DigitalCity SCALE Programme sparks natural synergy between Tees Valley tech leaders

A programme built around community, collaboration and coordination brings together some of the region’s leading tech leaders to transform the way that they do business.

Over the last four years, SCALE has helped over 50 of the Tees Valley’s best to become even better, including well-established software SMEs, Nicander and Tascomp who connected during last year’s programme through their same approach to business.  

Director, Derek Lister and Business Development Manager, Trevor Platt of Nicander, join Ashley Tizard, Managing Director of Tascomp, to reflect on their experiences of the SCALE Programme and the positive effects that peer-to-peer relationships can have.

Nicander delivers a range of intelligent transport systems, asset management and bespoke software solutions for clients both nationally and internationally. Since landing their initial contract in Scandinavia over a decade ago, the business has gone on to establish a unique position in the market.  And thanks to its recent launch of a fully integrated management information platform, Curo360, the business is now in a strong position to compete with big name providers across the globe – including the likes of Microsoft and HP who they’ve already been in the run up against!

As for Tascomp, it’s been around for 40 years and fundamentally provides a variety of software and systems for control and monitoring industrial applications. In a nutshell, this involves looking at the efficiency on manufacturing lines for a range of products (we’re talking Mulberry handbags to Heck sausages!), creating control systems, for example, for the production of aircraft parts and supplying systems for alarm management in air traffic control towers. They also sell their software onto about 35 systems integrators.

Despite both organisations having that firm grounding and several, long-standing clients, and employees on-board, Nicander and Tascomp had hit a similar standstill on their business journeys when they received a well-timed knock at the door from DigitalCity.

Both on the page of growth with a desire to move forward, the two explain that they lacked the knowledge on how.

Ashley said: “Since taking over Tascomp five years ago, I always knew I wanted to grow the business. My head is full of ideas and routes forward, but the main problem is focussing it.”  

Derek said: “Likewise, we were looking to try and move the business forward. I had a feeling we were in a little bit of a rut, in that we had customers and some organic growth, but we really needed to be pushing for some new business.”

Initially sceptical about joining the DigitalCity SCALE Programme due to time commitments and concerns about talking openly about business with a group of potential competitors, they knew that in order to get that next level of organisational change, they had to rethink what they were doing and step out of their comfort zone.

After taking the leap, both reveal that it was in fact the community aspect of the programme and connecting with like-minded peers that ended up being one of the most beneficial takeaways.

Ashley commented: “It didn’t really matter where companies were in terms of scale, it’s more about the fact that they are going through similar sorts of things at different points. Everybody that I’ve been on that programme with, I would like to see flourish. Even if they are a competitor.”

Derek said: “It’s good to have somebody to talk to with similar issues, but with different spins on things and looking at different way of doing things. The conversations that were happening within the group were really good for picking up snippets of useful information.”

Both also agree that it’s not easy to stop and take a step back when you’re amidst the maelstrom that’s turning business around. Trevor said: “The programme forces you to put your pen down and think about things for a little bit longer. Sometimes we try to do everything at 98 miles an hour without taking a step back and looking at what is working.

We’ve now started to use the tools and techniques from the workshops. We put things down on paper, rather than just keep it in our heads.

We’re also trying to involve all of our staff in more parts of the business and have asked for contributions to the overall plan and structure of Nicander, to help them gain a better understanding on where we are, where we’re going and why.”

Ashley added: “For me, another thing that was really useful was the reinforcement element – hearing that other business leaders are doing what you’re doing gives you the confidence that what you’re doing is right. Again, it all relates back to that community element.”  

Months later, the synergy is still strong between the two, who continue to share best practice and support one another on their business growth journeys. 

If you want to experience the value of peer-to-peer relationships and support building a profitable business based on peer-to-peer sharing and collaboration, please get in touch.

The next DigitalCity SCALE Programme starts September 2021. To register your interest please click here.