• Jodie Fairbrother

QDP – the WHO, the WHAT & the WHY?!

Some of our readers will have worked with QDP for years, others may have never heard of us, in either case how much do you really know about QDP and our ‘WHY’?

A Brief History Lesson – I will keep it short(ish)!

Back in 1983, QDP’s current Managing Director, Rick Phillips started a software development company and produced a piece of market research software. Rick then employed our now Chairman, Robert Graham to front up the sales and marketing for the company.

This business didn’t go quite to plan and dissolved fairly early on. Rick went on to pursue other avenues and Robert kept hold of the software and decided to re-market it; this time rather than selling the software, he decided to use it and sell it as a data input and analysis service.

During early days of operation Robert received a request from 2 (independent) colleges, to input some data for them. Whilst doing this, he noticed similarities in the questions used. This set Robert’s mind into overdrive; if he could get a few more similar colleges on board, using similar questions, he could start to create a benchmark for them to compare themselves against. This could make a real difference to the sector and a real difference to the college experience!

As both colleges were members of the ‘Small College Federation’, he saw an opportunity to contact them all via letter (we are just about into the early 90’s at this point – no emails) to outline the work he had done and his vision. This is where our relationship with Mr Ian Rimmington began! Ian (amongst others), responded to Robert’s letter and they built an instant rapport over the vision that Robert had created. Ian is now (and has been since this point) one of our external advisors and has worked as Quality Manager, Vice Principal, Principal and Consultant for many colleges within the UK.

This was the birth of QDP! The team consisted of Robert, who then drafted in his good friend Jean (who was still part of the QDP family until she sadly passed away in 2017) to help with the data inputting – just to add here, there were no scanners involved – every response was hand input! Jean then roped in her teenage daughter Ruth who helped out after school. Ruth is still an integral part of the Customer Care team and has inherited the crown and title of Matrix Queen from her mum.

At this point, Robert needed a tech perspective and contacted Rick again with his exciting news and explained his vision; Rick was keen to come on board.

All operations at this point were from Robert’s spare bedroom!

Ian Rimmington sent out our very first QDP mailer, which went to 400 colleges. They anticipated an optimistic 4% return….they received 25%!! 100 colleges contacted them, interested in what QDP were doing, so Rick and Robert spent the next few weeks/months traveling the country visiting all the colleges that had expressed an interest. In the meantime, proper premises were purchased and the team expanded.

So WHO are QDP now?

Fast forward to 2019 and a lot has changed as I am sure you can imagine – our customer base, the size and power of our benchmarking pot, the technology, the reports; however our core values remain the same. They are not just company values, but the values of everyone who works for QDP. You will notice that I underlined the word ‘are’ in the heading above – this is because QDP is a plural – QDP is everyone who works for it. This is one of the many things which makes QDP really quite special. Every present day employee really believes in what they do and the potential they are unlocking for our customers. We are all long serving employees and we stick around because we love what we do!

There is so much passion from everyone to make a real difference; we will always go that extra mile to make sure our customers are happy. We rarely say we CAN’T do something – it is not word we believe in. It may take us a little time to develop it, or we may have to do a substantial amount of additional work to get it, but we will always try to get you exactly what you want.

WHAT exactly do QDP do?

This is a question which is tougher than you might think to explain. Let me start by busting a myth. QDP are NOT a market research company. We evolved from a piece of very early market research software, but everything we have developed since has been very specifically designed for purpose.

Part of what we do has similarities to market research:

  • We DO capture opinions and feelings on specified topics at specific points in time.

  • We DO use questionnaires in order to capture this data.

  • We DO measure trends.

Market research reports will highlight a problem…..QDP reports will also highlight a problem, however where we differ is our targeting methods which allow us to provide CONTEXT.

Our reports place value on the voice of the individual rather than a generalised consensus, which enables the user to;

  • Pinpoint the origin of that problem (whether a specific department, demographic etc.)

  • Show how that compares internally against other ‘groups’ (within an organisational structure, demographics etc.)

  • Show how it compares externally against other like for like organisations, departmental levels, demographics (we have the largest pot of benchmarking data within the UK Education & Skills Sector).

  • Highlight changes over a period time.

This context provides validated evidence for informing development strategies and monitoring improvement. It is this which makes QDP unique in what we do.

So what about the WHY?

Our why is much simpler to explain; we want to help make a difference. We believe in giving people the best opportunities and our reports help organisations all over the UK to make a real difference to those who matter most to them.

We love nothing more than helping customers get to grips with our reports and embedding them throughout their organisations to make a positive impact. This is what QDP is all about – this is our WHY :)

“Throughout our relationship with QDP, we have found their customer support to be excellent. Staff have a very personal and friendly approach, where nothing is too much trouble; they are very knowledgeable and enthusiastic to offer advice and guidance.

The reports we receive are detailed and with good visuals and provide a wealth of information which inform strategic planning at departmental and organisational level. The reports menu is easy to navigate and allows us to drill all the way down the college structure to course and demographic level. The external benchmarking comparisons are second to none; they allow us to compare against other like for like establishments, based on a wealth of different criteria and provide a great insight on how we are performing in relation.

The reports quickly highlight successes and problem areas, which we use to inform our planning and intervention strategies. The ability to track distance travelled then allows us to measure the impact of any changes and provide validation of improvement or further interventions required. Staff at all levels use the reports as evidence for self-assessment and SMT use the data to help inform quality improvement planning, allowing us to make continual improvements across the College. As QDP are recognised by Ofsted, the reports provide important independent evidence for inspections too”. Zoe Benn, Quality & Staff Development Manager, Macclesfield College

“The management reports are clear and precise and allow for a great deal of analysis and comparison, including departmental or overall against the QDP benchmarks set by other providers, which is an excellent feature. The reports allow senior managers and heads of department to measure learner satisfaction and continuously drive improvement in weak areas, to ultimately contribute to the overall development of the College.

The staff at QDP are knowledgeable and are always accessible for guidance and assistance. We would absolutely recommend QDP to other providers - they are a joy to work with!" Steve Harris, Eastleigh College

“Thanks to QDP I know more about my school and have concrete evidence for self-evaluation and school improvement. I am confident there is no provider in the market who can match their price or their products." Brian Asher, Rector, Lockerbie Academy

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