Successful partnerships can begin in the unlikeliest of places. For Neville Micallef and Brian Ferris, the duo behind Scope Solutions, their kinship wasn’t forged in the school classroom or at a networking encounter, but through a serendipitous opportunity to collaborate while the two were still working for their respective previous employers. Brian, a self-confessed “finance guy”, and Neville who hails from a science and technology background, found an immediate connection with one another.
“From day one Brian and I had a very open and transparent relationship. As anyone who has worked on a corporate project knows, the ability to have an open dialogue is essential to ensure the project is a success. We managed to establish that very comfortably and naturally without effort,” Neville recalls.
With the project successfully wrapped up, the pair remained in touch and casual conversations soon revealed the two were going through a similar phase in their respective professional journeys, each hankering to go down the entrepreneurial route. It struck them that by pooling their talents, professional interests, and complementary skills together they had the makings of their very own enterprise. They also quickly spotted a gap in the market which they could comfortably fill.
“This was a little over 10 years ago, the era when cloud platforms and products were really starting to emerge within a business context. We were blown away by the fact that there were so many options and easier ways of doing things, and yet nobody was using them. We quickly realised that there was no middleman out there to help businesses truly capitalise on the endless potential of the cloud computing revolution,” explains Brian.
The idea not only had legs, but the pair knew they had the requisite computing and business acumen to turn this idea into a fully-fledged reality. The result was Scope Solutions, a game-changing hub of cloud solutions specifically geared towards helping businesses of all types and sizes optimise and transform their operations for the better.
“Cloud computing presented a real paradigm shift,” Brian continues. “All of a sudden small- and medium-sized business had access to systems that previously only a privileged few could afford. So, affordability was no longer an issue. However, what happened was that the amount of Software as a Service applications continued to increase. This introduced a different challenge to businesses. It's one thing looking at technology becoming available and accessible, but it's another challenge entirely when you talk about adoption of that technology.”
It takes a special kind of expertise to identify which solution is ideal for a business’s operations and won’t be rendered redundant in a few years’ time when the company is on a trajectory of growth. For Scope, this became their core mission, to focus on delivering the simplest and smartest strategic cloud solutions that empower businesses to better integrate and scale-up their operations.
“At Scope, we are obsessed with the concept of finding and adopting the right fit. In software terms, this means the business must not be underserved by their systems, but also, they can’t be overserved. When a system is too big it will not only have an implication on price, but also on complexity. This can result in an unnecessarily complicated user interface or processes that require six steps instead of two. For businesses, this will quickly erode any efficiencies they hoped to achieve through their new systems. That’s why we need to marry the right solution and the right ease-of-use interface with the skills and resources of the company’s team. These are all essential elements to determine when we’re identifying the right fit for our clients,” Neville explains.
This approach is reflected from the get-go by how Scope sets about designing proposals for clients. Rather than send-off a prescriptive proposal, the Scope team undergoes a time-intensive exercise to fully understand the business of the client, its operations, demands, priorities, and future plans for growth. Once these fundamentals have been established, the team begins looking into the best software platforms to design an integrated suite of systems that truly fulfils the requirements of the brief.
Brian and Neville explain the key to this approach is that rather than representing one or two software platforms, as is typical in the industry, Scope opted to build a much more extensive but highly curated portfolio of Software as a Service (Saas) partnerships.
“A big part of what we do is identify the right products. We also conduct due diligence on each of our partners. We look into their funding background, understand their growth trajectory, how the product has been shaping up, what their strategy is. We also take the time to try the product out, integrate it with other systems. So, there's a lot of research and development happening constantly. This may be seen as a highly time consuming exercise but it ensures we are providing our clients with trusted platforms that won’t suddenly disappear off the market or cease to evolve. We know each of our partners and products inside out and can confidently vouch for their security, flexibility, and long-term scalability,” Brian states.
As well as identifying the right solutions for clients, Scope ensures their offerings are fully cloud SaaS, meaning systems are hosted, backed up, and upgraded under a licence fee. Over the past 10 years, the company has also built up a highly specialised team of professionals, with both business and computing experience, to ensure a seamless implementation phase with ongoing technical support as required.
Another major innovation that Scope has introduced into the market is with regards pricing.
“We have really challenged the status quo in terms of our pricing model. Traditional software companies tend to have a front-loaded fee for implementation and support. But each time a client requests more services, they’re charged by a time and material model. We believe this is a flawed model because it incentivises the software companies to keep their client’s systems inefficient so that they can charge for upgrades or additions down the line.
“Our subscription model ensures clients will never experience this with us. We don’t take a front-loaded fee but earn our revenue over time. This essentially means that if a client should stop the subscription, we stand to lose money. So, it’s in our interest to ensure the systems we offer are 100% optimal from the start of the project lifeline. We really believe this offers the best insurance and guarantee of quality for our clients,” Brian explains.
By dedicating so much time to investigating newly launched software products, Scope has been uniquely primed to spot several gaps in the markets in which today’s businesses aren’t being adequately served. This has inspired Brian and Neville to seek out, invest in, and develop several innovative software platforms. The team has already achieved several significant successes in the start-up space, having launched cloud accounting SaaS software DataDear, which went on to be acquired by leading American business software company Intuit in 2021. Now integrated into Intuit’s QuickBooks platform, DataDear continues to empower finance teams and professionals around the world to work smarter.
“We see these gaps in the market as a real birth of an opportunity. That’s why we are seeking to identify other opportunities through start-ups in their chrysalis phase. We believe we can help these businesses take their product further through our direction, energy, experience, resources, and possibly funding. That’s why we encourage start-ups or SMEs ready to level-up to get in touch with us. We’d love the opportunity to hear their pitch and see if we’re a right fit for each other,” Neville concludes.