15 times and still counting: why Verirad keeps coming back

If Chris Adams of Verirad had a wall big enough, every square centimetre would be covered in the certificates the company has won during the 15 years it’s been entering the TT100 Awards Programme. Interestingly, the prospect of winning isn’t the only thing that keeps Verirad coming back again and again.

“In fact, the years we haven’t won or been a finalist have probably resulted in the most benefits,” says Chris, director of Verirad, specialists in health fund risk management and radiology and pathology spend management.

Those times have typically been when the adjudicators’ feedback has prompted them to make changes in the way Verirad does business.

“Two or three years ago, my partner and I, Paul Horn, were at a TT100 adjudication session and one of the adjudicators asked us why we needed a central office. We asked ourselves, ‘Why do we need a central office?’ and then we gave it up,” Chris recalls. “Now nearly everyone works virtually.”

It was an excellent decision. Productivity and morale are high and, as long as they get the job done, Verirad’s employees, most of them qualified radiographers and medical technologists, have the kind of work-life balance that most people only dream of.

As for Chris, working virtually “saves me a whole lot of stomach lining” from not having to commute through Johannesburg’s congested traffic.

He recalls another year when the adjudicators remarked on an apparent shortcoming at Verirad – how “pale’ and “male” it seemed to be.

“So the next year, Paul and I came back with seven or eight of our colleagues,” says Chris. “We ushered them into the adjudication room and then we left. We were a Management of People finalist that year.”

The insights of the adjudicators – who spend about two hours with every TT100 entrant – are one compelling reason why Verirad has entered every TT100 competition since 2002 (and plans to do so again in 2016). Another is the opportunity to be benchmarked against companies in other industries.

“It’s all very well to know how you compare in your own sphere,” says Chris. “It’s even better to understand how you are doing when compared to companies in financial services, energy, technology, etc. For example, if you are a South African company, do you just want to compare yourself to other South African companies, or do you want to benchmark yourself in a much bigger market?’

If all this wasn’t incentive enough to keep on entering the TT100 programme, yet another reason is that the annual entry process forces Verirad to do some introspection. “Once a year, we have to ask ourselves, ‘What have we done differently to impress the adjudication panel?’ That’s a great way to keep the pressure on ourselves to carry on being successful.”

Footnote: Since entering TT100 for the first time in 2002, first as an emerging business and then as a small company, Verirad has featured regularly as a category winner or finalist. Its TT100 awards include the 2015 HP Award for Excellence in the Management of Innovation, 2011 IDC Award for Management of Systems, 2009 PWC Award for Excellence in Management of people, 2012 JSE Award for Sustainable Excellence and a 2015 Minister’s Award for Sustainable Performance.