A York business is urging other to seek support from a government scheme to boost the use of technology.

Gary Fawcett, CEO of SkillsForge, applied for help from the Help to Grow: Digital programme, which he used to buy eCommerce software for his education technology company.

Gary explained: "Our process before was to go through a spreadsheet line-by-line to send emails, whereas we knew, with CRM software, our work could be done a lot easier,” he explained.

“I knew choosing the right software would be a much better way of focusing our marketing and sales. I felt like a CRM would bring us into the 21st century in terms of doing business.

“Because of the discount available, I didn’t see it as a high-risk purchase. I initially thought that the CRM software would be quite expensive, so I was really surprised that it worked out to be very affordable.

“We saw a great deal of positive change on the sales and marketing side straight away. Over the last 7 years, we were using spreadsheets, but it’s reduced effort by 90% in terms of sending regular marketing emails.”

Launched in January, Help to Grow: Digital gives eligible businesses discounts, worth up to £5,000 off the cost of approved CRM , eCommerce and accountancy software.

Changes in eligibility, announced last week, mean businesses with 1 to 249 employees can now apply if they have been trading for more than 12 months and are buying the approved software for the first time.

Antony Walker, CEO of the techUK trade association says Help to Grow: Digital is helping SMEs adopt productivity enhancing technologies such as CRM, Accounting, and now eCommerce.

Gary added he used the Help to Grow: Digital website to research the perfect software for his business and found the process quick and easy.

“Using the comparison tool helped me realise the software offered would give us exactly what we needed,” he explained. “Completing the application didn’t take long either – about the same time it takes to grab a coffee.

“We got up and running in just couple of days, probably less than that. We spoke a little with the supplier but setting things up was really straightforward. If we had any queries, they were really quick to respond.

“Our CRM software lets us do exactly what we were doing in the same way, but a lot more effectively, because it takes less effort.

“Before Help to Grow: Digital, I couldn’t justify the expenditure, and that included money and time spent on resources to help research the best product, not just for the software itself. I couldn’t really justify it given all the other pressures that the company was under, even though a new CRM system was definitely on the list to do.”

To find out more about Help to Grow: Digital and to make an application, visit www.learn-to-grow-your-business.service.gov.uk