Information Management for Professionals
Specialists in document production and management solutions, Ascertus offer a full range of professional services and software solutions, which allow professional knowledge workers across all sectors to demonstrate and justify their value to their company, effectively manage their costs, mitigate their risks, and enhance their efficiency and productivity.
Ascertus also implementing iManage Work Mobility for anytime, anywhere document access
Hanson, the country’s largest supplier of ready-mix concrete, has deployed an email and document management solution based on iManage Work (formerly HP Worksite) from Ascertus Limited for its legal department. Ascertus provides tailored information and document lifecycle management solutions to in-house legal departments and law firms in the UK. The legal department at Hanson now has a centralised solution comprising matter-related workspaces, enabling users to securely store all information pertaining to individual transactions across data sources – including correspondence, emails, and a variety of documents.
The iManage Work solution implemented by Ascertus is delivering efficiency gains to the company’s legal department. The email management system enables all outbound and inbound emails on transactions and associated documents to be saved to a central repository. Users are able to effortlessly share and locate information due to a simple, intuitive and indexed folder structure; and Google-like advanced text search capability offered by the iManage Work solution.
In conjunction with iManage Work, Ascertus has implemented pdfDocs, enabling users to quickly create pdfs of documents from within Microsoft Outlook and directly store them in the central repository as needed.
Hanson selected Ascertus for its extensive experience in delivering iManage Work-based email and document lifecycle management solutions to corporate legal departments. Following the company’s independent market investigation, iManage Work was the document management solution of choice due to the tool’s proven suitability for a legal environment and seamless integration with Microsoft Outlook.
“Ascertus has delivered a user-friendly solution that meets our department’s specific business needs,” said Ed Gretton, Head of Legal at Hanson.
Ascertus is also implementing iManage Work Mobility for the legal department at Hanson. This will ensure that the legal team has access to critical case information and documents via their Blackberry devices while out of the office or on the move.
“In today’s digital environment, the complexity of information management has grown manifold,” commented Roy Russell, Managing Director and CEO of Ascertus Limited. “We’ve undertaken numerous iManage Work implementations in corporate legal departments, so intrinsically appreciate the document management challenges of lawyers. Adopting email and document management technology offers an easy win towards efficiency, but also corporate imperatives such as compliance, so that lawyers can maintain focus on the core aspects of their jobs. We are delighted to be working with a company of the calibre of Hanson.”
About Ascertus Limited
Ascertus provides information and document lifecycle management consultancy, software solutions and IT support services to law firms and corporate legal departments. Based in Central London, the company offers a full range of professional services – from consultancy, business analysis and project management; to software implementation, training, documentation and technical support – delivering bespoke email, contract and document management solutions in on-premises and privately hosted environments. The company has successfully delivered and managed some of the largest iManage Work installations at customer sites in the UK. For more information, visit: www.ascertus.com.
Roy Russell, Founder & CEO of Ascertus Limited speaks to Hazel Davis and James Hurley for The Times.
Published in Working Life, Monday 3rd August, 2015.
When entrepreneurs leave a company that they have spent years building, they might expect to spend a few weeks or months tying up loose ends, taking calls from the beach or golf course or maybe having the odd tense lunch with former colleagues. Few expect to have to go back and start all over again.
Nick and Kath Whitworth had to return to right some wrongs at a venture they thought they’d seen the back of. They had bought Celtic Sheepskin, a Newquay clothing manufacturer and retailer, in the 1990s, taking it from nothing to a company with a £7.8 million turnover.
Their reasons for seeking a sale will be familiar to entrepreneurs who build a company but come to believe that they may have exhausted their ability to take it further. “We’d had the business longer than we’d had our children and we were working 24/7 on it, but running out of time and knowledge on how to take it further,” Mr Whitworth says.
“We lacked any strategy and we needed professional assistance. We decided after much soul searching to look for an exit.” The husband and wife team sold a majority stake for an undisclosed sum in 2011 to Piper, a private equity firm, staying on in advisory roles to ease the transition and “wait for the big sale”. But that big deal never materialised.
“They wanted to double the turnover and profits and they expanded much too fast,” Mr Whitworth says. The company ran up two years of heavy losses and collapsed into administration.
Last year Mr and Mrs Whitworth bought it back in a prepack administration for only £60,328.
“We never thought we’d be in this position,” Mr Whitworth says, “but the business is a huge part of the community down here.” They are turning the operation around and last year announced a £367,000 profit.
“We just had to get back to basics. We did a lot of damage limitation. We had constant communication with our old suppliers, paying them a premium when we had to. We had known a lot of them a very long time and they had seen what was happening so we were very lucky.”
The couple also scaled back on the number of lines and management team and promoted the marketing director to managing director.
They have learnt some hard lessons about how to run an owner managed business. “We do need — and have now got — a senior management team and we are clearing the mud out. We’re working hard but not too hard.”
The story was similar for Roy Russell, who founded Ascertus, a London based IT consultancy to the legal sector. Mr Russell secured what he describes as “a dream deal” to sell his company to an American firm three years ago but the dream quickly lost some of its magic.
“I saw it as an opportunity to grow the business. The US acquirer had global clients in both Europe and the United States and so wanted to bolster the company’s offering.”
He never managed to leave the business and, last year, he bought it back and restored his old staff. “Luckily, they were all behind it,” he says, “some even offered financial assistance, which I didn’t have to take.”
Of course, it would have been better if he had more carefully considered the implications of selling. “Maybe if I had known this was going to happen I would have looked at putting some more downside protection in the original acquisition document.
“I did raise some concerns about selling but it was all ‘No, no! Don’t be silly!’ Those words come flooding back sometimes.
“If we’d assimilated into the company quicker then it might not have made buying it back so easy. Based on what happened, it was the best situation for the team. We were able to hit the ground running.”
Naturally, there are financial implications to such disruptions and, Mr Russell says, the company’s turnover of £1.5 million represents a recovery from the post sale doldrums.
“There was certainly a dip during the three or four months it was all going through,” he says. “There was a tail off in performance, there was uncertainty and we didn’t know what the consequences were. But we got back on track eventually and now have new strategies and access to new markets that we hadn’t been able to under the old ownership.”
Louise O’Sullivan also found herself “doing a Steve Jobs” — a reference to the late Apple co-founder’s triumphant return to the technology giant that had fired him — a decade after she left Anam Technologies, a Dublin based company that she had set up in 1999.
Anam, which also has offices in London, was established with the idea of making more of text messages as a communication channel between organisations and consumers — old hat now but not 16 years ago.
Ms O’Sullivan decided to leave the company in 2003. She moved on from telecoms entirely, took eight years out and had four children.
What she had not banked on was coming back a decade later to lift the company out of a prolonged downturn that was threatening its existence. She says it has been more a labour of love than a rational career move. “Bearing in mind I lived in the UK, had four kids and hadn’t actually been in telecoms for eight years, my CV didn’t exactly recommend me for the job, but then the job didn’t exactly recommend itself for anyone who felt they had a reputation to protect.”
Ms O’Sullivan says that she had no idea of the “mammoth” scale of the challenge that the comeback presented. “If I had, frankly, I am not sure I would have agreed to it. But I came back to see the company realise the potential locked within.
“The expectation was that it would fail so there was nothing to lose in letting me have a crack at it. I look back on the first six months of 2012 and my recollection is of dark nights of the soul.”
She returned to “a kind of implosion at that point in the industry” when smartphones and internet based office telecoms were overhauling the market.
Ms O’Sullivan changed the business model to suit the new face of the industry, working with mobile operators such as Telefónica to help them to profit from text messaging from organisations to individuals.
For all the stress a comeback entails, a break can give a returning boss an advantage, she says. “I was looking at the industry with an entirely fresh pair of eyes, and at the point I came back in, with an uncorrupted view and [without cynicism], it became apparent quickly that I was one of only a few in the industry with that perspective.”
Read the original article by Hazel Davis and James Hurley at The Times online.