In 1998, three experienced software developers believed they could deliver more and deliver better in an IT industry notorious for its inability to complete projects on schedule, on budget and with complete client satisfaction. Rather than accept the industry’s inadequacies and the status quo of poor service and dissatisfied customers, Wadood Ibrahim, Terry Newton and Kerry Morris opted to establish a company that would do business differently. In a Winnipeg basement, the Protegra Technology Group was born, with a vision to design and develop software and technology solutions that, above all, provided value to clients, employees and communities. Now known simply as Protegra, the company continues to build its IT expertise and has expanded its services to include business performance consulting.
The late nineties were heady times for Information Technology; Y2K was looming and dot.com companies were booming. Software was becoming a fundamental part of contemporary living, the technical equivalent of DNA, says Wadood Ibrahim, Protegra’s CEO and the only original founder still with the company.
When the new millennium dawned quietly, with no implosion of our electronic world, dot.com companies went bust and the party ended for many IT businesses. However, Protegra continued to grow. “We knew how to build software and could partner with customers to develop the technology and applications they needed. We worked as a team and delivered on deadlines,” adds Ibrahim.
However, Protegra soon discovered that although clients were getting the technology they ordered, they were not always getting the results they expected. “Sometimes clients jumped to the solution before identifying the problem,” Ibrahim explains. Clients thought by purchasing the right software, their business problems were solved, he adds. “But no amount of software, no matter how sophisticated, could increase sales, production or service if the technology and business processes were not aligned.”
Seeing an opportunity rather than a problem, Protegra expanded its services to include business performance consulting and process improvement. By engaging customers early in the project to identify specific business goals, Protegra helped organizations get people, processes and technology working together. The result? Businesses reached extraordinary levels of performance; and Protegra’s client base continued to grow.
As Protegra grew, it applied its own continuous improvement in business practices to clients’ businesses. Today, many of Protegra’s assets and technology offered to clients have been developed, tested and applied internally first. With a corporate foundation built around integrity, the company offers services and solutions that they know work. In other words, Protegra applies its belief systems to its business systems.
While Protegra’s services have evolved over time, the company’s values and vision have never wavered.
Value – for clients, employees and organizations worldwide – is the foundation of Protegra’s vision and its potential. Protegra has set its sights on being recognized internationally as a leader in business performance and technology practice, known for its thought leadership as well as its inspired approach to business, a company whose innovation is driven by imagination.
In less than a decade, Protegra has grown from three employees to more than 55, from a basement operation to a modern 24,000 square-foot Global Solution Centre, and from a small organization to a multi-million dollar, award-winning business and technology company with clients worldwide. From 2000-2005, the company’s revenue grew by 658 per cent; and for the past three years Protegra has ranked as one of Canada’s fastest growing companies. Protegra’s expertise now reaches far beyond the Canadian prairies to multinational companies based in California, Luxembourg and Japan, to name a few.
Swift growth and financial success aside, from its inception Protegra has always been about much more than the bottom line says Ibrahim. “It’s all about people … it always has been.”
People have been Protegra’s greatest challenge – and its greatest accomplishment. Today, many employees are accustomed to a corporate culture of hierarchy and inflexible lines of authority. Protegra takes a different approach to business – it focuses on people not positions. Protegra believes that if a company takes care of the people, they will take care of the business.
The company realizes that true wealth begins with creating a rewarding experience for people. Protegra’s corporate philosophy is to hire the right people, take into account their passions and skills, and give them the freedom, flexibility and environment to perform well. Corporate values of quality, integrity, innovation and teamwork imparted to employees and passed on to clients, create powerful opportunities imbued with loyalty and trust.
Protegra is 100 per cent employee-owned and all employees, without exception, have a voice in the company’s strategies and operations. With a vested interest in the company employees become partners − shareholders with a stake in its success.
While the company’s numbers, services and revenues continue to climb, Protegra will remain grounded in its corporate values says Ibrahim. “These are non-negotiable.” Not surprising for a company whose name (Pro-tegra) stands for “professionals with integrity.”