RDA develops IT services niche
Janelle Macri, WA Business News
16 May 2007
RDA Group founding directors Ian Cook and Richard Appleton started their IT services business from a house in East Perth in 1993, and they have since grown the business into a national concern with a view towards international expansion.
Developing an original business concept of providing both IT network infrastructure and business software systems, RDA Group has carved out a niche in the provision of IT solutions to mid-tier organisations across the country. After experiencing strong growth in Western Australia, the directors recognised an opportunity to expand the business nationally, driven mainly by their WA-based clients seeking IT network solutions for their interstate offices.
RDA Group opened its Sydney office in 2002 and an office in Melbourne soon after, offering just one part of their core business to organisations in those two cities.
General Manager Sean D’Souza said the strong relationships established by the company with their Perth-based clients enabled the company to expand nationally.
“It really was a testament to our relationships built up with clients since 1993”, he said.
In July 2006, the company was approached by IT giants IBM and Microsoft, to assist in the roll-out of their business systems packages into medium to large corporations. The strengthening of these strategic alliances formed the cornerstone of RDA Group’s expansion strategy.
“We identified an opportunity to strategically solidify our place as a national organisation. To do this we needed to take both streams of the business - which have been successful in Perth – across to Sydney and Melbourne”, Mr D’Souza said.
The challenge of expanding the business effectively was met by the formation of the comprehensive strategic business plan, which incorporated forecasting, a plan and strategy for the national rollout of RDA Group’s two core business streams.
Mr D’Souza said developing the business plan was a three-stage process involving reflection on the history of the company, outlining the primary goals of expansion and the long-term vision, and the involvement of third-party assistance from the newly appointed non-executive directors.
“With the management team we’ve got, we were able to sit down and allocate parts of the strategy to the different people, and everyone brought in their ideas and research”, Mr Cook said.
“The non-executive directors also helped us to hone our business plan and get it right.”
The directors also considered private equity backing to fund their expansion, but instead opted to invest their own money, as well as profits from existing business. Mr Appleton said the private equity option was abandoned because the directors believed it would have resulted in a large portion of the company being handed over to the equity partner.
“We know the value of our business, so we weren’t prepared to give it away”, he said.
Since executing its strategy in January this year, the company has expanded both its Sydney and Melbourne operations, with the Sydney office relocating to a building twice the size of its original home, and the Melbourne office looking to relocate due to its burgeoning workforce.
The directors attribute a large part of their success to the east coast management team, one of whom was relocated from the Perth office to set up interstate operations from scratch.
“We can’t be there everyday but we have three managers on the east coast and three in Perth who have all worked together for a long time so they really understand where we want to go”, Mr Appleton said.
At the end of this month, the company is due to have the first strategy meeting update, reviewing performance and assessing strategies. The directors are currently assessing Canberra and Adelaide for their next interstate offices, with those cities currently being serviced out of Sydney and Melbourne.
RDA Group is also eyeing an international office, most likely in Asia, with a view to open its first overseas office within five years.