SME Member of the Week: PDMS
PDMS is the first of December's SME Member of the Week. This month, techUK are focused on social value and showcasing how our SME members are creating social impact through their business, such as through charitable or humanitarian causes, staff volunteering opportunities for employees, or community initiatives.
PDMS is a technology company providing software development and digital transformation services. We combine software engineering excellence with creative digital design and put the user at the centre of everything we do. We can support you with every aspect of your digital transformation journey from analysis and discovery to design and development and hosting and ongoing support.
How did your company start?
We live and breathe technology solutions. Always have and always will.
Our roots date back to 1993, the same year the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) put the World Wide Web into the public domain, with an office of two in the Isle of Man.
Back then, when phones were… well, phones and most screens were green, we were very much focused on helping organisations make the most of their information assets by getting them out of the mainframe onto the PC, with its power to process and manipulate data on the desktop.
We very quickly realised that the data is only half of the story and that the real prize was to combine business understanding and software engineering excellence to create sustainable value for our customers. And with the growth of the Internet, we saw very early the power to liberate business processes from the corporate network and deliver them to any device, anywhere. The systems we developed from this time on were all web based – both systems for businesses, and systems for their customers, websites have always been more than digital brochures for us. Fast forward by a quarter of a century and we now focus on digital transformation – solving complex problems with great people and expertly engineered software.
Our ethos back in 1993 remains the same today, which is to use our knowledge, skills and capabilities to harness technology and ensure that it delivers measurable and sustained benefits for our clients and, in turn, their customers and employees.
This ethos has served us well and has seen the company grow to over 85 people across the Isle of Man, Scotland and England. Our team includes expert analysts, talented developers and organised project managers who ensure that projects get delivered on time. Long term relationships are important to us. We listen to our customers’ needs, problems and expectations and show them what’s possible and how best to achieve it.
How does your company contribute to this month's theme?
Right from the outset, giving back to our local communities has always been important to PDMS. We do this in many ways including fundraising activities undertaken by our generous and enthusiastic staff, corporate charitable donations to local, national and international causes and providing services in kind - for example, a new website for a sporting club or an online database for a wildlife charity.
However, what we are most proud of is the time that our team generously gives up to support many local charities and organisations - particularly those that focus on young people. We love helping young people to learn more about the world of work, especially when it comes to careers in digital and watch them grow in confidence and ambition.
We provide mentors to schools and students, support the work of Junior Achievement and help to broaden the horizons of young people, especially young girls, when it comes to career opportunities in tech. We've welcomed hundreds of students on work experience, placements and apprenticeships over the years. In fact, 14% of our development team originally joined us on apprenticeships.
This year we decided to take our focus on social value one step further, by working towards achieving the Social Value Quality Mark accreditation. This involves an independent audit process and demonstrates our commitment to delivering positive value to all of our stakeholders.
Who's behind your company?
The company was founded by Chris Gledhill and Jon Allen back in 1993. Since then, as the company has grown we have always welcomed diversity of talent. Consequently, we now buck the trend in the tech sector when it comes to females in our Executive team with a representation of 57%.
We’ve a great team of people at PDMS who have years of experience and expertise in helping our clients get the best out of their investment in technology. Our culture is built on collaboration and teamwork where we seek to support and bring out the best in each other. We’ve always had a focus on a positive work life balance and post Covid we think it’s important to give every member of our team the choice of working from home or at the office, or a blend of the two, so they can work in an environment which suits them best.
One important strand of our social value work is supporting and investing in our people. Helping people progress with their own personal development through training, mentoring and pursuing professional qualifications is key. We also encourage our team to share their knowledge and experience with each other, our clients and our wider community so it’s a virtuous circle.
What’s your perspective on the present and the future of this month's theme?
As an organisation we’ve embraced social value, not just because it’s good for our business but because delivering positive outcomes is an intrinsic part of our company culture. We’ve appointed a Social Value champion and set up a social value steering group to ensure that we’ve got involvement across the company.
As part of our preparations to achieve the Social Value Quality Mark Level 1 accreditation, we undertook extensive research with all of our stakeholders – employees, customers, partners, suppliers etc. This has given us a much better understanding of what matters to them when it comes to social value and the outcomes and impacts they are looking to achieve, so we can ensure that our priorities are aligned. It’s also helped us enormously with some of the practicalities around how we measure our social value activity and calculate the financial and non-financial value we deliver.
Given the increasing importance of social value to the UK public sector, it’s easy for an SME to add it to the long list of challenges that could disadvantage them when it comes to competing against the larger players, especially when it comes to competitive tenders. However, we believe that SMEs can compete effectively when it comes to social value – it’s a case of quality and relevance over absolute quantity. If you consider positive social value contribution delivered per pound of turnover – I’m pretty sure SMEs naturally outperform many of the significantly larger organisations in their sector.
SMEs are often closer too and more in-tune with their local communities and it can be easier for their staff to have a greater influence and involvement. At PDMS, our team use their volunteering days to support charities and initiatives which are close to their heart, and all of these have a direct positive benefit on our local communities.
It’s also a positive when it comes to recruitment – when we surveyed our team, 76% said that when it comes to employment that they would take into account an organisation’s ethics and social value practices. This is very much in line with wider labour market research particularly for younger and more highly skilled groups.
We’ve been growing our business, through providing great service to our existing customers and winning new business. We have been awarded new public sector contracts in the UK, Scotland and further afield. This means that we’ve been growing our team too and benefitting from their skills and insights into different industries and domains.
One of the achievements we are most proud of is our high levels of employee engagement and satisfaction. To make sure that everyone has a voice, and we can genuinely measure and understand staff engagement we carry out surveys every 6 weeks. We are delighted to report that our sustained engagement score is 8.5 which puts us in the top 10% of technology companies in the UK
One important element of our social value strategy is the environment and working towards achieving net zero. We recently took a big step forward with the installation of 66 solar panels that will help to power our headquarters and generate at least 50% of the electricity we consume. We are actively championing environmental protection within our local communities and our Chief Executive Chris Gledhill chairs the Sustainability Group at the Isle of Man Chamber of Commerce.
What does the future look like for your company?
Busy! We will have been in business for 30 years next year which is quite a milestone, and we are looking forward to celebrating with our colleagues and customers. In 2023 we will also hopefully achieve our Social Value Mark Level 1 accreditation and join the growing group of organisations who are leading the way when it comes creating a legacy of social value.
Although we are entering period of greater economic uncertainty, we are confident that our focus on the business outcomes of the projects we undertake for our customers will stand us in good stead. 30 years on from the foundation of PDMS the role of technology in solving the complex economic, environmental and social problems we all face is still essential and there is much to do!
We are looking forward to delivering better outcomes both through our technology projects and through our diverse and impactful relationships with the communities in which we live and work.
Asks for other members
Over the past ten years or so that we have been members of techUK we have always sought to champion the capabilities of the UK Tech sector and in particular the critical importance of SMEs. At a time of greater economic uncertainty, we believe that the success of SMEs in the tech sector is vital to the resilience of both local and national economies - both through the direct contribution we make to national productivity and indirectly, through the social value we generate wherever we are based. In order to maximise our success and impact it has never been more important for tech companies to reach out and collaborate with one another to ensure that what we have to offer is seen and taken seriously. Organisations like techUK are uniquely placed to ensure a level playing field for their SME members to compete for a growing share of UK tech spend in the interests of the whole economy.
SME Member of the Week: January, Digital trade
For January's SME Member of the Week, we’ll be focusing on digital trade. Digital trade offers a powerful route to economic growth for SMEs, as businesses with international footprint are more profitable, productive, resilient and see expansion in growth. For Janauary, we want to showcase SME member's who have tapped into overseas export opportunities and taken advantage of the UK’s trading partnerships worldwide to successfully export their product or service in international markets. Submit your case study here.