How Boyum and Beas became one
”I’ve never actually had a real job. I’ve always lived my passion – and look where it’s got us. I’m so pleased to be able to welcome you all here today…”. On a cold January morning in 2017, CEO Mikael Boyum kicked off the annual sales meeting at the headquarters in Denmark, bringing all beas and Boyum employees together for the very first time. Despite his down-to-earth attitude and easy smile, the audience is left in no doubt that some seriously exciting plans have been put in place since the acquisition of Beas, and that everyone there should be proud of their achievements since joining forces.
Interview with Mikael Boyum, President of Boyum IT & CEO of Boyum Solutions, by Sidsel Vejby Krabbenhoft
Way back in 1997, Boyum IT was founded and the impressive success story began to unfurl. In 2008, 11 years later, the company launched its first add-ons for the global marked via its SSP arm, which subsequently evolved into Boyum IT Solutions A/S in 2016, under the new parent company Boyum IT Group. As a certified SAP Gold Partner and holder of no less than 21 awards, the acquisition of beas is part of Boyum Solutions’ growth strategy in the global SMB market, and strengthens its position as a leading global Software Solution Provider.
When starting out as a young entrepreneur, Mikael Boyum claims that he always had the dream of creating something that would grow, but not necessarily into a large corporation: “I was brought up in the south of Denmark, and my uncles were hardworking entrepreneurs who built up their own successful businesses, which is something I always admired. When it came to the point where we needed to recruit new employees at Boyum IT, I thought it would be amazing if we could one day expand to 10 employees. I’m proud to say that we actually have a few more than that on the payroll now”. With beas on board, the number of employees at Boyum IT increased from 43 to 98. Mikael Boyum is the president of the entire organization and CEO of Boyum Solutions, which is comprised of 37 people in 14 countries.
It’s not very often that you meet a visionary person who approaches new challenges with great humility, dedicating all success to good teamwork, but maybe this is the secret to growing a healthy and consolidated business: “For me, success is seeing Boyum grow year by year, knowing that we still manage to attract excellent employees and have created an environment where people actually want to be. To see that partners and customers like to use and purchase our software, and keep finding value in it 10 years after we launched the B1 Usability Package. I prefer to perceive all achievements as a common success – working as a team made this adventure possible”.
A Bigger Boyum is Evolving
Offering horizontal solutions such as B1 Usability Package, the potential to continue Boyum’s growth in the SSP market was limited. “In order to expand the business even further, it was necessary to shift our focus to vertical solutions. It’s extremely costly and complex to start building new industry-specific products, so it seemed the obvious choice to buy a company with premium expertise and specialized competencies in a certain field”.
When beas came up for sale it was the perfect candidate for an acquisition to match this desire for a new strategic position. As Beas Manufacturing is suitable for 14 types of industry, partners would also be able to push sales of generic software solutions to these users and increase their turnover. Furthermore, Boyum was in a position to be able to enrich the beas technology, while beas reciprocates with unmatched industry-specific knowledge, so the potential gains through product synergy are enormous.
Steadfast in the face of challenges
When absorbing one company into another, many issues and considerations arise. The alignment of procedures and internal processes, the merging of IT systems and the structuring of the ‘new’ organization were all obstacles that had to be approached and overcome. However, some challenges were particularly difficult to anticipate and had the management’s full attention. The main concern was how to avoid conflicts of interest among the existing and new partners who sell either/or Boyum/Beas and a competitive product.
As the partner channel is the fundamental cornerstone of the SSP business, potential issues here could be have a devastating impact on future sales and collaboration. Equally, the highly-valued Boyum team was about to double in size, and all beas employees would become part of a new company structure and culture. Most importantly, all global Boyum subsidiaries are firmly embedded in the company culture of Energy For LIFE, where family, energy, social interaction and excellence are the key factors in nurturing a happy working life in an informal environment, and the beas team would need to be introduced to this mindset.
In December, all Beas’ data was transferred to Boyum. As both Beas and Boyum use SAP Business One internally, it was possible to merge this data very easily. In order to synchronize sales control and strengthen data quality, the number of databases was extended to match the geographic regions better, giving the Enablement Team the opportunity to consolidate potential leads. Data relating to all business partners is held in the licensing platform - the Boyum Portal - which is connected to the respective card code in SAP for each specific partner and database.
As the time for annual maintenance renewal was on the horizon, all ‘new’ partners needed access to use the Boyum Portal, and to embrace an entirely new way of managing their beas customers. The transferal and maintenance of all data while aligning all business partners was a huge task, and the entire team pulled out all the stops to ensure that the partners were impacted as little as possible by the need to adapt to a new support system.
As a leader, it’s my job to encourage employees to keep on the right track and work towards a common goal as a team. Due to cultural and linguistic variations, the management team communicates via different platforms to ensure that everyone acts accordingly. By comparing performance and evaluating customer and partner feedback, we can ensure that we’re all working towards a unified goal and maintaining a mentality focused on identifying and solving problems quickly and efficiently.
Though sound planning, level-headed decision-making and successful execution are the three pillars of every successful acquisition, unforeseen obstacles are inevitable. Despite this, the management team is very satisfied with progress to date. The acquisition was estimated to take a year, but all procedures have already been rolled out after only 6 months.
“The mission is approximately 70% complete, but we are still missing a few more people to contribute to this change with an energetic attitude and the right mindset. These personality traits are essential for us to be the fastest and smartest, and thereby maintain our position in the market. I’ll concede that we can all be very proud of our achievements so far, but we still have a lot of work to do. Now it’s time to adjust and refine our performance to ensure that we keep moving towards success in accordance with our strategy, and the truth will be evident in our turnover in 6 months time. I’m confident that our whole team is united in their enthusiasm for this exciting journey, and with our global mindset we can work together to take Boyum to new heights.”
‘Simplicity at Work’ is still the motto
Mikael Boyum emphasizes that this union of companies has resulted in an even stronger global team, offering the partner channel the same service-minded approach, quality products and strong brand: “Without a trusted partner channel we’d have no sales. It’s therefore crucial for us to make partners feel that they can completely rely on Boyum and our committed team. Anyone can copy our software and ideas, but the key factor for success is the people behind that software, and they are impossible to duplicate”.
Beas Manufacturing is a comprehensive product which fits with 14 types of industry, and this enables a partner to cater for these 14 industries having mastered just one installation process. This huge diversity means that a partner could easily fulfil the requirements of a growing cosmetics company and a metals manufacturer in one breath, and as the Beas solution and Boyum’s horizontal solutions become more and more enmeshed, their treasured ‘feel good’ software experience and Simplicity at Work ethic will embrace the entire product range. The goal is always to create satisfied end-users by enabling them to work more efficiently in SAP Business One with user-friendly add-ons – this in turn encourages a good reputation and gives the partner more time to chase additional sales.
Alongside this, beas partners can enjoy a new and simpler approach to support, with a common overview of all customers’ licenses in the Boyum Portal – not only does this save them time, but also enables them to upsell the B1 Usability Package to existing beas users.
The reaction to the acquisition has been very positive among both partners and end customers. Boyum is a very strong brand with a high level of support and product quality, and this acquisition is of course an unspoken promise of continued commitment to fulfil these high expectations. We promise to keep doing our very best.
To ensure the same high standard with beas in the portfolio, Boyum has appointed a roll-out team to ensure that partners have their problems solved in good time and with the same high quality of service as the partners have come to expect. At the same time, heavy investment is ongoing in documentation and e-learning on how to use the software, both via the Boyum Portal, YouTube channel, website and Knowledge Base.
Next Stop: Surpass Expectations
Mikael Boyum is already an experienced man in this field. In 2010, Boyum IT acquired the Norwegian company SMB Business Partner and Finnish PWS Data and SEC IT in 2011 to support the aggressive growth strategy in the Nordic market as the leading SAP Business One partner. The acquisition of beas was the first addition to the SSP business and Mikael is not rejecting the possibility of more to come: “We want to make Boyum Solutions an even better place to work, maintain our growth and remain successful with our solutions by absorbing new knowledge and technology, and bringing inspiration and evolution to the ERP market. We strive to offer our customers perfect functionality and, in order to do so in future, we may need to look around the marketplace for yet another company that can provide the right product range and assets.”
The IT market is constantly accelerating, and technology will inevitably take mankind to unimaginable heights. At Boyum, experienced developers and the manufacturing team are weighing up the strategic potential of moving to the Cloud, and thereby satisfy the demand for cloud-based solutions. The challenge is how to transform this opportunity into a range of sustainable solutions, and to ensure outstanding software quality: this is what makes the future of Boyum so exciting.
Asking Mikael Boyum about his wish to conquer the IT market, he concludes: “If we can dominate the market in a certain segment then this is a goal in itself. In terms of installations and customers, we are already the biggest SSP in the world. We aim to keep it that way”.