Trust is good, but signature monitoring is better

Softpro, an IT company based in Böblingen: stakeholder value instead of shareholder value proves successful on the global market
Böblingen, 08.02.2010 | 

Heinz and Peter Reschke are identical - almost. Together the twin brothers run Softpro GmbH and know all about the little things that make all the difference. The specialist software firm in Böblingen in the Stuttgart region has become the world’s leading provider for the comparison of handwritten signatures. The software developed by Softpro checks the signatures on bank receipts as well as the e-signature on electronic correspondence. The software performs this check 25 million times every day all over the world. 200 customers in 27 countries have placed their trust in the company’s solutions, including some of the world’s major banks such as Barclays Bank, BNP Paribas, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup and UBS.

After its founding in 1983, the company initially concentrated primarily on scanned signatures on money transfer slips. Soon its focus switched to processing digitalized signatures and integrating these in virtual management. It has now become standard procedure to record signatures at the very moment of signing. This technique is established practice at numerous savings banks and is also used for the delivery of packages by post as well as at retailers and in doctors’ surgeries.

Heinz Reschke managed the family-owned company for 17 years after its founding. After this time a new phase commenced in which venture capital providers took over the management of Softpro, and Mr. Reschke moved to the supervisory board. But capital isn’t everything. Mr. Reschke also realized this, and has been reinstated as the general manager since last year to manage the fortunes of the specialist software firm in Böblingen. "During that time we learned a lot of new things that help us to work more efficiently and more constructively now than some other similar companies of the same size", says Reschke. "Preparatory work for our projects often runs for several years before they start, but many of our customers have also been working with us for decades".

The company is now returning to a sustainable strategy with a long-term gearing that distinguishes traditional family-run companies - with a focus on stakeholder value rather than shareholder value. Mr. Reschke is convinced that this strategy will bear fruit for all those involved - customers, partners and employees alike. "In order for this strategy to work, we need to have an open culture of communication and to constantly endeavour to make improvements. It goes without saying that it is not enough simply to include it in some company mission statement. The boss has to lead by example on an everyday basis".

On average, Softpro employees have already been with the company for almost ten years. This is quite unusual in the IT sector, which is characterized by a high level of employee turnover. "For us in particular as a specialist in a niche market that requires a huge amount of specific know how, it is essential that we can retain highly skilled employees with an above-average level of dedication", says Reschke.

For many years now, Heinz Reschke’s closest companion has been his twin brother Peter, who is in charge of sales. "It is sometimes confusing for our partners and customers, because they do not know immediately which one of us they are speaking to. But anyone who has known us for a long time can detect one or two differences between us," laughs Heinz Reschke. This is a clear advantage of the SignAlyze tool developed by Softpro.

Year of foundation: 1983
Number of employees: 60
Location: Headquarters in Böblingen near Stuttgart, subsidiary companies in the UK, USA and Singapore