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18 April 2004
Scotland on Sunday
Office outsourcing pays off as Docuserve reaches England

MARGARET Langís US-inspired office management company, Docuserve, has taken another step forward after winning her first contracts in England.

Docuserve began life as an Edinburgh printing business and now also provides outsourced administrative services for a number of Scottish businesses, including law firm Henderson Boyd Jackson and fund manager Martin Currie.

The firmís move into England is due to deals with Bobbetts Mackan, the biggest legal firm in Bristol; Wiggin & Co, another law firm, based in Cheltenham, and a further contract from Martin Currie to handle its London operations.

Lang, managing director, believes outsourcing of office management functions such as the supply of stationery, filing and clerical staff, is the way forward for many businesses that want to concentrate on their core activities.

She developed the idea while working for Bowne Business Solutions in New York, which provided similar services for some of the biggest investment banks and law firms in Wall Street. In the US, 80% of the big financial institutions now outsource office services, she says.

Lang returned to Scotland three years ago, bought into Docuserve, and set about expanding it into managed office services. Her first big contract win was from the Glasgow offices of financial services group Goldfish.

Turnover this year is expected to hit £3m and she now employs 70, many of whom have transferred from her clients.

Lang recruited Malcolm McPherson, chairman of Henderson Boyd Jackson, to become chairman of Docuserve, and has pulled in £750,000 of investment from individual sources, including one who came in for a second round of funding last year.

Rachel McCorry, a former colleague in New York, has teamed up with her as regional director and runs the business in England.

"Many firms find they cannot give enough time to develop office functions or those who run them, but we can," said Lang. "We only have to come up with one good idea for the client to benefit. A key part of what Iím trying to do is provide best practice in these areas."

Lang admitted that it was taking longer than she expected to persuade companies of the advantage of outsourcing office functions, and the public sector was particularly difficult to crack, but the idea was beginning to catch on. "Many have been doing it for years, by using the Royal Mail, for instance. We are taking the idea on and proving it works," she said.

She is now in talks with a number of potential clients in Leeds, which has a high concentration of professional services firms, one of her target client sectors.

"We are making good progress and we will look at acquisitions if that is the best way to grow," she said.



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