It's a great joy to see your own product, your baby grow up and be a success. That people come back and want more. That the users use it and are satisfied with it.
Managing Director, European House of Quality A/S - Sherlock
It was Anette Svenningsen, who got the good idea and her brother, who was the lotus-software developer. Anette’s idea was to develop software to help control quality, working environment, energy and eco-management in companies. It was based on the experience Anette had from her time as quality manager working with amongst others medicinal products, insulation, food, fibreglass and much more.
The target was companies, who wanted to have a quality or environmental certification – a market which has grown strongly since the 1980’s. Today for example, companies supplying municipalities have to live up to a number of ISO standards. The same goes for hospitals, which at the moment form some of the largest clients of the European House of Quality. The company was formally established in 1993, but already at the end of the 80’s, Anette and her brother developed the first modules of “Sherlock”, which the system was named.
“The success of the system is among other things due to the fact that it usually takes a maximum of around 12 hours for new clients to really get to know Sherlock. And it’s mainly the procedures about navigating and controlling that the time is spent on. The software per se is rather self-explanatory”, Anette Svenningsen says.
Today, most production companies already have some system for quality control for environment, working environment and energy and the new growth area for House of Quality is the public sector and foreign countries:
”We can see that the need for certification and quality management is growing in countries such as India, Canada, Poland, Germany and Sweden. India, because in many cases they cannot be approved by importers in western countries, if they don’t meet the international standards. Canada, because they have had a number of food scandals, which they want to prevent with control, etc. We can easily adjust the systems, which already are set up to the languages which are in demand”.
The success of ”Sherlock” could make Anette Svenningsen and her brother increase the number of employees, but they prefer to grow through dealers, both in Denmark and abroad. For Anette, it still means a lot to have the freedom and flexibility in her life, which she enjoys now. Currently, Sherlock has three dealers in Denmark and two in other countries.
Bookkeeping, PR and marketing are things they buy as external services. However, the marketing is primarily via satisfied customers “word of mouth”. Moreover, the customers are involved in the innovative process:
“I’m the consultant and the teacher, who supervises the customers and guides them through both implementation out in the company and via e-learning. My brother is the programmer and the system developer, who develops and adjusts the product to their needs. We put a lot of effort in developing in collaboration with the customers, so that the product fits with the client base. This means that they get access to a beta version and at the same time get their wishes implemented without having to pay expensive development charges. It’s a win-win situation for both parts”.