Just before we broke up for summer, ParentPay Group completed its acquisition of ESS. The news was enormously gratifying and incredibly welcome for everyone who had worked so hard to make it happen.
So while many people across the land headed off on their staycation, or navigated their way through the Covid testing required to fly to warmer climes, what did we do next to start to bring together these two leading EdTech businesses? Here’s my five highlights from the first five weeks.
- Started to really get to know one another
Yes, the senior management team of both businesses had been talking for some time to bring the acquisition to a swift conclusion, but there were still hundreds of people in both organisations that didn’t know that much about each other and the work they do. One of the first things we did was organise a town hall for ESS staff and their new ParentPay Group colleagues to explain our plans to everyone. It was great to see how well attended the event was, answer people’s questions and, based on the feedback, see how enthusiastic everyone is about the future. We’re now all working hard together, looking at how we operate, and how we can improve at every level to make things better for the thousands of SIMS schools that we work alongside.
- Kept investments going
This year, we’re investing more in the development of SIMS - as a percentage of revenues - than any of the technology giants such as Google, Microsoft and Amazon. We are massively out-investing all our MIS competitors developing the next generation of SIMS products that we know our customers will love. We are working alongside some of the best cloud developers in the world and, in the next three years, are budgeting to spend more than £40 million to modernise the product portfolio and radically improve the quality and breadth of the services ESS delivers. In developing the next generation of SIMS Cloud products we will leapfrog the market, redefining the way in which schools manage and use their data.
- Thought about our company culture
We’ve started to transform processes that will help evolve the company’s culture. ParentPay Group are big fans of less bureaucracy and fast decision making to ensure we deliver more benefits to our customers. We’ve already combined our HR teams, are about to launch our new company-wide intranet and then share new branding to reflect the wider Group too. Led by HR, we’re now also looking at how the bigger, combined group can preserve the best bits of each businesses’ culture and combine them into something really special.
- Looked carefully at our InfoSec
Data is at the heart of our business model and Information Security (‘InfoSec’) has long been a top priority. After HR, it is the second part of the two businesses that will merge. And while responsibility for information security sits with all of us, to help lead the charge, we have appointed our first Group Chief Information Security Officer (CISO). Working with divisions and companies across the Group, our CISO and his team will optimise and secure business processes, systems and data assets. This will reduce risks, mitigate cyber threats and ensure our ongoing compliance, by making sure that our data and our customer data is kept confidential, is always available when it’s needed, and cannot be corrupted or changed.
- Made sure we were open and honest about the changes we’re making
Through consistent investment, the ParentPay platform has continued to evolve and scale, providing schools with exactly what they need – intuitive, feature-rich cloud software and excellent customer service. And with ESS now part of the ParentPay Group, schools will be able to look forward to the benefits of accelerated product development of SIMS with more frequent updates and improvements. In the months ahead you’ll start to see significant changes that will lead to a brighter future for SIMS and, real, tangible improvements in how you use the system and the benefits it brings to your school.
Above all else, our aim remains clear: to make the life of school leaders and teachers easier, and to free up more of your time to help deliver improved outcomes for your students. You’ll hear from others in the weeks ahead about how we’ll achieve this, and I’ll continue to write a half-termly update for you on all the improvements we’re making.