A consultancy and training business has tripled its workforce in just 18 months after receiving digital expertise from a government-funded advice and guidance service.

QHSE Aberdeen engaged with Business Gateway and accessed funding through DigitalBoost, Scotland’s national digital upskilling programme, after experiencing a boost in sales during the pandemic.

The Westhill-based firm provides consultancy and advisory services across a range of sectors including oil and gas, food and drink and information technology, and helps organisations develop and maintain their business management systems to meet International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) standards.

Founded by David Rusling and Angela Scott in 2015, QHSE Aberdeen experienced a significant increase in demand for all services, especially the ISO 27001 management system required processes during lockdown in 2020 as businesses started to operate remotely.

This management system, which is the leading standard for information security, helps businesses manage the risks associated with information security breaches.

Rusling, Scott and the team also set about launching a product that would address this demand and help QHSE managers who needed to implement a system quickly during lockdown and beyond.  

By working with Business Gateway and DigitalBoost, the team accessed grant funding which enabled the launch of QHSE Aberdeen’s new e-commerce website which will enable customers to purchase policies and training documents online internationally.

This has allowed for growth in business and as result, the organisation has tripled its workforce from three to nine permanent members of staff, and will aim to hire a dedicated operations manager by the end of the year.

QHSE Aberdeen was able to use the funding to launch a new website, create a customer portal, build an e-commerce website function, and purchase vital hardware.

Additionally, by working with her adviser, Scott also implemented a new social media and marketing strategy to raise brand awareness. This has led to an increase of traffic across all QHSE Aberdeen’s social media platforms.

Scott, business development director at QHSE Aberdeen, said: “Across the board, businesses have had to adapt to mass remote working, and with that, the potential for information security incidents and breaches has increased. As recognised experts in this field, we experienced significant demand for our services, but we knew that there was an opportunity to adapt and reach a new market if we could launch a client portal system that helps companies store their information securely.

“By working with Business Gateway, we’ve been able to make our idea for an e-commerce website and client portal package a reality, and the demand has seen QHSE Aberdeen experience significant growth, letting us triple our workforce and upskill our team. 

“The crucial funding secured through the DigitalBoost grant has directly contributed to this, and our adviser Debbie provided key support that has streamlined our services and online presence. This has helped us reach more customers and meet ambitious growth targets during an uncertain year.”  

Debbie Cooper, business growth adviser at Business Gateway, said: “The last year has demonstrated how vital it is for businesses to be adaptable and reactive to changes in their sector, and the way that Angela and the team at QHSE Aberdeen have responded is a perfect example of this.

“The team quickly developed a strategy that capitalised on increased demand for their services, and by working with Business Gateway, were able to access the support they needed to move forward with their plans.  This has helped them take on new employees and cemented their position as a market leader.”

Business Gateway, which is delivered by local authorities throughout Scotland, works in collaboration with a wide variety of organisations, including Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, to help deliver advice and support to Scottish businesses.

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