Boon Software Consulting is a leading logistics technology provider in Asia specializing in Warehouse Management Systems (WMS). Mr. Boon Suan Chew, the Founder and Managing Director, started the company in August 1993 after realizing the demand and need for such logistics systems. Today, their systems have been deployed throughout Asia and the US, covering a vast array of industries from Chemical to Fashion & Retail.
Their trademark brand, Symphony Logistics SuiteTM, was launched in 2003 to house all the technology patents and products under Boon Software Consulting Intellectual Property portfolio. The SymphonyTM line now contains a total of over 10 products, including Mobility (ePOD), Transportation (TMS), Haulage, Automotive (PDI), Distribution (SCM Trading), Container (CMS), and the Freight (FMS) and Vehicle (Fleet) Management System. It has proven a tremendous success, being used in logistics operations for nearly a hundred companies in 15 countries. Symphony WMS-OnlineTM has also been deployed in the context of 3PL/4PL Service Providers, Distribution Centers and Manufacturing. More recently, their latest innovation has been a joint partnership with Infocomm Development Authority Singapore to release Symphony CLOUDTM, a SaaS version of Symphony Logistics SuiteTM.
Originally founded in 1993 with only 3 employees, the idea for the company was first conceived when Mr. Boon commissioned a procurement team to source for a WMS on behalf of a British MNC. Discovering that there were no WMS vendors in this region of the world, they decided to form a company to develop, sell, and implement such systems.
The first few years of the business were rough on the then fledging company, as many Singapore companies were new to WMS, which resulted in a very slow adoption rate. Being one of the first innovators of the product in the region, Boon Software Consulting was faced with the challenge of educating their target market in the benefits and necessity of the new system. With sheer grit, determination, and relentless perseverance, the company managed to become profitable in 1996, their third year in business.
“Humility, sacrifice, and prudence.” Was the response from Mr. Boon, when asked about the key characteristics required for the business to succeed. “Acquire knowledge and understanding, and prepare for growth with prudence. Opportunities demand the sacrifice of time and resources. Do not believe that we have unlimited resources, but take the necessary time to check things through and ensure due diligence.” Indeed, possessing prudence, ambition and a strong will, Mr. Boon has been able to sustain and grow the company for the last 21 years with his original paid-up capital of S$2, with little to no loans.
The uniqueness of the company are embedded in their 5 Core Values: People, Innovation, Technology, Prudence, and Community. “We have a strong team of highly capable innovators, software designers, system implementers and support engineers.” he says, explaining the first of the 5 Core Values. “Despite the high attrition rate in the software industry, many of our dedicated employees have been very loyal in serving alongside me over the years.” Anchoring their success in the niche expertise of logistics technology, Boon Software Consulting has been able to provide innovative solutions to the dynamic and ever-changing Asian logistics industry. Their continual innovation, such as a recent project to apply Google Glass in warehouse logistics operations, further strengthens their relevance in the industry. Their wisdom and prudence exercised in their numerous business decisions, from organic regional expansions, to investments in appreciating real estate assets both locally and overseas, has ensured their longevity.
Finally, the company through their Training Centre, Symphony AcademyTM has developed deep relationships with the education community in Singapore. Partnering with Institutes of Higher Learning such as Singapore Polytechnic to provide software resources for realistic industrial training, as a way to benefit graduates who are poised to enter the industry. These core aspects of the business have ensured their dominance in a constantly evolving field, whist keeping in line with their desire to give back to the community.
With strong signs of growth in the South East Asian market and a steady rise in economic activity in neighboring countries, the company has been rapidly transitioning to regionalization. Boon Software Consulting now has geographical operating companies in Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur. The company has been growing at a remarkable rate in Indonesia since entering in 2010. This is in line with their vision to enhance proximity and closer relations with their Indonesian clients, as well as new customer acquisitions in the Archipelago. “Regionalization is going to play a big part in the new chapter for Boon Software Consulting, as we embark on our third decade.” explains Mr. Boon, anticipating a steady increase of customers in the ASEAN market, particularly in Indonesia and Thailand.
Continuing to do their best to provide innovative solutions to logistics challenges, Boon Software Consulting has proven itself to be a forward-thinking company undeterred by constant challenges. Facing a fickle industry and tough competition, they have still managed to keep abreast not simply for their own growth, but most importantly, for their customers’ benefit.
What made you pursue a business in this field?
It is an opportunity that allows one to be independent, needs little or no capital to start, and allows growth at one’s own pace. Also, it’s an area that I have some expertise and prior experience in.
What is the main driving force and motivation for you?
The main driving force would be the idea of an independent working environment, with autonomy, and away from the rigidity and structure of large MNCs and large organizations.
Looking back now, what were the personal challenges that were necessary for you to overcome, in order for you to achieve your success today?
Perseverance to stay on despite the numerous sales rejections, the discipline to overcome and improve with persistence and to see our own software developed and widely used.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
You do not have to start something big, but you should have the humility not to despise small beginnings. Sacrifice is inevitable, so expect it.
Do you have any ideas on what could be done to encourage entrepreneurship?
Create an environment conducive for risk taking, and one that presents opportunities.
How do you measure success in life?
Success is a good balance between work and relationships (God, family, friends, community etc) that allows one to enjoy the present. Contribute to the community, with hope for the future.