eCom Scotland is a technology company delivering online learning, appraisal, assessment and competency management solutions for businesses. Founded in 1996, it expanded to the USA in 2014, with assistance from Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Development International.
With a strong culture of innovation and investment in its people, the company is proactive in research and development. It has also signed up to the Scottish Business Pledge.
As part of its ambitious growth strategy and aspiration to be “exceptional talent focused” eCom Scotland worked with Scottish Enterprise to refine its focus on people development within the company.
Here, managing director Wendy Edie tells us in her own words what focusing on people has done for the business.
Q: What do you mean by being “exceptional talent focused”?
The nature of our digital-focused business means the pace of change is fast and we must run twice as fast to get anywhere. As such, our team is our biggest asset and is fundamental to the growth of customers, innovation and reputation for eCom. We only recruit the best and have a career path for every job role, identifying and developing individuals’ competencies for progression.
Q: How does your staff help you to meet your business objectives?
When the eCom team are developing themselves and taking their knowledge further, they in turn are able to develop eCom’s products further. eCom’s investment in continuous innovation has ensured we are not just surviving, but thriving in the market place.
Q: Scottish Enterprise helped eCom to identify opportunities for development with your company. What did you learn from this review?
In 2007, after a few years of stable turnover, eCom’s CEO Linda Steedman and myself made the decision to grow the company. We wanted to increase our innovation and begin trading internationally.
The review that Scottish Enterprise undertook for us showed that eCom is a good place to work, with a lot of variety and the opportunity for individuals to see the impact of their work for clients. It also highlighted the complexity of our team leader function and identified ways we could strengthen training and support for this crucial role. We learned that a collaborative R&D approach is the most appropriate way for our staff to develop skills, using the impressive amount of knowledge already within our teams. Unlocking this has been crucial to our success.
Q: How do you know that you are having an impact?
Ultimately we can see the impact through the 30% year-on-year revenue growth over the last three years, as well as doubling staff numbers.
The increased capability within the eCom team has allowed us to increase our capacity levels for project work and complexity – driving the R&D. Our latest business statistics also show a trend for larger project builds and longer term licensing, leading to repeat and stable business.
We have also won a number of awards in conjunction with clients. For us there is no bigger accolade than when a client receives recognition for the positive impact a project with us has had on their business objectives.
Q: How do you engage your staff in achieving your ambitions?
We work hard to make sure the team are invested in the future of eCom. Every year we hold a strategy workshop where we agree the focus for the next 12 months, with clear ideas of what is needed from each area of the business to achieve these. We revisit these in August to track success of changing trends.
We have regular ‘eCom Circles’ that are a vehicle for any member of the team to share, showcase or problem solve a subject, which is great for team building as well as productivity and generating new ideas. We also have a “Hero of the Week” scheme, where staff members can nominate colleagues that they feel went above and beyond in their role to support others. It is testament to the team that we are never short of nominations.
We are also creative in our recruitment and retention strategies, and consciously work to ensure eCom is a great place to work.
Q: Are you doing anything to encourage diversity in your workforce and, if so, what impact is this having?
eCom is a rarity within the technology sector, with 32% of staff and 75% of senior managers being women. With myself and Linda as owners bucking trends from the top, we also have one female computer science graduate as well as a number of other middle and senior level females throughout the business.
We would love to have more diversity, particularly in our technical roles, as we know that diversity of thought is invaluable in designing new products.
The issue in attracting more women to this role is more than a recruitment problem though. Linda and I have sat on various boards which have sought to encourage diversity in our industry, and there are now some great strategies in place to encourage it. But it will take time for the effects to come through entirely.
Q: eCom has received an RSA grant to help it expand and take on more staff. How has being located in Dunfermline, Fife affected your business ambitions with regards to growing your business and sourcing talent?
We find that our Fife base, which keeps costs lower while still being well-connected, can make us more competitive in many markets, including the American market, which loves the Scots.
Generally it doesn’t matter hugely to our clients where eCom is based, being a technology company in the digital age. That said, when clients do visit our HQ, Dunfermline has proven a central location for airport, train and car transport links.
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