Mike Fox-Martin is a man on a mission. He is determined that his group of companies will emerge as the premier providers of end-to-end project management services and deliver the value-add required by any-sized operation to effectively compete in today’s market.
Fox-Martin heads up the Agile Group, which consists of specialist independent software provider FOXit and the company’s engineering and project management division, FOX Projects.
Although people often assume the connection between Fox-Martin and the business silos within the Agile Group, these names have actually been chosen because of renowned scenario planner Clem Sunter’s worldview – embodied in the ‘foxes and hedgehogs’ analogy from his book The Mind of a Fox.
Agility is an important word at the company. It is not used lightly, mainly because it is a foundation principle and the heart of the business’ modus operandi. It refers to its ability to evolve, to adapt and to utilise solutions to strengthen its operation – the very ethos of effective project implementation, execution and change management.
From the Agile Group’s headquarters in the rapidly expanding business frontier of Centurion, Fox-Martin leads a team of people who are zealous about technology and implementing leading Microsoft Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) and Enterprise Project Management (EPM) solutions to meet the growing demand for effective project management.
They target a number of sectors, including corporate enterprise and government, but have always enjoyed dominance within mining and construction, both of which are reliant upon advanced project management solutions to bolster complex operations and the projects necessary to sustain them.
“Our task is to provide visibility and governance on the project execution, and to provide tools, processes and systems to effectively manage and administer the projects,” he explains.
“We have adopted a high level of technology internally to satisfy the project / client requirements, which provides FOXit with the inside track into practical solutions for a rough and tough environment in which mining and construction operate. Within The Agile Group we have an in depth understanding of the entire mining value chain which similarly exposes opportunities for value creation through technology.”
Insight and understanding
Evidently the desire to change the way clients build and operate businesses is yielding results and Fox-Martin is positive about the impact the Agile Group has on local business development.
He affirms that the technology solutions are entirely reliable, relevant and effective for clients – but also points out that value-add and benefit is entirely dependent on how clients adopt and utilise the technology.
“In every implementation, the client’s expectations must be managed – and this starts with comprehensive scoping followed by effective change management where necessary,” says Fox-Martin.
The way clients handle the technology is a challenge. However, this falls alongside other significant considerations including budget constraints, resistance to change and fear of exposing inherent inefficiencies.
This is where the Agile Group comes in and where its core strength lies – assisting with insight, technical understanding and reassurance to the client to fully embrace the technology.
As Fox-Martin explains, the PPM and EPM market is directed by project implementation demand and the lack of growth within the South African economy is placing tremendous pressure on businesses – but there is growth expected in this market, albeit difficult to predict.
“At a time when businesses are maintaining tight controls on spending, convincing clients to spend money on platforms which they don’t understand is a difficult sell. The challenge is to demonstrate the business value which we do through reference sites, to give the potential client an insight into what can be achieved and the benefits thereof. The projected growth is difficult to pin down as it is dependent on several factors; that said we are using a known and trusted platform in unique ways which is growing the market through innovation,” he continues.
With resources and ability firmly in place within FOXit and FOX Projects, the Agile Group is ideally positioned to help clients address these challenges and expose developing businesses to project management solutions, office offerings and operations strategy solutions.