A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Selectec'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 Selectec 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

Highlighting best practice
Paul Weston, managing director
and co-founder of Select
Basingstoke office, available as
and when required
How did a small manufacturing company struggling
to compete in 2007 turn into a specialist software
distributor recognised in the 2017 FT1000 list of Europe’s
fastest-growing companies, as compiled by
The Financial
and Statista? Paul Weston, managing director of design
engineering company Select Technology (Selectec), outlines here
his business’s rise to prominence during the digital revolution,
his three-point strategy for reinvention in a new IT world and
their increasingly global prominence.
Market changes in the new millennium
Selectec was founded in 1981 as a design engineering company and quickly gained
a reputation for innovation, even appearing on the BBC’s
Tomorrow’s World
A crucial achievement was being awarded a contract from the British Library
to develop a book copier. The resultant device was successfully sold to major
institutions worldwide and was the catalyst behind the company deciding to focus
on the design and manufacture of specialist products for the copy/print industry.
This was to be the company’s focus for almost 20 years.
At the turn of the millennium, however, the market changed as products were
transformed from analogue machines to digital multi-function devices (MFDs),
combining copying, printing and scanning into a single unit. Selectec began
to struggle as manufacturing became an issue and with product launch cycles
accelerating dramatically. This was coupled with intense pricing pressure from
competing manufacturers in East Asia. A change in direction was required if the
company was to survive in the longer term.
»Managing director and
co-founder: Paul Weston
»Established in 1981
»Based in Basingstoke,
»Service: Software development
»No. of employees: 21
»The company now has over
120 active resellers
»AsiaPac subsidiary has been
launched in Australia to
broaden global coverage
We could not just focus on
development and outsource the
manufacturing, because another
paradigm shift was taking place
– software expertise was quickly
becoming one of the most important
differentiators for the print industry.
The advent of these intelligent,
connected MFDs required integrated
workflow apps that could simplify
the transition from paper-based to
digital processes. Software innovation
and speed to market were becoming
critical, as the hardware products
themselves became increasingly
Selectec reinvention
Selectec consequently undertook the
major decision in 2007 to reinvent
itself as a software distributor. Our
strategy is based on the following:
1. Careful selection of products
to be distributed. The solutions
should be smart, simple, scalable
and secure – not an easy
combination to find.
2. Careful selection of resellers. To
gain maximum market penetration
as quickly as possible, we mainly
target established, high-reputation
companies with their own existing
sub-reseller channels. We operate
on a “train the trainer” basis,
providing free and intensive
training to their sales, pre-sales
and technical staff who can then
in turn replicate this with their
own resellers. We also commit to a
channel-only strategy, never selling
directly to end users in competition
with our resellers, as is the case
with some competitors.
3. Providing an “edge” for
our resellers. Our in-house
development team was tasked with
creating a set of software tools
to allow us to offer customisation
and integration services to satisfy
customers’ needs more precisely.
This means we provide a significant
value-add compared to other
distributors, strengthening our
relationship with our partners while
simultaneously providing a higher
barrier to entry for competitors.
A virtual office
It was decided that the quickest and
most cost-effective way to achieve
our aims was to operate as a virtual
company rather than as a traditional
bricks-and-mortar business. As a
consequence of this, all staff are now
effectively home-based. Mobile phones
and voice over internet protocol (VOIP)
telephony are used exclusively for
communications purposes as opposed
to telephone landlines. The company
is run using cloud-based systems that
can be accessed by employees from
anywhere. These include an enterprise
resource planning (ERP) system,
customer service software and a set of
proprietary team collaboration tools, all
of which are fully integrated.
A small, serviced office was taken
in Basingstoke just for occasional
use but also giving priority access to
meeting rooms across the UK and
Briefing an IDEA Alliance
partner in Italy
The solutions
should be
smart, simple,
scalable and
Highlighting best practice
elsewhere in the world, allowing us
to work locally with partners rather
than always require them to travel to
us for sales or technical training. As
jobs weren’t restricted by a specific
geographic location, we were able to
target high-calibre staff wherever they
were located, often offering them the
opportunity to improve their work-
Though working from home and
avoiding the daily commute can seem
like an ideal situation, it is still very
important to build a sense of culture
for remote employees. There is a risk
that they can feel isolated and of there
being a lack of camaraderie. There can
also be a lack of visibility regarding
the overall direction of the business.
Regular communication, therefore,
is vital. To this end, we make use of
centralised digital collaboration and
project management tools to give
everyone as much insight as possible
into what is happening throughout
the company. Virtual meetings via
video conferencing are regularly held,
which allows staff to see their peers,
in addition to which there is also
an internal social platform to make
up for those missed “water-cooler
moments” from the office. Though
this is effective, it is nevertheless vital
to physically bring people together
– something which happens several
times a year for the individual teams
and at least once a year for the
Ongoing successes and
moving forwards
The company carried out intensive
research before choosing the first
product that met our criteria. This
was software developed by what was
then a small Australian company that
has subsequently become a global
force in the print management sector.
Initially, we took on distribution in the
UK only. We then provided channel
management and support throughout
Europe, the Middle East and Africa
(EMEA) on a performance-related
contract basis for three years before
the company was ready to open its
own European office. Due to the
success of that contract, companies
based in the UK, France, Germany and
the United States approached us to
distribute their products.
Our final challenge is to be able
to participate in opportunities
where a regional or global solution
is required, often in competition
with multinational companies. To
achieve this, we identified nine other
companies around the world with
a similar business ethos to our own
and approached them to create an
international solutions and support
network – the IDEA Alliance. In
addition to the UK, the companies
are based in Australia, France,
Germany, India, Italy, Portugal, South
Africa, the United Arab Emirates and
the United States, and operate in
over 100 countries with more than
1,200 resellers between us. The
Alliance commenced operations in
It is still very
important to
build a sense
of culture for
Supporting a distributor
at the IT Partners Paris

This article was sponsored by Selectec. 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