A couple of weeks ago we interviewed the Ascertus CEO and Founder Roy Russell to understand more about how they came to be and how they stay current in an ever-changing technical landscape and the interest we’ve received has been mind blowing.
This week we will be discussing (using a few of Roy’s favourite mantras) what their updated company vision and mission mean for their future, how they help clients really get what they need and how to stay away from pitfalls undermining company success.
This is part two of three in this blog series.
Roy - great to have you back with us.
1. You recently made a companywide announcement - unveiling new messaging and direction for Ascertus. You have a new vision, mission, tagline, new values etc to reflect how the world has changed and the importance of changing with it. How did all of this come about?
We last updated our messaging seven years ago and the world has changed since then, as have we. As an example, we could never have predicted the pandemic and the experiences (good and bad) we’ve had since then.
We took that time to review how we had grown and how Ascertus and the DMS Software marketplace have changed and realised that we are a very different company today. For one, we needed to invest in marketing and revisit our marketing strategy. We made the decision to engage with Angela Nyman, a marketing and business strategist to help us review our current situation and overall approach to marketing. We needed to go back to basics and update our Mission, Vision and key marketing statements to help us communicate the core values on which we are governed.
We’ve always said that our success occurred despite the lack of any structured and coordinated marketing, but we realised that this needed to change if we wanted Ascertus to continue to grow. To drive the business forward we needed an effective marketing engine that covered the full marketing mix.
In the last few months, we’ve not only updated our internal and external communications, such as our new vision and mission statements but we’ve also created and launched a new e-book, hosted several webinars, launched our new newsletter “In the Know” and we’re about to host our first Amsterdam event with our partner Co-Flo. Despite our investment in new marketing technologies we still want to get out and meet people face to face and talk about the benefits of iManage, our core product and leading cloud-based document management system, especially now that the world is opening up again, which is why we’ll be hosting a few events across Europe in the near future. There is nothing like meeting people, spending quality time with them and addressing real-world issues that will help them improve their document and work lifecycle processes. We see this as a great complement to our digital strategy.
2. Are there any other changes on the horizon for Ascertus?
We haven’t diversified much in the last few years. We have focused on what we know best, which has enabled us to build a depth of quality, experience and skills. However, we’re starting to seriously look at new solutions that fulfil our criteria as well as the requirements of our customers. We will however always continue to add value to iManage and provide solutions that complement the document lifecycle. To support these plans for continued growth and diversification it is imperative that we have an effective marketing engine. This is to help build our market presence as the go-to partner for secure, efficient document and email management with best-in-class support providing a more holistic solution than any software vendor can.
3. As one of the leading iManage partners in the UK for the last 17 years, you are more than familiar with the importance of creating long lasting partnerships with clients and understanding and supporting their every need. Why do you think clients remain with you for as long as they do, and why do they keep coming back?
We have made the investment to learn and understand the unique differences in requirements of the different sectors we serve, in particular professional services firms (legal, accounting and management consultants), in-house legal departments, compliance teams, finance and HR. We make a conscious effort to gain a deep understanding of any department we work with and are committed to building a quality of service which sets us apart from our competitors.
We value every client and look to build a long-term relationship, whatever their size. We aspire to be their trusted adviser when it comes to their use of technology solutions. It’s extremely rewarding when clients tell us that we’re one of the best IT providers that they’ve worked with!
I’m a great believer in karma and what goes around comes around. We treat our clients well, deliver on our promises and add value – the return has been that our best source of new business is when people from an existing client move to another firm. That word of mouth is our good karma coming back to us.
4. You’ve managed to stay on top in the industry for 22 years now and we’ve discussed some of your strategic moves to stay current and the importance of keeping your clients happy. But not everyone can be so lucky. What do you think are the pitfalls that can undermine success in your industry?
- Not understanding the client and how their individual needs differ in terms of location and type of client (e.g., a law firm, a corporate legal department or a firm of accountants). My advice would be to read Stephen Covey’s book ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ where he sums up this important principle of interpersonal relations by saying ‘Seek first to understand, then to be understood’.
- Not building relationships made to last - we don’t just make a sale for the sake of adding another brand name to our books. It needs to be a mutually beneficial and trusting relationship, where we work, together with our clients for shared success. In the last few years, I am pleased to see a swing back from focusing purely on price and more towards valuing customer service and relationships, which has always been a core principle for Ascertus.
- Not treating your staff and vendors well – staff members must not be taken for granted and should always be rewarded well for high performance and given the opportunity to grow with you. As well as understanding the customers, we need to understand why people want to work with us and that’s why we have also updated our values. Our employees are key to us, as are our vendors, and we want people to enjoy doing business with us. I strongly believe that if you’re a nice company to do business with, people will value that and will want to come back to do business with you.
Thank you so much Roy, it’s been an absolute pleasure talking to you.
This is part two of three in our blog series with our CEO and Founder Roy Russell where he reflects on the past, present and future of Ascertus, iManage and the DMS industry.
In our final blog post, Roy will discuss the main challenges for companies providing document management solutions. He will also talk about the DMS market will evolve over the next five years and how we will be helping our customers adapt.