Established in 2001 and based in the Northern Ireland Science Park in the Titanic Quarter, Fluent Technology is owned by Directors David Cordner and Keith Turkington. A software development company, it specialises in building complex management information systems particularly focussing on information systems for local authorities across Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Growing the Fluent Skill Base...
Fluent Technology recognised that as the business grew it also needed to grow the skills of its staff, making sure they were able to take on bigger projects and more responsibility. Keith Turkington, Business Director, comments, "We recognised that without forward thinking and leadership development in our company we could become a bottleneck to our business growth. This was particularly crucial as David and I were spending more and more time away in GB on new business development, and needed to make sure that in our absence we could depend on staff to look after clients and make sure projects were being delivered."
It was in this context that Fluent Technology embarked on working with the Investors in People framework. The company did this as part of a group scheme delivered by the Department for Employment and Learning in partnership with Momentum. As part of the Department for Employment and Learning’s Management and Leadership Development initiative the company was initially introduced to the Management Analysis and Planning (MAP) programme. As part of MAP they formed a relationship with an external business advisor, who came on-site and analysed their management and leadership skills gaps.
On the guidance of its MAP advisor, Fluent enlisted all employees on a programme of project and account management. Alongside this they set challenging but realistic skills development objectives for each team member, both in the short and long term. For example, staff is preparing to sit Microsoft and PRINCE exams whilst others pursue Postgraduate Diplomas in Sales, Marketing and Management qualifications.
"The funding we received from DEL towards participating in the MAP programme was fantastic. In fact I was very surprised and delighted by how easy the entire process was. Of course participation did require investment from our end, both financially and in terms of time spent away from the office. However we viewed this as we would any business improvement programme – as an investment necessary to positively
impact our bottom line," says Keith. "At Fluent, our key resource is our staff and if we can do anything to improve their skills and productivity, it means we can deliver more useful solutions to our clients, guaranteeing the income from today but also from tomorrow."
With the primary stages of the MAP programme now firmly in place, and the positive results it has generated, Fluent Technology is firmly convinced that the framework will continue to provide the model for staff development policies. "I think management and leadership development is about making sure there is a currency to the future of your business. It is essential in today’s business world if you’re going to survive and thrive."