well as achieving accreditations such as IIP. As a result of attention to detail and quality, most of the new business to date has come from existing client referrals and word of mouth recommendations, resulting in extremely high client retention. Finally, as a very technical business, all of Circle IT’s engineers need to accredited and trained in all of the latest relevant technological developments. These changes in the world of IT occur constantly, so the company spends some £30,000 a year on external training, on top of its extensive internal training courses for all staff members.

The Future

Circle IT has reached a point where it believes that no competitor in Wales can match its offerings in terms of technologies and service level, but it cannot rest on its laurels and risks being caught up! Therefore, future plans are to maintain the current structure and drive forward the focus on quality and technology with constant improvement. The pace of change in the IT industry is very rapid and a lot of work and investment is required to keep up. As part of the drive to deliver a service of excellence for customers, it has now introduced ITIL processes and procedures across the company, which includes incident, problem and change management, all designed to minimise the adverse affect for customers for IT outages. The current Technical Helpdesk is working towards a Service Desk Accreditation and it is envisaged that the team will be ready to enter the Service Desk Institute, Service Desk Awards for Excellence in 2010. The team are currently working on increasing customer service levels and an increase of customer communication has already proven to be extremely successful. The introduction of new non technical roles within the team, dedicated to customer and Service delivery, possessing "critical soft skills" is a reflection of the commitment of Circle ITs passion and culture of delivering a flexible and personal approach.