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The ProWorkflow solution – www.proworkflow.com is a web based project management solution developed in New Zealand by a tight virtual team. Our servers are in California, the CTO (Founder) in New Plymouth, CEO (Founder) in Rural Christchurch with some staff, and a top developer in Fiji!  We’re a tight team and we have focused on process automation so our costs grow slower than sales – what we call a low inertia business.

From day one, we set out  to build a global business founded on our low inertia business model.  We’ve never just been NZ focussed, it is as easy to reach Los Angeles, London or Levin so why not?

We’ve worked hard to setup automation for trials, sales, support, billing, licensing, client account maintenance and support; leaving our staff free to really talk to customers.  The model has run in profit from day one and the organic growth has allowed us to invest revenue back into the business to support top class infrastructure to support our SaaS application.

“Remember that in SaaS, the app is to SaaS what the hamburger is to MacDonalds – people forget that. The app is a small part. To go global the BUSINESS MODEL and INFRASTRUCTURE and SYSTEMS need to scale… The actual application is the least of your worries. Automation and infrastructure leave people to do what they do best, interact with people to solve problems.”

 

Supplementing our top team, the backend system called “ProCodeManager, which has seen nearly as much development as ProWorkflow is the ‘Engine’ behind the business and provides us with information on every bit of activity in the business, including dashboards for all user activity, follow up, account management, and financial performance.  PCM also highlights issues, ie: mail backing up, server errors etc. So it helps keep us all  on the ball!

The company has no debt, no cash needs beyond sustainable growth, market salaries, corporate governance, no need for funding, sufficient cash in bank to consider dividends, a 7 figure revenue and a growing happy user base.  We can see the growth and customers tell us PWF really helps in their business – a great place to be,  The PWF solution is essentially  ‘recession-friendly’ as it allows customers to  focus on efficiencies. Saving money in hard times is a handy substitute for revenue growth. Furthermore big business is breaking into small businesses in the USA (and all over), creating a much larger market of SME’s (our target market).

As about 75% of our revenue is charged in USD from offshore customers and the US Dollar has finally returned to a realistic cross rate that has been a shot in the arm for us, we really would like to see the New Zealand government taking more note in policy of our wild currency fluctuations.  It would help us plan better.

In our view the key metric for business is revenue per employee, we are driving for a target of US350k per person, at this level we are relatively immune to what the world does in terms of economic activity.  We are exposed to some risk through broadband connectivity so the better and faster our connections to the world the better for us.

Expenses are relatively fixed and we should be able to drive about 300-500k of revenue per staff member.

With hard work and determined effort  we have made page 1 on Google for the term “Project Management Software” and are now finding an increasing number of referral based sales as we’ve been around a few years now. We’ve been aligning our marketing spend to our product releases and the tidiness of PCM and will tweak it more as our organic growth increases.

We released Xero and QuickBooks integration last year, a Time Tracking Widget in Q3 08 and have just finished the ProWorkflow API.  We have a growing number of developers lining up to get into the API, either to integrate with their intranets or to build cool apps! We plan to build an app library for the ProWorkflow solution this year.

The ProWorkflow affiliate program is about to be launched late Feb and our plan is to drive this hard. We want to reward those who refer sales to us.

As our biggest user base is in the US, and the US has been dropping around 500,000 jobs each month, we have of course noticed some slowdown over recent months.  But once customers move past the shock of revenue falls, efficiency soon gets on the radar – so growth, for us, is back.  For us 2009 is about pushing out to new customers, keeping on keeping on with our efforts to supply good products, build on top class infrastructure from a low inertia operation.

So yes, we are in great shape. Slim, trim and rocking!  We will continue to work hard to support our customers and help then find efficiencies – a real substitute for revenue growth until the global economy bounces back

And my advice on company survival does not change in hard times or at any time.   Grow sales faster than costs, automate process, focus people on the stuff only people can do, have a real value (savings or revenue growth) proposition for your customers, if you can, be international from New Zealand.

Remember, if you have to SELL a product, you’re doing something wrong. Instead, you should be FACILITATING a purchase. Think about that for a bit…

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About the author:
Julian Stone, CEO – Project Management Software visionary for:
ProActive Software, ProWorkflow, ProWorkflow Blog & Julian101
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About The Author:
Julian Stone begin_of_the_skype_highlighting     end_of_the_skype_highlighting is the CEO of ProActive Software, developers and creators of the leading web based project management software http://www.proworkflow.com.