Nigel Clifford to Leave Procurement Software Firm Procserve – Off to Run Ordnance Survey

Nigel Clifford, the Chief Executive of procurement software firm Procserve, announced recently that he is leaving to become CEO of Ordnance Survey. To declare an interest; we have worked with Procserve and hope to do so in the future, and have found Clifford to be an excellent business partner over the last couple of years. Before he joined Procserve in 2012, he was CEO of much bigger firms, including Micro Focus International, but we felt he was attracted to the challenge and opportunity he saw in Procserve, a genuinely fascinating business (more of that later).

So his decision to take on the leadership of an organisation that is a lot bigger than Procserve is not a complete shock. Ordnance Survey, the national mapping agency for Great Britain, is known around the world, even if it is not huge - £150 million annual turnover. What we hadn’t realised however until talking to Clifford last week is that;

  1. His degree (Cambridge) was in Geography
  2. He loves maps, travelling and hill walking
  3. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society

So really, this is pretty much the ideal role for him, given that map-making and selling is now largely a technology, software and digital business, the fields in which he has significant and successful track record. As the announcement said;

“Nigel will also lead OS into a new era as a Government-owned Company and an exciting future of innovation and partnerships at the heart of the geospatial information sector”.

Obviously, we wish him well. We have yet to meet anyone who has a bad word to say about him, he is clearly very smart and focused, but also very down to earth, with a sense of humour and perspective - and he will be a big loss to Procserve. In his three years with the firm he has helped to position them very clearly as an independent commercial entity (important given their background as a venture originally created within government), and develop their offerings in the procurement catalogue, marketplace, and network space.

That is a pretty “hot” area of the market for software providers at the moment , and Procserve is now well positioned, still very strongly UK public sector focused, but with an offering that is widely used and with some important business partnerships too (for example, on the payments side of things).

Indeed, Clifford’s departure will raise the question of what happens next for the firm? There is a small but very capable senior team supporting him in Procserve currently, but we have not heard news of a replacement yet, so it will be interesting to see if Clifford’s departure leads to any wider corporate changes. And on the corporate structure side, PA Consulting has been (and I believe still is) the major shareholder in Procserve, but there has been speculation for some time that PA might like to realise that investment, as they say. But there may be no hurry given that current performance is positive.

So we will observe with interest, and in the meantime we do wish Clifford and Procserve good luck and success for the future.

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