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Putting the pieces in place

Perforce is a Minnesota-based developer of software used for application development.

Perforce is a Minnesota-based developer of software used for application development. Set up 1995 it provides version control software, web-based repository management, developer collaboration, application lifecycle management and Agile planning software.

In January this year, it was acquired by the private equity firm Clearlake Capital from its previous owners, Summit Partners, who had bought the business from its owner and founder, Christopher Seiwald.

Under Summit’s ownership, the company had embarked on an extended period of expansion, both organic and in-organic, and over the past two years had acquired three companies: Seapine Software, a provider of application lifecycle management (ALM) tools, Hansoft, a Swedish based developer Agile planning software and the Finnish repository management services company Deveo.

However, the change in ownership hasn’t changed the company’s acquisition strategy. It recently purchased the UK-based static code analysis firm, PRQA, and Perforce has confirmed that there are plans for further acquisitions.

For Tim Russell, the company’s chief product officer, who has been in post for the past two years, while it may be challenging to bring these disparate businesses and products together, it’s a role he relishes.

“Growth through acquisition is an integral part of Perforce’s business strategy. My role is to ensure that we develop a comprehensive portfolio of enterprise scale software solutions for technology developers and development operations (“DevOps”) teams,” he explains.

“I look to mesh together our expanding portfolio of products, and how that portfolio will aid our customers. I ensure that as it expands it has a positive and beneficial impact.

“As we are planning for further acquisitions, I need to ensure that they will add value and bring additional benefits.”

Complexity a given

The fact that hardware and software complexity is growing, is a given, according to Russell. As more customers expand their products lines, so more will be confronted with the challenges associated with bringing innovative products to market.

“It’s a robust and exciting market,” he says. “Even long-term customers are investing in, and expanding, their product lines and development teams. After the acquisitions we have made our portfolio is well aligned to their development requirements.”

According to Russell, foremost among them is the issue of complexity and its effective management.

“It is, for many, the principle issue they have to contend with, and they are looking for innovative solutions,” he says.

Russell notes the importance of further acquisitions to the business and admits that Perforce is on the look-out for suitable targets.

“Perforce’s recent acquisition of PRQA added Static Code Analyzers that assess software reliability, security, and compliance while reducing development time to the mix,” he explains.

It is the fourth acquisition made by the company in that past two years and, “The first under Clearlake,” Russell says.

PRQA solutions are used by organisations who require their products to perform securely and reliably in mission-critical and safety-critical environments, and includes markets such as automotive, aerospace, medical, and other demanding industries.

“Our aim is to support and enable customers to realise faster time-to-market,” says Russell. ”PRQA, for example, can support scale and accuracy in automated inspection of source code for high risk code and non-conformance to standards. It’s becoming critical to be able to detect errors at the source code level before entering into a test environment.

"It also means that organisations are able to focus on the key revenue generating parts of their businesses.”

Russell says that the PRQA acquisition means that the company is now able to not only offer solutions for enterprise customers but that Perforce can now address the issues of security and quality much earlier on in the software development lifecycle.

“PRQA enables better continuous integration and delivery,” he says. “But beyond the accelerated delivery of technology it enables us to deliver security and build its delivery into the overall development process.

“The foundation of DevOps is version control which means that you can track changes made by developers. It provides traceability into the built product and supports global distributed development teams.

“From source code to graphics firmware and hardware design, we can help simplify the complex nature of teams and product development; our aim is to connect products and make traceability much easier to deliver.”

Business strategy

The company’s strategy of offering more solutions and capabilities that improve the DevOps’ pipeline performance through acquisition, was given a boost with the purchase of the business by Clearlake.

“It’s given us access to additional capital to make further acquisitions, as and when we decide,” he suggests.

Recent senior management changes at Perforce have seen Mark Ties named CEO in June, succeeding Janet Dryer. Dryer continues with the company, but as Chair of the Board.

Ties had been COO/CFO since January 2016 and during that period had effectively served as CEO of the company.

“On his watch we doubled our revenues through a combination of organic and inorganic growth,” explains Russell, “and both he and Dryer have worked together, teaming up on over 20 acquisitions. There’s plenty of experience there as we look to take the business forward.”

When it comes to acquisitions Perforce has adopted a model which usually sees back office operations merged, while leaving the customer facing elements of the business unchanged.

“We look for the best ways of sharing best practice across the business. Our aim, and my role, is to develop a portfolio of products, with common functions, that can deliver world class solutions.”

As the nature of software development is changing, technology is being added to almost every business process, so there’s a desire to improve the efficiency of development teams and employ more agile development processes.

“Companies are having to adapt and are looking for tools that will help them to boost the release rates of technology, i.e. they want to raise the velocity of product development.

“Our role is to help them test earlier, to build in security, and provide assured quality during the development process.”

According to Russell further acquisitions will cover the entire DevOps spectrum.

“From planning to automated testing, as well as security and test analysis,” he says.

Watch this space!

Author
Neil Tyler

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