Why Colorado software company Cherwell chose Dundee

Locating one of its research and development hubs in Dundee, Scotland, has delivered unexpected benefits for Colorado-based software business Cherwell.

Dundee – a strategic choice for software development

Cherwell employs 500 people across six offices – Colorado Springs, Denver and Seattle in the US and Reading, Swindon and Dundee in the UK. In 2018, after a global search for R&D locations, Cherwell opened its Dundee office. Now home to more than 40 staff, the facility is backed by £8.9 million investment to develop new and cutting-edge technologies right here in Scotland. 

Dundee is uniquely positioned as Cherwell’s first international location for R&D outside the US. It will give rise to Cherwell's next generation enterprise service management software and cement Dundee's global reputation for computer science and technological expertise.

"Scotland was on our list of various opportunities around the world. But it quickly rose to the top because of the high level of technology there, its knowledge economy and culture and the backing from educational institutions."

Helen Duckett, Cherwell’s VP of Operations

Duckett, VP of Operations, Cherwell

Top talent delivering benefits

Two of Cherwell’s management staff already knew about Scotland’s strong reputation for highly qualified staff and top-ranking universities – both had worked with companies based in Scotland in the past, and one had previously lived in Scotland.

"What we've found is that American and Scottish people think differently about solving problems," explains Helen Duckett, Cherwell’s vice president of operations. "Between our teams in Colorado and Scotland, we’ve expanded the range of options that come up, because we’ve now got different people thinking differently about things. We weren't anticipating that, and it’s really been very advantageous."

"We're very happy with the level of technical knowledge that our staff have in Dundee," she added. "The whole team there is focused on development and quality assurance, so it’s really about expanding the functionality of our product."

Dundee offers a rich supply of computer science graduates coming out of Abertay and Dundee universities and the vibrant and dynamic environment and world class infrastructure, making it a great place to work and live. 

Streamlining client processes

The company’s products allow clients to automate and streamline processes across every business function, including customer service, finance, human resources and IT.

"A typical process might be onboarding new staff," Helen explained. "It’s not just an HR process. The IT department is involved too because they need to set up a computer and software. Facilities are involved because they might need to allocate a desk. So, lots of different parts of the organisation need to know. That’s a very traditional use case for implementing Cherwell. We’re giving clients the tools to automate and digitise their own processes."

Covid response

When the Covid-19 lockdown began, all Cherwell staff on both sides of the Atlantic moved to remote working, but with no interruption to business as usual.

"Because we use agile development teams, our teams have continued to work together," Helen said. "We just do all the meetings and collaboration online. It hasn't created too many large bumps in the road at all."

Local support 'incredibly helpful'

As the international division of Scotland's enterprise agencies - Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise - Scottish Development International has a truly global presence with more than 30 offices worldwide, including Houston, Chicago and Boston in the US, and have worked with Cherwell on its home turf in Colorado.

"It surprised us that Scottish Enterprise has so many people working in the US," Helen said. "They’ve visited a couple of times and they’re always open with ideas... When we weren’t getting the response we’d expected to one of our job adverts, they helped us change the wording, because the role we were advertising was actually called something different in Scotland.

"It’s these little pieces of advice that are incredibly helpful."

Since opening its R&D centre in Dundee, Cherwell has demonstrated a commitment to diversification of its workforce and has been actively working with local universities to develop a stronger recruiting pipeline for women into engineering. The company also has ambitions to develop its own talent pipeline to sustain its ability to conduct R&D in Scotland over the long term.

And we very much look forward to continuing to support the team at Cherwell to deliver its growth ambitions.

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