Written by Simon Warren, Managing Director
Welcome to the latest edition of Insights, the first in what is shaping up to be an eventful and far more optimistic 12 months ahead.
Since the announcement of CaseWare International’s acquisition by Hg late last year the UK team have been helping with the creation of a new strategy for the global business, and it’s already clear that there will be plenty of exciting developments ahead. Alongside all the regular day to day work we’re delighted to have announced the arrival of our Self-Assessment Tax system, a historic moment for CaseWare UK as it enters this new market for the first time.
So despite all the potential disruptions of Covid it’s been a busy period, with 10 cloud products now available and plenty more to come in the months ahead.
Looking back at the last 12 months remarkably little has changed about the way we’ve operated since we entered the first lockdown in March 2020. The majority of departments have continued to progress with any restructuring and recruitment, although they’ve had to come up with innovative ways to carry out tasks that were once second nature when handled in person.
We’re now starting to look at how our organisation can function differently once restrictions are fully lifted. The pandemic has been a dreadful experience for so many individuals and businesses, but this is a chance to draw on many of the new ideas that emerged from these enforced changes. Combining those with the best practices from the past will see many companies build new ways of working, reshaping the way they work with customers and the work-life balance of their staff.
Our Account Managers have continued to stay in contact with clients but obviously via video calls. This has become part of everyday life for them now and they’re finding it just as effective as face to face meetings, and more time efficient for the client too. Our Education and Media Team are still delivering training via a virtual classroom environment, and have continued to create online course material such as new e-courses, getting started guides and webinars.
I suspect we will see some desire to meet face to face again, and it’s still the best way to build a good foundation for a long-term business relationship. But it’s clear from our experience that there are significant mutual benefits to conducting on-going account management remotely, and it will be part of any future model we adopt.
Our regular monthly reporting has shown that the support team have been operating entirely as normal, with call volumes and caseloads showing the same peaks and troughs that we would normally expect. The support team have done a fantastic job adapting to home working, giving customers the same level of support that they would experience if everyone were working in our office.
The development team have adapted extremely well to remote working. Personal distraction was always a challenge for coding groups in a busy office like ours, so it’s become apparent that the opportunity to work in a focused quiet environment is hugely beneficial for some parts of our work.
There is no gain without pain however, and this increased effectiveness at the development stage has put greater strain on the testing teams, and their workload has certainly increased. Nevertheless the whole group has continued to respond to regulatory change, and release software updates to customers in the same manner as we would have done prior to lockdown.
The cloud release and development programme continues to move quickly, and we’ve been hugely encouraged by the positive feedback on the first products.
After a series of virtual events to replace our Client Conference in 2020, we’re keeping our fingers crossed that we can go back to an in-person event this year. We’ve decided to move this to October in order to give us as much chance as possible to avoid any Covid restrictions. We will of course be adhering to all advice but we’re optimistic, given the recent announcements, that we’ll be able to see you all in person this year.
Keep an eye out for a “Save the Date” communication, which will follow as soon as we’re more confident that we’re able to go ahead.
We have continued to welcome new staff members over the last year and the HR and IT teams have adapted our onboarding process to ensure that new staff have an experience as close to that which they would have received as if their first day was in the office.
The face to face experience of joining a new company is a hard one to replace with an online equivalent and I think we will see a return to personal interaction in this part of working life very quickly. The challenges are huge for someone new to a working life, but equally managers arriving in new roles are going to have to learn a lot of new skills. Joining, building and changing existing teams remotely is a significant challenge and I believe we’ll see a new breed of manager emerge from this era.
We continue to do our best to monitor staff welfare to ensure all the teams are happy and thriving in their remote working environment. As well a series of surveys and polls to ensure our staff’s wellbeing, our Charity & Social Committee are working hard to raise spirits with virtual events and fundraising activities until we can all meet again in person.
It’s been a difficult and challenging experience for everyone in the country, but it’s also taught businesses a great deal. Of course we can work like this for a while, and there are clearly benefits to gain, but personally, I think we’d all like to see each other again as soon as we can, and get the best of both worlds.