Ballard Chalmers Ltd was established 10 years ago this month, with the merge of the IT consultancies owned and managed by Geoff Ballard and myself.
2005 was a notable year. It was the year of Hurricane Katrina, the Kyoto environmental protocol and the ten simultaneous Live 8 concerts. Armed conflict by the IRA officially ended, Chelsea won their first ever Premier League title, Harry Potter entered his sixth year at Hogwarts with the release of the Half-Blood Prince novel, but also sadly the 7/7 London bombings. Prince William graduated from St. Andrews, Labour won a third term, YouTube was founded and the fastest hit with a badminton racket was recorded by Fu Haifeng, clocking 206 miles per hour! Only 10 years ago, but it seems a lifetime.
Geoff and I had both been managing successful small consultancies in enterprise software development, with Ballard Consulting (founded in 1989) working with clients such as British Airports Authority (BAA) and Learning Tree International; and my company (KMS, founded in 1998) working with the likes of GE, Hitachi, American Express, and many more blue-chip global enterprises.
Both had noteworthy achievements for such small companies, and, after having worked together on several projects, we recognised that the sum of the parts was potentially greater than the whole, and Ballard Chalmers was born on 5th December 2005.
One of the drivers has been the complementary experience of Geoff and myself. With more than 25 years in IT consultancy Geoff is the technical expert and leader of the business; while my background is in business management including a variety of consultant turnaround and interim leadership roles in manufacturing and engineering industries during the ‘90s.
This has certainly proven a successful formula. While this period 2005-15 included the financial crisis and ‘great recession’ for fully half of the time we’ve been in business, we have grown more than three times the size of the combined two original companies, and today we are recognised as one of the leading Microsoft Gold Partner consultancies for the enterprise platform in the UK.
When people ask, “What does Ballard Chalmers do?” the simple answer is always, “We write software.” This is our core business and what we are expert in. This encompasses custom .NET/SQL Server development, BizTalk Server for enterprise systems integration, and also developing on the SharePoint Server platform for enterprise collaboration. Our service offering has refined over the years to cover Consultancy, Project Delivery, Support, and Resourcing, but all of these remain primarily focussed today on enterprise software development for the Microsoft Cloud (and of course still datacentre and on-premises hosted systems).
Clients today include many that were with us in 2005, including the Royal Geographical Society and Electrolux and many clients have joined us since. We are proud to encompass numerous non-profit organisations and institutions in our client roster, including the likes of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Transport for London (TfL), Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI), World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO), Rail Safety & Standards Board (RSSB), as well as national charities such as BBC Media Action, Mencap, Young Epilepsy and many others. And of course our clients continue to include many well know corporations and fast-growing companies in a wide variety of sectors, such as Tokyo Electron and OVO Energy.
Highlights of the last ten years? There have been many, but our recognition from Microsoft for our work with local Queen Victoria NHS Trust as Partner Solution of the Week in 2013 was certainly one, and our work for Transport for London over the last six years as part of the team that developed the new contactless payment system, a platform that has been used as a case study internationally by Microsoft, is another.
While these are very different projects, the first being a development project of a custom SharePoint-based application to help save lives with emergency expert consultancy provided via our NHS hosted application; and the second being a resourcing engagement where we have supported the in-house TfL team with software engineering expert resources, they are both examples of our expertise in software development and our ability to deliver highly-complex custom software solutions.
Of course a major change in our industry, if not the major change, of the past 10 years, has been the advent of ‘the Cloud’. In reality, what this means for us has been the opportunity of providing the Microsoft Azure hosting platform for our custom software applications to our clients, and helping them to move existing systems to the Cloud, with the resultant hosting cost savings and infrastructure overhead cost and effort savings.
This has provided the opportunity for organisations to undertake Application Modernisation projects, which has been a big part of our recent work – upgrading and modernising business systems to improve efficiency and increase functionality.
System’s integration using the BizTalk platform has increased in demand as enterprises combine cloud-hosted and data centre hosted systems, particularly linking legacy core systems and newer business intelligence and data collaboration systems, as well as pure system to system integrations such as back-office systems to Navision for example.
Last but not least, all of this is of course the work of all of our expert and dedicated staff. We firmly believe in the principle that a business is the sum of its people and we strive to employ the best staff and associates we can so we deliver the best possible service to our clients. And several of the original core small team are still with us today as our bedrock expert senior software engineers.
So, I hope that has given a brief overview of our decade as Ballard Chalmers. On behalf of Geoff and myself, thank you to all of our staff, clients, and partners for the last 10 years. It has been a great experience, and thankfully Geoff and I are not yet too old for another ten years, and so we look forward to seeing where the business and the custom software development sector is in 2025! I’m sure it will be even more interesting than the last decade!
By Andrew Chalmers, Managing Director
Andrew Chalmers is co-founder and Managing Director at Ballard Chalmers. With over 30 years’ experience in business management, including consultant project manager, interim manager and interim MD roles particularly in the engineering and manufacturing sector and over much of the world, Andrew brings the business-side experience to Ballard Chalmers to complement Geoff’s technical leadership. In 1998 Andrew created one of the very first cloud software development consultancies in the UK, which developed a very early-adoption corporate intranet for Hewlett Packard Europe amongst many other ground breaking projects.
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