Q&A: Operational Excellence at CPOMS

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Following ECI winning the PEI Operational Excellence Award for CPOMS last year, Duncan Ramsay recently joined the PEI Operating Partners Forum to discuss why CPOMS is such a great case study and how ECI supported the business during our investment.

Q: What was key to supporting CPOMS deliver on its potential?

I mean to start with, CPOMS was and is an absolutely fantastic business. It supports schools in one of their most important responsibilities: safeguarding. Through its software it can highlight patterns and enable intervention, in ways that wouldn’t be possible through traditional paper-based systems. So, it has an important role in protecting vulnerable children.

The most significant thing strategically was driving penetration of schools. They had a great product, it was more about how do we give more people access to it. That would mean better penetration of UK schools, but also increasing the size of the addressable market. To support those future aspirations, we knew they would also need more investment in the people and infrastructure in the business.

Q: How important was data and analytics to those three strategic aims you mentioned?

We knew that CPOMS wanted to better penetrate the UK market, so we leveraged our advanced analytics skillset to support that. We built an AI machine learning model that would help the business to understand which non-customers were most likely to convert to a customer within the near term. That meant building out characteristics of what was likely to make a school a CPOMS customer, using that to prioritise all non-customer schools, and mapping it into a dashboard to make the insight actionable for sales teams. The team successfully doubled its penetration of English schools while we were supporting them.

Q: How did CPOMS increase its addressable market during the investment period?

We always recognised that international markets could present a significant opportunity for CPOMS, and this was one of the ways the business increased its addressable market. At the start of the investment period. we prioritised from a long list of potential markets looking at things like safeguarding environment, procurement dynamics and competitive landscape. That led to detailed deep dives into Canada and the US, including a c.400 respondent survey, and c.30 telephone interviews with decision makers in each market. Brett Pentz in our New York office did a lot of work digging down into the characteristics of North American school districts, and doing outreach to decision makers, which led to demand from a number of schools. By exit, CPOMS grew to have >150 international schools spread across 30 countries, and it was clear that further international growth was going to be a big growth driver for the next phase of the business’ development. It is great to see that being delivered into with the business’ new owner, Raptor Technologies growing it into the US.

Q: In order to deliver that scale, what changed in the business?

We supported the team in investing in their platform to support that growth. There were improvements in the tech and operational processes, team structure was scaled, and new product capability was introduced. To support the management team, ECI introduced a chairman and a Finance Director. CPOMS is a fantastic Tech for Good business, and we helped them to articulate that (already strong) ESG story better. The business consistently delivered strong double-digit growth, so this was a case of making sure they had the platform to continue to do that during our investment and beyond.

Q: What was your favourite thing about working on the CPOMS investment?

I really enjoyed playing a part in their journey – and I know the rest of the ECI team feel the same way. CPOMS is just a great business. It is a fantastic team and just a great product that fundamentally changes people’s lives. Businesses like CPOMS are what makes my job so enjoyable; it is great to see a small UK family business go on a journey to become a global leader, creating jobs in its community, and value for shareholders, all while making the world a better place, through its focus on keeping children safe. I’m excited to continue to see them grow, and protect even more children, as part of Raptor, and have no doubt they will go on to every success.

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