From tea trolley to big business enabler – Fusion Software marks 20 years of growth
Integrated software solutions and business management systems provider Fusion Software has come a long way from its launch off a tea trolley in a back room.
The company now has over 250 clients ranging in size from SMEs to large enterprises. Over 15 000 users in multiple countries now depend on Fusion Software solutions to run their businesses, and these numbers are growing exponentially.
Fusion Software founder and CEO David Tayler launched the business straight out of university, borrowing money to buy a PC. “I started out working on a tea trolley because I couldn’t afford a desk. With the support of Colin Thornton, who founded Dial a Nerd, I worked out of a corner of a back room at the Dial a Nerd offices,” he recalls.
Tayler quickly secured his first customers. “I set out to make basic, custom computer systems for local businesses. In those days, software was so new that there wasn’t a lot out there. Fusion Software’s first customer was a referral – a lady who sold tea and cake and needed a specialised invoicing system.”
Another early system managed videos for a video editing company. “We built anything and everything, and there were a lot of learning curves,” he says.
Within three months, Tayler appointed his first employee, a fellow developer. “Business picked up fast, but I didn’t earn a salary for the first six months. I used any money that came in for rent, a cellphone contract and my employee’s salary,” he recalls.
Demand grew quickly, and Fusion Software expanded into multiple sectors. Fusion Software now builds systems ranging from CRM, timesheets, projects, expenses, leave, job cards, help desk, HR, accounting and stock control systems.
Lessons and milestones
Tayler says he learned some valuable business lessons over the years. “Driving constant growth against competition – especially from massive international firms – is a big challenge. In addition, software implementations can be unbelievably challenging because so many elements are involved. I also realised early the risks involved in underquoting to get the business, despite how much work had to be done. When you’re running a business, you spend your life worrying about the financial aspect.”
Some of the company’s biggest milestones have been passing the 20 staff member mark, buying its own offices in Parkwood, Johannesburg, and breaking the 1 000-user barrier. Tayler says: “The launch of our MiFusion product line five years ago was a game-changer for the business, which resulted in a huge growth spurt.
“We went from a tea trolley to around 40 staff members and customers that include major enterprises like BBD, Inspired Testing, the PPLE Group, ICT-Works, Murray & Roberts, Itec and Burgess Plumbing. Our solutions are used by thousands of people in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique and even as far afield as The Netherlands and India,” he says. “We have built systems ranging from a single-user system to our largest – a temporary teacher timesheet and payroll system that caters for over 5 000 users.”
Fusion Software’s growth has accelerated in recent years, driving a relaunch of its business partner programme and the creation of four dedicated business units to handle, namely DevOps, Project Management, Sales Unit and dedicated Support Desk, with a line manager to head each division.
Tayler credits his team with the company’s success. “Every great business is built by the team behind it. Our staff have been instrumental in our growth,” he says. Over 40% of the employees have worked for Fusion Software for over five years, and the longest-standing staff member has worked for the company for 17 years. Tayler notes that the team members are committed to staying abreast of technology developments, to bring the best possible solutions to their customers.
Built in SA, for SA
Despite changes in the IT market over the past 20 years, Fusion Software has not deviated from its initial goal of developing software built in South Africa, for South Africans.
Tayler says: “One of our goals is to be one of South Africa’s biggest locally developed, sold and implemented product houses. Where most companies sell international software, we build our own.
"This is important because every company has unique needs. They all need solutions that are cost-effective and supported locally to ensure their solutions live up to expectations. We are here, doing face-to-face implementations, support, maintenance and training to help our customers get the maximum benefit from their systems.”