The CEOs People Dilemma

How many times have you presented strategies that haven’t worked out as you intended? How many times have you made plans only to realise that you didn’t have the capacity to implement these plans? How many times have you turned to your people and felt frustrated at their lack of motivation, lack of drive or even lack of understanding? How many times have you heard yourself think ‘my people are not up to the task’ or wondered ‘how can I get my people to do this?’

Whichever industry you are in, whatever initiative you are driving and irrespective of how digitised you have become, ultimately your business will depend on the people. It makes sense therefore to take a closer look at your greatest investment and greatest competitive differentiator in the market. It is your people that define you and it is your people that will bring your business goals to light. Yet in reality, how much do we know about our people?

How often do you look at your wage bill on your P&L and wonder why it is increasing? How often do you wonder where this investment is going and what added value it is bringing to your business? Your wage bill is probably your biggest cost. It is also your biggest investment. Yet, how much do you actually know about this cost? How much data have you got in hand to analyse this cost?
The world of people analytics is a relatively old concept yet one that boggles the mind as to how to extract this data and analyse it properly. Beyond the excel formulas and brackets, inverted commas, pivot tables and v-look ups, there is a wealth of information to be explored and analysed. I have always wondered why it comes so naturally to finance driven people to understand a company just by looking at a P&L, yet struggle to explore the data behind their people costs.

In all honesty I do not blame CEOs for this oversight. People are often complicated and difficult to understand. One can be forgiven for thinking this area is best left undiscovered. Yet who wouldn’t want to be given a clear picture of their people in an objective and non-judgemental way? Numbers and dashboards don’t lie. They represent a picture. It’s the information that picture gives us that allows us to make informed decisions. Decisions that are not based on opinion or on gut feeling or even on a whim. Decisions that are taken on fact .

Just imagine what insight you can gain with data that can be extracted from your people analytics. Are your staff on the verge of burnout? Is there a toxic manager in your midst? Are your people abusing of sick leave? Is there a staff member at risk in your company? Are your staff engaged and, if not, why? What is my wage bill projection for the next few years? How sustainable are my teams in the current environment? The list of analytics is extensive. It’s a question of how to obtain this insight.

People data gives you the opportunity to dig beneath the surface of your largest line item – your people. Understanding what’s at play and what decisions are required to maximise this investment will ensure it adds the required value to your business. For, after all, our people are our major competitive advantage.


Franco Galea celebrates 30 years at Shireburn

Shireburn Software this month celebrates the 30th anniversary of Franco Galea, a director and mainstay of the company’s success over the years.

Franco joined Shireburn as a developer in 1992 and has held various roles including leading the company’s development, heading the operations team before then moving into a business development and sales function.

Over these years Franco has dedicated himself tirelessly to providing value and support to Shireburn’s customers John de Giorgio, the founder of Shireburn in 1983 and now Chairman explains that “Franco has the most sought-after leadership style: he is a guiding force for all the team, passing on his knowledge and helping them to feel empowered and ready to take on leadership roles themselves. Franco has had a huge impact on the culture but his impact internally on the upcoming generation of leaders has been particularly significant.”

CEO Yasmin de Giorgio explained how “throughout his time at Shireburn, Franco has demonstrated unparalleled dedication and commitment, working tirelessly to help us achieve our goals. Having him mentoring the team with the redevelopment of our Shireburn Business Suite (Accounting, Inventory etc) is huge and we are blessed to have such extensive knowledge of the product and how we can best deliver value to our clients, at hand.”

The team at Shireburn would like to take this opportunity to congratulate and thank Franco on this impressive milestone and look forward to seeing him continue to excel and to many more successful years at Shireburn.


Log4Shell / Log4j Vulnerability: Shireburn’s Response

The recent identification of the Log4Shell/Log4j vulnerability (CVE-2021-44228) has exposed many computer systems to significant security risks, including potential system hacking.

As part of our ISO 27001 certified processes, on identification of this vulnerability our team immediately commenced investigation of any potential risks to this vulnerability exposing us or our clients.

Immediately, Shireburn received requests from our clients to clarify our position on this vulnerability, and the following are probably the most frequently asked questions from our clients.

1. Does your organisation have any systems or infrastructure that are known to be affected by the recently announced Log4j vulnerability?
2. Has your organisation taken any action to asses the potential impact of the vulnerability on critical vendors, suppliers, or subcontractors?

These questions open up two areas for consideration:
1. Are any of Shireburn’s own software products vulnerable to the Log4j vulnerability?
2. Are any of the software products that Shireburn relies on to operate its business, such as billing systems, payment systems, CRMs, and so on, vulnerable?

Shireburn’s software products

Shireburn’s own software products, such as our Indigo, Payroll, HR and Time & Attendance solution, as well as the Shireburn Business Suite products like the Shireburn Financial Manager (SFM), the Shireburn Inventory Management System (SIMS) and the Shireburn Freight System (SFS), are not exposed to this vulnerability.

3rd Party solutions

Shireburn utilises a number of third-party developed software products to operate our business. These are identified in our published sub-processor’s list which forms part of our data protection policy.

We have undertaken an assessment of potential vulnerabilities of these third-party suppliers and are satisfied that we, and thus our clients, are not exposed to this vulnerability.

At Shireburn we take security seriously, as shown by our certification to ISO 27001, and we regularly assess our internal systems for all risks, including the latest Log4Shell vulnerability.

The Sophos suite of solutions that we use immediately updated automatically to protect against this vulnerability, as it does with the numerous daily vulnerabilities that are detected worldwide by Sophos. These actions, along with system monitoring, keep our systems protected from all threats old and new.


Shireburn Software appoints Yasmin de Giorgio as CEO

Shireburn Software is pleased to announce that Yasmin de Giorgio will take on the role of CEO from 1st August 2021. Shireburn’s founder, John de Giorgio, will take on a non-executive leadership role as Chairman of the Board. Franco Galea will maintain his executive role and will continue to serve as a director on the Shireburn Board.

Yasmin has earned her recognition as a serial entrepreneur after founding three successful businesses within five years. She has spent the last ten years building start-up businesses in innovative fields and is passionate about personal development and mentorship.

“Shireburn has been successful for nearly 38 years only because we have learnt how to reinvent ourselves and our solutions to remain of value. This is another moment where we are starting a new cycle and I am proud to be handing over a solid legacy to the new CEO and the management team, many of whom have been with Shireburn through two or three of our significant times of change.

Of course, to be handing over through a generational change makes this transition extra special for me, and in many ways Yasmin’s strengths could not be more suited to the needs of the company at the present moment. She learnt about the realities of business the hard way, through her own entrepreneurial ventures, so she is accustomed to the responsibilities that fall onto the shoulders of CEOs. Her combination of people management skills with business acumen and strategic vision, and the technical competencies of the team are exactly the leadership qualities that Shireburn need for the next phase of our story.”

While John de Giorgio will be spending a lot more time on his other interests, he will also be strengthening the role of the Shireburn Board as Chairman. This will allow him to mentor the team, contribute on company strategy and ensure that the responsibilities Shireburn carries towards its clients are upheld.

Franco Galea will continue his executive role, particularly in respect of the requirements definition related to the transition of the current products to the Indigo Platform, as well as that of a Director of Shireburn, and will also contribute to the mentorship and guidance of the leadership team.

John de Giorgio said “I would like to take this moment to express my gratitude to Franco for the priceless role he has played in our story and for his tireless energy that he will still be contributing to Shireburn’s future. Franco will also be working alongside Yasmin during this transition.”

A letter from the CEO

Although taking on the role of CEO comes with many duties, the one I will carry forward most consciously is the sense of integrity towards our clients, that both my father and Franco have role modeled and championed over the years.

Shireburn was built on this principle and until this day many of the strategic decisions we take are informed by these relationships of trust with our clients. It is a value I am extremely proud to inherit from both of them, and one I will carry forward sincerely.

Over the years watching them both grow Shireburn from a one-man band into the market leader it is today, the software business seemed alien to me. However, since then, I have experienced the importance of software in business from the side of the user. How instrumental software can be to managing a business, and also how frustrating it is when things don’t quite work the way they should.

These experiences made me realize what my father and Franco have known all these years; that software is not only about coding, software is all about the end-user and making their lives better.

To achieve that requires an incredible symphony of people from coders, product engineers, designers, testers, team leaders, the customer support team and all the enabling functions of HR, accounts and so on. Those who know me as an entrepreneur, where I founded and run the Sanya Eco Spa, will know that I am driven by the satisfaction I get from impacting people’s lives. A huge part of that is mentoring and supporting individuals to grow personally so that they can be part of a better whole.

“The success of an individual lies in the team, and the success of the team lies with the individual”.
It is a particularly exciting time to be entrusted with the leadership of the company since we have embarked on developing a new accounting and inventory system.

We currently have thousands of companies using products within our current Shireburn Business Suite and Indigo range and providing them with continuity was a key factor in our decision. In light of that principle as well as investing further in transitioning more of our solutions to the Indigo cloud-based platform we are continuing to invest in our resources not just to maintain existing products but to keep improving them. Our new systems will be developed with integration capabilities to our previous accounting and inventory solutions and other third-party products to ensure that all our customers can keep working with their chosen combination of products while they transition to the new platform.

We have been market leaders in the accounting and inventory software solutions field for decades and we are in the privileged position of being able to blend the experience of past success with exciting new ideas for the future.

On a more personal note, I am looking forward to leveraging my experience in the sector of personal development and wellbeing to the Shireburn Human Resources strategy, and one of the key factors in the decision to take on this challenge was the abundance of talented individuals who embody a lot of the values that I hold dear; humility, integrity, and a desire to be of service to a bigger vision.

As with many people, I am a multi-faceted individual, with many passions and interests and my unwavering commitment to the business that I founded, Sanya Eco Spa will remain a pillar of my life. I am grateful to my team at Sanya for doing such an amazing job at running the show since I have been an active part of the Shireburn leadership team for some time, without significant impact to our operations at Sanya.

I look forward to this new phase in my life where I have the unique opportunity to impact people’s lives on an ‘outer’ level through software and on an ‘inner’ level through our wellness programs at Sanya. It also helps to know that I have a secret weapon to draw upon in ensuring my own work life balance, with Sanya’s sensory deprivation tank.

I look forward to updating Shireburn’s clients with more information about the leadership teams we are assembling and some personal development and CSR programs that are very exciting and innovative.

Yasmin de Giorgio


Shireburn achieves top security and quality management certifications

Shireburn Software is proud to announce that we have achieved certification to the ISO 27001 and 9001 standards. Adherence to these international standards will help us ensure that our products and services continue to live up to the high standards synonymous with the Shireburn name.

 As part of the certification process, Shireburn had to clearly define procedures which target incident management, business continuity, security and other crucial elements in our Information Security Management System (ISMS) and our Quality Management System (QMS).

Customers using Shireburn’s products and services are assured that interactions with the company will be undertaken to the very rigorous high-standards that these standards set including those related to confidentiality and integrity of their data.

The independent audits of Shireburn were undertaken simultaneously across both ISO standards as well as across all the scope of the operations of both Shireburn Software Ltd and Shireburn Co Ltd.

 “I am very proud of this important achievement of our team. While adherence to the ISO 9001 standard is fairly widespread, this is less the case with the onerous and very high-standards set by ISO 27001 related to Information Security which has become a central requirement of businesses.  Adherence to both standards provides a level of quality assurance, in a broad sense, to our customers, prospects and also our suppliers which sets our offering apart from others” said CEO, John de Giorgio.

The ISO 27001:2013 standard also assures our clients that the information we store is managed correctly, using the C-I-A triad. This means that at Shireburn we can ensure your data’s:

  • Confidentiality (only authorized users can access the data);

  • Integrity (the data stored is accurate and complete); and

  • Availability (authorized users can access the data whenever they need).

On the other hand, the ISO 9001:2015 standard specified requirements for the company’s QMS. As part of this certification process, Shireburn has formulated a structured and controlled supplier management review to ensure that our products and services meet our customers’ expectations as well as any statutory and regulatory requirements.


“You’re on Mute”

It’s been a year since we started overusing this phrase, meaning it has been a year of remote work for our team at Shireburn Software.

Twelve months ago, most organisations took the decision to enable work from home as a precaution to safeguard their employees and clients from a fast emerging flu-like disease called COVID-19. People from all over the world turned their kitchens and bedrooms into remote offices. At first, many thought this workplace shift would last a couple of months, but one year later, millions of employees are still working remotely.

So, what has this remote working experiment taught us? This is how we have adapted as a company and the lessons we have learnt thus far, hoping that they might help you, too.

Flexibility is the new normal

For some organisations, remote work has been treated as a temporary contingency plan put in place to keep the business afloat until the feeling of uncertainty is over. However, companies are now perceiving workplace flexibility as a more permanent change, and this requires adequate planning.

At Shireburn, we always gave importance to work flexibiliRemote workty, and this has always been a reality for our team, especially with some of our employees being fully remote even before COVID. Although we have long recognised the benefit and had the necessary infrastructure in place as a part of our disaster recovery procedures, the shift has been a test for us, too. It has helped us recognise our strengths, and uncover the necessary changes needed to adapt to a virtual organisation model.

In our view, if you can offer a flexible workplace, do so. Times are changing, organisations are adapting—and it’s not temporary, so don’t be left behind. Employees value flexibility, and above all they value trust. Retain your current workforce by offering a dynamic environment and broaden your recruitment prospects when adopting a “work-from-anywhere” approach.

Write or update your remote work policy

Formulating a remote or flexible work policy is crucial, and it should be at the very top of the organisation’s priority list. Not only does this serve as a legal safeguard for the company, but it also provides a structure for the team to follow whilst working remotely.

Perremote work policyformance and behavioural expectations, required tools and available online resources should be made clear to everyone. We have found this extremely beneficial, especially when conducting remote onboarding of new staff members.

Having a strong policy in place will lead to a happier, healthy and more productive team.


Your digital infrastructure

Our aim here was never to “survive” but to thrive within this environment. Our tools of choice have assisted us in making this leap.

As a company, we have always planned ahead when it comes to technology, ensuring business continuity in the case of an emergency, safeguarding our staff and clients. Collaborative tools have been a key driver for this, pushing us as a company to keep on investing in our resources and optimising our internal processes. 

This has also been reflected in our very own products, as we constantly try to facilitate and support our clients’ remote working environments.

Our advice? Do not take a Band-Aid approach. Invest in a proper digital workplace environment; assess your tools, talk to your teams and monitor your processes. With a little bit of effort, you can shift your team from surviving to thriving. 

Empower through training

We believe in training and empowering our employees across all levels, from onboarding training to development training. At Shireburn, we truly believe in investing in our greatest asset: our people.remote work training

The skills required to run a successful remote workplace go beyond the ability to mute and unmute oneself during an online meeting. This is why our HR team has devised a training plan for our staff as well as providing access to a pool of online resources so one can follow any training deemed helpful.

Staff mental wellbeing is also a crucial aspect to take into consideration. In the past months, we have provided our teams with online mental help seminars to help them cope with current situations and learn how to avoid burnout created via remote work. 

Adopting an inclusive and understanding culture

We have an open-door policy—albeit a virtual door for the past 12 months. We know that this helps in keeping our staff happy and it encourages people to share and voice their concerns.

The risk of staff experiencing isolation in a remote-only environment is real, and steps need to be taken to mitigate this. Whether it’s through virtual company events or just a quick check-in on a colleague, small initiatives go a long way. 

A company’s culture doesn’t solely reflect its perks and benefits to employees. It’s about building a foundation that promotes supporting one another. It’s about having this reflected in your core values as an organisation.

Let’s hit the unmute button and start a conversation about the future of our workplace, one which enables us to put our people first.  At Shireburn, we have, and we make sure that our values are reflected in our products to help you best manage your remote workforce.