Stuart Nielsen is Chief Information Officer at Tools4FIM, a software company that specializes in the development of customized tools and components for the Microsoft Forefront Identity Manager 2010 (FIM) solution. This two-and-half-year-young operation, managed by five employees, is leveraging the reach and experience of more than 100 integrator consultants within its parent company, Oxford Computer Group. Together, they pack a lot of punch in the identity, security, and access management segment, a highly niche market. They now have five downloadable software utilities providing customized added value.
Stuart and his team aim to make their tools available to customers wherever they are, simultaneously minimizing the risk associated with deployment of the technologies and reducing implementation and project times. Tools4FIM products are currently used by over 300 customers, ranging from small independent integrators to global companies such as Microsoft Consulting Services.
It is integral to the success of Tools4FIM that they have a proper licensing solution in place. The reputation Tools4FIM creates in the marketplace not only impacts their efforts but their highly respected parent company as well. Although Oxford Computer Group had an established licensing solution for their needs, it would not extend to fit Stuart's needs due to limitations within the European-based e-commerce functionality. So, Stuart promptly realized that he would be required to look elsewhere for a solution to fit his needs.
Stuart has over 25 years of experience, including the early days at Microsoft, when they were small in the U.K., all the way through their biggest growth period. This makes his perspective on Concept Software all the more valuable for others. He has been "around the block," allowing him to confidently state what sets Concept Software apart from other licensing providers. He says, "Over my 25 years, of all the companies I have encountered, Mike and his team rank in the top five in customer support, responsiveness and help. I suppose in this day in age that is probably the highest commendation that I can give Mike and his team. That, for me, is what makes the company. Whether you use all the functionality or not, whether you have full throughput or not, whether you have the best [licensing] product in the world and it cost you only a buck — if you don't have support, then it's worthless and very frustrating. So, for me, truly it comes down to the service these guys provide. It's on the ball, it's on time, it does exactly what it says it's going to do."
Seven years ago, Stuart added value to his own life in the U.K. by renovating an abandoned 1727 Welsh farm house situated on a scarcely populated mountainside often adorned with sheep from a nearby herder. This CIO works from his remote, rural location and alternating his time at the city office. Stuart's personal commitment to creating a better quality of life translates to his heightened awareness that businesses need to deliver value through quality products, services and overall extraordinary customer experiences.
When Tools4FIM started looking for a licensing solution two-and-a-half years ago, their sights were set on selling into the global market and wanting to base it in the U.S. They solicited feedback about a good platform from which they would sell their tools. They got a strong recommendation from their U.S. partner and customer in the telecommunications industry who suggested that the SoftwareKey System was the way to go: a good company with good products. Tools4FIM thoroughly tested the SoftwareKey System and the particular features of SOLO Server, comparing the results with reviews of a few other solutions on the market. This investigation process took about a month during which time, Stuart recalled, "Mike (Mike Wozniak, Founder and CEO, Concept Software) and his team were on the ball, answered questions, allowed us to trial and test, and talked through the process of customization. They were very flexible."
Stuart identified the functionality they required including:
Stuart and his team were impressed with the speed with which they could accomplish all of this, including the hosting services provided by Concept Software. But the thing that really drove them to choose the SoftwareKey System is how it is all designed to protect their software.
He went on to discover that the team at Concept Software is always incredibly flexible in customizing to what he calls, "their peculiar needs." Stuart recalled seven customization projects completed by Concept Software over the two-and-a-half year relationship (as of this writing). Initially, it was getting the right "look and feel" of the user interface and then customizating it in such a manner to encourage customers to interact with it directly, thereby reducing operational costs to a mininum. Later, they needed what Stuart describes as "significant customizations" which left them "surprised and blown away what Mike and his team would do, and do at no additional charge."
Stuart believes that had Tools4FIM gone with a cheaper solution they more than likely would have had very expensive pay-per-use support — or no customer support at all. Choosing a larger company would have left them without the care they continue to experience with Concept Software. He says, "No doubt we are one of the easier customers, with simpler demands [for Concept Software] and we are never going to generate Mike and his team a huge amount of ongoing revenue from the model; nonetheless, they work with us. I'm sure you can imagine that some of the larger players would say you are too small, we don't want to help you." The message he got from Concept Software was, "We don't care how big you are, or how small you are, or how much business we will do with you; if we can help you, and we have the right solution for you, and you think we are the right people to work with you, then we are happy to work with you."
To summarize, using Stuart's own words:
Deborah Jackson contributes in a variety of areas on the business operations end of things bolstering our continual improvement. When it comes to marketing activities, she considers the process of creating Success Stories to be a unique pleasure. Conducting customer interviews means spending quality time with a diverse cross section of SoftwareKey.com customers.These special customers are willing to share their personal business challenges in an effort to help others navigate software licensing territory. It’s typical to find her in passionate conversation exploring what’s next for humanity, in conjunction with discovering the power within the territory of consciousness itself. She insists this is great fun!