SystemScope Inc. principals determined the space was so flexible and collaborative that only minimal fit-ups were needed: a splash of paint, buying new furniture and installing "Phase 1" critical technology such as servers and employee computers. This cost only $45,000.
With the help of local designer Lee-Ann Lecroix, the firm's 5,300 square feet of space is designed around collaboration not only among employees, but also with clients.
"It's like the movie Inception," says Stephen Karam, SystemScope's partner and practice lead in government service excellence, about the firm's approach to working with its customers.
"You plant a seed, and you let it grow, and maybe because they have ideas around that they formulate their own agenda. If we can become part of that (process), which we have over the years, it's extremely valuable to the enterprise as a whole."
The company was incorporated in 1990 and taken over by Mr. Karam and Denis Barbreau in 2004. Revenues at the time were $1 million and the company had six employees; today, revenues stand at $6 million annually with a complement of 17 full-time staff and 30-40 part-time associates.
The company has seen a suite of honours, including two from OBJ: Mr. Barbeau was named a Forty Under 40 winner in 2008, and that same year SystemScope was named in the Employees' Choice Awards.
SystemScope bills itself as a strategic consulting firm, mainly with clients in the federal government, but also including some private companies.
Shopify's old space will help enhance their collaboration with companies, officials say, due to one boardroom that the company dubs "the lab."
"It's more of a space we can use to ... work alongside our clients, when we have to roll up our sleeves and get into the nitty-gritty around transformation or change management," says Mr. Barbeau.
This lab includes a large screen as well as access to other tools such as a whiteboard, so that diagrams can be built and improved as SystemScope works with its clients. Sometimes, clients will simply sit out on the couches in the office, and if technology is required, somebody will whip out a tablet computer to sketch out an idea.
SystemScope expects business will continue to grow in the coming quarters as the government is undergoing a major change, between integrating all IT systems under Shared Services and restructuring its departments.
"We’re a business to make government better, and by saying that, we help to improve government services to Canadians and businesses," Mr. Barbeau says. "We make governments operate more efficiently and effectively."