If there is one word that fits Anthony Lupi it surely is soft. Not soft in a pejorative way but soft-spoken and grand-mannered. He truly fits the description of a nice guy—you trust him blindly even before you know much about him. Lupi runs Focus Software Solutions. Throughout his life and the life of his company, he has been soft but exacting, fair but decisive in the way he wanted to mould and move his company. Anthony Lupi wanted to focus solely on software—and that is what he has done in the nine years since the company was launched. We meet him to discuss Focus Software and all Anthony Lupi has stood for throughout these years.
The Executive: Going through your testimonials the main thing that hits you is that your clients are all impressed by how flexible Focus Software is. It seems you specialise in developing solutions to fit clients’ needs not your own needs.
Anthony Lupi: Ever since I launched the company in 2005 I have strongly believed in flexibility, which is what I always looked for in all the people who joined Focus Software. And slowly but surely I think this is what we delivered and what clients loved, why they kept coming to us. We offer good bespoke solutions to all our clients in wide range of sectors and sizes.
We look at a client’s needs and evaluate what is best for them. If an off-the-shelf package does the trick we advise that - and our honesty throughout the company’s life has stood us well. In the long term what clients and potential clients want to hear is the exact truth. And honesty always pays even if, in the short term, the potential revenue for the company might not seem too attractive. We do not charge in with our systems and tell the client to dump all he has - if what there is is good and we can work on it we do.
TE: But what of changes in the organisation especially through growth? Don’t those too affect the software configuration?
AL: We cater for change too, which is where our flexibility and our knowledge base come in so handy. We never build static systems - ours are all about organic growth and development.
TE: Besides the bespoke range of systems you also offer off-the-shelf products?
AL: Yes we do. We pride ourselves that our products also reflect our ethos - putting passion and deep knowledge into our systems. We developed an accounting package which is now available to all. We worked on it for over two years to get it right, ensuring that it can easily interface with other systems. We never build to create problems for other systems - we find that counter-productive. We build to move on with whoever and whatever it is.
Besides the accounting package we have other products but we mainly pride ourselves on bespoke solutions and we also have a history of finding solutions for the oddest requests. But then again these odd re- quests present a challenge which, if we meet it and deliver, makes us that much stronger.
TE: You are renowned in the real estate world for a very good, cost-effective package.
AL: We—and especially I—see the real estate package as truly our baby. And we know the market nearly as well as the estate agents. We researched what the client needs to plan on and we devised a simple but very effective package. It’s easy to use—hardly to create. But we have now perfected it and many are using it.
We have also produced a comprehensive inventory management, warehousing and retail system and the secret to its success is that it isn’t just efficient and saves time and money; it is also extremely customisable and can be designed around the ways that our client works. After all, an important aspect of any system is that management has the necessary controls and procedures in place to ensure that their staff at the front-line are working towards the plans that management has established.
Our advantage is that we see the system from the outside but we bring in ideas from our pervious experiences and from our research to deliver a system that truly improves efficiency and effectiveness. We truly deliver solutions that work. We’re small but great not just in heart and effort but also in solutions.
TE: Clients seem to think that your solutions have improved their work, efficiency and promptness. How does your intervention do this?
“We never build static systems - ours are all about organic growth and development” AL: I would venture to say that, unless it offers an improvement, there is no scope in the IT solution. IT exists to quicken the decision-making, to make companies more efficient and all this with the ultimate aim of garnering more sales and saving money. IT makes work better and organisations leaner—if it doesn’t do that one might as well stick to the old ways.
Any improved efficiency is also more eco-friendly: less paper, less usage of machines, better bottom line for the company which will see the investment in its IT system give a return.
TE: IT solutions are today part of our life—where does Focus Software come in and what is the added value you give?
AL: We build a personal relationship with the client. Clients have their own dedicated member of our team who is assigned to all their needs. But I still keep a personal relationship with all of them. Today it is easy to neglect the personal relationship. The development of internet and other tools available makes it easy to do a number of jobs remotely without looking at the customer’s face. But irrespective of whatever happens in the world and in IT, nothing will replace the human element and the human touch - seeing someone, hearing someone somehow makes it that much more meaningful and the relationship more effective.
TE: It’s not just important to be good at IT and development—today’s world demands that you offer businesses more than just software. You are after all part of the business plan of any company you are engaged by. How do you nurture these connections and synergies?
Insights derived from Anthony’s experiences:
Soft-spoken, soft-natured but with a definite ambition to deliver, that is what Anthony Lupi has been ever since he launched Focus Software.
Bespoke rules in Lupi’s world. But he is always the first to come up with solutions that do not necessitate a bespoke way forward. The clients’ needs come first.
Honesty is sometimes not lucrative in the short term but this way forward guarantees many clients’ loyalty.
Being flexible, finding solutions way beyond the clients’ needs, is the Lupi style of doing business.
Lupi strongly believes that IT saves on time and money and that if it doesn’t it should be dumped.
Finding a good work/life balance is all-important for Lupi.
AL: As I said before the personal touch, the interest shown by all the people involved in the business offers the client a better experience. We also go straight to the place where the system is being implemented. Thus if our solution is intended for the factory floor, we proceed to meet the people who will be using the system. Like that you do not just understand, you also engage the ones who will be using it on a daily basis. Working with the users themselves means you get it all from the horse’s mouth so all is more straightforward and doable.
What all of us at Focus Software feel is that the business where we are implementing our systems is our own.
And the passion is not just in the implementation but it is also seen in the number of times the team and I stay up at night working on solutions. We care for the client and the client cares for us.
TE: How free are you and your employees at the work- force—is it easy camaraderie or rigid?
AL: We are all on the same wavelength and the hierarchy, though important, is hardly noticeable. We definite- ly are not rigid in our ways or thoughts. We do plenty of team-building but the office atmosphere enhances this. As I have mentioned, there have been occasions when we stayed up all night working on coming up with solutions. Interestingly, I can’t say I have to impose this on the team, it comes out of their love of what they do and the respect they have for their work and for our clients.
TE: What future beckons for Focus Software?
AL: Over the last 8 years the company has grown and found a good niche. We are known for delivering on time and to clients’ specifications and beyond. I can’t say I want to expand with hundreds of developers. My vision is not for numbers but for quality; delivering better and more efficient solutions that make effective use of new but reliable technologies, while maintaining healthy business relationships with our clients. And most of all I hope we keep enjoying every day at work. Like all other companies we have our ups downs and plateaus but as long as we can find a fair work/life balance and keep looking at our work as a challenge we enjoy, then we can definitely look forward to a rosy future.
Victor Calleja has been involved in publishing, marketing, and anything concerning the written word, for over thirty years. He is now a part-time but very opinionated journalist who delves deeply into a number of subjects.