By Assura Managing Director Hamish Howard
Mum has three kids. One of my sisters is a teacher, the other a General Practitioner – which makes it easy for her to tell friends what they do. But describing my job is a bit more convoluted.
“He’s involved in IT and software and stuff like that,” is generally her answer. Or maybe she’s embarrassed by that, and just tells people I’m in prison.
So, the following is my attempt to explain to her what it is I do, or more accurately what Assura does. Righto mum, here we go.
Assura is a software company. Software is a set of data, or more simply instructions, which tells the computer what needs to be done. We have a team of clever developers who write the software, and a team of equally clever people (who claim they are better looking than the developers) who implement and support the software.
Assura’s software is accessed via a web browser, or our mobile app. All you need is an internet connection and a browser, and you’re in business. Our mobile app also works if you don’t have an internet connection, so that’s handy for remote workers, or those in areas of poor coverage.
There is a wide range of software available. At one end of the spectrum you have a software product that performs a known task with fixed functionality – like Microsoft Word, the Facebook app, or Xero.
At the other end is bespoke software, which is custom-built to deliver the exact solution you’ve asked for based on your specific business needs.
Assura is versatile and can sit in many places along this spectrum. We can supply a standard product, which can also be changed and tailored to suit your needs.
Remember the mess I used to make playing with Lego and the sharp bits you painfully stood on and repeatedly threatened to vacuum up? Well, that’s what our software is like – except for the sore feet and the hurried apology.
We’ve built a software platform that can be configured, like putting Lego blocks together, to provide the best solution to a range of requirements – just like the Lego I used to build cars, spaceships and tanks to hunt and destroy the Barbie dolls lovingly cared for by my sisters.
I’m not claiming I’ve grown up much, but now with the Assura software platform we provide health and safety, asset management, and ACC claims software – along with many other needs that are crucial to running a successful business and meeting legal requirements.
The short description is that Assura is a highly configurable workflow process platform – we’re a solution looking for a problem.
When we’re trying to convince people that we’re a good option we have three main competitors – paper, Microsoft Excel and apathy.
People still love their paper and Excel is a great piece of software that can be used for lots of things (and lots of things it shouldn’t). Apathy is when people say and believe that what they are doing is fine and, in many cases, they may be right. But in just as many they’re a Kodak, Blockbuster or Nokia case study in the making.
With our solutions we enable people to do more with the same resources, or exponentially more with a few more resources. A big part of it is about cost control and productivity, but we can boil our objective down to three words – make life simpler.
Here are a few examples of how Assura is used in the real world:
The Ministry of Education (MoE)
You’ll like this one, being an ex-principal. The MoE uses Assura’s software for a number of things, including managing every student in New Zealand with special education needs. We provide the workflow platform that ensures these kids (and schools) get the right resources (teacher aides, professional services), at the right time. Plus, the people responsible for them manage their cases and report on them in a timely fashion.
Google these guys if you want to know more, but they do really cool global investigative work. Osaco offers a number of services, but the James Bond-type ones are investigating corruption, fraud and assassinations in places that are not generally ideal for family holidays.
We’ve built them an electronic case file system for collecting and storing evidence. It means each of their investigators is consistently using the same process, regardless of where in the world they are located. The software ensures managers have visibility at all times and the correct process is followed, to ultimately make reporting and submission of evidence a lot easier.
Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA)
If you complain about something that has been broadcast in New Zealand, then the BSA uses our technology to make sure the complaint is dealt with by the right people in the right timeframe. So, it handles escalations, process and feedback, as well as reporting.
No, I’m not mentioning them because I’ve been looking at units for you and dad – they’re a client. We provide Ryman with a health and safety solution that reflects how they manage their construction sites. We’ve also built them a ‘sign-in’ solution to make sure those who are onsite have been inducted, plus it tracks timesheets to make the payroll process a lot simpler.
So that’s a few examples of what we do and who we do it for.
The next time someone asks mum what her kids are up to, maybe she’ll say one is educating the nation’s youth, one is making the health of the nation better and the other one is still playing with Lego. Next time you see her, please ask.