Announced in the Belfast Telegraph today, Precept IT have been shortlisted for two Awards in the ‘biggest and best yet’ Eastside Awards
Eastside Award for Employer of the Year – Sponsored by Fleet Financial
Eastside Award for Business Growth – Sponsored by Ulster Bank
We look forward to attending the The Third Annual Eastside Awards on Friday 25 January 2019 and will be hosted by BBC presenter Tara Mills who will announce the winners at a Burns Night themed celebration, with a pre dinner reception sponsored by The Waterside, Belfast, in Hastings Stormont Hotel.
Business Development Manager, Chris Rankin described Precept’s Commitment to Employee Engagement
Precept IT promotes a positive environment with an informal culture among staff who are welcome to start the day before 9am with breakfast or refreshments easing themselves into the working day. The founders of Precept IT operate an ‘open door’ approach to managing their staff. Slack (cloud based messaging) is used for immediacy of communication and with a staff of 25, there is an agile approach to existing policies and procedures. Decisions regarding employee requests can be made almost immediately as the management are located on site. There are monthly staff meetings and a quarterly review provides staff with an opportunity to feedback to management on any challenges and their thoughts on ways to improve the business and their position within it. Various Precept IT strategies have evolved due to employee feedback. Client facing staff are encouraged to seek new ways of solving client issues and if new ideas provide successful solutions for clients, these are adopted to improve efficiencies within the business.
Precept IT was established in Ballyhackamore in 2002 to strategically address a gap in the market for bespoke IT solutions, developed to meet the needs of the client’s business, by a local company based in East Belfast, for local clients based throughout Northern Ireland.
Precept IT’s computer support services are geared towards small and medium sized businesses and third sector organisations that need fast and affordable solutions for network availability, security, performance and manageability.
Due to the personal and agile service and the reputation that Precept IT has built with its local loyal client base as a trusted advisor, the business has grown significantly to provide computer support in Northern Ireland, Great Britain, Republic Of Ireland and United States of America.
Providing a proactive IT service similar to actually investing in your own IT manager / director rather than just the break fix that SMEs and third sector organisations traditionally receive, Precept IT helps 3,000 businesses with proven methods and technologies to experience increased productivity, reducing downtime to virtually zero through efficiencies in technology.
Precept IT has grown from a staff of four to 25 with 60% of this increase since 2016. With a staff of 25, the management took a decision to employ dedicated business development managers to strategically grow the business, having enjoyed a 20% increase in turnover in the last financial year. The business is dedicated to supporting small and medium sized businesses with IT support and IT consultancy solutions. They take pride in offering a personalised level of service which cannot be matched by its larger competitors.
The business competes with IT solution providers across the UK and Ireland but offers a single point of contact for all its customers technology needs and a bespoke backup and hosting platform not offered by its competitors. It sells ‘peace of mind’ as technologies continue to converge and customer requirements become ever more complex.
Of its 3,000 strong client base, a number of businesses and charities are based in East Belfast including Henderson Group with Spar retail outlets across East Belfast, East Belfast Mission, La Mon Hotel, McConnell Kelly Solicitors, Park Hood, Gavin Reid Accountants and Somme Nursing Home. The average client retention rate is 98.6%.
Business growth in the last three years can be attributed to a number of services offered by Precept IT including:
Help Desk – this area of the business has grown by 60% since January 2016 with an increase in staff from 3 to 20.
Precept IT provides a highly responsive and proactive help desk which is staffed by highly qualified and highly skilled engineers who have participated in the robust Precept IT training and development programme. Based on site locally in Belfast help desk engineers ascertain the client issue within 30 minutes of the call being logged or ticket being raised. These issues are then investigated and the client is provided with a solution within two hours of the original call.
In the past year, 24,000 calls were responded to within 30 minutes and the challenges presented to the help desk engineers solved within three hours – average industry acceptable response time is between 4 and 8 hours.
Tailored Solutions – this area of the business has grown by 25% since January 2016.
Precept IT works with its clients to develop bespoke solutions to meet client needs whether that be backup support, fully redesigned or upgraded systems, clustering server technology, penetration testing of apps or web based apps, cyber security, full disc encryption, cabling or VOIP. These solutions are not bought off a shelf. Precept IT has invested heavily in creating bespoke innovations which are developed personally by engineers who pride themselves in ‘doing it better’.
Precept IT Customers
A new strategic approach to sales development in 2018 has included building one to many relationships with existing and new networks, together with prospecting and canvassing. This approach to business development is forecast to grow the business by 20% year on year within the next three to five years.
Traditionally Precept IT customers have been attracted informally through word of mouth referral, due to the reputation the business has built in the last 16 years, or by tendering for their business.
Karen Collins, CEO of New Life Counselling, said; “We tendered for the services that we needed from an IT provider and were delighted to award this work to Precept IT. At the outset the CEO of News Life Counselling met with Clive Jones of Precept IT to explore the IT needs and in particular to plan and schedule the initial office move. Precept IT provided guidance on the various stages and tasks required to effectively achieve this and staff were available to us throughout the process to ensure that things went smoothly.”
Precept IT is truly committed to its staff. All staff at Precept IT have private health insurance and are encouraged to perform to 80% of their capacity so as to ensure they are providing eg help desk clients with optimum service instead of being overwhelmed or facing burn out from being under pressure. A bespoke training and mentoring programme is offered to interns on the path to full time employment. Staff are encouraged to undertake continued professional development.
Other factors contributing to the business growth and continued success of Precept IT
The Precept IT website is described as ‘a great shop window’. Website enquiries have grown week by week over the past three years contributing to 30% growth in sales year on year.
This is attributed to very strong search engine optimisation (SEO) and good organic search.
Precept IT has Cyber Essentials certification, a technology standard endorsed by UK Government.
The data centre is ISO 27001 accredited and the help desk is in the process of gaining ISO 9001 accreditation.
To date, Precept IT has not proactively sought online reviews but it has received: x37 five star reviews on Google, x5 five star Facebook reviews and is in receipt of hundreds of client testimonials.
In 2017 Precept IT was awarded the Intern Europe Newcomer Award for Placement of the Year, the company was a finalist at the UK PCR Awards and Clive Jones (founder) was named one of Business First’s ‘Top 40 under 40’. In November of 2018 Chris Rankin (Business Development Manager) has been shortlisted for Young Business Personality of the Year in the Business Eye First Trust Awards 2018
90% of Precept IT clients have reported a decrease in their IT support bills by up to 30% resulting in improved efficiencies and the added peace of mind that their data is secure and accessible.
The core values of the business include:
To create an environment of strong leadership, vision and team loyalty that encourages personal development through active communication.
To be prompt and courteous to customers and colleagues at all times.
To encourage communication with customers and colleagues to allow us to continually develop our business.
Commitment to Employee Engagement
Precept IT promotes a positive environment with an informal culture among staff who are welcome to start the day before 9am with breakfast or refreshments easing themselves into the working day.
The founders of Precept IT operate an ‘open door’ approach to managing their staff.
Slack (cloud based messaging) is used for immediacy of communication and with a staff of 25, there is an agile approach to existing policies and procedures. Decisions regarding employee requests can be made almost immediately as the management are located on site. There are monthly staff meetings and a quarterly review provides staff with an opportunity to feedback to management on any challenges and their thoughts on ways to improve the business and their position within it.
Various Precept IT strategies have evolved due to employee feedback.
Client facing staff are encouraged to seek new ways of solving client issues and if new ideas provide successful solutions for clients, these are adopted to improve efficiencies within the business.
Precept IT works with organisations including USEL to provide employment opportunities for local people who may ordinarily have difficulty finding suitable employment and employees at Precept IT dedicate themselves to helping these individuals undertake their day to day duties within the business.
Staff are committed to helping charities – they removed data from 50 unwanted computers before donating them to charities locally including Air Ambulance and abroad including Africa.
Every six months a different charity is appointed to receive on average £2,000 worth of consultancy for free to eg create a new website or in the case of a lucky client they were provided with £5,000 worth of investment by Precept IT in migration to Microsoft365.
Commitment to Employee Development
Upon commencing employment, apprentices and interns sign up to the Precept IT bespoke training and mentoring programme ‘Precept Staff Training Database of Competency Management’. This programme is accessed online by employees, ascertaining the need for any third level or professional qualifications and encourages interns on a path to the position of full time help desk engineer. A training needs analysis is completed and on the job training is provided with the intern completing a ‘self review’ before meeting with their help desk supervisor to assess their progress.
Precept IT has an 80% retention rate of interns into full time employment.
Staff are provided with a bespoke pension scheme after three months service.
If after two years as a junior help desk engineer they meet the desired level of competency, there is opportunity to be promoted to senior engineer and then supervisor.
Assignments include opportunities for temporary positions as field based engineers on site with high profile clients across the UK.
To increase the pride staff have in their positions at Precept IT and to reinforce the professionalism of the brand to clients, branded uniforms have been introduced.
All staff participate in their own continued professional development programme which is fully supported by the management and those undertaking foundation degrees are provided with time off for attending Belfast Met’s Castlereagh campus.
Commitment to Employee Health and Wellbeing
Mental health and positivity are at the top of the health and wellbeing agenda at Precept IT with staff required to work to 80% of their capacity in order to maintain a healthy approach to their working day rather than any potential of burning out.
All staff at Precept IT benefit from private healthcare and are offered the opportunity to undertake regular health checks. Employee benefits also include endless refreshments eg tea, coffee and fruit.
As most positions are screen based, staff are implored to take a five minute screen break every 50 minutes (EU directive is every 55 minutes).
Senior management at Precept IT are modern in their flexible approach to remote working and they are understanding and empathetic should staff need to work from home without prior notice for personal reasons eg childcare issues – this is agreed immediately upon a phone call with a senior manager.
The business is located in a new purpose built building where an office design specialist ergonomically designed the workspaces. The Comber greenway is close by where staff members are encouraged to take a lunchtime walk.
On Fridays staff are encouraged to leave early once all outstanding tickets have been resolved.
Team building activities include clay pigeon shooting, go karting, pizza making and health club membership is being considered. Christmas movies are shown throughout December and European and World sporting championships are screened during business hours. A playstation and VR studio are available as a distraction to help employees to switch off.