Sorce was born in 2001, but we date back to the late 1990s and a project carried out by a parent company. Our parent company provided Computer Aided Design (CAD) software and was working with a client called Racal Recorders. Racal Recorders was one of the largest electronics firms in the UK at the time and had a requirement for a system which was essentially an intranet (before intranets even existed!).
The Racal requirements were for a searchable staff directory, a way of storing answers to frequently asked questions and a way of publishing documents (all of which remain fundamental to intranets today!). The solution created was a series of web-based applications, which were integrated with a third-party document management product which created HTML pages from Microsoft documents.
Our parent company’s management team identified the opportunity to offer a similar solution to the market, and a new initiative was born. They wanted something that was simpler to deploy to the masses than the solution that was developed from the ground up for Racal and found an established American product called Intranetics. For the next 2 years Intranetics was implemented for several customers.
Intranetics were subsequently bought out and their product started to move in a different direction. It was at this point we decided to revisit the solution developed for Racal and redevelop that into something which could be productised. This was when Sorce was formed, with 5 employees (John Nicklin, Alistair Milne, Martin Miles, Martyn Green and Marc Roberts). Believe it or not, for the first year of product development, Alistair and Marc were developing the product from a shed in Alistair’s garden!
Our first Sorce client was a law firm called Gateley, which remains a client to this day. Other early clients include Lockton, Amsafe Bridport and DMH Stallard. The first Sorce user group was held in 2002 and these early clients helped shape the Sorce product as it was developed in the early years.
The Sorce sales team (including Martyn Green) travelled around the country in those early years with a massive desktop computer for showing demonstrations to potential clients. The Sorce product offered something innovative and was able to be quickly tailored to each client’s requirements, which brought immediate success and lots of new customers.
Over the next few years, our Sorce product grew as the client base grew, with new applications being developed all the time to meet specific client needs. From taxi booking tools to HR process applications, Sorce had all the functionality our clients needed to communicate and manage key business processes.
We’ve had lots of great people join the Sorce team over the years, including several that used to work for our customers. George Longworth joined us from Racal Recorders, Louise Huguenot-Bhatti from CraneFlow and Johnathan Newman from Home of Choice. All the while the ship has been steered by 4 of the 5 company founders.
There have also been some great characters within the Sorce client base and many have helped shape the product we have today. Notable mentions must go to Sam Herrington from Lockton and Andy Burton from West London NHS, who have stuck with us and made us laugh throughout this whole journey.
In 2009 the underlying technology of our Sorce product was changed in line with the Microsoft roadmap, from classic ASP code to ASP.net. At the same time, we decided to spend less time developing ‘custom’ applications for our clients and more time on standard functionality that would benefit everyone.
The next major technology change came in 2014, when our responsive user interface was added to the product. The UI project name was ‘Beacon’ and, whilst that name was never intended to stick, there are still remnants of the Beacon terminology remaining in our product to this day.
In 2017 we decided to give our product its own name, to save it from the identity crisis of sharing its name with our company name. Engage was born and we think it’s a great name for describing exactly what our product is all about.
So there you have our Sorce history. During that time we have delivered hundreds of intranets, worked with lots of amazing clients and had lots of fun along the way. We now look forward to the next 20 years and building on these well-established foundations to grow the Sorce business and client base further.