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Rapidly evaluating cloud providers for niche start-up

Posted 4/1/2014

Niche start-up specifically formed for a single project

Background to organisation

The client were a specialist consultancy and publisher creating best practise engineering information for the railways. The three directors had between them nearly 130 years service in the rail industry. 


The company was founded to embed specialist engineering knowledge into a large documentation set as one-off 'knowledge capture' for their clients, who maintained rail infrastructure. They needed a complete IT set-up, quickly but without permanence. The client specifically required a document and project management platform to unify a virtual team of engineering authors. After initially contacting suppliers they had heard of, they had received a breath-taking quotation. 

Project approach

We reverse-engineered requirements from relevant solutions, for the client to review and agree.

This project was in 2002 and before the term 'cloud' was in common use. Notwithstanding, the contender we put forward provided Software as a Service (SaaS).

Behind the scenes, we had mapped the requirement list to this new cloud-based solution. 


When we revealed the close fit between those requirements that had been endorsed and the suggested cloud solution, the client initially could not believe the fit - or the low cost. They asked us to evaluate a third candidate, which proved a less good fit, but did verify process integrity. The client took out subscriptions to the cloud offering we found.

Client comment - Grahame Taylor, MD - Devil's Guide

"Martin quickly grasped the organisational needs, and identified the best approach for accounting and desktop. As Managing Director, he met me and clarified our requirements in a single day by 'provocation' - volunteering suggested requirements for me to confirm, deny or adjust.

He then concentrated on the area showing both greatest complexity and highest benefit - document and project control. He rapidly evaluated systems against these needs.

I can confirm the 'front runner' system, before we were introduced to Martin, was both materially flawed for our needs and expensive. Martin found a system that was functionally more capable, met all essential requirements, had greater capacity, quicker roll-out and cost literally one-tenth the cost of the system we originally had in mind.

Understandably, this is the system we adopted."

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