Interview with Mr. Justin Farrelly, Vercet LLC, Director of U.S. Operations.
About Vercet LLC
Vercet LLC, founded 20 years ago, has offices in London and Carrollton, Texas (near Dallas). A unique company, it provides outsourced R&D services to a wide variety of industrial giants who have hit a brick wall using their internal approaches to difficult challenges. “Basically, we turn lead into gold,” said Vercet’s Director of U.S. Operations, Justin Farrelly.
Okay, so you’re alchemists – just how do you do that?
First we discuss the situation with the client and find out if there’s a real problem to be solved. Then, if we decide it’s something we can help with, we work out how to fix things using mathematics, physics, and detailed analysis, aided by our world-class experience and expertise.
How do you find clients?
We don’t have a sales force; most of them come to us through referrals.
What is your background?
I served with the Royal New Zealand Air Force in avionics engineering, and have been here for the past 18 years, just about from the beginning. I was in London before moving to take over our U.S. operations six years ago.
How about other people at Vercet?
We employ scientists with backgrounds in electronics and material sciences, mathematicians, mechanical and avionics engineers – a whole range of people. We also have a network of highly skilled contract employees with deep knowledge in specific areas. It’s quite a collection of brainpower. That’s a lot of people to track. Not only that, but our clients demand real-time information on project status, in fact they pushed us into creating a formal approach to project control.
Sciforma + Vercet
You’ve been using Sciforma for some time haven’t you?
Ten years with Sciforma tools. The usefulness of the software exploded once we got PSNext (previous name of Sciforma) – we couldn’t do business without it.
What do you like most about Sciforma?
It’s so good, it’s invisible – and reliable, reliable, reliable . . . reminds me of a telephone – you pick it up and expect to hear a dial tone, Sciforma is just like that.
Implementing the Right PPM Tool
Have you used other project management software?
True story: One client had a contract with Microsoft and wanted to track everything with MS Project. They even had a full-time person just to run it. We didn’t expect much, but were surprised at how quickly everything fell apart – in just six months they stopped using it. That’s another thing about Sciforma – there’s no overhead – you don’t need a dedicated person, just set it up and you can get right to work.
Happy End Users
You said Vercet’s clients wanted a project management solution – are they happy with Sciforma?
Our clients think it’s the best thing since sliced bread. Since it is web-based, information is globally available, so anytime, anywhere, they can see what’s going on. It’s agnostic when it comes to operating system, so it can run on Macs, Linux, whatever. We have extended the information source out to them. Nobody calls anymore to check their project status, everything is right there online. Just today we had clients in Russia, England, and Australia accessing the system, and all of them find it very easy to use.
Successful Project Management
How many projects do you do annually?
Last year we looked at 13 and half of them turned into real projects. We’re up to 28 this year, and half of those will be pursued. That’s an important point actually. We use Sciforma to vet projects so we can be very upfront with the client as to timelines and expectations – they need a very good estimate of how long something will take. Time management is critical for our business; we can’t have a lot of uncertainty. Better to tell them upfront if what they want is possible or not in a given period.
The company is growing, customers are coming to you – how do you account for your success?
The key to success is good management, and part of that is choosing the right products that let you deploy your resources in the best possible way. Sciforma is like that. We could probably get by without it if we really had to, but in another year, with the growth we are experiencing, I think it would be impossible. It’s an essential part of our business now.