2013-2023: The First Ten Years of FiveP.
2013-2023: The First Ten Years of FiveP.

After wrapping up an fantastic FY23, and our recent Microsoft Partner of the Year Award win, some reflections on our first ten years in business by CEO David Dennis.

2013-2023: The First Ten Years of FiveP.
July 26, 2023

2023 marks ten incredible years of FiveP. And now it’s a year of even more significance to us, with our recent milestone of taking out a win in the 2023 Microsoft Partner of the Year Awards. As I travel home from a terrific week here in Seattle with the other Microsoft award winners, and we look ahead from this fantastic achievement, I thought I’d share some of the story of our first ten years in business and the path that led us here.

2023 marks ten incredible years of FiveP. And now it’s a year of even more significance to us, with our recent milestone of taking out a win in the 2023 Microsoft Partner of the Year Awards. As I travel home from a terrific week here in Seattle with the other Microsoft award winners, and we look ahead from this fantastic achievement, I thought I’d share some of the story of our first ten years in business and the path that led us here.

Ours is a typical genesis story: Three colleagues with similar skillsets come together out of necessity to tame a beast of opportunity much larger than any of us individually could take on. In late 2012 I attended SPC for the first time – the foremost Microsoft SharePoint conference of the time, held annually in Las Vegas. I had spent the earlier years of my career focused on consulting to Australian enterprise-scale organisations, working to implement information management strategies and systems on the Microsoft SharePoint platform.

Being in and around the IT teams within those companies, and occasionally alongside the vendors vying for work, the perspective of having one foot somewhat in each camp helped me form some ideas around how technology could be implemented better, more efficiently, and with more focus on the people that actually used it. I had developed my own interpretation of the ’80-20’ rule, being a general understanding that 80% of the consulting activity that I was delivering from project to project was fundamentally the same. The 20% slice that was tailored to suit the specific requirements of the work was where all the great things were achieved. Why were we working through that 80% from a standing start every single time? Could the work inside that 80% be templated in a way to create efficiency and value for my clients, and help them get to that 20% – where the true value lies – faster? The nature of this work, and prohibitive costs of the technology meant that only the biggest companies with the advantages that come with scale were the only ones able to reap the benefits.

Could this change in a way where everyone could access the same technology to be able to grow their businesses?

I wanted to level the playing field.

Our intent behind attending the SharePoint conference was simply to attend some sessions, network at some events, go to the closing night Bon Jovi concert and mostly figure out how we were going to deliver in the best way possible on the work that we had recently won and was waiting for us back in Australia. The three of us coming together to start a company just seemed to make sense for our near future. So, it was a handshake agreement over a beer, and the tough task of thinking of a catchy name on the flight home.

What I did not count on happening that week in Las Vegas, was discovering how the coming shifts in cloud, SaaS, and general understanding of the term ‘productivity’ were all coming together to forever change the type of work that I had been previously doing. The language, and the way that the technology was being talked about started to shift towards some of the ideas I had already formed in my head. Cloud was about democratisation. No matter where a business was on its journey, the same tools that were formerly only available to the top end of town were becoming easily accessible to everyone. This was the big opportunity, and a newly formed, and newly named ‘FiveP’ already had its mission clearly laid out ahead of it.

The first chapter of FiveP is really one of steadily growing a professional services practice. For our first few years in business, we gratefully grew in all the ways that a founder who is still learning the ropes wants: Headcount, size of office, number of customers, complexity of projects, Christmas party budget.

But underneath all of this for me was an appreciation, and a quiet confidence that we were onto a good thing with Microsoft. Staying close to our core competencies around the SharePoint workload within the Modern Workplace stack was the way to keep growing, buoyed by Australia being comparatively quick to adopt all of the new features being released under a growing banner of ‘Office 365’.

As a leader I have learned that it is vitally important to understand where your strengths and weaknesses lie. FiveP was starting to build pace, however the market can be very unforgiving regardless of your momentum. Along with new opportunities came the realisation that I was going to need help to guide FiveP to its full potential, and I was incredibly fortunate to meet Mehdi Qerim around this time. Mehdi thankfully saw the same potential that I did in FiveP, and through joining us as a director in July 2016 has provided the support that has enabled me to become a better business leader, and the strategic skillset that has allowed FiveP to react quickly to opportunities and threats.

Our first major strategic decision together was to launch our Business Applications practice in late 2016, and the connection into our customers and understanding of their broader technology challenges deepens, along with new ways that we can help. Our typical customer profile was expanding, and to me this meant I had read the tea leaves correctly and was staying true to the mission:

Businesses needed these tools to grow, and we were helping the large and the small customers respectively, in the right ways.

In early 2017, a new opportunity. Microsoft Teams heralds an entirely new way to view technology as it relates to getting your work done. Arriving either a few years too early or just in time depending on how you view the events of our previous few years, it changed the perspective of how to address SharePoint and information management in the workplace all over again. With our ideas of delivering absolute value through building products out of consulting engagements now incredibly well refined from the lessons of our first few years in business, Teams suddenly exploded our worldview with a platform that we could build even more on, than was ever possible with SharePoint. We waited, watched the market and the Microsoft partner ecosystem around us change shape, and learned all we could.

Mehdi’s guidance proved invaluable to the business during 2018. With his experience in helping businesses reach their global ambitions, his advice to me was clear: I needed the senior leadership team that would take the business to the next level. Since joining us in 2013, Jane Prowse had grown with the business to become our technology evangelist, and in elevating her role to Chief Technology Officer has become a true leader in our space, and an authority on what can be achieved with the Microsoft Teams platform. Matt Krosch joined as Chief Marketing Officer and brought to the team a new product and marketing-led approach that has allowed us to reposition ourselves in the market and truly differentiate.

Then in 2019 we made the jump, applied everything we knew about extending the SharePoint platform to a Microsoft Teams use-case, and launched our first Software as a Service (SaaS) offering, Navigator. Navigator brought with it a whole new list of lessons learned, but unofficially begins recharting our course and commences the second chapter of FiveP – the software company.

We once again discover a large market of customers both large and small who are facing common challenges that Navigator can help address, and in 2020 comes a major career highlight for me, and a pivotal moment for FiveP, when we are recognised as a Finalist in the Microsoft Partner of the Year Awards for Navigator’s contribution in assisting Austin Health’s workforce technology strategy in responding to the pandemic. Business leadership can occasionally be a lonely road, and one where you are often seeking out the signs to tell you that you are on the right path. To have our story shared by one of the largest companies in the world, amongst some of the leading companies in their field, was the sign I needed. This was how we would take FiveP into the future.

Bringing a hyper-refined iteration of exactly what we know people need out of their intranet into the Microsoft Teams experience was a logical step, and with our experience in building Teams applications growing faster and stronger, we develop and launch Tabei to a strong response from the market, and eventual recognition as a Finalist once again in the 2022 Microsoft Partner of the Year Awards for our work with Hope Street Youth and Family Services, an incredible local charity supporting at-risk youth, and the people that care for them.

The pandemic takes Microsoft Teams and remote work to a new level of ubiquity, and the same information management challenges that we have been helping customers navigate during our first chapter are now more relevant than ever. However, during this period, I start to notice amongst “great resignations” and our return to the “new normal,” another shift in the way technology was being talked about and described that further reflected our own mission. The market was clearly telling us that the pandemic had made considerations towards workplace technology far more personal. Employee experience was paramount, and equity of experience among all the cohorts of workers within an organisation meant no more second-class citizens from a technology perspective. The tools to get work done needed to be tightly woven into how people remained connected, and those connections needed to reach absolutely everyone, from the office right out to the frontline.

Our initial work with Austin Health and their use of Microsoft Teams arrived at a point where we began to explore with them what else could be achieved with such a strong embrace of the platform by their workforce. And underneath the stellar leadership of Austin Health ICT Services & EMR Director Alan Pritchard and Operations Director of Radiology & MIT Nicole Hosking, we begin to explore co-developing a proprietary system of role-based messaging to meet the everyday challenges of communication that exist in the 24-7, rotational shift-based nature of not just Austin Health, but nearly every hospital in the world.

In October of 2021 we launch Baret, our first SaaS solution designed around a specific industry use-case and mark the transformation from local, homegrown professional services company to software vendor addressing an international market. Through close partnership with our growing healthcare customer base, we refine Baret into a clinical communications solution that is now proudly being used in Hospitals across the APAC region, helping keep doctors and nurses connected while they work through some of the most challenging times in healthcare.

The story of FiveP so far is one of blood, sweat, and tears, but none more so than the effort that the entire team have put into making sure that Baret is built to make a positive impact for the people that need to use it. So, it was an incredibly proud moment for me to see the team recognised as global winners in this year’s Microsoft Partner of the Year Awards in the Modern Workplace for Frontline Workers category for our work with Monash Health – Victoria’s largest public health service. An incredible recognition for FiveP, and the perfect way to round out our first ten years in business.

In amongst the wins and losses of the past few years, we revisited our mission, vision, and values, to ensure that they remained aligned with what we have learned, and where we are going.

Our mission is to help organisations discover new paths to success by providing technology solutions that unlock their potential.

I am certainly grateful that FiveP discovered its new path, as I cannot wait to see what the next ten years holds for us. A sincere thank you to our team, clients, partners, families, and friends for contributing all that they have to the first two chapters of FiveP.

David Dennis – CEO, FiveP.

Meet Baret.

The role-based, targeted messaging solution for Microsoft Teams.
Enable structured communications and assurance of critical information handover across clinical and frontline workers in hospitals and care settings.

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