Marsworth Computing

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Marsworth Computing'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 Marsworth Computing 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

www.marsworth.net

35MARSWORTH COMPUTING |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2018
Martin Simmons, MD
Infrastructure management –
our core business
Marsworth Computing Ltd (MCL), founded originally
as Marsworth Associates by Martin Simmons in
1989, aims to maintain and develop a niche business
designing and managing high-quality computer networks
for schools and commerce. To build long-term relationships
with clients, Martin believes MCL must aim to understand the
business needs and impacts made by their computer facilities
and advise the management about new trends and what the
associated benefits or dangers could be. Staff are educated
to degree level and must enjoy helping clients obtain the best
benefit from their systems. In return, Martin offers interesting
and demanding projects, a good working environment,
technical training and practical support to staff.
How the business has developed
I started the company as a sole trader to provide an outsourced IT management
service. With a career in computing now spanning over 50 years, I have managed
IT departments (at Campari and Grant Thornton), worked in consultancies (at
CMG Computer Management Group and Baker Tilly), developed software and
auditedsystems.
The transition from sole trader to MCL occurred due to winning a three-year contract
to project-manage the implementation of a time and billing system developed by
New Zealand-based software house, enSynergy. To retain my existing clientbase,
FACTS ABOUT
MARSWORTH COMPUTING
»Managing director:
MartinSimmons
»Established in 1989
»Based in Harrow, Middlesex
»Services: Network design and
management
»No. of employees: 14
»Customer base: 50/50 split of
schools and commerce
Marsworth Computing
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
36 | MARSWORTH COMPUTING
»HOW WE PROVIDE PRACTICAL SUPPORT
»Sponsor staff through university for undergraduate and master’s
degrees
»Host university students who need a “year in industry”
»Regularly host students from secondary school for work experience
»Mentor students at Brunel University in the “Women in
Engineering” programme
»Advise primary schools how to achieve the computing curriculum
Ibegan to employ a team of competent
technicians. The business expanded
as the technicians managed more
and more company networks while
I developed software for other niche
markets where packages were not
available, such as timber importing,
photo libraries and quote preparation.
In 2002, we implemented the same
New Zealand system into the Tenon
Group PLC, enabling us to count
three of the top ten accountancy
firms as major clients, while
providing support to Ernst Young in
Sweden and Guernsey for the New
Zealandpackage.
In 2008, the financial crash inspired
our expansion into the education
market, which at the time was being
driven by the “Education Education
Education” initiative. This sector
now accounts for 50 per cent of our
business.
In 2012, I was invited to talks with
the Conservative Party to discuss how
we could assist with the restructuring
of the systems used at the
Conservative Campaign Headquarters
(CCHQ). Several consultancy
projects later, we tendered for the
management of all CCHQ computer
facilities and are still there after five
years and two general elections. As
well as being managing director of
MCL, I also have the role as head of
IT operations for CCHQ.
Some staff work permanently at client
sites, others provide remote support
and network design consultancy.
We do not employ sales staff but
get more work than we can handle
throughreferrals.
Our culture
We ask for full commitment, loyalty
and absolute honesty. We are only
interested in staff who are technically
competent, have a service ethos, are
ambitious, good communicators and
self-starters. Our aim is to retain clients
over long periods and many have been
with us for over 15 years. We would
rather tell a client that their systems
are good for a few more years and
retain them long term than just “sell
them another box”.
The result from this approach is that:
»Cash flow is predictable due to
recurring revenue
»Clients provide referrals and boost
sales
»We understand the impact of
computing in different industries
»Staff develop into consultants
»Staff turnover is very low
All staff must assist with the sales
effort and be prepared to tackle every
eventuality. Our offices are open-plan,
with a meeting room for quiet work,
and parking places are for whoever
arrives first.
Staff development
All staff must
assist with the
sales effort
and be
prepared to
tackle every
eventuality
37MARSWORTH COMPUTING |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2018
Much of our company culture is
based on my experience of the CMG
philosophy, as developed by one
of the CMG founders, Bryan Mills,
who attended the same school as I
did, albeit many years earlier. This
was Latymer Upper School, from
where we regularly take students for
workexperience.
Challenges to overcome
A perennial issue is finding suitable
staff for the tasks we require. Many
applicants with degrees in computer
networking have been taught
irrelevant subjects and are lacking vital
technical knowledge, to say nothing
of the lack of basic communication
skills in recent graduates, despite the
necessity of this in any business.
Even technically skilled staff encounter
problems. Valuable junior staff with
two to three years’ experience cannot
afford to live in London, which is
increasingly problematic. London is
pricing itself out of the market – we
cannot have staff working remotely
from home due to the poor quality of
broadband, and junior staff cannot
travel in from outside London where
housing is reasonably priced due to
the exorbitant costs of transport.
Moving to and living in London is not
a reasonable fix to this issue either, as
housing prices within London exceed
the budget afforded to junior staff,
without mentioning the costs of
parking facilities. The communications
infrastructure needs to change
to make pricing levels acceptable
for these invaluable members of
theteam.
Other countries have improved
flexibility and productivity of staff by
ensuring fast and reliable internet and
mobile phone access at reasonable
prices – we need a similar provision
here too. Despite suppliers’ eye-
catching adverts offering fast internet,
our company in Harrow only had
the options of standard, slow ADSL
lines or expensive leased lines. Fibre
broadband was only being offered
to residential properties, not small
businesses – unbelievable in a
city like London. To make matters
worse, the mobile phone signal was
consistentlypoor.
Until the broadband and mobile
phone signal problem is resolved, the
flexibility that staff and companies
need to relocate and relieve the
housing and transportation costs does
not exist.
Planning for the future
Once we have the right staff base we
will have all the tools necessary to
effectively expand. We will continue
to maintain our high standards and
demonstration of excellent services
with completion of our ISO 9001
certification. We will continue working
closely with schools, expanding
this division through work with the
academy groups, and construct our
own curriculum support service for
primary schools. We aim to expand our
cloud facilities and build a specialist
data security team. Technology is
a great tool – we aim to make it
abenefit.
Technology is
a great tool
– we aim to
make it a
benefit
Project planning

www.marsworth.net

This article was sponsored by Marsworth Computing. 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