Reduce costs. Explore new ideas. Expand your business.

Reduce costs. Explore new ideas. Expand your business. In simple terms, that’s what Octane’s been helping businesses do for almost two decades.

As the owner of a small business, it’s sometimes difficult reading the terrain ahead of you — a wrong turn often has a commensurate cost associated with it.

A typical Octane client would be:

    • An SME with a tight team: some working in an office; some working on the go; or from home, perhaps.
    • Has data that’s vital to the business, but it’s in different formats (sheets of paper, spreadsheet, incompatible file formats, and sometimes out of date or wrong) and in different places.
    • Aware of alternative workflows, or software packages, but — as an SME with a limited budget — those alternatives are either expensive, too specific, or both.
    • Employees often working to their limits, with little time to do anything else.

    It’s a common scenario, one we’ve seen several times, but it isn’t intractable.

    What is it that Octane does for small-to-medium sized businesses? We create fast and secure software that’s designed:

    • to manage and share critical data;
    • control workflows and assets (job tickets, bookings, orders et cetera) from anywhere;
    • and automate project management amongst a team.

We create software specific to the needs of a business.

Simple as 1, 2, 3…

Hmm, perhaps not quite that simple, but there are 3 distinct phases to enhancing the workflow of your business. So let’s look at what Octane’s done for some of its existing clients.

1: Reducing costs

Take fictional Task X, which is costing your business 2 minutes in lost time due to inefficiencies each time it’s performed. Now let’s imagine Task X is performed once per hour:

  • 2 minutes × 8 hours = 16 minutes.
  • 16 minutes × 50 weeks = 800 minutes.
  • 800 minutes × 3 employees = 2,400 minutes.
  • 2,400 minutes is 40 hours, which at — for example — £15 per hour is £600 per annum.

So that’s one task, and I’ve seen much worse. Each time you add an employee, Task X costs your business another £200 per annum. Imagine what would happen if that process was to occur at the management level, or take 3-5 minutes.

Whether you’re in academia, event management, healthcare, or manufacturing, chances are Octane knows how to help you and your business:

  • Reduce data error, loss, and duplication.
  • Improve efficiencies, and provide more accurate data.
  • Save costs over time (increase ROI).
  • Automate complex business processes.

2: Explore new ideas

Once the first phase is complete, your business starts to save both time and costs, month over month.

  • With the recovered time, we begin exploring new ideas.
  • With the saved finances, we begin funding those ideas.

Both of those things were either infeasible or impractical before.

3: Expand your business

Over time, the cost benefit of the software comes into its own:

  • Each new idea becomes a new method of improving services, saving time, and reducing costs.
  • Enjoying an increase in the bandwidth of business processes, the team grows.
  • You enter into a positive feedback loop of ideas and expansion, resulting in a growth in profits.

What would it cost?

What we do depends on what you need. However, anything from £10,000-80,000 and above over several years is not uncommon. Does that sound like a lot? As an expense, perhaps, but we deal in investments — and over the lifetime of the application, three things would be happening:

  1. a continual saving of time and costs;
  2. each new idea (as a distinct feature) would increase turnover;
  3. the software would be earning its keep … and then some.

Together, we build and maintain a platform that gives your business an edge over its competitors.

Questions?

If you have a question, catch us either on Twitter, our Page on Facebook, or here via the contact form.


Kapitex Healthcare Limited website overhaul

Kapitex Healthcare Limited — a market leader in the development and manufacture of medical devices for use in tracheostomy and laryngectomy — has been a client of Octane for almost two decades.

In 2010, we switched their website from static website (web pages written in HTML) to one powered by the content management system ExpressionEngine, allowing Octane to manage the website on behalf of Kapitex. As of 2017, we completed the second major overhaul, retaining ExpressionEngine, but introducing some significant improvements.

Overhaul to the Kapitex Healthcare Limited website.
Overhaul to the Kapitex Healthcare Limited website.

What we achieved

  • We assembled a team focused on managing and maintaining the website, using services such as Slack, Dropbox, and Google Docs to coordinate our efforts, and collaborate.
  • Simplification of a comprehensive and growing product range.
  • Website works on mobile devices, equating to more potential users.
  • Designated members of the team manage almost everything.
  • Use of modern web technologies helped reduce costs by simplifying development.
  • Flexible and customisable designs to manage and maintain a range of digital assets.

Visit the Kapitex Healthcare Limited website.

Questions?

If you have a question, catch us either on Twitter, our Page on Facebook, or here via the contact form.


Capturing the learning process with the Under Cloud

Learning is a fluid process — sometimes difficult, sometimes not so much.

When it’s difficult, we often plan ahead and build up our resources, which might include required documentation, such as a good book. Once done, we have the evidence to support the continued learning process.

However, when the learning process is more ad hoc and on-the-go, this reactive learning process means we often don’t have the time to document what we’re learning.

I wrote the Under Cloud for a number of reasons, but the core underlying principle was that of documenting the data and information I was gathering and transforming them into knowledge.

Now, some of you might be wondering: Hold on, what’s the difference between data, information, and knowledge? A lot — data is to DNA what information is to human, what knowledge is to culture. Once you understand the hierarchical nature of these three structures, it makes learning a bit more layered.

As an example, a spreadsheet contains numbers (data), which are — in and of themselves — not much use until someone transforms those numbers into a useful chart (information), based upon which decisions are made which then contribute to a greater whole (knowledge).

But I digress…

Still, there is the challenge of capturing that fast-paced learning process. If you’re using Microsoft OneNote or Evernote, you have access to their neat ‘clipper’ extensions and plugins for the various web browsers. While these tools are excellent — and often indispensable to some — they’re not solving the fundamental problem.

Take, for example, of the office junior who is watching the senior members of the team work on the aforementioned spreadsheet. Peter adds the numbers. Sarah creates the chart. Anne, John, Catherine, and Gina begin a discussion as to how to implement the information contained in several charts supplied by their team.

Here is a flow of events, one connected to another, as a narrative. You could either ‘clip’ each stage of the process, or write one long rambling note. But how flexible are either of these approaches? Sometimes, one part of that process is relevant elsewhere, but if it’s hidden in one long rambling note, how do reference that? If it’s one distinct note — which is ideal — you’re then hoping that you used some sensible organisational pattern for those notes.

What the Under Cloud does is to allow you to build your own narrative, one that doesn’t care which folder you put your notes in. You link one note to the next, annotating that link. So, as an example, if you had a bookmark for apples and a note for oranges, the link annotation would be fruit, since this would be the vital context connecting the two.

As of writing, the Under Cloud has its own extension for Google Chrome, which allows you to capture part of or an entire web page. However, there is no equivalent option to add comments or links to that bookmark, which is the next logical step.

Once this is in place, capturing that learning process would be low friction and robust.

Thinking further ahead, perhaps something that allows screen capturing that records audio, so that the video becomes your own screencast.


On being bold, and risking everything on an idea

I have an idea. I believe it’s an excellent idea. But belief doesn’t write code. People do.

I’m 4 years into a project — Under Cloud — which is a web application focused on the creation, curation, and management of research. It’s about capturing that moment of serendipity; when you realise you have something that fits with something else you did, or read, or wrote, and then linking them together with similar items, to create a narrative, and a stream of thought.

At present, the project is at an usable stage of development — I’m using it on a regular basis to manage my own personal and professional needs. However, much remains to be done. So, I had another idea.

The power of 3

By the end of the week, Octane will have gone from 1 employee (me), to 3. In the end, I had no choice, because to move the gain line forward, I needed to do something so different that it would mean transforming Octane and risking just about everything on a belief in an idea. I’d be running the risk of losing control, and — once more — staring into that darkness, not knowing where things were going.

Yes, I have a plan. Of course I do. But I’m charting a different course, and heading for unknown waters. It’s amazing.

I was asked: “Why not do [x] yourself?” which was an option, but it would have meant missing the chance to recruit two people who — if their delivery is commensurate with their obvious talents — could propel the Under Cloud forward at a pace and in a direction I couldn’t hope to do alone. Or worse, I do the work myself, and then 6 weeks later those same two people are no longer available to take things further.

I’m not just spending £x per hour on two people, I’m investing in a possible future for 3 people.

I could go on, but you get the idea.

So this is it, the biggest and most expensive gamble I’ve ever undertaken.


Be bold, hire “A” list people

Guy Kawasaki — ex-evangalist for Apple Inc. — once said that when you’re in the market for hiring people, hire people smarter than yourself, and don’t hire people like yourself.

It’s a bold move, and not without its dangers, but it’s something I’m having to contemplate in an attempt to move Under Cloud forward to the next phase.

The fact is — and it’s simple when you think about it — if you want to move the gain line forward, you don’t just need a different perspective, but also an alternate mental attitude, and a different set of strengths which compliment your own weaknesses and deficiencies. I know what my weaknesses and deficiencies, and that pre-qualifies the kind of person I’m looking for.