Why are we called The Tech Dept?

In June 2004 our company was born and some 15 years later — in June 2019 — we finally found our purpose. That’s why today we’re no longer Techdept, we’re The Tech Dept.

Our new “The” isn’t some smarty pants branding technique, it’s a mark of our graduation from a tech team to THE tech team. Because this story is one of our changing how we play the game, finding simplicity from complexity, creating focus in a world of abundance.

And it took nearly losing our business to achieve this clarity. On the eve of our 13th birthday we hit a big wall due to some bad management. We had to swallow a big dose of reality and look at our teenage business from first principles. In doing so we discovered a simple truth, which will undoubtedly help you.

What’s your potential?

Nowadays 80% of any business improvement will come from improving technology: data, digital platforms, ecommerce. Bad technology is bad for business, it stresses your team and makes your customers sad. Unhappy staff aren’t very productive, and unhappy customers don’t spend money with you.

We all want to improve our companies, to modernise things so that they’re slick, frictionless, forward looking. Then reality hits us in the face like a bucket of cold water.

Do you have unlimited time, team and money? No

Do you have an overflowing in-tray of things to do? Yes

Crappy technology in your company is putting the brakes on business growth. And living with it is — to put it mildly — stressful. It risks your team burning out or leaving. But how do you actually make change when your budgets are tight, your IT team isn’t playing ball and the global transformation project is two years away from becoming real?

It just shouldn’t be this hard to make change happen.

It’s not about the technology

Lots of people can help you spend money on technology. If you throw a dart down the street you’ll hit a digital consultant or technology vendor. Yet the truth we discovered during our bad 13th birthday was what you actually need isn’t new technology, it’s business improvement.

If you focus first on what you’re trying to improve, your technology strategy is simpler. Because you don’t want a new web site: you want more sales. You don’t want a new CRM: you want your customers to feel in control. You don’t want a new intranet: you want your team to talk to each other.

By starting with “why” you can very quickly focus everyone on what’s important (which is the improvement, not the technology). To do this we simply run a simple process, unique to us, which we call The Tech Bootcamp.

Hard-won simplicity

It took us 15 years to learn this five step method:

1. Mindset

If you don’t:

  • tell the truth (to yourself, your team and us) you can’t create progress
  • give service to others you won’t win over your team or customers
  • commit to improve – which is hard — then you won’t

These are The Tech Dept’s three Mindsets. We only want to work with those that share them, because we all see better results.

2. Plan

For those that share our Mindset (including existing clients) we offer a zero cost Bootcamp Planning Workshop. This takes less than 2 hours and at least six Director-level clients have said it’s “like therapy”. We ask you questions and refuse to accept rubbish answers. This unlocks incredible insight and allows us to find the simplest thing you can do for the least cost & biggest impact.

3. Action

If you want to work with us further — to implement the plan, assuming we can — then we take action. This could be a simple web page, or an enterprise level CRM solution. Either way, before starting we identify five things we’ll improve and write them down in an Improvement Scorecard.

4. Measure

Once we have put our work into ‘the wild’ we return with your Improvement Scorecard at a pre-agreed date. We then measure the results, by comparing the data (quantitative or qualitative) from before we did the work to after we did the work. If the numbers are bigger, that’s good. If they are smaller, that’s bad.

5. Repeat

If we presided over a complete cock up then you should sack us. Even so, you’ll have found some valuable data. Assuming it’s worked you’ll want to improve the results. If so, we simply repeat the process.

And the result is?

The output of The Tech Bootcamp can be many things, but often include:

  • Integrating & opening up data (eg an API)
  • Connecting legacy tech with new tech
  • Improving e-commerce
  • Automating workflow and tasks
  • Custom web applications

Create continuous improvement

Our process simplifies endless complexity, as you just repeat it again and again. You ‘zig zag’ towards your future success. If you went to the gym and did a “bootcamp” every day, you’d be physically fitter after a few weeks. The same principle applies to your technology.

Jeff Bezos attributes Amazon’s success to the number of experiments they run. Because most new things fail, the more experiments you run the more likely you are to succeed. It’s a numbers game.

The trick is to design your experiment to be fast (so it doesn’t cost a lot of time) and focused (so it doesn’t cost a lot of money). And that you capture and systematically build on any lessons.

This means a shift in your thinking. From technology being something you “commission and launch” to something you “test and continuously improve”. Instead of us selling you some technology, we now systematically create improvement thereby releasing your business potential.

Aligning interests

This new approach has been refined over the last two years. There are many benefits, but the biggest — as we see it — is that it genuinely aligns our interests with yours. We serve what you really need, as opposed to selling our preferred tech solution.

As a result of The Tech Bootcamp you will get a happier team and happier customers. You will also have data to show the board (which keeps them happy). If our work creates quantifiable improvement then you’ll continue to spend money with us.

Which means you’re happy, and so are we.

You will see more momentum around new ideas more quickly, at less upfront cost (in time and money). You’ll have more control over the future. And you will avoid the slow stagnation of your technology systems, the stress and complexity this creates.

Our past & our future

We launched our business in 2004 and have always been a boutique, employing around 20 people from our HQ in Sheffield. In 2016 The Tech Dept was named as one of the top 100 digital agencies in the UK by The Drum, and in 2017 Dan was listed in the 25 most innovative people in Europe Middle East & Asia by The Holmes Report. We’ve won a lot of other accolades.

“We wouldn’t have made another record-breaking year without you. Fact”.
BBC Children in Need

Over the years we’ve invested in three tech startups and developed numerous digital innovations and products. We even, on the invite of the Government, took our crazy tech battle — The Tech Off — to the biggest tech innovation event in the world: South by South West in Austin, Texas.

But we believe our greatest years are ahead of us.

The simple truth we found in 2017 has given us great purpose and unlocked great value for our customers. We believe we’ll grow 10x in the next 10 years as a result.

So if you’re looking to improve, to modernise, to get on top of your technology just get in touch and get on The Tech Bootcamp. We will improve your business by improving your technology.

Here’s to the next 15 years!

Dan Kirby & Rick Grundy
Co-Founders of The Tech Dept

Do things better. We make your technology work better, so your business does too.