Joe O’ Brien – ‘Bring in great people who are a 100% fit with your core values and will get the job done’

Name: Joe O’ Brien

Job Title: Sales Director – Public Sector & ERP at Version 1

Company: Version 1


Find more about Joe O'Brien at

I have been with Version 1 since 2006 and look after the Public Sector and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) which incorporates Oracle eBusiness Suite, Fusion Cloud Applications and JD Edwards.

Version 1 have made 5 acquisitions in the UK in the past 3 years. Our most recent was midlands based JD Edwards specialist Beoley Mill Software Ltd. We acquire companies who are niche experts with fantastic customers and staff that fit with our culture and values. It’s about the feel and ethos of the organisation as much as their technical expertise.

Since our inception in 1996 we have been heavily focused on technology being a business enabler and we concentrate on working with clients using IT to make a real difference to their business. Oracle has always been core to our business with around half of our 900 strong team touching an Oracle products on a daily basis. Microsoft is another key specialisation in our business with close to 300 of our team utilising Microsoft technologies as an enabler for businesses across the UK & Ireland. We also work very closely with Amazon and numerous Open Source and Digital platforms.

We have a dedicated Managed Services team and have a proven record for managing mission critical systems implemented not only by us but also those implemented by other Systems Integrators. Our emphasis on ITIL aligned and ISO 20000 certified managed services means our deep investment in world class methodologies and locally based staff gives customers a platform for Continual Service Improvement on an ongoing basis for business critical systems.  

We often acquire new customers when other SIs have done the initial implementation but they do not have the same focus on day to day operations as an organisation such as ourselves. Most people want to do the exciting projects but we understand that once a system is in place it will be there for between 10 and 15 years and customers need to continually realise business benefit from their ongoing investment

We operate on a quarterly rhythm looking at every aspect of our business every quarter. We have a‘ Strategic Triangle’ approach looking at; Customer Satisfaction, Staff Engagement and Commercial Profitability. In terms of our customer satisfaction we ask ‘How satisfied are our customers and how likely are they to recommend us?’ Our scores are running at 8.4 which is significantly higher than the industry average.

If a customer is not happy our quarterly surveys  means we are able to trap this almost immediately. We find out what the problem is and work out an action to resolve/change it.  Every quarterone of our senior management team will visit the customer to get more feedback and a better understanding of what their current business goals are, agreeing ‘Conditions of Satisfaction’ where we setout the criteria for a successful set of outcomes for that customer.  Some quarters those conditions of satisfaction may be operational in nature and in others we may collaborate by the customer to look at their business processes and visualise what technology can do to enable the growth of their business.

Other people find out at that their customer is not happy at tender time – which is often too late in the day to do anything about it! Our approach ensures an ongoing engagement with our customer where the outcomes we are working towards are fully aligned with the goals of our customers’ businesses.

We carry out quarterly Staff Engagement surveys and our current staff engagement is over 80%.  We have 20 engagement groups and our managers carry out fortnightly 1 to 1’s making sure that our staff are aligned with the overall business goals of the customer they are engaged with and that all training is aligned to specific projects that add value to our customers.

The strategic triangle approach means that we have a balanced view of how we are performing. If one element is out of sync it may have a knock on effect in subsequent  quarters and given our staff and our customers are core to everything we do we focus heavily on this .

Our core values are sacrosanct and reflect the way we deal with our staff and our customers. If we see a problem we don’t hide behind it - we use our first value, ‘Honesty and Integrity’ to deal with everything we do.  

Our other values include

-          Personal commitment

-          Customer first

-          No Ego

-          Drives

-          Excellence

We do not believe that you can ever achieve excellence, it’s more about on-going improvement and about constantly looking for and finding out ways of doing things more effectively.

In terms of customers Version 1 has a good spread, around one third of our customers are public sector including local government, police, NHS and education. We work for a number of the utilities, water, gas, electricity and are strong on pharmaceuticals and life sciences, banking, insurance, telecoms, healthcare and manufacturing.

We have delivered a number of implementation, business transformation and managed service engagements which has positioned Version 1 as one of the very few Sis who are big enough to deliver large programmes but flexible and agile enough to adjust a service quickly if required by a customer.  This is a key differentiator for us in a market which is bookended by the multinational Sis at one end and the smaller expert niche players at the other end of the spectrum.

If I was to give advice to another business it would be to have a vision for what you want to achieve and then clearly plan how you will execute that vision. Don’t try and be smarter or more clever: the best businesses are those who do the simple things consistently all the time, every time.  Bring in great people who are a 100% fit with your core values and will get the job done, and finish each task no matter how big or small. Completer finishers are vital in our industry Indeed during our recruitment processes, we consciously look for proof that the staff member has a completer finisher mentality (it aligns to a number of our core values such as Drive, Personal Commitment and Customer First).

The best bit of business advice I have ever been given was on my first day working as a graduate by my first manager who told me never to forget that IT is not there for the sake of technology but rather ‘to facilitate the processes that make organisations functional’. Even now, 18 years later I can see the wisdom in that.                                                                                                                                                 

Bramble Hub & Version 1 have partnered on a number of successful engagements over the past number of years. We like the way Bramble conduct their business: it is very professional, transparent and collaborative. The Bramble approach is obviously a good vehicle for organisation like us for Crown Commercial projects and gives us a reach into customers who require our Oracle, Microsoft, Amazon and wider services.

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Version 1 (formely Patech Solutions) is a trusted technology partner to major domestic and international customers across all industry sectors in the UK and Ireland.