Leaning in to 2019

Dec 19, 2018
Kevin Monk

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Live footage of me enjoying another bumper year at SARD….

OK, it’s not me. But I think it perfectly sums up my feeling on the year. So much happened and with so much to celebrate, I’ve emerged a little dazed by our success.

Here’s the whistle stop tour.

We took on a bevy of new clients and implemented systems at:

  • Newcastle
  • Marie Stopes
  • Plymouth
  • Lincolnshire
  • Inhealth
  • re:cognition
  • South London and Maudsley
  • and UCLH

And yet again, we have a bunch of new clients that we’re not allowed to tell you about yet.

We now manage the systems at 7 of the 10 Shelford Group trusts; making us the biggest health tech company that you’ve never heard of!

We deployed our User Interface upgrade, upgraded our infrastructure and servers and improved functionality across all our existing products.

The UI upgrade was a particularly large project and took up more development time than we’d anticipated BUT it does mean that we’ve now freed up software developers to take on some of the things that had to be put on the backburner whilst that project was ongoing. Consequently, 2019 is going to be a VERY busy year. We’re hiring software developers if you or anyone you know would like to join our healthcare tech revolution.

It feels strange to call the following people ‘new starters’ because their growth in knowledge, experience and cultural fit makes me feel like they’ve been with us since the start. But it’s true! Amazingly, the following people started in our Customer Support Team this year:

  • Phoebe
  • Meghan
  • Christy

Man, I love them! They just fitted right in with the already loveable Cheyne.

About 18 months ago, I was in an amateur theatre production of Boeing Boeing. In a rehearsal I spotted a fellow cast member writing code on her laptop. That began an energetic campaign to recruit Lucie onto our tech team. She was part time whilst finishing her Computer Science degree but then joined the team fully at the beginning of this year. I’m so glad we got her. One of the most enjoyable parts of my job is seeing people grow into a role, gain confidence and start making huge contributions to our blossoming company. Welcome aboard, Lucie!

And then there’s Matt… :)

Just kiddin’. Full disclosure: Matt is a drinking buddy of mine. What I discovered about Matt was that he could talk a really good DevOps (computer servers) game, even when he was drunk. It turns out that he’s even better when he’s sober. Matt has been instrumental in upgrading our servers and planning out the future of our infrastructure. He kind of joined last year as a contractor but I’m putting him in here because 2018 was the year he became part of the furniture.

The four of us: myself, Barbara, Lucie and Matt are one of the most collaborative, thoughtful and capable engineering teams that I’ve ever had the pleasure to be a part of.

Also this year, we held another massively successful user event at The Royal College of Physicians. Much appreciation goes to my wife - Francesca - who organised the day. It was fun and inspiring to meet so many of our clients and bring them together under one roof. We learnt a lot about where we need to take job planning in the coming year and also gave me an opportunity to unveil what’s about to shake up the market in eRostering. It even included some magic! aka. Artificial Intelligence. Whilst we were there, Nicki Sullivan from OUH gave us this lovely video testimonial. Go check it out.

This year also brought about one of the saddest moments in our company’s history. Our much loved Chairman - Jonathan Wood - lost his battle with cancer this year. He’s so sorely missed. When I met with my fellow directors at our first board meeting after his death, we spoke so highly of him, his character and what he did for this company. It was suggested by Ify and agreed by our board that we should keep his memory alive in the business. Keep him close in our hearts and nurture an ethical company that he would be proud of. We love and miss you, Jonathan.

One of the people full of admiration for Jonathan was our outgoing director Ben Travis who moved from his role as Chief Executive at Oxleas to become Chief Executive at Lewisham. Ben was our Oxleas director for over 6 years. He was a cornerstone to our growing business in those early years. It’s been great to follow Ben’s new journey at Lewisham. Our loss is very much their gain. Merry Christmas, Ben!

On the plus side, Ify and Jazz joined the SARD board from the Oxleas side of the fence. Ify coming back in a more official capacity as company director AND we got Jazz Thind (Oxleas’ Finance Director) too! I almost skipped out of our first board meeting. The positivity and commitment to what we have planned for 2019 was electrifying. Something very special is coming to South London next year. Watch this space…

In not unconnected news, our eRostering and AI work is starting to snowball. The appointment of Matt Hancock as health secretary with his emphasis on Workforce and Technology; the Carter Review kicking in; and a NHS Improvement team that’s hell-bent on sorting out eRostering means that our work is taking centre stage. Good job we’ve got a company stuffed full of thespians then. We’re ready to start our magic show next year.

This year, we were shortlisted for the HSJ Partnership Awards. Nice to be nominated but I’ll be honest: not impressed. We took the word ‘partnership’ to be just that. Turns out it was just a term the HSJ used because they were too squeamish to say HSJ Business awards. I think it was finally won by MegaPriceCapitaCoopers & Young or something. We were too drunk from the lack of food to notice. In the unlikely event you’re reading this HSJ, don’t cheapen real business / NHS partnerships! Grrrr [/sass] That said, we totally deserved our nomination :)

Some idiot (Alice) thought it would be a really good idea to get up really early on a weekend morning and run 10km through central London to raise money for the homelessness charity Crisis. The second part of that was a good idea. I think we raised over a thousand pounds. More to come next year.

We’ll let Alice off because she’s become Queen of the Customer Support Team Customer Support Manager. Yet again, a delight of my job to see an 18 year old in an entry level job progress to heading up such an important team in our company in just 5 years. The care she takes in improving the quality of our customer service is a joy to watch.

Look at this shiny ISO 27001 certificate that Naomi helped us achieve in February this year. She’s amazing. We took on a fantastic new accountant - Pentins - this year. They were wondering how we managed to run a company for 7 years with no official accountant and then they met Naomi. Case solved.

Phil and Rob - they’re alright too. They don’t like me doing all this luvvie back-patting about how wonderful they are. So, I totally won’t mention how wonderful they are.

Because hiring new staff, changing directors, deploying a massive software change, updating infrastructure, taking on many, many new clients, developing an AI engine, holding user events, getting ISO27001 certification and running through London wasn’t enough to be getting on with in 2018, we decided to buy a puppy and move office. We now have an office Dog called Fig. He works in our Canterbury office at the Innovation Centre at The University of Kent. It’s been really positive. More space, friendly business neighbours and they’re dog friendly.

This year had its ups and downs. A lot of ups and a very big down in losing Jonathan. But I think we did something that’s really important to do whatever life is throwing at you. The wise old wizard and chess master Adam Robinson put it well at the beginning of last year - “LEAN IN to each moment, every encounter, expecting magic or miracles”.

That’s what we’re going to be doing again, this year. We’re leaning in to 2019. Come enjoy the magic and miracles with us in 2019.

To all our friends, clients, colleagues, fellow travellers and even our competitors, we wish you a very happy Christmas and joyous new year.

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