John Mayall, Managing Director of EAS that owns the Essential Project tells us about the EA enterprise architecture tool built by enterprise architects.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
John Mayall: We’re doing OK thanks, home-schooling has been interesting, but we’ve got through that, and so far, we’ve been lucky and avoided catching the virus, which is the best you can hope for at the moment.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Essential Project.
John Mayall: I co-founded the company in 2000, with my colleague Jason Powell, as an enterprise architecture consulting firm. Our original intention was just to consult and be a lifestyle business. We initially launched our EA tool as an open-source product as we didn’t want to be a product company, so we thought we’d allow the community of Enterprise Architects to enhance the tool. I actually left and was Head of Enterprise Architecture at Schroders for 5 years, then moved to be Chief Architect at JLT for a few years, but it was in discussion with Jason, while I was doing my MBA, that we realized that major corporates were using the tool and they wanted a more commercial wrapper. Having agreed to create a commercial version of the platform, I came back, and we reinvented ourselves as a product company.
How does Essential Project innovate?
John Mayall: Our tool allows you to capture your people, processes, and systems (and the information around them), and then, based on that data, you can gain insight into risk, efficiency, regulation impact, etc., to aid your decisions. We are innovating by automating the Enterprise Architecture practice, effectively codifying our years of experience as Enterprise Architects into our tool, allowing organizations to focus on informed decision making.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
John Mayall: We’ve been OK. One key differentiator we have is our price point; EA tools are typically very expensive, but we disrupt the market with our very low price for comparable capabilities. With coronavirus impacting business budgets negatively, we are seeing people either move across to us from more expensive tools to reduce cost or to start using our open-source product, so it’s meant we’ve continued to grow both with commercial clients and open source users – a number of whom we see switch to the commercial versions.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
John Mayall: As a low-cost provider, we try to make things as self-service as possible and minimize spending. So our CRM has been mainly remote anyway. We’ve started to use tools to streamline that self-service approach and keep costs down; for example, https://www.goconsensus.com/ was recommended to us by Gartner, and it has proved invaluable.
Your final thoughts?
John Mayall: When the pandemic hit, we were very concerned as we didn’t have any idea what the impact would be on client retention and new clients and if we’d have to furlough people or not. Luckily it didn’t pan out like that, and we ended up hiring, but we made a conscious decision to target some young people who were probably despairing at the state of the job market. A good friend of mine died recently, and he always said, ‘Give the youngsters a chance.’ I think now more than ever that that line is important