PE puts the questions to Ryan Dempsey, founder of The Compliance Workbook (TCW), to find out more about where the inspiration for his business came from and his advice for fellow entrepreneurs who may have a great idea up their sleeve.
Q. What is your background and where did the concept for TCW arise?
I’ve held several jobs in my time before finally making the jump into the electrical industry. I’ll be honest in that most of my working life has involved stressing about how I could come up with an idea to build a viable business and make money. I’ve honestly had tons and now when I look back I can see the value in most of them.
The craziest thing is that the idea for The Workbook came from necessity rather than greed. I remember sitting on the floor of my lounge with hundreds of Periodic Inspections, checking each one to confirm accuracy with my signature. This annoyed me as I was essentially checking the same thing time and again, feeling like one constant stream of deja vu moments.
Q. Tell us more about how TCW works
In the construction industry, we have a myriad of data capture technologies. These technologies are great for organisations as they provide legible PDFs which can be used to support legal obligations and, historically, give minimal pieces of information to plan future activities. This is minimal due to resource limitations, a human hand would be required to look at each document to physically extract the required data and input to other locations.
One of the major issues in larger organisations these days is the division between data, information and knowledge which is fundamentally gleaned from one source. Each department in an organisation is required to understand certain things and achieve specific milestones. For individual departments, the objectives and goals could be somewhat different and, as such, what’s important for a finance team is less important to the engineering team and vice versa.
When we created The Workbook we knew from the start that the most important aspect of what we do is the ability to see and extract 100% of the data and seamlessly link that to the information and knowledge objectives each organisation requires.
To give some examples, the engineering teams will require each document to be fully assessed against regulatory standards. An EICR will have, on average, 300 individual checks on the results and data inputted. Furthermore, they’ll be required to see if a particular worker is performing slightly off-piste to the rest of the workforce to be more proactive in identifying risk and compliance issues.
A finance department doesn’t focus on the accuracy of the data, more so the information in the document and how that stacks up against the asset lifecycle planning schedule. The finance team will assume there is a value to maintaining the stock over a period of time. This is based on historical information which has been keyed into software systems manually. The information across all data captured by the workforce confirms or realigns the budget’s projections, hopefully, more towards the black than the red.
The Compliance Workbook is the only product of its kind, worldwide, that can extract physical data accurately from any digital PDF document produced by the workforce. This previously unstructured data is now completely formatted, structured and searchable. Due to The Workbook’s capabilities, we’ve been able to completely transform organisations’ management practices around understanding their asset management responsibilities, compliance obligations and significantly reduce risk exposure.
Q. What sort of take up/adoption of TCW have you had to this point?
When you consider the phrase ‘entrepreneur’ you think of someone setting up a business or taking an idea to market. The bit you never consider is the ‘how ’aspect of a launch and what it takes to make a once unknown brand a known one.
It was our decision from the beginning to find a well-known brand to ‘white list’ our technology and to initially sell the product in the Social Housing market. This is where the value for the product was first demonstrated, and where my main experience lies.
If you search for our platform in the Social Housing arena you’ll find CORGI Compliance Document Management System (CDMS). Our technology now has over one million Social Housing properties registered, which equates to around 20% of the market. This, without doubt, puts the CDMS platform in top place as a market-leading product.
Specific return on investment for our clients can vary depending on their stock levels and current compliance standards. Onward, for example, are a leading UK housing provider with 25,000 properties. They spent a lot of time manually checking certificates and wanted to reliably automate their process so implementing our software resulted in a 20% improvement in gas compliance and an approximate saving of £50,000 on their portfolio.
Q. What have you learned/revised about the product as you’ve gone along?
The technology has developed as we’ve expanded simply due to the fact we’ve understood more about the industries we work in. That’s key I guess, to be flexible in your approach and to react in accordance with knowledge gained. The team here look to apply common sense and innovation to development which enhances the product’s offering for the complete user-base.
Scalability of the product is certainly something we realised required development a couple of years ago. As the number of clients increased we needed to be sure that large increases in volume would not slow the software or cause issues.
Q. What plans do you have for TCW moving forwards?
The technology has so much potential in so many sectors. We’ve been holding a few doors shut for a while, simply due to family commitments and the nervousness around the speed this could grow.
Trying to keep a level head to ensure we can deliver the customer service we already pride ourselves on is essential. However, the time is now and we believe as a company the opportunity ahead of us is something we should jump into with both hands and feet.
Q. What advice would you have for other entrepreneurs who have an idea they’d like to develop?
By far the hardest part of starting a business is the first few steps. Once you’ve decided your idea is worthy of your fullest attention, stop telling everyone about it and get on with developing the concept, idea or business.
Don’t tell people you’re going to be loaded and definitely don’t assume that your product and your passion is better or at a higher frequency to the next person you meet.
If you truly want to grow an idea to a financially viable product that pays your way and others, you’re going to have to work your backside off to get to that point.
I have a quote wall in my kitchen and I spend a few minutes each morning reading the different quotes my friends and family have provided. One of the best on there is “people can and will doubt the things you say, it’s impossible to doubt what you do”.
This is so true in business.
Get more details about TCW by clicking here