A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Innovar's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Innovar is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Founders Richard Jones and
Dashboards have
replaced reports
Innovar Limited helps companies improve their budgeting
and forecasting, moving them away from risky spreadsheets
onto specialist financial planning software. This year, as
Innovar celebrates its tenth birthday, co-founders Paul Baron
and Richard Jones pause to look back at the company’s past
achievements, chart the bumpy ride so far, review how the
business software industry has changed during the last ten years
and ponder where this industry will be in another decade.
Doing things our way – a different way
We wanted to do things differently. Most start-ups do. We put integrity and
excellent communication at the forefront of everything we did. We turned away
some business that threatened this integrity and we told some prospects things
they didn’t want to hear. Our ethical behaviour never kept us awake at night.
We were passionate about helping companies improve their planning because
we could see a better way, which involved more collaboration, a quicker, less
labour-intensive process and a methodology that helped companies manage their
businesses better. We chose a small number of best-in-class software to resell, so
we could recommend the software that was the best for our customers rather than
our profits.
As with any start-up, roles were fluid and titles meaningless, but we slowly started
to build up a solid client list, all of whom were keen to improve their planning. Our
aim was to self-finance with organic growth and no debt. This was just as well;
even as we got started, the credit crunch became a banking crisis, then a recession.
»Founder and head of sales and
finances: Paul Baron
»Founder and head of
professional services: Richard
»Established in 2008
»Based in Warwick
»Services: Expert financial
planning, helping companies
improve budgeting and
»Implemented across
»Over 150 customers
Innovar Limited
Highlighting best practice
We are the
experts. If
anyone could
find a new
plan to survive
difficult trading
conditions, it
was us.
»Rentokil Initial
»Willis Tower Watson
»EI Group
»Jersey Electricity
A static industry
The business software industry had
been static for many years. Large
software titans dominated the scene.
Companies like IBM, SAP and Oracle
dictated how software was sold.
Smaller companies like Innovar could
conform to and partner with one of
those industry giants by following
their rules. Software was sold as a
big-ticket item, usually capitalised over
several years on a company’s balance
sheet, much like how you would buy
a company vehicle or new machinery.
Investing in new software was a
major expenditure for our prospective
In 2008, sales were hard to come
by. The recession had started to bite
and many small and medium sized
enterprises (SMEs) were too nervous
to make expensive purchases of
new software. Business confidence
was very low and although selling
software with an IBM badge on
the box – to be implemented by
experienced planning consultants –
should have looked a safe investment,
it was more prudent for those SMEs
to wait and see how the UK recovery
panned out.
If trading conditions change,
you need a new plan
We are the planning experts. If anyone
could find a new plan to survive difficult
trading conditions, it was us. Costs
were trimmed, every potential item of
expenditure was questioned, and no
fat was left. Our offices were virtual,
our switchboard was outsourced and
company servers were hosted online.
We took on some implementation
projects for other software resellers to
tide us over. The wolf was kept from
our (virtual) door, we maintained our
integrity and our reputation grew
within the planningindustry.
A changing industry
The business software industry was
changing, and not before time. New
start-up software developers found
the cost of developing software was
coming down. Out went the old rules
of development and new infrastructure
and ownership models ushered in an
exciting new age.
Software as a Service (SaaS) began
to replace the old way of owning
software. Companies now effectively
rent software for a set time period and
Paul Baron presents to
pay for it on an annual basis. No huge
up-front payments are required, so the
nervous SMEs and larger organisations
have slowly started to buy software
once again.
Security and capacity issues were
overcome, and most software
developers built their applications
in the cloud, which was at this time
coming into prominence. This reduced
the need for large servers to run
applications or store data on, and
SMEs embraced the change. Out went
the expense and hassle of buying and
maintaining servers or back-ups and
disaster recovery. No more upgrades to
apply or databases to maintain. Some
worried about security, but worried
less as they saw banks, airlines and
even internet security companies make
the switch to cloud-basedplanning.
Our implementations evolved too.
We moved away from “big bang”,
“change everything” style projects.
Smaller, distinct planning projects
allowed us to change the broken parts
of an organisation’s planning process
first, delivering the most important
and cost-effective changes as quickly
as possible. We also concentrated
on efficiently and effectively making
every customer self-sufficient.
Innovar today and looking to
We have implemented around the
world. We are based in Warwick and
although the nature of cloud software
means that we did not have to be
in every country we built planning
applications for, we have clocked up
the air miles, implementing in over
20 countries in Europe, Asia and
Australasia. We have grown, steadily
and carefully, without debt or losing
control of our business. Our customer
list contains some huge multinationals
alongside smaller UK businesses. All
see us as trusted team members in
improving their planning.
In our view, the next ten years will
be bumpy. Brexit may be a challenge
for us as we sell both products and
services. Despite that, however,
we have the best-in-class software,
strong relationships with our existing
customers and great industry expertise,
so we are very positive.
New software will disrupt the
market further. Greater competition
should force more innovation and
competitive pricing. We predict that
off-the-shelf planning apps for niche
business activities will become both
cheaper and configurable to individual
company requirements. Planning on
tablets and phones will become normal
and we hope that implementations will
be shorter, with returns on investment
delivered within weeks instead of
years. Perhaps artificial intelligence
will finally break through into the SME
Our passion for helping companies
plan better is undiminished. We
intend to grow steadily and help our
customers embrace the technological
advances our industry will surely see in
the years to come.
Our passion for
companies plan
better is
We intend to
grow steadily
and help our
embrace the
advances our
industry will
surely see in the
years to come
Founder Richard Jones

This article was sponsored by Innovar. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy