Chris Bayne, managing director for Access UK & Ireland
Access in Colchester is a consulting, software and solutions provider, serving the mid-market. The consulting services are backed by more than 75 accredited consultants, providing business software expertise. They operate nationally out of 10 offices in the UK and Ireland.
The software portfolio provides solutions to meet the needs of the whole organisation, helping to reduce complexity and increase efficiencies at every level. In addition to accounting and finance, Access also offers manufacturing software, professional services automation, and accounting for carbon emissions reporting. Other software solutions include distribution and warehousing, HR and payroll, document management, service and contract management and CRM and sales automation.
1. What range of industries is represented in your clientele?We’re very strong in not-for-profit/charity, professional services, manufacturing, and distribution, but, due to the broad nature of the solutions we offer, we have customers in most sectors.2. What are the most common problems your software provides a solution to?Generally I’d say efficiency; our software solutions reduce man hours, streamline processes, deliver management information and reduce the need for rekeying, as well as integrate with many different systems. Each business is always different and has different processes or software packages and our job is to go in and make it work for them. The software portfolio provides solutions to meet the needs of the whole organisation, helping to reduce complexity and increase efficiencies at every level. In addition to accounting and finance, Access also offers manufacturing software, professional services automation, and accounting for carbon emissions reporting. Other software solutions include distribution and warehousing, HR and payroll, document management, service and contract management and CRM and sales automation.3. How has the company grown since inception?Since 1991 the company has had consistent growth which has accelerated over the last five years through a combination of strong organic growth and acquisitions. In the past year, we’ve acquired HR solutions software specialists Select Software who have become Access Select. Access started out as a software house that sold through resellers, and through acquisition and organic growth is now a consulting, software and solutions provider. We’ve gone from a company with a turnover of £0.3million and five staff to a turnover of £24 million and over 300 employees.4. How has your technology advanced?We were one of the first accounting providers on the Windows platform, and in that regard, were pioneers. We’ve taken our technology through much iteration to the point where we’re now a pure MS SQL Server database based platform with a mixture of Windows and web based applications based on the .Net framework. The first version of Access Dimensions was an accounting package that initially just offered core financials; now it can do stock forecasting, workflow based forms, time & expenses, and it also offers integration with iPhone and Microsoft Office. It’s grown into a full business solution. With FocalPoint, we’ve gone web-based, meaning all staff can update their own personal details, upload expenses, timesheets etc; anywhere at any time – in 1991 that would of been unthinkable.5. Where do you see the major growth sectors for the business in future?Following the recent acquisition of Access Select we’re now seeing opportunities to touch even more of the enterprise with our offerings. The core finance applications remain central to our strategy but we’re seeing many more ERP purchases looking to standardise the majority of their business systems on our technology platform and leverage the benefit of workflow connected systems.6. The mid market is core to your business – what do you see the main issues affecting this sector in the coming year?Confidence. We’re seeing more business make positive investment decisions in the recent months but we’re not out of the woods yet. Economic recovery needs to come and be seen as a trend, even if modest, as this will free people to make the strategic investment necessary.7. You’ve got a substantial growth plan in place – what do you aim to achieve and how?The business plan sees us continue the growth of the past few years and follows a similar trend. Continued investment in the organic growth of our business will see us return to previous levels of performance. We’re always on the lookout for strategic acquisitions that will complement the product portfolio. The growth amounts to circa 40 per cent over the next three years.8. Acquisition has been a key part of your growth plan, how do you decide which companies to acquire?Through our parent company, Access Technology Group, we’ve a number of strategic directors who are continuously focusing on acquisition opportunities. We’ve a number of criteria that we apply to any potential target, but one of the key ones is that we’re looking for growing, successful organisations that will fit both the culture and portfolio of the Access family. We’re not looking for fire sale purchases and we spend a lot of time courting potential new acquisitions. The recent changes at Access have increased this capacity to look for the next big thing.9. What is the next big thing for enterprise software?A good question! Mobility and flexibility have become paramount in industry today; I think we’re yet to see the true potential of mobile and cloud solutions and a really connected world. We’re seeing consumer use of the cloud accelerate with the likes of iPad, iPhone and other mobile devices sharing documents and the like. Cloud-based utility style products have performed well in certain sectors, most notably CRM. I think a hybrid model will evolve in which every element needs to be connected and accessed ‘on demand’ whilst retaining the flexibility to support unique business requirements.10. You’ve recently been promoted to MD of Access UK and Ireland, what are your plans for the company?I’m excited by the challenge I’ve been set by becoming MD of Access UK and Ireland. My goal is to take the company to the next level in terms of market position and financial performance. I intend to set ambitious targets for all aspects of the company whilst developing the already excellent culture we have. We’re a people business and that’s something I’m very proud of. I want to make Access a fantastic experience for our customers and our people.