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Find this Podcast “How to Budget for SharePoint Initiatives” on the ThreeWill Soundcloud, Stitcher, and iTunes.


Danny Ryan:Hello and welcome to the ThreeWill podcast. This is your host, Danny Ryan and I am here with Tommy Ryan. How are you doing, Tommy?


Tommy Ryan:I’m doing great, Danny.


Danny Ryan:Wonderful. Let’s do a quick sock check. Let me see what you got. Great, stripes. Look at me. I’m going a little Native American here, isn’t that nice?


Tommy Ryan:I like it. I like it. Not bad.


Danny Ryan:Kicking it up a notch. Today, let’s talk about something that’s going on. I think we’re in the sort of the budgeting part of the year, where people are looking at … they should be wrapping up their budgets, but usually people are getting started right now.


Tommy Ryan:Yeah, it seems like it. All activity lately.


Danny Ryan:Yes, a lot of people asking for estimates and sort of getting prep for the upcoming year. What I wanted to talk with you about is sort of how you do budget for SharePoint related initiatives in the upcoming year, how do we help people out with that, any tips that we have for folks who are trying to put aside an appropriate budget for the year? It could also be nice to talk through, with the different practices, I know especially with sustainment, how do we go through and decide on how much time do we set aside for sustainment, and then maybe just go through, talk a little about migrations, portals, app tabs, what we typically do there.


Why don’t you get us kicked off a little bit. How does somebody typically interact with you, like for some of the accounts that you’re helping out. Tell me about that in general, the whole process there.


Tommy Ryan:Well, I think there’s two paths that I typically see. One path is definitely a path that’s been exciting in the past couple years, which is roadmapping, looking at, as a company, what do you see is the maturity of you in the platform over time, and what services you want to onboard and what types of solutions you want to put in place within your portal. Those usually come in the form of a three-year road map, and we have had engagements to just talk through and capture that, so when we’re going after things, we can put it in the context of the overall plan, so we don’t get ahead of ourselves. We use that, and that allows you to have a budget set for three years in advance, and then you can revisit it as you hit towards the end of the year, just to make sure nothing’s changed in the plan, because as we all know, it’s very hard to predict the future, but it’s always good to set a baseline to work off of.


Danny Ryan:Very nice.


Tommy Ryan:Probably the other way is someone coming with an initiative, that either they’re trying to squeeze it in at the end of the year, seeing a lot of December due dates on some of the things that are coming here in October, or they’re coming with, “I know I need a good budget for next year, but I don’t know how much budget I should obtain,” and that process, we take them through the agile process of describing things as user stories. Thinking about, what are the things that you want to accomplish, and putting that in the perspective of, who cares about it? What are you trying to do, and what’s the business value of that? Then we can take all those stories and estimate out, what is a good budget to attack all those stories for next year?


You might see, that’s more than I would want to ask budget-wise, so you end up paring it down to what you think is the most valuable, and knowing what it costs to do each one of these helps you make that decision and decide what budget you want to attack. Then you’ve got details behind it, you’re not just putting a thumb in the air and saying, “We need 200k for next year,” and you don’t really know what you can accomplish with that, you just know you want some budget. This gives you something concrete that the decision-makers that are holding the budget, you can influence that decision more by, “Here, this is what you can get,” and you haven’t had to engage in a full-blown analysis engagement and pay money for that, is something we can provide for free.


Danny Ryan:Mm-hmm (affirmative). So, you know I got a new sound board to play with, so every once in a while I’m going to tie in the movie quote that I think is appropriate.


Tommy Ryan:Okay.


Danny Ryan:It doesn’t have to be funny, but I’m trying to pull in some quotes from movies just to tie in, maybe it has to do with the subject, so here’s the first one.


Tommy Ryan:All right. Do your magic.


Speaker 3:Help me! Help you.


Danny Ryan:Name that film.


Tommy Ryan:I can’t hear it!


Danny Ryan:You didn’t hear it over there?


Tommy Ryan:I didn’t.


Danny Ryan:Okay. I can hear it through mine, so here, let me give you my headphones, just [crosstalk 00:04:55].


Tommy Ryan:Okay.


Danny Ryan:Here. Ready?


Tommy Ryan:Go for it.


Speaker 3:Help me! Help you.


Tommy Ryan:Sounds like Jim Carrey, but …


Danny Ryan:No, not Jim Carrey. It’s “Help Me Help You”.


Tommy Ryan:Don’t know it, sorry.


Danny Ryan:Jerry Maguire.


Tommy Ryan:Oh! I know “Show Me the Money”, but …


Danny Ryan:I’m quickly pulling that one up now, which is “Show Me The Money.” The reason why I had “Help Me Help You” is really, I think, often what happens is we get into a fiscal year, and if they haven’t put anything aside, they can’t go after something. It’s very diffiuclt to go after an initiative if you haven’t put that money aside, so a lot of this is doing that high-level rough order of magnitude estimate. I know Bruce and I have talked about doing that, and doing the whole … maybe t-shirt sizing, and then looking at priority of each of the different initiatives, and really, I like the idea where we’re going in and creating these road maps. You’re multi-year, you’re not just thinking about … You’re trying to think through a thoughtful approach of, how do I focus in on the right projects?


Tommy Ryan:Right. The nice thing about that road map is, what happens is, you try to cram too much stuff in one time, and you end up having a conversation over and over again about things that you really shouldn’t do just yet, and if you have it in the road map, you can quickly divert that conversation to say, “Yeah, we got that captured. That’s actually in year two, and in the first quarter, we’re actually going after that.” You don’t have to worry about people continuing to re-hash things that you’ve already put a placeholder for.


Danny Ryan:Nice, nice. What’s a typical output for something like this? Is it coming through with this, is it a plan? Is it … I know we do, is it like having the estimates for these, like a product backlog? Just describe to me what are some of the things that … it may be just as simple as a email, and you have bullet points for each of the different initiatives and the high-level rom cost. What are typical outputs for this?


Tommy Ryan:Well, the output is we have the user stories. Those user stories, we call them product backlog, and that product backlog not only has the user story, but it has questions that come up, assumptions, acceptance criteria. Whatever we hear in the conversation, we get that captured, so you’ve got that running head start of how to go attack it and manage it.


You have all those user stories. We like to bundle them up, you know, put rubber bands around common ones, and the way we do that is we use feature groups, and that way you see, “I want to go attack this as a whole,” and there’s multiple stories that make up that particular initiative, and you can see what the total cost is, and if you feel like, “I don’t want to spend that much money on that initiative,” we can go back to the product backlog, and trim it down appropriately.


With that, that forwards into our estimation tool that looks at duration, and it looks at costs and then summarizes it based on the feature group. People can look at, “That’s a ten week project, that’s 100k, all right. I know when I should ask for this and when I should start it.”


Danny Ryan:For going through these … this is just cost of sales for us, right?


Tommy Ryan:Yeah, it is.


Danny Ryan:There’s not typically a charge for this.


Tommy Ryan:Yeah. The road mapping is not a free service, because it really is a long process in terms of weeks versus hours, but a lot of times, these estimations, it might take an hour of the customer’s time to describe things, and then we noodle on it, and spend time to estimate and then ask some questions, and then they might have a few emails answering questions, or maybe another half hour, hour call to answer some questions that we have, and then we turn right back around that budget for them. No, within an hour or two of a customer’s investment, and a couple days to a week, we can get that budget in place for the customer.


Danny Ryan:Anything you’re seeing, I mean, we’re getting towards, we’re in the fourth quarter of 2016. Anything you’re seeing trending-wise as far as people are getting ready for this upcoming year?


Tommy Ryan:You know, we’re seeing a lot of migrations, and that might just be due to our position and our IP that we have around that, and our partnerships around that, that it’s starting to amplify quite a bit. I’m looking at things that are happening at the end of the year. A lot of … you know, it’s migrations, so if you look at some of these bigger companies, so 2016 is coming out, and now that 2016 is out, these larger organizations are actually migrating to 2013. They like to be one full version behind, and it’s a pretty important migration, because you’re going from, where Microsoft was very accepting to server-side solutions, you know, farm solutions on SharePoint, to saying, “No more. Get off the server. Go somewhere else, go on your own server if you want to run applications.”


Those migrations are very critical, because they’re a little bit more heavy lifting, to do them right, to make them cloud-aware, so we’re helping a lot of customers make sure that they migrate in a way that, going forward, there’s a lower cost of going from version to version.


Danny Ryan:Excellent. Anything else, as we look at wrapping up this year? Any advice that you would have for people who are … Besides “Reach out to us if you have a SharePoint-related initiative and you need a high-level budget,” that’s great advice. Wow, that’s wonderful. Any other advice that you would have for people who are going through this process right now?


Tommy Ryan:Well, I think one thing that people will overlook when they look at next year is, am I making the investment to keep my applications healthy? The sustainment part of our business is to make sure that you get the ROI on the investment you made to build something. Building it, you can’t built it and they will come. You have to build it and you have to maintain it. You have to maintain it from engagement with the community that’s using it, and making sure that they have what they need to be successful, from either training or awareness, and then making sure you’ve got a plan to respond to anything that changes with your environment that you need to update, you need to resolve or triage.


Organizations that don’t have their own SharePoint support team, we can be that fractional team for you. We can, instead of going and hiring a full head count for that, that they might know one portion of SharePoint, we can give them the breadth across what they need to know to maintain that environment. Budgeting for sustainment, I think, the time to do it is now, so that way you can ask your organization, “I want to make sure these things are healthy and I want ThreeWill’s help,” and we make that simple. It’s just buckets of hours. You know, you’re either a 20 hour a month plan, a 40 hour a month plan, and we give a nice way for you to interact with us to make sure we’re resolving things that come up in your environment.


Danny Ryan:Yeah. We really can see this as far as the maturity of the client, as far as expectations around maintaining and wanting to build new versions and all that stuff. It’s like your car. If you didn’t take care of your car, it’s not gonna last very long. If you don’t put gas in it, it’s not going to work too well, either.


Tommy Ryan:That’s right.


Danny Ryan:These are complex things that we’re creating, and as much as you try to engineer them properly and design them properly, they still require care and feeding, and that’s just the nature of the beast. I think a lot of people, they get it, espeically if they’ve got a background in software development, but some people, some people take over, and it may be someone who’s in a marketing department or something along those lines, and they … like in marketing, you can create something, a brochure, and it’s perfect, and it’s exactly the way you want it, and there’s nothing you need to do to it, it’s not the same thing.


Tommy Ryan:Right. It’s a living, breathing thing, and people, their closest equivalent to an application is Word and Excel. Word and Excel is not the same as a custom enterprise solution. There’s a lot of moving parts, and with Word or Excel, the number of people that are working on that and supporting that, it’s a full-blown product. It’s not a custom solution. Custom solutions need that care and feeding, and custom is great, because it really fits your business and is exactly what your business needs, but it comes with a total cost of ownership. It’s not outrageous, but it’s something that you can’t ignore. You ignore and then all of a sudden, you’re going to lose your ROI, because the adoption of your solutions will go and fade over time.


Danny Ryan:Excellent. Well done, Tommy. So wrapping it up here, I appreciate you taking the time to do this.


Tommy Ryan:Sure thing.


Danny Ryan:[crosstalk 00:14:54] with them, going around it. Obviously, if you’re listening to this and preparing for next year and want to reach out to us, a bit of a reality check is we’re getting contacted by a lot of folks right now to get things done by the end of the year, and that’s just the nature of the beast, it’s just how things … business change quickly, but we like encouraging clients that we’re working with to try to plan ahead, if at all possible, but we realize what happens in the day to day, so I know a lot of the estimates we’re creating now are for things that are trying to get wrapped up by the end of the year, or piloted by the end of the year, but that’s just … That’s reality setting in, right?


Tommy Ryan:That’s true.


Danny Ryan:Yeah, absolutely.


Tommy Ryan:You have any “nature of the beast” sound clips?


Danny Ryan:I don’t have “nature of the beast.” I played “Scent of a Woman”, ooh-ah, you couldn’t hear it, but with what you just said, I did ooh-ah …


Tommy Ryan:We’re going to have to work on that audio so I can hear it too.


Danny Ryan:I know, I know. I’m surprised you can’t hear it, but I’ll have that fixed for next time. My audio engineer’s on it right now, I got Jeremy in the back. Jeremy, you got it? Got it. Okay, thanks Jeremy.


We’ll call this one a wrap. Thank you so much for listening, everybody, have a wonderful day, and drop by the page, and “Contact Us” page will send an email out to me, and I’d love to follow back up with you, and thank you so much for taking the time to listen. Take care, have a good day.


Tommy Ryan:Bye-bye.


Danny Ryan:Bye-bye. Like …



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