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  • Headquarters: Eight Mile Plains, Australia
  • Acquisition Date: September 2013
  • Vertical Market: Library Management

How Softlink Accelerated Its Growth After Joining Volaris Group


Since its inception in 1983, Softlink, a provider of library management systems, steadily built up a large portfolio of customers spanning over 100 countries. This success caught the attention of decision-makers at Volaris Group, who acquired the business in 2013. The goal was to build upon the solid, mature, respected business by introducing Volaris’s best practices and expertise. As Volaris Group’s mandate is to never sell businesses, they take a long-term view of continuous innovation and major investment in new growth projects.

Large contract win

The first order of business after acquisition was to secure the largest contract Softlink had ever pitched for—an entire state school system in Australia—and the result was a game-changer. With the backing of a large organisation that could share best practices and offer considerable assistance in negotiating and delivering the contract, Softlink secured the contract. Since then, its relationships within the market have continued to grow and the company’s capacity has increased overall. The scene was set for sustained growth.

Softlink’s record contract win was the first step in a 10-year growth journey transforming the business into a significantly larger and more successful organisation today as it celebrates its 40th birthday.

We are always seeking to support our leaders’ growth initiatives. This begins with identifying the best ideas and giving our leaders the support and investment they need to succeed. Of course, there will always be an element of experimentation. However, we have best practices that increase our chances of success, and we share these across our portfolio, both from a group level and between businesses themselves. We also understand that not every idea is a winner and not every initiative will lead to significant growth. We’re prepared for alternative outcomes and we want our business leaders to experiment and innovate, while also showing them proven paths to success.

- Nathan Godfrey, Portfolio Manager at Volaris Group

Realigning business units

The next big step in Softlink’s evolution was a major restructure of the business in 2016. At the time, the organisation had two distinct markets:

  • Schools
  • Special libraries including legal firms, higher education institutions, government and corporate libraries and other information centres.

The two sets of customers required different levels of support and increasingly divergent product requirements. The result was that, although Softlink was solving client challenges, the team felt they weren’t providing each market with the level of focus they deserved.

A decision was made to create two separate business units to align with the two distinct markets; a natural solution that was nevertheless daunting to contemplate.

Over a three-month period, two new sister companies were created that would now cater to different markets: Softlink Education focuses on schools and Softlink Information Centres on corporate and government libraries.

Volaris will never sell a business. We look at what our customers will need in five, ten years’ time and develop initiatives that will solve those problems in the medium and long term. We want them to partner with us for life and so our goal is to meet their needs today and well into the future. That is the heart of our growth philosophy.

- Nathan Godfrey, Portfolio Manager at Volaris Group

Targeted solutions solve customer-centric challenges

SInce the restructure, two major product initiatives have ensued. Softlink Education launched LearnPath, a tool that lets teacher librarians create learning journeys based on student subjects and interests.

On Softlink Information Centre’s side, they focused on engaging with top law firms and government libraries and addressing the core challenges these segments are facing. They also invested in the illumin product, an allied but stand-alone product to their library management solution, that helps create efficient knowledge management repositories for very large organisations.

Adoption of this solution continues to grow and solidifies Softlink Information Centres’ reputation in corporate knowledge management.

Growth through strategic acquisitions

Acquisition of competitors and allied solutions is another source of growth for Volaris businesses. In 2017, Softlink Education acquired LibCode, a smaller competitor that offered a popular desktop library solution. The LibCode owners wanted to retire and were considering how to implement a step change in their technology platform. As part of the acquisition, LibCode customers were able to continue using LibCode and LibCode support staff joined the Softlink Education team. Softlink Education incorporated some of LibCode’s top technologies too, offering improved functionality to all customers. When LibCode customers need to upgrade, Softlink Education can supply a modern library management solution. The overall benefit of the combined businesses was a greater opportunity for developing and selling additional products into the extended customer base.