Frog UK Operations Update

There are loads of things happening at Frog UK that I thought I’d share with you. First off we have a major restructure of the business and a number of key new hires.

Guy Oliver joins us as our new Operations Director. Guy spent 21 years in the financial services sector. Because there’s a lot of money at stake in this market, Guy has had to learn how to make very demanding customers very happy. Guys latest position was to head up a £7.5M business unit with responsibility for customer services, professional services delivery and software development.

We asked Guy if he wanted to say something. This is what he came up with, “I am very excited by the opportunity that I have been given to help guide Frog on the next stage of its incredible journey.  Frog has very clever people producing game changing software that is streets ahead of the competition.  My challenge is to channel that creative energy, compliment it with some rather boring, but essential processes and procedures in order to enable Frog tomeet its commitments to all its customers whilst continuing to lead the field in the development of Learning Platform applications”

Shaun Geoghegan joins us from RM.  Shaun was previously responsible for the development team of the RM Integris MIS product.  Shaun is now building a team of people around him, and absorbing our current MIS integration team of 3 people, to build very rich integration with the UK’s main MIS systems, allowing us to provide you with fully integrated web based interfaces to your current MIS.

 

Jack Nattress joins us to build a Programme Office in Frog, introducing processes and procedures in our business. We have grown exceptionally quickly and this has caused us growing pains on a number of different occasions. Jack is building a growing team of people to both create procedures and ensure they are adhered to.  Jack is also introducing a dedicated QA team to supplement the quality assurance and testing done within the development team.  This process has already reaped fantastic rewards with the robustness of our latest release of Frog4OS, and we fully expect it to create big improvements with the other areas of Frog.

Our support team has grown to 17 people. While there will obviously be a period of “bedding in”, we have deliberately over-hired in this area in order to create excess capacity. This will improve not only our response times, but will allow us to spend more time with each school, improving the quality of the help we can give you. There are also some significant structural changes happening in our support team.

We have had an army of new developers join us over the past few months, in fact, we are struggling for space in our offices now and have had to introduce home working and hot desking (sometimes two at a desk) to fit everyone in until our new offices are ready to be moved in to. And we’re still looking for more developers. Lots more.

Susan Banister joins us from Uniservity (and previously Espresso Education) to head up our UK sales team. I’ve been told by one eminent educationalist than one person that Susan understands schools and their issues better than any other sales person he knows and that I should listen to everything that she says. So far, so good, I’m happy to report ;0)

 

Graham Thorpe rejoins us from Capita, after taking a little journey through Ramesys. Graham is currently focussing all his attention on the Malaysia project. Adam Hepton rejoins us after taking leave of his senses and thinking that the grass was greener somewhere else! As does Alan Burgoine.

What happens to Frog UK?

I’ve already had quite a few people ask what this means for the UK.

I understand the nervousness, I have seen many businesses, some in our field, move abroad and damage their UK operations.  We have taken a number of measures to ensure that this doesn’t happen.

Primarily, we have invested heavily into a Joint Venture business in Malaysia that is wholly responsible for the roll out of Frog to these schools.  We are not managing this from the UK.  This will not affect our day to day operations.

Kate Heal, our Operations Director, has taken a leading role in that Joint Venture, and I’m confident that she will do a fantastic job over in sunny Malaysia.

With Kate having moved on, I am currently looking for someone to help me at Frog Towers.  Do you believe that you could be the person to help us push Frog to the next level?

To try to put this into perspective, there are two separate parts to the Frog business, one is a “software house”, and the other an “education service provider”.

From the “software house” point of view we are investing in two areas immediately:

  1. Additional staff to accelerate the day to day development of Frog, patch releases, “wish list” development
  2. Major new developments.  On the one hand you can expect big things in mobile and tablet technology, and more focus on education specific applications.  On the other hand, expect a number of big surprises.

 

From the “education service provider” point of view:

  1. Five more people have already joined our support desk, and we’re still looking for more.  Are you interested?
  2. As most of you know, we recently introduced a coaching team, focussed on building up the services available to schools, with a focus on culture change rather than technology.
  3. There have been significant improvements in the support process, particularly around how often we are able to update the software.  Due to the sheer number of schools that Frog now work with, we have found it increasingly difficult to upgrade all the servers out there (hundreds of them), so while we may fix issues or add new features quickly, we weren’t as responsive as we’d like to be about getting the updates onto servers.  This caused some of you much frustration.  We now have a new process in place that allows this to be done in hours, rather than weeks, or even months.  I believe this will make a significant difference to our current customers.  Thank you for bearing with us while we worked through this issue.

 

We’ve had an international team for a couple of years now and are already in more than 10 countries, ranging from Europe, to the Far East, and the Americas.  But our software development is carried out in the UK.  We get these international opportunities because of what we’re doing in the UK.

As we get bigger it is undeniably harder to keep everyone happy, but this opportunity gives us the resources to consolidate our position in England – to up our game here both from a day to day point of view and from a product development point of view.  We aim to dominate the learning platform market in England, and we intend to do that by simply doing a better job than everyone else.

Again, thank you to everyone that has trusted us over the years to help with the education of their children.  We’re at Bett on stand M50, please drop by and have a chat.

Gareth