I recently read about a series of Autumn Cloud Computing events that Nottingham-based Union Square Software is organising. The series starts at the RIBA in London on 13 October with a seminar entitled Maximising Profit – Project Accounting For Professionals, Union Square having added project accounting to its Workspace product earlier this year (post). The company’s capabilities in this area are likely to expand still further, though, as Union Square has just announced the acquisition of Glasgow-based Archetype Software, a specialist provider of practice management software for architects and engineers.
Archetype has focused on providing email, drawing, job costing and fee management solutions to SME firms of professionals – much the same kind of market that Union Square has targeted – and Richard Vincent, Union Square’s MD, believes the acquisition strengthens the combined offering:
“Strategically this adds significant horse power to our portfolio of solutions and will significantly strengthen our offering for small and medium sized practices. The market for practice wide data and document management systems is maturing rapidly and our combined resources and knowledge will enable us to deliver better value and sophistication for this part of the market.”
Sounds logical, but there will be cynics who see the deal more as Union Square acquiring a rival in the practice management field. Indeed, a couple of years ago at Sustainability Now, I talked to an Archetype employee about its product offering and, yes, they did regard Union Square as their principal competitor (post).
Just as architects have suffered during the current recession (I write this on the day that Architects’ Journal reported that the sixth largest practice in the UK Archial is going into administration, with architects’ workloads dropping for the sixth straight month), I suspect the practice management software sector must also be going through a tough time (Union Square’s most recent trading statement admits 2009 was a tough year with profit levels reduced). A good time, perhaps, to pick up a competitor and immediately gain a bigger share of the market. (Archial, by the way, was a Union Square customer.)