Visual Management Systems expands into new premises

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Jay Shields & Keith Miller

Scottish software company Visual Management Systems has moved to larger premises due to its recent success. The new premises house its growing staff and deal with increased volume of stock.

From Glasgow’s Riverside Museum to international border security, Scottish security software specialist Visual Management Systems weathered the recession and is now sailing forth to new markets.

According to the company’s MD, Jay Shields, Visual Management Systems (VMS) is old school. Based in a former telecoms exchange in Shettleston in the east end of Glasgow, VMS is a mixture of tried and tested business values and hyper-modern technology. The company has grown organically and carefully over the last 15 years, always turning a modest profit and avoiding debt, consistently investing in R&D and in its loyal staff (VMS has created 26 high value jobs locally and has recently taken on three new apprentices). But above all, “old school” means strong relationships: “Fundamental to our success,” says Shields, “Is a focus on developing and maintaining strong relationships amongst our staff, our technology and our business partners”.

With profitable annual growth, no burdensome gearing, long-term commitment to R&D, and long- serving employees, there is indeed something old-fashioned about VMS. But in a very modern way! Customers in Scotland include Glasgow Museums (the UK’s largest civic museums service) – VMS’ software application, Titan Vision, is the physical security information management (PSIM) system used to protect major assets such as the new Riverside Museum, Kelvingrove and the Burrell Collection.

In recent years VMS has enjoyed a close and positive relationship with Scottish Enterprise (SE) through the agency’s account management approach. SE has supported R&D programmes, marketing initiatives and operational improvement projects with the company. In terms of international market development, the support of Scottish Enterprise’s international arm, Scottish Development International (SDI), has also been instrumental.

“We’ve done quite a bit of business in Ireland over the years, but recently we’ve really started to make progress in more distant international markets. SDI has been very helpful with that,” said Keith Miller, VMS Finance Director. Together with Derby-based technology partner, Geoquip, VMS now has several customers in the Middle East, including the Kuwait Oil Company and the Government of Oman. Now a regular on the Emirates Dubai shuttle out of Glasgow, Shields is enthusiastic about export possibilities for Scottish technology firms in general: “It’s about building the right relationships. Together with our partners we’re doing more and more business out there and considering some very big opportunities in Dubai and further afield.”

Commenting on the relationship with Scottish Enterprise, Shields said, “If we had been based elsewhere, we wouldn’t have made the progress we’ve achieved over the past few years. Scottish Enterprise has helped us to take risks we probably would not have taken on our own.”

Iain Gemmell, account manager, Scottish Enterprise, said, “Scottish Enterprise has worked closely with Visual Management Systems for over five years on a variety of projects including R&D, internal and IT processes, new market development and exporting to help the company realise its ambitions.

“By doing this, we can help drive long-term sustainable growth back into the Scottish economy.”

VMS is weathering the austerity unharmed and is now seeing significant growth from exporting. The recipe consists of long-serving skilled staff, technology partnership, staying debt-free, constant investment in R&D, and a willingness to regularly take manageable risks.

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