There is no doubt that technology canchange the way companies manage their business, suppliers and staff so it’ssurprising that so many have been slow to take full advantage of it. Those whodo, immediately give themselves a competitive edge and it is theseforward-thinking companies that Faghmie Davids, founder of Aqua SoftwareSolutions, targets with an innovative software solution.Davids’ web-based system helps companies tomanage the time and attendance of employees. It makes use of a state-of-the-arthand-held clocking device that recognises the fingerprint of each employee, andkeeps a record of when they clocked in and out of the business premises. Thisinformation is fed, via the GSM network, to Aqua Software’s web-based system,which generates reports for the client on all aspects of staff attendance,including absenteeism, leave and overtime. The beauty of the Aqua system is theimmediate electronic availability of the data. It takes tracking of time andattendance into the digital age.
In spite of the obvious advantage of usingsuch a system, Davids, an electrical engineer who started Aqua SoftwareSolutions in 2001 and developed the web-based software, says his biggestchallenge has been educating potential clients about the benefits of making useof the full service offering he provides. “It is possible for people to buy asimilar system off the shelf but they then have to go to the effort and expenseof getting someone to set it up for them and then manage it on a day-to-daybasis. What we offer is a full service, installing the software for them andgenerating monthly reports from our web-based system,” he explains.In order to add even more value, Davidscame up with an innovative way to tailor the system to meet clients’ needs.Aqua’s approach is to do a full needs assessment and try to identify ways theycan tweak the software in order to make it more relevant and beneficial toindividual companies. Davids then reworks the software and delivers thesolution to the client. “The basic software system is already there so we canalter it to make sure that we are giving clients a solution and monthly reportthat will really help them to run their business more effectively,” heexplains.
As the business has grown, so Davids haslearned the importance of sales. “I can develop a brilliant system that canhelp business people but there’s no point in doing that if I can’t sell it tothem,” he says. He adds that more education-based sales will be required totruly grow the company’s client base, as many businesses are slow to invest ina new technology until they are sure it will reap business rewards. “We have toshow people that they are buying a service that allows them to stick to theircore business while we stick to ours which is to take care of the technologyside of things,” he explains.In addition, he points out the importanceof keeping existing companies happy. “Part of our growth strategy is to ensurethat the clients we have are happy, as many of them employ huge numbers ofpeople, of which we are only currently tracking a small portion. For example, acompany for whom Aqua currently tracks 1 000 employees actually has 13 000people in total on its books. There is obviously huge potential for growth withthese clients, so we need to make sure the system is working for them currentlybefore we expand into new areas with them,” he says. The reputation developedwith these clients has stood the company in good stead when it comes toprospecting for new clients and, slowly but surely, the business has grown. Thefirst system Aqua installed tracked 50 people – the company now tracks over 3000.
When Davids initially started off, heprovided clients only with the software, while hardware was suppliedseparately. However, this caused one of the company’s other major stumblingblocks. “We found that the hardware wouldn’t work as well as it should, and itwas incredibly frustrating not to have ownership of the full service,” heexplains. Undeterred, Davids set about sourcing hardware himself, so that Aquais now in a position to offer a truly holistic service to its clients.It is this tenacity in the face ofobstacles, and ability to think on his feet and react quickly, that has keptDavids one step ahead of his competitors. “I’m learning all the time,” headmits. With such an innovative product and a plan for future growth, there’s nodoubt that the ingredients for success are there.