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Ideagen thrives as businesses search for quality and consistency

“It is defensive software - the cost of doing business"

Ideagen plc -
Ideagen makes sure the process is right from start to finish

Like it or not, we live in an increasingly process-driven world and that is a trend that is only set to accelerate as business and society becomes more complex.

For companies and organisations, that has meant increasing pressure to ensure that everything they do is to a consistently high standard.

If they do not, the consequences can be both costly and reputationally crippling.

Rolls-Royce, for example, has earmarked huge sums to correct a blade deterioration fault on its Trent 1000 engine.

Essentially, it was down to an error somewhere along the line in the production and supply process. 

Helping to avoid these issues, ensure consistent quality standards and to find a way to spot potential problems before they occur is the skillset of AIM-listed software group Ideagen plc (LON:IDEA).

The company already boasts 4,500 customers, a list that includes a whole raft of financial and industrial giants.

Ideagen has two divisions: Quality, Health, Safety and Environment serving industries including industrial and manufacturing; and Audit, Risk and Compliance for the financial sector.

Ben Dorks, chief executive, says Ideagen covers the end-to-end life cycle of quality within an organisation and environment.

“We ensure business, suppliers and employees all have appropriate accreditation.”

As well as quality, safety is another area where companies are having to up their game, says Dorks.

WATCH: Full interview: Ideagen still hungry after ten years of profits growth

Wearables and other technological developments are now bringing a predictive edge to its safety business.

From previously just checking whether an employee was wearing a safety harness, now the process involves monitoring the state of the employee.

“It’s pretty important whether someone swinging a fifteen-tonne crane ball has been up there too long and is tired,” says Dorks.

 “We are seeing the market evolve into something far greater than just the box-ticking exercise it once was.

“It’s becoming a real live, day-to-day, minute by minute method of measuring people, process and operations.” 

And that is offering up plenty of possibilities for Ideagen to expand.

Dorks cites driverless cars as another huge opportunity.

Ideagen has already started to work with a US bus operator on the integration of telematics and video analysing braking, corners and junction hotspots.

Again, the aim is to be predictive, rather than just reacting and analysing an incident.

The bus company in question has already reduced the number of incidents by 19%, says Dorks. 

In its other division, audit, risk and compliance, the need to get things right is just as pressing.

Penal fines have become almost the norm in the banking sector.

Ideagen will carry out internal audits of large businesses to identify strategic risks, check the controls in place and to ensure staff are compliant with the current regulatory regime.

Like on the QHSE side of the business, the customer list is large and blue-chip.

Commerzbank, the ECB and London and New York stock exchanges just a few of those on an impressive client roster.

Lots of opportunities exist to cross-sell across these disciplines, says Dorks – for example, risk management to compliance customers, though acquisitions are also growing this business.

Ideagen’s last deal, in June, was to acquire Redland Solutions a specialist in Senior Manager & Certification Regime for banks, insurance companies and asset managers.

“The governance, risk and compliance space where we operate is a fragmented one,” he says. 

There are six or seven tier-1 global businesses backed by private equity, but at the local and sector level, the competition is often smaller businesses typically run by an owner-manager.

It is these types of operations that Ideagen targets and is keen to acquire.

Acquisitions to continue

Redland was the seventeenth acquisition in the last six years and Dorks expects there to be more going forward.

That has helped keep the financial numbers moving healthily upwards.

Latest results maintained the trend with sales up 29% to £46.7mln and underlying profits (EBITDA) rising for the tenth year running to £14.3mln.

Recurring revenues are expected to account for around 74% of the total sales by the end of this financial year compared to 67% at the end of April.

Broker forecasts (assuming no further acquisitions) are for underlying profits of £18.9mln, which compare with a market valuation of £320mln at 146p.

Dorks sees no let-up in demand for its type of software over the longer term. 

Indeed, the company has set out some punchy targets for the next three years including a £100mln turnover run rate by 2022, recurring revenues of 75% and profit margins at 30% 

Dorks is confident both the company and the market will grow sufficiently to meet the targets. 

“It is defensive software - the cost of doing business.

“People, process and operations - are we actually delivering the right quality?

“If you get it wrong, it’s very expensive.”

Quick facts: Ideagen plc

Price: 152.5 GBX

AIM:IDEA
Market: AIM
Market Cap: £340.97 m
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