23rd June 2023
Thrings Partner Simon Hore meets Alison Sturgess-Durden, Director at Mayden
Simon Hore: Can you tell us a little about Mayden and its history?
Alison Sturgess-Durden: Mayden was established in 2000 by our founder Chris May, initially as a healthcare analytics consultancy but later diversifying into software development.
With his background in IT and data in the NHS, Chris could see what cloud-based computing could bring to the health sector. The company started producing software applications to support the management of patients and their clinical outcomes.
In 2008 we launched the first version of our flagship product, iaptus, an Electronic Patient Record (EPR) for mental health services. Today iaptus has around 40,000 users working in over 200 clinical services, including 100 NHS organisations and we now export our products to other countries, including Australia and Canada.
This growth has seen the company spread across two offices in Bath, the fabulous Old Dairy in Oldfield Park as well as the historic 1 Widcombe Crescent. I joined in 2011 as employee number 20 during a career break having had my children. Today, I’m still here, and we have over 120 members across the company!
SH: How does what you do compare to your competitors?
ASD: The bar for healthcare IT is sadly quite low, with many of our competitors falling into two camps. Either they’re small niche systems which are good at one thing but not flexible, or they’re monolithic systems that can do lots of things but are clunky and don’t provide a great user experience.
By contrast, we’ve produced a system that clinicians tell us they love to use and works tremendously well for managing patients through care pathways and capturing their outcomes.
SH: What are the challenges to your sector?
ASD: As we continue to grow, we’re recruiting more people, particularly software engineers and data engineers and scientists. There is, however, a national shortage of these skills and we’re constantly competing to bring in talent.
Part of our solution to this was to set up iO Academy, which is now an independent organisation in its own right. The Academy takes people with little-to-no experience in software, but with the aptitude to learn, from zero to hero in just 12 weeks, ready for their first development job.
The academy supports the wider tech sector in our region, and nationally, by producing a regular stream of newly minted software developers ready to fill Maydens’ and other employers’ vacancies.
SH: I’m aware that your internal structures are a little different to other organisations. What can you tell me about that?
ASD: At first, we adopted a traditional management hierarchy but, as time went on, we found ourselves at one point with each of our middle manager roles vacant!
It was then that Chris confessed to me his misgivings about the idea of managing people in a hierarchy - that our employees were perfectly capable of managing themselves! We decided to find another way of organising our work delivery and ourselves - we moved to a flat structure.
We’re brought up in hierarchical structures, in our families and through school, so it was always going to be challenging to achieve the right mindsets and habits across the company.
But it’s been worth it, with our employees empowered to take ownership and responsibility of the work they do.
We’ve actually since gone on to publish a book about our experiences: “Made Without Managers: One company’s story of creating a self-managing workplace”. Whilst many organisations of all sizes out there have adopted a similar structure, there wasn’t much supporting literature about how you do it in practice, especially in the UK. We wanted to provide our case study, warts and all, to give a more accurate account of our journey for anyone considering a similar path.
SH: What does the future hold for Mayden?
ASD: Our reason for being is to change what is possible for clinicians and patients, and that’s going to continue.
We know we have a first-class patient management system that clinicians working in mental health services love using, so we want to see more clinical services across healthcare benefit from this. iaptus is starting to be used in gambling addiction services as well as some wellbeing, weight management and diabetes programmes.
In order to achieve this, we will continue to bring in talented and ambitious people to expand and enhance our work.
To find out more about Mayden, visit mayden.co.uk.