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Moving Sandboxed Solutions to the Cloud

Matthew Chestnut is a Senior Consultant at ThreeWill. He has over 20 years of software development experience around enterprise and departmental business productivity applications. He has a proven track record of quality software development, on-budget project management and management of successful software development teams.
Danny:Hello, and welcome to ThreeWill podcast. This is your host Danny Ryan. I’m here with Matthew Chestnut. Hey Matthew, how you doing?

 

Matthew :Hello again Danny.

 

Danny:Hello again, it’s another quarter.

 

Matthew :It is.

 

Danny:Good to see you.

 

Matthew :Same here.

 

Danny:Good to catch up on things. So I would classify today’s topic maybe would be “the devils in the details” or something.

 

Matthew :That’s a good way to categorize it-

 

Danny:Along those lines, which is we’re just going to catch up on a project that you have been working on, or planning out. I would put it that way.

 

And it’s a project where we’re working with a larger client, and we’re looking at upgrading from SharePoint 2010 to 2013-

 

Matthew :Yeah.

 

Danny:2013, wait it’s 2017-

 

Matthew :Understood.

 

Danny:What’s up with you guys?

 

Matthew :You know these big enterprise companies work. They move rather slowly.

 

Danny:Uh huh, so we’re finally upgrading to 2013, and I just wanted to talk through … I think some of this, in reality, this is what you’re going through. A lot of people are going through when they’re looking at going to SharePoint online.

 

Matthew :Absolutely.

 

Danny:So this is a pertinent topic for a lot of people, and preparing themselves for the future.

 

So, give me a little bit of the backstory on this whole thing, and let’s talk this thing through.

 

Matthew :Well this is a project that we’ve worked on over the last five years plus. This particular application.

 

Danny:Mm-hmm (affirmative)

 

Matthew :And it’s going through another iteration, because of the enterprise desire to move to SharePoint 2013 on premise.

 

Danny:Okay.

 

Matthew :And, you know back in the old days quote on quote of SharePoint 2010, there was a certain set of best practices. Things like sand boxed event receivers, or sand boxed processes.

 

This is where code that used to run on the farm, in SharePoint 2007 … Now the IT group had the ability to sandbox, or put a wrapper around it. Which prevented applications from running wild, and bringing down the farm.

 

So in the SharePoint 2010 days sand boxed processes were the way to go, and that’s how we implemented this particular solution.

 

And the whole idea about a sand boxed process is, you’re adding a list item-

 

Danny:Mm-hmm (affirmative)

 

Matthew :To a SharePoint list, and SharePoint lists are ubiquitous. I mean that is the thing, along with documents, list data is very important.

 

And the idea is, is that when this item is created on an application that’s non-trivial, you may want to do other actions-

 

Danny:Okay.

 

Matthew :The actions may be create a notification record, write some data to another list, do some processing on this data to make it more enterprise ready.

 

And the event receivers were awesome. In the sense that, when a list item was added, updated, or in the process of being added, or updated these events were fired, and code could run.

 

In the olden days, back in the days of asp.net, you know when we had just asp.net, or even asp. And we depended on SQL Server-

 

Danny:Uh huh.

 

Matthew :We had triggers, store procedures that would execute when a data base was added, updated, etcetera. So this is a similar concept. So it was great. We had the ability to run code.

 

Well now here comes SharePoint 2013, and more importantly here comes Microsoft changing their best practices. And they’re really making these best practiced decisions based on SharePoint Online Office 365. Just like you mentioned.

 

They don’t want code running on their farms, in the online cloud, because that would be a maintenance nightmare. How do you segregate it? How do you keep it secure? With the variety of tenants.

 

So they’ve come out, and said that, “Sandbox Online, in the cloud, is not allowed at all.” They’re on premise in 2013 SharePoint, and even SharePoint 2016 is allowed. So they are still allowing this user code host process, AKA the Sandbox to be configured, and run on premise.

 

But this particular company, our customer decided that they wanted to deprecate it now. So in other words they don’t want to wait until the application, or the capability goes away. They said let’s get rid of it now.

 

Well that’s a great opportunity for us to figure out how we’re going to solve this problem now-

 

Danny:Okay.

 

Matthew :We have all this code, we have all this business logic, what are we going to do with it? Oh, and by the way this particular application was written using info path. Which is yet another technology that Microsoft has deprecated. Still works, it will probably still work through, you know the year 2025. But the customer wants to get rid of that technology.

 

So now we start moving into some of this newer technology that you may have talked, with other Three Wheel consultants about. Things such as Angular-

 

Danny:Yep.

 

Matthew :JavaScript frameworks-

 

Danny:Yeah.

 

Matthew :And how SharePoint really participates very well in that world, and Microsoft SharePoint has got frameworks now, API’s. The patterns and practices one, is one I’m thinking of currently, that provides a great API for giving you JavaScript access to your SharePoint data. And of course with JavaScript it’s a programming language. You can do whatever you want with it.

 

So here we go, so we started in evaluating our choices. And we’re trying to keep the customers’ pocketbook in mind. Certainly, in our grandiose world, we could change this thing, and make it do all kinds of stuff. But we want to keep it affordable for them.

 

So we looked at remote event receivers. So this is a new technology that we haven’t used in this particular situation, but the remote event receiver’s gives the IT group the ability to stand up a server-

 

Danny:Mm-hmm (affirmative)

 

Matthew :That gives us some WCFN points that we can then call from a SharePoint list item event. So instead of the event calling code that runs on the SharePoint farm itself, even if it’s sand boxed, it runs somewhere else.

 

And it does some of the same things that it would do if it were running on the farm. It has the same client connectivity, it could read list items, update list items, et cetera.

 

Here’s where that got to be a little not desirable for us-

 

Danny:Uh huh.

 

Matthew :The remote event receivers worked great, except when they don’t. And here’s how they can not work.

 

For whatever reason let’s say the connection between our SharePoint farm, and the remote event receiver server is disabled. It’s down, or whatever. The challenge is the call to the remote event receiver fails. But it silently fails. And that of course is the worst thing that can happen to a developer, “Why does my application data not look right? “We don’t know, because it silently fails.”

 

Danny:So what you’re saying is if a remote event receiver fires in a forest, and nobody hears it-

 

Matthew :Right, does anybody care?

 

Danny:Does anybody care!

 

Matthew :Yes, the customer cares.

 

Danny:Yes, the customer cares.

 

Matthew :Yeah, so-

 

Danny:Did it really happen?

 

Matthew :Did it really happen?

 

Danny:Did it really fire? If it’s a fire’s in a forest, and nobody hears it, did it really happen?

 

Matthew :So that’s the challenge. When data does not get updated, and it’s supposed to be updated by this thing, and this thing didn’t fire. What was the problem? So-

 

Danny:Uh huh.

 

Matthew :Now of course we could add logging on our remote event receiver. So we would know if it got called, here’s why it failed. But if it never gets called we have no control over that.

 

Danny:Okay.

 

Matthew :Yes, we could look at the ULS logs, and there might be some information there, but once again this is an enterprise solution. We don’t have access to those logs. Those logs are generating tons of data, too hard to wade through.

 

And the other challenge with the remote event receivers is that there’s like a 30 second time out. In other words, it’ll give you 30 seconds to do your work, and you better be done. Or else, it’ll just say, “Thank you very much. We’re moving onto the next thing.”

 

Now that wouldn’t have been a problem. We could of spawned another task that would run asynchronously. You know in the background without any user interaction. But that turned us away from remote event receivers. Just because they’re not guaranteed, or at least the guarantee was very, very loosely coupled-

 

Danny:Okay.

 

Matthew :So then we started working backwards, and said, “Okay, well what about work flows? What can work flows do for us?” In fact, we were using work flows pretty heavily with this existing solution. That the challenge was work flows work great, but the work flow language is a little bit restricted.

 

But in the old days of SharePoint 2010, when we could write, and we were allowed to write sand boxed code. We were writing custom actions on events that a work flow would fire, as well.

 

So the work flow action could simply be, “Send notification.” And the work flow action was custom code, written in the sand box-

 

Danny:Mm-hmm (affirmative)

 

Matthew :Written in C sharp, deployed on the server. That would take that one line work flow command, send notification, and it would figure out whatever it needed to do. It’d find out oh, what type of notification do you have here? Who’s it need to go to, based on all these criteria?

 

So once again, workflows are great, but they’re limited in the language. They’re limited in their ability. They can certainly update list item, the current list item. They can create other list items, but if you start talking about program logic it kind of falls down.

 

Danny:Okay.

 

Matthew :So we moved away from that. So basically now we’re going back to, “Okay, we’ve got JavaScript, we have the ability to communicate with JavaScript. We have to change this form anyway from info path, to Angular two. Let’s just write this logic in JavaScript itself.” And that’s what we’re doing.

 

And that’s going to actually work out very well. The Angular development using SharePoint as the back-end database, is working just as we expect it would.

 

Our code really doesn’t matter where it’s writing to, although we are using the SharePoint library. That could easily be a SQL Server library. We could write the data elsewhere, we’re sticking with obviously the SharePoint solution. Because the data structures are in place, and all the supporting lists are in place, to support this main form.

 

And that brings me to, well some of these supporting list items, these little look-up tables-

 

Danny:Yep.

 

Matthew :Also have business logic, and we’re not wanting to rewrite those. We were heavily leveraging SharePoints’ ability list items. Add, edit, delete, view-

 

Danny:Mm-hmm (affirmative)

 

Matthew :Filter, all that stuff we get right out of the box. We still want to use that. We don’t want to rewrite those. So what we’re doing with those scenarios, is we have to participate in the event model, of a standard SharePoint list form.

 

And a standard SharePoint list form give you the ability, with JavaScript. You inject the JavaScript into the page using a couple of different techniques, but it’s pretty standard. And I think we even have some blog posts on our freewheel.com, that talks about using jQuery with SharePoint forms.

 

Danny:Yeah.

 

Matthew :But the idea there is there’s a pre save action, and on pre save we can do certain things like populate data values on a list. Or quite frankly we can do whatever we want, but that is a pre save action.

 

We also have when the document form is loaded, we have that action. So if we have some fields we want to hide, or show, or repopulate, great we have all those abilities.

 

Here’s where it came to be a tricky scenario. Is after the item has been save, and we want to do some other actions on that item, how do we do that?

 

Well our traditional way has been event receivers, but we can’t do that. Our other way has been work flows, but we don’t have the ability to do them as robustly.

 

So what we’re doing is we’re also using the ability on a SharePoint list form with new, and add it. Where on the save, and or cancel for that matter, you can redirect to another form.

 

By default it’s simply going to close the existing form, and take you back to the list page where it was launched from. What we’re going to do is transfer control from the page, the new, or edit form, and go to another page, and that page is going to have the logic. That’ll do whatever it is we need to get done. Whether it’s add additional list data to other lists, or create notification records, what have you.

 

So in essence we’re daisy chaining the application-

 

Danny:Mm-hmm (affirmative)

 

Matthew :So once we press save here, we use a standard out of the box SharePoint technique of redirecting to another page-

 

Danny:Mm-hmm (affirmative)

 

Matthew :And that page is going to pick up the work, and do whatever remains to be done-

 

Danny:Now I’ve talked with other people about this, did you think ten years ago that your career, you would be writing so much JavaScript.

 

Matthew :Well its funny, yeah.

 

Danny:And Angular’s based off of JavaScript-

 

Matthew :Yeah in fact, you know JavaScript was kind of invented to help out the browser experience-

 

Danny:Yes.

 

Matthew :Do some things tweaking the DOM, the object model so you could hide show fields in a programmatic fashion-

 

Danny:Uh huh.

 

Matthew :It’s become the language du jour, if you will.

 

Danny:Uh huh.

 

Matthew :And we’re actually using in the Angular world, we’re using the TypeScript flavor on top of it. TypeScript’s just a layer, it’s another language that is an industry standard. But it trans piles itself at compile time, or transpile time.

 

It converts TypeScript code into JavaScript code, but TypeScript code gives us a little bit of language niceties. Like validation of data types, and certain constructs that what end up happening is when it’s transpiled, it converts itself into JavaScript. Which runs of course on every browser. But it makes the developer life a little bit easier.

 

Danny:I don’t think I’ve heard of transpiled-

 

Matthew :Transpile, yeah that’s a-

 

Danny:A new one for me-

 

Matthew :There’s always some-

 

Danny:Nice.

 

Matthew :Buzz words, right? You know you’ll probably use that quite frequently, yeah, probably incorrectly, but you’ll use it frequently.

 

Danny:I use it as a marketing term-

 

Matthew :Right.

 

Danny:See what that transpiles-

 

Matthew :Transpile your business.

 

Danny:Transpile your business. So probably somebody listening to this is probably thinking, what I was thinking as well, which is why aren’t you using Azure for this?

 

Matthew :Oh yeah, that’s a great point. Azure would be an excellent solution, and even SharePoint 2016 on premise would be a little bit better, because it’s got some extra capabilities in regards to events. Like web hooks, that are more guaranteed delivery, etcetera. Out in the cloud-

 

Danny:Yeah.

 

Matthew :It would be great. We could have used remote event receivers even in the cloud. We were talking about using remote event receivers hosted locally, and there’s two different ways, a low trust, and a high trust. How you can figure all this stuff. But it would’ve worked.

 

In this particular scenario we’re not using the cloud because the customer’s not using the cloud right now-

 

Danny:Okay.

 

Matthew :They maybe moving to that in the future, but we’ve got other customers who are cloud based, and we’re doing some of the same techniques that we’re talking about.

 

The challenge here is we have a working application. Works great. Has been in use for five plus years, and the IT group is changing the infrastructure slightly, and they’re putting new rules in place.

 

And so our business customers look at us and, “Well why do we have to do this?” And we’re kind of saying, “Well-” We had meetings with all the parties involved, us, them, the business, and the IT group so they could hear it straight from the horses’ mouth.

 

And so they understand, it’s a business need. It’s positioning themselves for the future, it’s a little bit of pain right now-

 

Danny:Yeah.

 

Matthew :But we have a solution, there’s always a way to fix a problem-

 

Danny:I had this visual of the business coming to you, and saying, “We need to do this.” And you’re like, “Aw, that’s not a problem. It’ll take a couple days to do that.” And then it’s almost like what I always joke around that part of my job is slowing everybody down around here.

 

I can just almost have this visual of somebody taking your argument and saying, “Yeah, but you can’t use this, and you can’t use this.”

 

Matthew :You’re absolutely right. It really is a standard, and straightforward SharePoint 2010 to 2013. If we had all the same technologies-

 

Danny:Yeah.

 

Matthew :In place … Which are still available. Yes they might be deprecated, but they’re still supported-

 

Danny:Yeah.

 

Matthew :If we’d of done that, if we had that ability, we would be done. It would be a easy upgrade. But what ends up happening is the changes we’re making now, the next step is going to be so much easier-

 

Danny:So they’re ready, they’re getting ready for-

 

Matthew :More cloud ready, yeah.

 

Danny:So even though they’re not even going to SharePoint 2016, or SharePoint Online, the next jump that they make it’ll be-

 

Matthew :Yeah.

 

Danny:Much easier. That will take a couple days-

 

Matthew :Yeah, and if we were doing this again, if they were coming to us brand new-

 

Danny:Yeah.

 

Matthew :And said, “We want this application” we would not do it the way we’ve done it.

 

So we’re trying to balance the technology that they have in place, the training that they’ve already done. The way the application works, what is the least amount of effort we can do, to get this thing done in the new environment.

 

Danny:Just a side note, since we’re doing a lot of these … I mean basically our applications are turning into little JavaScript applications. That probably makes them even … You know where they’re hosted in SharePoint.

 

As people maybe look at different platforms, or moving to different platforms … I know there’s the back end is different-

 

Matthew :Mm-hmm (affirmative)

 

Danny:But it seems like even get them into a situation where … If it was all server site code, then making that move is a big deal. But if it’s all JavaScript, then it might be easier to look at different ways of hosting these applications.

 

Matthew :We’ve done some amazing things with SharePoint-

 

Danny:Yeah.

 

Matthew :You know our applications are really enterprise applications that we do, and we really leverage SharePoint to it’s full extent. We utilize its capabilities of data management, as well as search, and document management, and all the policies they have in place.

 

But if a customer did have SQL Server, and they wanted to use SQL Server, because they had other enterprise applications that were using that. When we rewrite this application using JavaScript, and it’s Angular based forms, then we become more platform agnostic-

 

Danny:Okay.

 

Matthew :And in many ways that’s what Microsoft is trying to do with SharePoint. Is trying to make SharePoint fit better with that model. It’s nice to able to store data in SharePoint, cause you automatically get search, and you get some of this other stuff.

 

But quite frankly you get that with Microsoft SQL Server as well. The search language is slightly different, the configuration is slightly different. With SharePoint you get all these management tools that kind of come with it, but with these other platforms you get similar things as well.

 

Danny:Mm-hmm (affirmative)

 

Matthew :So we’ve written some very complex applications, some very feature rich applications in SharePoint. This new technology, this new model is going to future proof us. To be able to deliver applications in the future, regardless of the underlying infrastructure.

 

Danny:What is the … I know I’ve heard people talk about the SharePoint frame work, and that sort of thing. How does that fit into this stuff? You’re probably not utilizing it yet, because it’s not a … How does that fit into this?

 

Matthew :My opinion as a developer-

 

Danny:Uh huh.

 

Matthew :SharePoint, or excuse me Microsoft used to dictate to us, “Here’s how things should be done.”

 

Danny:Okay.

 

Matthew :But we always questioned, “Have they ever done this thing themselves?” Because if they did they would say there’s no way this would even work.

 

Danny:Oh that hurts.

 

Matthew :Yeah.

 

Danny:But it works in a demo-

 

Matthew :Yeah right.

 

Danny:I can really kick ass-

 

Matthew :So I think what they’re realizing is, wait a minute they’re trying to eat their own dog food, if you will. They’ve tried it themselves, their consultants have come in, and they’re listening to them saying, “Wait a minute. You know, we’re saying do it this way, but have you ever tried to do it that way? It’s hard to do.”

 

So they’re coming up with these frame works to help with that. The patterns, and practices. The SharePoint library, all these frameworks that the goal is to make it easy to incorporate user processes, user data inside the SharePoint platform.

 

Danny:Mm-hmm (affirmative)

 

Matthew :And so all this is great news for us.

 

Danny:Yep.

 

Matthew :As developers.

 

Danny:Anything else you wanna … This has been really interesting, it’s kind of-

 

Matthew :Oh this project I’ve worked on in the past-

 

Danny:Uh huh.

 

Matthew :I’m a domain expert on this particular application-

 

Danny:Uh huh.

 

Matthew :I’m applying new technology that’s new to me-

 

Danny:Uh huh.

 

Matthew :In certain areas, which is great, it’s a great learning experience. I came off a more traditional enterprise application, that was asp.net-

 

Danny:Uh huh.

 

Matthew :Microsoft SQL Server, etcetera. So it’s nice getting into the modern world if you will.

 

Danny:Right.

 

Matthew :It’s nice doing this, because I think it is going to be the future.

 

Danny:Yeah, and this whole … Again all this stuff will apply to other applications, and moving to the cloud, and talk … I just wonder in general what is … It maybe just people will start moving applications to the cloud when they need to rewrite them, or when they sunset old applications.

 

But it seems to me probably a lot of people are going through this, which is you know they’ve got an older style application. They want to move it over to the cloud, and they’re getting these … Well it’s going to take us three to six months to do this, and you’re just going to get the same thing that’s on the cloud, as what you have right now. How do you justify that?

 

Matthew :And that is a huge challenge, yeah, because you have a working application that looks a certain way, and you have to move it somewhere else, and it’s going to be this big expense.

 

One thing that’s at least nice about this transition that this particular customer’s doing, and what we’re doing here as a company at Three Wheel. Is we are getting our tool belt even bigger with more tools, and solutions.

 

We like to come up with patterns, and practices ourselves to help deliver solutions to the customers quickly. You know we’re not a think tank, we don’t like to spend two or three years working on a solution. The customers want action now.

 

Danny:Yeah.

 

Matthew :And we realize that, we use agile processes in our project management, and because we know, decisions get made, changes are absolute. Changes are going to happen, and we have to be able to adapt.

 

Danny:Yeah.

 

Matthew :So this whole thing that we’re going through with this particular customer is kind of like you said, it’s kind of like what’s happening with the industry.

 

But once you get over that initial hump-

 

Danny:Yeah.

 

Matthew :Unless they take away JavaScript for whatever reason, then we’re really in trouble. Go back to Cobalt. Once we make this step it will be smaller steps in the future.

 

Danny:Yeah, interesting. This has been fascinating, thank you for sharing what’s going on, and the project hasn’t … You’re just in the planning phase right now-

 

Matthew :We’re in the middle of it-

 

Danny:Okay.

 

Matthew :We’ve gone through a planning stage-

 

Danny:Okay.

 

Matthew :And we’ve gone through the initial development-

 

Danny:Okay.

 

Matthew :We’re going gang busters right now, getting things done.

 

Danny:Awesome, well good luck. I look forward to getting a update in a couple of months here, and thank you for taking the time to do this.

 

Matthew :Good talking to you Danny.

 

Danny:Awesome, thank you everybody for listening, and have a wonderful day. Take care, bye.

 

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Matthew ChestnutMoving Sandboxed Solutions to the Cloud
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What Do We Look for in New Hires?

Tim is a Senior Consultant at ThreeWill. He has 15 years of consulting experience designing and developing browser-based solutions using Microsoft technologies. Experience over the last 8 years has focused on the design and implementation of SharePoint Intranets, Extranets and Public Sites.
Danny:Hello, and welcome to the ThreeWill podcast. This is your host, Danny Ryan. I’m here with Tim Coalson. Tim, how’s it going?

 

Tim:It’s going good, Danny.

 

Danny:Good. Another quarter’s past. It’s amazing how quickly three months can go by, huh?

 

Tim:Time to talk again.

 

Danny:Time to talk again. You don’t want to write a blog post? No? You don’t want to sit around for a couple hours, just looking at a blank screen and saying, “What have I been doing lately?” What have you been doing lately? Same project that we’ve talked about a couple times, right?

 

Tim:I have been, I have been. So, today, I actually thought I would sort of switch gears from a technical topic and really more one, I guess, kind of HR related.

 

Danny:That’s great.

 

Tim:Recently, I was at a function and sat next to a guy. As you know me, I don’t meet a stranger, so I started talking to the young man-

 

Danny:Everyone knows Tim Coalson. I’ve learned that.

 

Tim:I realized this guy, he’s an IT guy, so I start talking to him about what he’s doing, and it just so happened he’s into the technologies that we’re using, so, as is my normal course, I start asking him does he like what he’s doing, and just … And tell him a little bit about our company. When I see people like this I’m excited to tell them what we’re doing, and if the opportunity arises that they are looking for a new opportunity to give us a call.

 

So, I told him about our company, and then followed up with him, and most recently we had lunch together with this young man along with one of our managers, just to get a sense for what’s this person about; what are their interests, because one thing we know is important for anyone that we want to potentially hire is one, that we’re always looking for what is that person’s passion? And, of course, then, looking for what do our customers need, and where those two intersect, and you got a great combination of the passion, and the need, and they come together. So, it turned out, from our discussion with this young guy, he’s a very motivated person. Seems like a person of integrity, so we were excited to get to know more about him, so we’re going to continue on through that interview process.

 

But that sort of got me thinking about what are really the types of characteristics of people that we want at ThreeWill? First of all, we want to make sure that they know who we are. We’re not trying to hire someone under some sort of deception, making them think we’re something we’re not, because we know long term, they’re going to come here and they’re not going to be happy if their expectation wasn’t set. So, we like to be very transparent in, okay, this is who we are, this is what our values are, and does that align with your interests?

 

So, for me, that’s always very important, that we make sure that people know who we are. We’re looking for long term relationships. We enjoy and value working together for a long time. One, there’s you enjoy it, but then two, there’s a benefit, because as you work together more, you learn each other’s strengths, your weaknesses you learn to mitigate those things that aren’t as strong, and accentuate the areas where people are the strongest. So, we definitely believe a long term relationship is best, not only for us as a company, but really, long term for our customers.

 

Danny:I think one of the places I often send people to on our website is there’s a culture page where it goes through what our shared values are, and a lot of it’s tough, because there’s overlapping values with what a lot of people would say that they have as internal values, but you sort of … You’ll find out if people live them day in and day out, and one of the things that I put on that page was a person who represented that value. It wasn’t necessarily the best person to represent that value, but some person who sort of reminded me of that value.

 

Of course, like everything, like all my writing that goes on when I’m … I suggested a quote that they put … They may or may have not modified what the quote is, but it’s a good place for you to go sort of see what is it … When we say that, what’s it like to be at ThreeWill, what do we sort of share as we’re making decisions together as a group. I think the way that you do it is you talk about your shared values.

 

Tim:Yeah, one of the … As I thought more about this, I realized that the actual technical skills really was fairly low on my list, because I think you can find a lot people out there with technical skills. It’s really a matter of, like you just said, from a culture perspective, will that person fit in, because there’s a lot of people with a lot of skills, but there’s not a lot of people who communicate well, who are humble, who are team players. A lot of times, people really are sort of out to their ego. They like to feed their ego on either the code the write, or something else, and that’s really not what we’re all about.

 

Even our compensation is structured in a way that only when the team has success does the individual get the bonuses, or the compensations. So, it’s really more about what we as a team can do together, not what me as an individual can do. Whether or not my peers do good or not, we’re incented to work together, and I think generally, the people we hire, that’s what they’re all about. They’re all about teamwork, so part of that involves a certain amount of humility, that when there’s areas of a project that maybe I’m not as strong in, and I think I need help, the willingness to ask one of my peers for their input, for their feedback. So, certainly being a team player is a big part of our culture, as well as humility.

 

Of course, with consulting in general, good communication skills. You got to be able to set expectations with your customers. We don’t want customers to be surprised by anything, which part of our process involves one or two weeks sprints, so we’re regularly communicating to our customers, usually on a daily basis, but even if not on a daily basis, at least a week or two at the minimum, to keep them up to speed on where we are on our projects. So, we want to make sure that customers aren’t surprised by anything, that we keep them up to date on a regular basis that they’re involved in the process of understanding, okay, here’s what the concerns are, here’s what the risks are, here’s what our options are. Let’s make a choice and move forward.

 

So, being able to articulate that to a customer and being able to keep expectations, that is certainly important to our customers, as well as internally, to be able to share where are you at on whatever pieces of the project you’re working on. So, good communication’s certainly a big part of it.

 

Danny:Excellent. What else were some of the other things?

 

Tim:We’re really about solving business problems. I mean, technology is not the end, technology’s a means to an end. So, for us, it’s making sure we have people that really, it’s not about trying to continue to pad their resume by learning new technologies just for the sake of learning new technologies, but to really be focused on solving our customers’ business problems, helping them be able to collaborate, work together, be more successful. So, just finding someone that really solving the problem is their goal, and technology is just a means to that end, not the end itself.

 

Danny:Excellent, excellent. I’m just interested, because you were talking about this earlier, which was you were … I guess you were … What’s the first couple things that you say about working at ThreeWill? Not to put you on the spot, but how do you describe the environment here?

 

Tim:Yeah, for me, I guess part of it is just in contrast to hearing other people talk about their jobs. For me, we have a open door policy, so I’m constantly talking. Being a relatively small company, I’m always talking to the leaders of our company, so I don’t have a lot of bureaucracy, this management structure that I have to go through to talk about things, or express any concerns. So, it’s a very transparent environment. To me, I enjoy that piece, just being part of what really is a team, where we do work together. It’s not about one person, about what they can accomplish, but it’s really about teamwork and about how together we can help our customers be successful.

 

Danny:One of the things along with that, and it’s just sort of a side note, we hear a lot during the monthly company meetings about sort of how the pipeline is, how we’re doing as a business. It’s interesting, because I think what Tommy and I … We want to share what we can, but we also don’t want you guys to worry about certain things. You have do this on projects as well, right? You want the client to be informed, but you don’t want them to not worry about … They don’t have to worry about certain things.

 

Tim:Right, there’s technical details at times that really, a customer can’t help with, so there’s really no need to … We involve them to the extent that they can make a difference. We don’t want to unnecessarily burden a customer with things that are really outside their scope of influence, so … Certainly, if it is within their scope, then we want to be transparent and let them know about whatever the risk is, and tell them what we think the options are, and of course, get their opinion as well. Then together, come up with what’s the best path forward.

 

Danny:I think with us it’s just the things that you can control, or at least have some control over, is … I know you’ve been on a project for a while, but I think this is sort of why we look at utilization, because it’s the one … You can’t really control that much what your bill rate is, but you can look at the project and look for ways that you can help out on the project, and trying to grow what you’re doing, or take on new things on the project. That’s sort of the one area where you have … At least could have the potential to make decisions, and to maybe build up a skill, or be able to apply yourself to be able to make a difference. So, yes. It’s interesting to see how that factors in, yeah.

 

Tim:One of the things I think about, particularly as I talk to young people, is I think with our company, most of us are pretty seasoned veterans. I mean, I’ve been doing consulting now since … I’ve been doing IT since 1988. I’ve been doing consulting since around 2000, so that’s what, about 17 years? So, as you talk about developers versus consultants, there’s a big gap in there where I view a developer as someone that is really all about writing code, whereas a consultant is really about understanding the business, understanding the people, helping define what this application should look like, and helping define the requirements.

 

It’s a much broader, bigger communication piece, and then there’s, of course, the management to make sure the right things get done at the right time. That way, come the end of the project, then everything’s in order. So, as I talk to young people, I just think of all the experience that they can gather here at ThreeWill by working with more seasoned consultants to learn some of the … They may know the technology pieces. In fact, they might even know some newer technologies than we’ve actually used, but the piece that we can help them with is the consulting part. They can learn how to better manage a project.

 

I hear so much about failed projects, and we rarely, if ever, have those here at ThreeWill, because we manage things so tightly, I just don’t see that happening, but I hear statistically that how many IT projects fail, and it kind of blows my mind, just thinking about how much time and money’s been wasted on that. So, for us, the agile process is just so important to make sure that we do stay on track; that our customers are making decisions all along the way; that together, that we can be successful.

 

Danny:Anything else to add before we wrap up here?

 

Tim:I think that’s it.

 

Danny:Awesome. Well, I appreciate you taking some time out of your busy schedule, and you’ll continue to be on the same project for a while now, or …

 

Tim:Right now I think we’re to the end of the year. We’ve got signed contracts, or soon-to-be signed contracts. It’s great to work on the same project and to see it continue to mature over time.

 

Danny:That’s great, and I appreciate you staying on … You’re sort of the … You know what’s going on here at ThreeWill. I think Tommy and I rely on you, just sort of getting a sense of what’s going on inside of ThreeWill, and I appreciate your … Because you honestly care about other people, and it shows, and it really comes out. So, we appreciate just who you are as a person, and how much you care about other people. It is more than what we’re doing on projects, it’s just the human, being able to relate with other people and being able to really care for other people, and you’re really good at that, and we really appreciate you, Tim.

 

Tim:Thank you, Danny.

 

Danny:Absolutely. Thanks, everybody. Looks like we’re slowly getting more and more softer as we talk, and we go along. We’ll see if I can fix that, but oh well. Thank you, everybody, for taking the time to listen. Obviously, if you’re interested in ThreeWill, it’s a great place to be, it’s a nice … It’s a great culture here. It’s a consulting environment, so it’s pretty fast-paced, but it’s a place that Tommy and I really want to be a place that you love to work at, and so if you’re interested in learning more, come to threewill.com. Underneath the company section of our website, you’ll see something about our culture. Go into there and sort of look at what different people at ThreeWill say about working at ThreeWill. It’s a good place to start, and you can also see job openings, and start the whole application process on the website. So, definitely drop by, see if there’s any openings that look like something you’d be interested in doing. Thanks so much for taking the time to listen. Have a wonderful day. Thank you. Buh-bye.

 

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Tim CoalsonWhat Do We Look for in New Hires?
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Catching Up with Matthew Chestnut

Matthew Chestnut is a Senior Consultant at ThreeWill. He has over 20 years of software development experience around enterprise and departmental business productivity applications. He has a proven track record of quality software development, on-budget project management and management of successful software development teams.
Danny:Hello and welcome to the Three Will podcast. This is your host Danny Ryan. I have Matthew Chestnut here with me. How’s it going, Matthew?

 

Matthew:Hello again, Danny.

 

Danny:Chestnuts roasting …

 

Matthew:It’s the season right?

 

Danny:… on an open fire. Yes it is the season. Truly is the season-

 

Matthew:And I’ve heard that one before, by the way.

 

Danny:I’m sorry. Sorry, I apologize. What you been up to recently? It’s our quarterly get together, it’s our little pow-wow. I feel like we should have a little fireplace in here, serve some hot cocoa. What you been up to recently?

 

Matthew:Here we are, we’re winding down the end of the year, the end of the quarter. Of course, the holiday season is upon us. Doing work, the same project I’ve been working on for the last 18 months, it seems. We’re trying to wind down, get some features in place, get the product solidified for the upcoming fiscal year. It’s the start of the tax season, so we have to have a lot of features prepared. Obviously, there’s a blackout period where we can only do certain deployments at certain times. We’ve got various people on various schedules, as far as vacations, holidays, et cetera. We’re really winding down, trying to get the product, the feature list that we want to deploy ready to go so we’re heading off the new year in style, if you will.

 

Danny:Nice. Nice. When do they lock down for tax season?

 

Matthew:Well it’s unknown to man. No, it’s coming up soon. There’s restrictions on deployments, deployments of big things. Obviously, we can always deploy fixes or minor changes, but if we’re talking about big features, we really don’t want to do it, because their customers are expecting a certain look and feel when they go to the website and they don’t want any surprises.

 

Danny:Nice. You’re working with, who’s on the team, Tim still on the team?

 

Matthew:Oh, we still have Tim, and Anthony Heffner is working, Tim Coalson, as well as Brandon Holloway doing our QA work. Brandon is the, I guess it’s a funnel where Brandon is at the bottom of the funnel and Tim, and Anthony, and I just keep pouring stuff into it. Brandon’s been able to keep up. He’s done a really great job in testing stuff that he may not know everything about. In other words, he’s really good at picking up things and understanding what he needs to look at without, necessarily, understanding the big picture.

 

Danny:All right. So, you guys still running sprints or is it more of a kanban type of style?

 

Matthew:Yeah, we’re not really sprint related. We have a release plan focus, where there’s a certain set of items in the tracking system that we are working on. We’re meeting daily to talk about that list. The team is diverse, it’s international, multiple locations, so we’re just making certain everyone knows what everyone else is working on.

 

Danny:Nice, nice. We’re coming up with plans for this upcoming year to help them out as well? I like the multi-year projects. Those make me happy.

 

Matthew:Oh yeah. There’s plenty of work to be done, for sure. There’s certain blackout periods in certain areas where we can’t do deployments, because it’s very busy. But it also give us the ability, then, to sit back, figure out what we want to do next, what kind of features are needed, et cetera, plan them, get them done, get them tested, and then be ready for deployment the next time we’re able to do so.

 

Danny:We’ve caught up with work stuff. Personal stuff, I know you’ve done some VTO. VTO around here is Volunteer Time Off. Tell me what you’ve been doing. You’ve been doing some running related stuff recently.

 

Matthew:Yeah, I’ve been involved with youth running for about 10 years now. I have a youth running club I do as a hobby, another job if you will, Alpha Crush Running Club. This is the cross-country season, or rather, we just wrapped up the cross-country season. High school running finished the first weekend, or so, in November, but that is the startup of youth running with USA Track and Field. We’ve had a series of meets, here in Georgia, for the association level, which is the first round of competition in the Junior Olympics program for cross-country. We then went to Tallahassee, Florida to compete in the regional championships, which a region is comprised of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. Just this past weekend, December 10th, was the national championship, held in Hoover, Alabama. Fortunately, all these meets were relatively close to us. The national championship had approximately 3,200 competitors across five different age divisions and two genders. So, each race had anywhere from 3 to 400 athletes, so it’s a well attended race, very competitive.

 

Danny:Awesome, awesome. How’d your runners do?

 

Matthew:It’s interesting. I’ve got some really good runners. I had three All-American finishers, which is great. Out of the State of Georgia, there were 24, I believe, All-American runners total and I had three of them. All-American status is bestowed upon those who finish in the top 25, in their specific age division. But what’s interesting, I might have had a 6th place finisher in one race but I also had the last place finisher in the same race. My club doesn’t cater to just the elite runners. There are certain clubs, across the country, who are elite teams. They handpick athletes to participate and they always do very well. I take whoever comes to me and we just work with them. They all enjoy it, regardless of their ability. The girl who finished last place had just as much fun as the girl who finished first.

 

Danny:Any of them aspiring to be Olympians?

 

Matthew:I have ages anywhere from 7 to 14, usually through 8th grade, then they move on to high school. It’s interesting to hear them talk about their running future and their talk about grandiose visions of gold medals, and championships, and things of that nature. Our goal is simply to instill the love of running. Give them the ability to compete with kids their same age, in various venues whether it’s cross-country or track. Yeah, I have some that are quite good. They’re at the national level, obviously finishing in the top ten in these events really means something. They are gathering friendships with their fellow competitors, so that they see them at the various national meets, et cetera. So, it works out, they get new friends, strong competition, and they really enjoy it.

 

Danny:What’s the typical advice, or maybe the best advice, or the most often given advice to the runners that you have.

 

Matthew:The big thing is always, simply to try their best. I mean, whether you’re super fast or just kind of fast, the key is, is always showing up the day of the meet and trying your best. What I like about cross-country over track is it is team oriented, in the sense that up to 5 to 8 athletes form a team. Team scoring depends on their finishing order in the race. The lower number is the better number. It incentivizes the kids to go out and run fast, they cheer each other on, there’s a little bit of a bond that forms amongst them. The key is just for them to enjoy it. Some parents are hyper-competitive and they want their kid to be the fastest in the world. I just want them to be able to run continuously, to run for life, if you will. We’re trying to prepare these kids for high school running. It’s kind of the first stage, that we get them as youth, we move them on to high school. If they have some aptitude, then they can go to college, but we’re the first step, if you will, getting them introduced to running.

 

Danny:Does Alpha Crush, does it … Are you working with them year round and then certain times you’re all together, or do you have them sort of like a plan for the year?

 

Matthew:Sometimes it feels like it’s year round. Right now, we’re on our longest break. The national championship is the second weekend in December. We start up with our spring track season in March, when daylight savings time kicks in again. Our seasons, really we have two. We have a track season that runs March through July and then we have a cross-country season that runs August through December. We get a little bit of break in between. What the kids do during the break is, they drive their parents crazy. The parents have asked, could we host some kind of weekly events, weekly runs, to keep the kids active and exercise. During the winter months, we’ll meet once a week at various locations throughout the area and we’ll do a run. The kids like it because after the run, we’ll go to some place to get a bagel, a muffin, a hot chocolate, or whatever. So, I jokingly say we might be running anywhere from 3 to 10 miles depending on the athlete and they’re talking 99% of the time about what they’re going to get at the restaurant when we get done. They’re not even worried about the run itself. Which tells me that they’re enjoying it, they’re not worried about the run, and they’re also quite in good shape.

 

Danny:Nice, nice. We’re always talking about technology around here. Is there any technology these kids use to improve their running?

 

Matthew:Oh my gosh, yeah. The technology, not only for their running, but for my management of the club. That’s a big thing for me, to be able to scale this. We have 110 kids on the roster and I need to be able to send out communications, emails, website. We use all this stuff at our disposal. We have a website, we use an email communication system. We use text reminders. The kids who have watches, sometimes just use a simple chronometer, a simple stopwatch that counts the number of minutes they’ve been running. Others have GPS watches. In fact, it becomes a running joke, where before we start a particular training run we have to wait a few seconds or a few minutes for everyone’s GPS watch to sync before we can get started. They definitely use technology to their benefit. What’s nice about running, it’s a relatively inexpensive sport. Shoes are probably the most expensive item, and with kids, they grow out of their shoes very quickly. We recycle shoes, where possible. Certain athletes use spikes or special shoes for cross-country and/or track. When they grow out of them, we take them and distribute them to some other kid who might need them the next season. We get a lot of shoes that are gently used but we can reuse them over and over.

 

Danny:Awesome. Awesome. I think it’s wonderful that you do this. It’s great you can use some, I guess VTO you’re using that to go and work some of these events, is that correct?

 

Matthew:Yeah. That’s a good point. The VTO, the Volunteer Time Off, has been very beneficial for me. I get five days a year. I have my running club, and so we’ll travel to meets. I’m also a USA Track and Field Official, so I’ll officiate at some of these meets as well. I get the opportunity to do high school championships, college championships, professional meets, part of the volunteer part of USA Track and Field as well as my own running club. It’s nice to have that option to be able to contribute and not worry about work and things of that nature.

 

Danny:As an official, you have any stories about disqualification or anything.

 

Matthew:There’s always disqualifications. Here’s a story that I tell my kids. I was working this professional meet and I have these athletes who are pro’s, they’ve been doing this for years. I’m a starter, so I’m at the starting line preparing for the next race, which happens to be an 800 meter race on the track, two loops around. There’s certain starting areas depending on the distance, because there’s a staggered start, depending what lane you’re in. Lane one has a slightly less stagger, or no stagger at all. Lane seven or eight has the big stagger. The professional athletes, theoretically, should know where they’re supposed to stand for a given race. Here is this professional athlete, very well known, she’s standing where the 400 meter start is, which is farther up than the 800 meter start. All the other lady athletes are saying, “Maggie come back. Maggie.” She finally realized her faux pas and they all laughed about it and we got the race underway. I tell my kids, these professional athletes are just like you. They want to know where their bib numbers are, what time their race is, where do I stand, where do I go. They ask the same questions whether they’re 25 or 8 years old.

 

Danny:Nice, nice. That’s a great story. Well thank you for all that you’re doing. It’s great, especially on these larger, longer projects keeping up the pace and keeping things going. Thank you for all you’re doing at work and thank you for the great things you’re doing with these kids. It’s wonderful to hear that. It’s really good stuff that you’re doing.

 

Matthew:Thanks, Danny. I’m looking forward to this short break. I’ve got a couple of weeks, I guess, of vacation coming up to recharge, get ready for the next year. I’m looking forward to it.

 

Danny:You sticking around here for the holidays?

 

Matthew:I’m headed to Texas for a couple of days, but primarily here in Georgia, yeah.

 

Danny:Nice, nice. Well thank you everybody for taking the time to listen and to catch up here with Matthew Chestnut. Thanks, Matthew.

 

Matthew:Thank you, Danny.

 

Danny:Have a wonderful day everyone. Bye bye.

 

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Matthew ChestnutCatching Up with Matthew Chestnut
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Catching Up with Brandon Holloway

Brandon Holloway is a Quality Assurance Engineer at ThreeWill. He has over 10 years of QA experience in requirements gathering, risk analysis, project planning, project sizing, scheduling, testing, defect/bug tracking, management, and reporting.
Danny:Hello and welcome to the ThreeWill Podcast. Today I have Brandon Holloway here with me. Hey Brandon, how’s it going?

 

Brandon:Good, how are you Danny?

 

Danny:I’m doing great, thank you. We’re going to just do a catching up with Brandon Holloway podcast today, how’s that sound?

 

Brandon:Great.

 

Danny:This way, probably the folks who will be listening to this will be other ThreeWill folks who say, “What’s Brandon been up to lately?” Or you’ve been on all the projects so they know what you’re up to then, huh?

 

Brandon:Yeah, I’ve been on a couple.

 

Danny:Okay, good, so let’s just get this whole thing kicked off with … Have you been on one main project or across multiple projects or what’s it been like recently?

 

Brandon:Lately I’ve been on a few different projects but one has been my main focus and lately it’s just been kind of like a stabilization type phase, getting ready for a production release coming up and just retesting a whole bunch of issues, so that’s the main thing. There’s a couple other smaller ones. One, I’m actually working with our product Trove which allows file uploads through Salesforce into SharePoint.

 

Danny:Nice. I got to get me some of that.

 

Brandon:Oh, yeah. It’s some good stuff, man. I’ve been doing some testing there. The client wanted us to go back and fix a couple of low priority issues since there was some time left so I’ve been doing some of that. There’s another one I’ve been working on a little bit here and there. It’s like a trucking company where they have these observation forms. I’m dealing with the drivers and whatnot and we’ve done some pretty cool stuff with that so I’m doing some testing on that as well.

 

Danny:Nice.

 

Brandon:And then there’s another one a little bit down the road coming up with another big company. I’m dealing with some calendar and document management stuff.

 

Danny:Cool. This past year it surprised us how much migration work we were getting. Are you typically involved in any of those migration projects or have those come up or is it something that typically the client would end up doing? The testing part of it.

 

Brandon:The testing part of it, so far I’ve only been involved with maybe two that are dealing with migrations. I do test in our environment but as far as the actual migration itself, a lot of times that’s with either the developers here at ThreeWill and working with the clients, so haven’t been really heavily involved when stuff gets moved over to production. Not mostly.

 

Danny:Nice. What’s been your favorite project recently that you’ve been, assuming you have a favorite project, right? If you had to pick one-

 

Brandon:Maybe the one with Trove.

 

Danny:Sorry for the question out of the blue here. I just got to keep you on your toes here.

 

Brandon:No, it’s probably the one I mentioned with Trove. I’ve been working with Eric on that one and that one’s pretty neat. I guess I kind of like when it’s something that’s a little different. It goes across various platforms, Salesforce, SharePoint, and also something that developed by ThreeWill, so pretty cool to get in there. I’m the first one obviously going through there testing that stuff since it’s new and Eric adds features to it every now and then so it’s just kind of refreshing to test something like that other than I guess you could say same old, same old all the time.

 

Danny:Yeah, so it’s not something … I guess in this case it is. It’s SharePoint related but it’s SharePoint and Salesforce related.

 

Brandon:Exactly.

 

Danny:Nice. Very nice. Just to dive a little deeper into that, do you set up your own Salesforce environments and your own SharePoint environments for doing the testing or is that something Eric does for you?

 

Brandon:Yes, I do have my own SharePoint and Salesforce environment for the testing that we do but sometimes the client will have their sandbox environment that they may want us to test in there too, but it always starts with my own environment.

 

Danny:Did you do anything with Channel at all? Did you help out with any of the testing for Channel or was that someone else?

 

Brandon:I did some testing for Channel. It’s been maybe a couple months since I’ve done any testing with Channel but that was a major client that we had that really utilized that for their company-wide site, and there was a lot of testing going on then with it, so it’s been a while since I’ve touched it but I definitely did a good bit of testing with Channel as well.

 

Danny:Very nice. Testing anything in general … What you’ve been doing on projects, has it changed through this past year at all or is it pretty much it’s been pretty standard stuff for you?

 

Brandon:I would say pretty standard stuff. Each project may be a little different, but all in all it’s still pretty straight forward manual testing. It’s just dependent on what the application is.

 

Danny:Are you enjoying what you’re doing?

 

Brandon:I am.

 

Danny:That’s always good. That’s always good.

 

Brandon:I’ve been testing for probably nine or ten years now. Not with ThreeWill that long, and I love it. I’ve always loved it.

 

Danny:That’s great. That is wonderful to hear. So you’re here in the room with me so you’re not in Phoenix City. Is your family up here with you as well?

 

Brandon:Actually yes, this time they are. We have the company Christmas party tomorrow so we all came up.

 

Danny:Excellent. How are the kids doing?

 

Brandon:They’re great. They’re great. My oldest is three now and we had another one a few months ago, so he’s five months old. We got Maddox and Jackson, two boys, so it’s getting a little more hectic.

 

Danny:Nice. You’re putting together a football team, huh?

 

Brandon:Yeah. The size of the kids, it may be. They’re both in the 99th percentile for height for their age so who knows? Maybe tight end, maybe a wide receiver. Whatever.

 

Danny:I look forward to seeing your family tomorrow. It’ll be nice. We’re going to Papa Dough’s. Papa Dough’s.

 

Brandon:Papa Dough’s. I’ve never actually been to Papa Dough’s.

 

Danny:You haven’t? Okay.

 

Brandon:We don’t have those back in Phoenix City and Columbus.

 

Danny:Do you have restaurants in Phoenix City?

 

Brandon:You know, not really. We pretty much have to travel to Columbus to go to the grocery store and come back and fix sandwiches. Alabama doesn’t have a whole lot-

 

Danny:You hunt for all your meat, right?

 

Brandon:Yep, yeah you got it. In my backyard.

 

Danny:All right, I’m going to back off here. How do you like living in Phoenix City?

 

Brandon:I like it. We lived up here for a couple years, maybe a couple years ago. We were up here for about two years. We like it up here. There’s things we miss about up here, but one thing we don’t miss is the traffic which is awful, but it’s like that I guess any major city, but everything’s a little more slowed down in Phoenix City. You can get one side of the town to the other pretty quickly and I just kind of like it.

 

Danny:How often do you go across the river to Columbus? Is it pretty often?

 

Brandon:Every day, pretty much.

 

Danny:Every day, okay.

 

Brandon:Yeah. We live maybe two minutes drive from Columbus. Maybe not every single day but several times a week. My wife’s always over there. The shopping, stuff like that. A lot of restaurants are in Columbus. Phoenix City has some of that stuff but not nearly as much. Columbus is probably five to ten times the size of Phoenix City.

 

Danny:Nice. How long does it take you to get up here from Columbus area? Was it a couple hours?

 

Brandon:Up to the office it’s probably a little over two hours.

 

Danny:Little over two hours.

 

Brandon:Two hours and 15 minutes, something like that. To the condo that we’re staying at in Buckhead it’s about an hour and 45 minutes just depending on traffic.

 

Danny:Nice, is it somebody you know for the condo?

 

Brandon:Yeah, my uncle. It’s the company he works for. He keeps charge of the condo. It never has anybody in there so every now and then he’ll let us get in there.

 

Danny:Nice, that works out well.

 

Brandon:It does. It’s a lot better than doing what Beau does all the time and getting up at 4:30 and driving up here.

 

Danny:It’s nice having everybody here in the office today. You picked a good day to drop by. There’s a lot of folks here.

 

Brandon:Yeah, I noticed that. I haven’t seen this many people in the office in a while. Of course I’m not up here a whole lot, but it’s pretty full, yeah.

 

Danny:So anything new? Anything else, because it’s probably to be other ThreeWill folks who are listening to this. For the Brandon update, anything else that’s new in your life besides a second child daddyhood-wise?

 

Brandon:That’s probably the main thing right there.

 

Danny:That’ll keep you busy, man.

 

Brandon:Yeah, it’s keeping my wife busy, definitely. She’s doing a couple things here and there on the side but mostly she stays home with the boys and it’s definitely more work than it would look like from somebody that’s never had to deal with it, so definitely commend her for that but that’s pretty much it, man. Living life.

 

Danny:Living life. Living the life in Phoenix City.

 

Brandon:That’s right.

 

Danny:Excellent.

 

Brandon:Don’t make it sound so bad.

 

Danny:Did I make it sound bad?

 

Brandon:You just kind of trailed off a little bit there, “In Phoenix City … ” Got a little slower I guess.

 

Danny:Hey, you know what, I don’t know if you know this but recently this past year moved up to Cumming, and as far as I’m further out basically in the country you could say and as much as I can say that, so traffic’s a little bit slower up there. Let me put it this way. In the morning you can hear cows in my backyard, so I moved a little bit to the country.

 

Brandon:Yeah, well, I don’t have any cows in my backyard so you got me beat there.

 

Danny:I said you can hear cows. I don’t have cows in my backyard but you can hear them mooing, so I consider that … I’m up by Sawnee Mountain which has been nice just to be a little bit further north, a little bit further out there and the family’s enjoyed being up there, but yeah, it’s nice.

 

Brandon:Little bit colder?

 

Danny:Little bit colder, yeah. Definitely the kids are hoping for some snow. We’ll see if that happens.

 

Brandon:Ya’ll get a lot more of that up here than we do.

 

Danny:Yeah, absolutely. Thank you for all that you do on projects. It’s awesome having you around to come in and do all the QA and testing that you do. We really appreciate what you do, Brandon.

 

Brandon:Glad to be here.

 

Danny:Awesome. Thank you everybody for taking the time to listen to this and catching up with Brandon, and I hope you have a wonderful day. Thanks, bye bye.

 

Brandon:War eagle.

 

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Brandon HollowayCatching Up with Brandon Holloway
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Interview with Rob Horton, Senior Consultant

Danny serves as Vice President of Business Development at ThreeWill. His primary responsibilities are to make sure that we are building partnerships with the right clients and getting out the message about how we can help clients.
Danny:Hi, this is Danny Ryan and welcome to the ThreeWill Podcast. Today, I have Rob Horton here with me. Hi, Rob.

 

Rob:Hi. How’s it going?

 

Danny:Good. How are you doing?

 

Rob:Good.

 

Danny:Excellent, excellent. Rob is a senior consultant for ThreeWill. You’ve been around here for … What is it? 18 years now?

 

Rob:Just about. Just about.

 

Danny:Just 18 years, huh? Wow.

 

Rob:No, I came over in December of last year so working on fifth month.

 

Danny:Awesome, fifth month. Everything going well?

 

Rob:Very well. Very well.

 

Danny:You’re having a good time?

 

Rob:I am. I’m enjoying the work. I’m enjoying the people who work here. This has been a blast.

 

Danny:Cool. What’s it like being that close to Pete? That’s got to be wrong. You’re close to Tommy, too. You’re looking across the table at Tommy.

 

Rob:Right. In between the two of them.

 

Danny:You didn’t pick that seat, did you? You didn’t know what you were doing when you picked that seat, I guess.

 

Rob:No, no. Actually, Pete and I worked together many, many years ago at,

 

Danny:Cool.

 

Rob:… Hewlett-Packard. We actually worked together for almost 10 years there.

 

Danny:You worked together. Wow. Then you developed a relationship over there. Then Pete said, “Come on over. The water is warm.”

 

Rob:Something like that.

 

Danny:You’re like, “Why is the water warm, Pete?”

 

Rob:He said something to the effect of, “You’ll probably hate me after this.”

 

Danny:Jeez. Pete, he’s very good at setting low expectations. He does that with me all the time. As a senior consultant, what’s a typical day like for you, assuming you have a typical day?

 

Rob:Well, it’s varied. Everyday is made up of a lot of different pieces. When I first came in, I worked on one big project. Now, I’m working on a lot of smaller projects.

 

Danny:Got you.

 

Rob:My day to day, it’s a mix of documentation, visiting with the clients, visiting with other consultants, other engineers here at ThreeWill, coming up with plans. It’s a lot of varied work.

 

Danny:Initially you were doing … You’re just one one project. Now you’ve moved to multiple projects.

 

Rob:That’s correct, yeah.

 

Danny:We want to keep you on your toes. That’s why.

 

Rob:That’s right. That’s right.

 

Danny:One project is not enough. My goodness.

 

Rob:It’s enjoyable though because with different work throughout the day and different clients, personally I enjoy that. It keeps things moving. It keeps me on my toes. Things don’t get stale. Things don’t get boring.

 

Danny:Awesome. Awesome. Well, what I wanted to do during this interview just to get folks to know you a little bit better outside of when you’re doing your consulting work, and solving problems, and getting things done, and making sure Pete stays in order. Do you have any favorite hobbies that you have outside of work?

 

Rob:I have a few hobbies. I’m a pretty avid tennis player. I also like to do weight training. I’ve been doing that for several years now and then carpentry, woodworking.

 

Danny:Really?

 

Rob:Yes, it’s a big hobby of mine as well.

 

Danny:Really? What’s something that you’ve made?

 

Rob:Well, I do a lot of home improvement type work. My father and I a couple of years ago finished out a basement in my home. That was a wonderful project. Just getting the basement finished was nice. Learning a lot of skills from my father was nice and actually just getting to work with him was really nice. I feel like through that experience, it took us about nine months because-

 

Danny:Really?

 

Rob:It wasn’t really a full-time effort.

 

Danny:You worked on weekends to get things done?

 

Rob:Yup and a little bit during the week. I felt like we were closer after that. It was nice. I really enjoyed that.

 

Danny:It’s definitely a bonding experience with your dad.

 

Rob:Yup, definitely.

 

Danny:Nice. Very cool. Very cool. We have some other tennis players here. You mentioned tennis. Kirk I think likes to play tennis as well.

 

Rob:Yup, we’ve talked about that. I think Bruce used to play tennis.

 

Danny:Until he hurt himself or something like that.

 

Rob:I’m not sure. That happens. He lives in Charleston now. I think maybe when he was in Atlanta. Atlanta has a huge tennis community both USTA and ALTA organization.

 

Danny:Nice, nice. Any favorite TV shows, movies, anything come to mind when I mention those two?

 

Rob:I just finished the second season of Daredevil on Netflix, which I feel like is a pretty amazing show.

 

Danny:What’s Daredevil about? I don’t know anything about it.

 

Rob:It’s a comic book character that they’ve brought to the screen. It’s a series as opposed to … They did a movie about it. It really wasn’t that great a few years ago with Ben Affleck. This is a whole new take on the comic book. They bring in other comic books from the Daredevil world. This season they had a comic book character called Elektra as well as The Punisher.

 

Danny:The Punisher, that’s a good nickname for some folks around here.

 

Rob:That’s right.

 

Danny:The Punisher. Cool. Do you like reading comic books then? Is that something you’ve done growing up or this is a more recent phenomenon?

 

Rob:A more recent. I have a teenage son and he’s into comic books.

 

Danny:Got you.

 

Rob:For anyone who has a teenager, anything that you can do to connect with your teenager you will do. I wasn’t much of a comic book … I didn’t read a whole lot of comic books when I was younger, but I get into it with my son and for my son.

 

Danny:With your dad, it’s carpentry. With your son, it’s comic books.

 

Rob:That’s right. That’s exactly right.

 

Danny:Find a way to relate. That’s very nice, very nice. You have just one son or how many kids do you have?

 

Rob:I have two kids. I have a son who’s 15 and a daughter who’s 13, so I have two teenagers.

 

Danny:I’m sorry.

 

Rob:That’s right.

 

Danny:I’m sorry. We’re working on getting rid of the rest of the hair up there.

 

Rob:That’s right.

 

Danny:We’re working on it.

 

Rob:What’s left is gray.

 

Danny:Any favorite books or authors?

 

Rob:I really haven’t honestly had much time to read for pleasure. It’s mostly I’m doing a tremendous amount of work. This type of work, specifically consulting and technology consulting, requires you to stay up-to-date.

 

Danny:There’s a lot of outside reading, a lot of Googling, a lot of trying to stay on top of the latest technologies.

 

Rob:Yeah. That’s definitely for sure.

 

Danny:Very cool, very cool. Where do you fall in line with the phone wars? I’ll call it the phone wars.

 

Rob:Years ago, I had BlackBerry.

 

Danny:Was that at HP when you had the BlackBerry?

 

Rob:Yup. Well, my days at HP, we had SkyTel pagers.

 

Danny:I’m sorry.

 

Rob:We thought we were doing pretty well when he had the texting pagers.

 

Danny:Nice. Is that a pager you have on your side right now there?

 

Rob:That’s right. That’s right.

 

Danny:You know you can get rid of that, right? You don’t have to keep that by your side.

 

Rob:I think pagers probably cost more than phones now. I’m on Android. I’ve been on Android since the BlackBerry days. I never had a lot of experience with Mac and iOS, so it’s very familiar to me.

 

Danny:Android seems to be … I think someone on one of the podcast said it seems to be the news Windows. It’s so prevalent out there. It seems to have the same market share and dominance that Windows had.

 

Rob:Yeah. I also enjoy it. I’ve had a previous phone I’ve had. I’ve done some sideloading of applications as well as put on a unsupported operating system. It was a newer version of Android that my search-

 

Danny:My goodness.

 

Rob:I enjoy that part of it, too. Just being able to tinker with it which I don’t feel it might not be as easily done with iOS.

 

Danny:No, it isn’t. When you get old and tired like me, you just want the darn thing to work. You want big buttons and all that sort of stuff.

 

Rob:That’s right.

 

Danny:It’s definitely a tinker. If you want to be able to adjust it exactly the way you want to, Android is the way to go. I’ve used both of them and just keep coming back to iOS because I’m comfortable with it. Really, it’s amazing how comparable the two are..

 

Rob:Well, Apple makes some great devices though. That’s for sure. Whatever your preference is, there’s some really nice Apple devices out there.

 

Danny:If you’re using Android, what type of phone do you have? Is it an earlier one, a later one or …

 

Rob:Right now, I’m using the Galaxy S6. I really enjoy that. My first Android phone was an old myTouch. I think that phone is probably about five years old now. My son still uses it.

 

Danny:My goodness.

 

Rob:That is his favorite phone. He won’t upgrade it. It’s indestructible. Imagine he’s had it for just almost three years now.

 

Danny:Wow.

 

Rob:That phone is going to last forever.

 

Danny:That’s great. Let him run with it. Any favorite apps that you have that you sort of keep on coming back to?

 

Rob:Not really too much. I’m just trying to think. For the most part, I’m using a lot of productivity apps.

 

Danny:Do you load a lot of Microsoft apps at all? I know the ones that keep on coming up pretty consistently are some of the navigation apps like Waze or Maps. They seem to be pretty common things that people rely upon.

 

Rob:Yeah, the navigation … I have a very strange way of storing things in my memory. I have what I consider a pointer memory in that I could drive the same place for an entire week if I’m using my phone to navigate to it. I wouldn’t be able to do it without my phone. In my mind, I think, “Well, as long as I have my phone, I know how to get there.” I don’t necessarily try and learn the routes.

 

Danny:You don’t have a longer ride than Pete to get into work, do you?

 

Rob:It’s a very similar ride, very similar.

 

Danny:I’m sorry. I’m moving right now. If you want to join me and move somewhere closer by here, it’s definitely got its pros. I’m convenience junkie so it’s tough for me to move further away.

 

Rob:Commute in Atlanta is one of a kind. I’m fortunate in that the type of work I do here is a little bit flexible. I typically come in early in the morning and then leave midday and finish my day from home, so I avoid a lot of traffic.

 

Danny:Do you take any work from home any days out of the week?

 

Rob:Right now, I probably work one day or two days every two or three weeks. It’s not every week but probably more than once every other week.

 

Danny:You’ve got a home office setup that you can …

 

Rob:I do. I’ve got a couple of monitors. It’s really nice. It’s easy on the eyes. It’s very enjoyable.

 

Danny:I love seeing people’s setup with the number of monitors they have. I think somebody posted up something on Yammer the other day. It’s probably longer than the other day, but the matrix where you see all these …

 

Rob:I think Will has a … Will …

 

Danny:Will Holland.

 

Rob:Holland has four monitors.

 

Danny:My goodness.

 

Rob:Not quite to that level yet.

 

Danny:You’re not there yet.

 

Rob:I can hope.

 

Danny:You haven’t been here too long but if you had to pick something out about what you’ve enjoyed so far being at ThreeWill, what would you say?

 

Rob:Well, I’ve worked in the corporate environment like I mentioned at Hewlett-Packard years ago. I’ve owned my own businesses for several years.

 

Danny:Nice. You know what Tommy and I go through.

 

Rob:I do.

 

Danny:You know why we’re bald right now.

 

Rob:Well, I’m working on it myself. I can tell you that what really stood out to me probably the first week I was here was the capability of everyone who works here and the the attitude that if they tell you they’re going to get it done, it’s going to get done. If they tell you they can’t get it done, there’s a reason for it. That’s refreshing. That’s new for me. In a corporate environment, it doesn’t have to be this way, but my experience was that there were some great performers and then there were some folks that didn’t perform well. Everyone I’ve met here at ThreeWill is at the top of their game. Everyone focuses in different areas. If you have a question or can’t figure something out, there’s someone here who can and they’re ready to help. Like I said, that’s very refreshing.

 

Danny:That’s a nice environment to be in. I think everybody here wants to not let the team down, be able to contribute in their own way. You really see that in a lot of folks here.

 

Rob:Yeah, I would agree 100%. Like I said, it showed up for me in probably my first week here just seeing that type of culture and attitude.

 

Danny:I want to point out you didn’t see me during that first weeks. I didn’t ruin that for you. It’s like, “What is this Danny guy? He’s always running around asking people to be on podcast. What does he do in that room exactly?” I don’t know. I don’t know.

 

I’ve heard great things from Tommy. I haven’t heard great things from Pete, so you need to work on him. Tommy said he’s enjoyed working with you so far and has seen great things so far. We look forward to a great future here. I appreciate all the hard work on that one big project that you were on. I know it was a challenging project, so we appreciate all the hard work you put in there as well.

 

Rob:It was a big project.

 

Danny:Well, thank you for taking the time to do this. It wasn’t that bad, was it?

 

Rob:No, not terrible at all.

 

Danny:Next time, I’m going to have you on, we’re going to have a little bit more … It’s not going to be too technical, but we’ll hit a technical subject where you can make me fall asleep, where we could head into something where every once in a while maybe I’ll scream out a buzzword or something like that and wake up, and we’ll talk about something along those lines. Think about what something you maybe … Usually, I’ll cover like an intro topic or something like that. If you want to talk about something technical but not too technical.

 

Rob:Yeah, that sounds great.

 

Danny:We’ll do that. Well, thank you so much, everybody, for listening. Have a wonderful day. Take care. Bye bye.

 

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Danny RyanInterview with Rob Horton, Senior Consultant
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Interview with Khanh Hoang, Senior Consultant

Danny serves as Vice President of Business Development at ThreeWill. His primary responsibilities are to make sure that we are building partnerships with the right clients and getting out the message about how we can help clients.
Danny:Hello, and welcome to the ThreeWill podcast. This is your host, Danny Ryan, and I’m excited today. I have someone relatively new here with me, Khanh Hoang, and Khanh is a senior consultant for ThreeWill. Welcome to the team. You’ve been here for two months.

 

Khanh:Yep. This fifteenth would be exactly two months.

 

Danny:Awesome. Welcome, and everything is going well? You know where the bathrooms are? You know where the office location is?

 

Khanh:Yep.

 

Danny:You know how to get in the door?

 

Khanh:Yep. I found the coffee machine and the bathrooms, so I’m set.

 

Danny:I just have to warn you, if you’re going by the bathroom, just make Tim isn’t around because he likes to hang out in there, so that’s just a heads up, a friendly reminder there. Well, we’re excited to have you here. Tell me a little bit more about yourself. Tell me, we want to cover sort of like a personal interview with this, but tell me what you typically as a senior consultant, what are your typically doing? What have you started out doing here at ThreeWill?

 

Khanh:Right now I’m working on a lot of forms for a company that does trucking, and we’re using Nintex products, Nintex forms and Nintex workflows, but a general responsibility for senior consultants could be anything in SharePoint. I don’t do much development yet, but infrastructure, Office 365, migrations, etc.

 

Danny:We are really excited to have you here because I think we’ve got a lot of, with our app dev background, we have a lot of people who are used to doing app dev, and I think with your infrastructure and your experience that you bring, it really helps us to sort of fill out what we can do. I know with you starting off with Nintex, you’ve got some background there where you’ve it on projects previously, correct?

 

Khanh:Yes. I used Nintex extensively for on-premise projects a lot, so with Office 365, it’s a little bit newer, so a little bit of a learning curve, but there’s a lot of common actions that you can still do for the SharePoint online.

 

Danny:Awesome. Then I know I want to have a follow-up episode with you. We’re going to go easy on this first one. We’ll just have a fun one for the first one, but I want to definitely have a follow-up conversation with you about sort of like an intro to Metalogix and some of your experience with migration tools, because that’s really been a hot subject around here. A lot of our project work has been talking about it. Everybody’s saying they’re in the cloud, but they’re not. People are just finally making the move, so it’s an exciting time to do migrations.

 

Khanh:Yes, it is.

 

Danny:Yeah, yeah, it really is. Enough about work. That’s all we’re covering work-wise. Now the rest of this is fun. For you, any personal hobbies. What are you doing when you’re not dealing with SharePoint? What are you dealing with or what do you like to do outside of work?

 

Khanh:Well, it used to be traveling, but now we just had a baby five months ago …

 

Danny:Congratulations.

 

Khanh:Thank you.

 

Danny:Is it a boy or a girl? I should know this, but I don’t. Boy or a girl?

 

Khanh:It’s a boy.

 

Danny:It’s a boy.

 

Khanh:His name is Vin.

 

Danny:Vin.

 

Khanh:He just turned five months, so he’s keeping us busy so we’re not traveling as much any more, but we used to be able to travel, but more, even though I have a fear of flying, but if I fly for fun, I will.

 

Danny:Uh-huh. Does your wife enjoy flying as well?

 

Khanh:Yeah. She didn’t have any problem with it, just me and just my, giving control away to somebody else.

 

Danny:I understand, understand. What’s a favorite place that you’ve traveled to?

 

Khanh:Venice has been my favorite.

 

Danny:Really?

 

Khanh:We did a trip a few years ago where we flew into London and Paris and Venice, Rome, Florence, so we did a few countries in Europe, so it was nice.

 

Danny:Nice, nice. Yeah, Venice is a cool place to go visit.

 

Khanh:Love it.

 

Danny:San Marco Square and just … I had some really good meals there too.

 

Khanh:Oh yes. The food is amazing.

 

Danny:Very good food there.

 

Khanh:The food in Rome was better than Venice, but the scenery in Venice was much better.

 

Danny:Yeah, very nice, very nice. For you, do you have a favorite TV show, movie, book, anything that jumps out to you?

 

Khanh:Back in the days, I was watching a lot of “Friends,” but lately it was “Top Gear,” the U.K. version, and then right now watching like “Gotham,” “Flash,” “Arrow,” weeklies, so any of those. I love spending some time on Hulu.

 

Danny:Okay, so Hulu is you’re sort of go-to to go …

 

Khanh:Yep.

 

Danny:Stuff on demand for you.

 

Khanh:Yeah.

 

Danny:Are you a cord cutter or do you still have cable?

 

Khanh:Yep. No, I cut the cord a few years ago and never looked back.

 

Danny:Yeah. It’s amazing the amount of content that you can get on demand.

 

Khanh:Yes, about anything.

 

Danny:It is. It’s too much stuff sometimes.

 

Khanh:That is true.

 

Danny:What am I going to cover next.

 

Khanh:Yeah, sometimes I’ll go through and see a few episodes that pop up with the label “New” on it, and then you’ve got to binge watch for like a couple of hours.

 

Danny:Mm-hmm (affirmative). Do you have any favorite books that sort of jump out to you, or maybe do you read travel books when you go to someplace new before you head there?

 

Khanh:Yeah, but I do most of my research and stuff online, not so much books. I don’t really sit down and read through books.

 

Danny:It’s a lot of stuff on line nowadays.

 

Khanh:Yeah, not enough time for books.

 

Danny:Yeah, yeah. Take things bite sized.

 

Khanh:Right.

 

Danny:Bite sized is good. A really personal question. What phone do you use?

 

Khanh:iPhone all the way.

 

Danny:Yeah? How long have you been using an iPhone for?

 

Khanh:Ever since the very first one.

 

Danny:Really?

 

Khanh:Yep.

 

Danny:My goodness, an early adopter.

 

Khanh:Since 2006 or 2007 when they came out with the first one …

 

Danny:Uh-huh.

 

Khanh:… and have had an iPhone ever since and never looked back.

 

Danny:Do you skip a generation usually or how often do you upgrade?

 

Khanh:No, I’ve had every one of them.

 

Danny:You’ve had every one of them.

 

Khanh:Yep. Every single model.

 

Danny:My goodness.

 

Khanh:Right now I’m using a 6, so I’m not on the latest 6S yet, but I’m usually one model behind.

 

Danny:Are you PC or Mac then?

 

Khanh:PC.

 

Danny:You’re PC with an iPhone.

 

Khanh:Yes.

 

Danny:You have to watch out. There’s a fever going around here, and that is people starting to use Macs.

 

Khanh:I see that.

 

Danny:Because you can virtualize Windows …

 

Khanh:I see a lot of that.

 

Danny:… and you see a lot of that sort of stuff going on around here.

 

Khanh:Yes sir.

 

Danny:You may catch that fever. I’m warning you right now.

 

Khanh:I’ll try.

 

Danny:It may happen. It’s good hardware. Either way it’s amazing how far Windows has come along with Windows 10 too. There’s lots of good stuff out there, both great alternatives. Do you have any favorite apps that you use sort of on a daily basis?

 

Khanh:I open Facebook and Twitter a lot of course just like everybody else, but lately I just discovered an app called Fyuse. It’s spelled F-Y-U-S-E.

 

Danny:Okay.

 

Khanh:It’s when you take … It takes like twenty pictures in a series and it’ll stitch them together, and it makes a 3D image.

 

Danny:Oh nice.

 

Khanh:As you’re tilting your phone, it rotates the pictures so it’s a 3D image of whatever the subject is.

 

Danny:What is the format in the end? Is it like an animated GIF or what?

 

Khanh:Yeah, you can export it as an animated GIF or you can view it right in the app, but it’s really cool.

IMG_3479

Danny:I so know what I’m going to do this afternoon now. You’re wondering what I do back here in this room. It’s just I try apps and I see what happens.

 

Khanh:Okay.

 

Danny:I make a lot of animated GIFs.

 

Khanh:I see.

 

Danny:That’s right. Fyuse is the name of it.

 

Khanh:F-Y-U-S-E.

 

Danny:Okay. I’ll have to check that out.

 

Khanh:It’s pretty cool.

 

Danny:That’s a free tip folks. Beautiful. You got a free tip. Go try it out. You’re almost through with this. This wasn’t bad, was it?

 

Khanh:No, not at all.

 

Danny:Piece of cake.

 

Khanh:It was enjoyable.

 

Danny:It’s a piece of cake, it’s a piece of cake. I’m just warming you into the next, when I ask you really tough questions on the next episode, I’ll dive in. I’ll see a weak point, and then I’ll go for it.

 

Khanh:That sounds like fun. I might call in sick that day.

 

Danny:You can. We’ll just continue to have fun. A very self-serving question to wrap this up. You’ve been here for close to two months. What you have enjoyed so far? Has it been someone in particular that you’ve worked with? What about the environment that you like, assuming you like something about the environment. What have you liked so far?

 

Khanh:It seems to be more relaxed here, not so structured with a manager and who’s reporting to who. I like just everybody as a fellow co-worker that you can talk to, you can lean on for support, technical or otherwise. It’s a good environment. I enjoy the environment.

 

Danny:Awesome.

 

Khanh:The projects, I’ve only been on one so far, and the client has been very nice, so I enjoy that.

 

Danny:Well, you came from a great company, and we’re excited to have you here and look forward to seeing what you’re able to do. Tommy and I and everybody will give you as much support as we can give you to be successful. Some people may even teach you some PowerShell stuff, so you may dabble with some things you’ve never dabbled with before.

 

Khanh:Yep. Pete already taught me a lot of P&P PowerShell, so I’m already learning new things.

 

Danny:Good, learning is so much fun. This is just a really good environment if you want to learn and grow, so we’re excited about having you here.

 

Khanh:Yep.

 

Danny:Thank you so much everybody for taking the time to learn a little bit more about Khanh. Khanh, we’ll get together again in the not so distant future to talk a little bit more about migrations, but thank you for doing this today and being willing to show up here and sit down and talk with me. Thank you so much.

 

Khanh:Thank you.

 

Danny:You betcha.

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Danny RyanInterview with Khanh Hoang, Senior Consultant
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Interview with Tommy Ryan About Social Productivity

Tommy serves as the President at ThreeWill. In this role, he works with his leadership team to hire the best people, find the right business opportunities, and ensure that ThreeWill delivers for our clients on projects.

Danny:                  Hello this is Danny Ryan. Welcome to the ThreeWill podcast. Today I have Tommy Ryan here with me this morning. Hello Tommy.

Tommy:               Hey Danny.

Danny:                  I’m excited to have him here. We’re going to talk a little bit about something that we’ve covered on … We have something within ThreeWill called the Morning Brew. Every week we get together and Tommy sort of this stuff where we talk about some of the new features with an Office 365. It’s a really neat place for people to ask questions to sort of share something maybe that you picked up that week. We’re going to talk this morning about a topic that we’ve been talking about recently which has to do with social, it has to do with Yammer. Tell me … Let’s just get this kicked off. Tell me a little bit more about what we want to talk about this morning.

Tommy:               Well the topic that seems to be a revolving topic is the idea of social and all of it things that you have at your fingertips for social. When you start looking at that there’s that challenge of which one do I pick for what reasons. We’ve kind of noodled on that. Talked about pros and cons and what things come into that decision of choosing the right soulful pieces of the platform.

Danny:                  Awesome so it’s everybody’s use to sort of the default fallback. It’s not really social but the default fall-backs were email for brick communicating to people so that seems to be … I don’t know what to day by I always sort of that’s my … Resort back to email. We have Yammer which we use pretty extensively inside of ThreeWill. That seems to be the water cooler place for all of us to go and share and maybe something you’ve picked up recently and that seems to be the place where we get to probably the most social activity inside of ThreeWill.

Tommy:               Yes, Social in the past maybe five years back became a very hot buzz word. There were a social products that were a point solution just for social. Yammer being one of those that has kind of a micro blogging type of feel to it. It’s something that surfaces a personal aspect, people’s faces and things like liking.

The things that you experience and the social products that are out in the consumer world like Facebook. Yammer tends to be one of those that comes to mind a lot from organizations to say, “It’s easy I kind of get it”. Not a lot of training to use it. You can get up and running right away and Yammer’s done a lot towards making this little friction as possible to get people going and using the product.

Danny:                  Yep, yep. I think for folks who might not be aware of this, Yammer was a company that Microsoft acquired a couple years back. It was one of the original products that I know we were using as we were getting in to social. We also did some stuff with Jive Software which has a very social product as well and had got some experiences with working with that. Then we were sort of back to what Microsoft has to offer.

I think I remember seeing the other day, Gartner put out one of their magic quadrants and it was a surprise. Microsoft was in the upper right hand corner as far as social which was interesting to see. Talk me through a little bit about the process of … You have something you want to share with the group and sort of the decision making process that goes around taking something of where do I put it.

We were talking about this. The other morning which was the concept of channels and the concept of deciding what channel to pick based upon what groups I wanted to hit or what was the appropriate channel. Just talk me through sort of at a high level what sort of decision making this through your head as you’re deciding how to share.

Tommy:               It was interesting to use that term Social. It’s almost a re-branding of collaboration and started to define some of the things that you do from a collaboration standpoint. Yammer is one of those that became one of the standards for that new generation of what’s called Social. I think there are no many tools that are Social in nature from Skype for business to email to other features that you’re seeing getting a lot of attention like office 365 groups.

When you think about being Social you’re really trying to work with the collective knowledge of the organization. Depending on the scope of how many people you want to reach out to and join that conversation will determine I think the tool. If you look at something like Yammer, Yammer has the capability of external networks. If that social conversation needs to span beyond your organization, that’s a tool that’s going to allow you to go and bring other people into that conversation.

If you’re looking at Office 365 groups that’s going to be something probably more towards the internal Social or collaboration. It lights up all the features in Office 365 with the container of a group almost like the security groups or distribution groups you have an active directory and exchange. Office 365 groups are a way to put context around a calendar, conversations, files and consume the services of Office 365 as a group. I don’t have to necessarily respond to every conversation that happens in my group but it’s out there for me and it gets a little bit of my awareness.

I think that challenges is how hard you want to amplify or or or put that message out because it can be distracting. You want to pick the right tool and the right, “Container of people” to make sure you’re getting the most effective collaboration within your organization. I think the lowest level you can get down to email. Email one on one or if it needs to be more urgent a Skype one on one that can eventually grow into something larger. You can add more people in the conversation but typically Yammer is not a one on one even though there is messaging there I think people tend to use something like Skype or their corporate IM versus using the Yammer direct message.

Danny:                  I think through the years one of the things but that’s been interesting for us is to see how transit the Social information is and how quickly it loses it’s value almost. I know we’ve toughed a lot of customers out with migrations. We worked with Jive for a while and have actually had a lot of customers want to move from Jive over now that Microsoft has really put out some good social features wanting to move over to Microsoft. One of the things that I think is interesting is to see when people end taking a look at what the content that is on Social. It’s almost like they just wanted archives … It meant something at one time but then over time it really loses it’s value and you just have these ad hoc conversations that are needed at the time but then you really don’t need them later on.

Tommy:               Yeah you hear it as term water cooler conversation with organizations being geographically dispersed. I heard you talking to Lane the other day and he’s out in North Carolina and he thought he was in Columbus but he was in North Carolina.

Danny:                  You heard that. I didn’t say, “Okay Lane let’s stop this podcast-

Tommy:               I’m someone who listens to your podcast daily. I’m a big fan-

Danny:                  Thank you.

Tommy:               Actually I appreciate you doing this. It’s neat to hear the stories of people with ThreeWill. It adds a nice little touch.

Danny:                  Thank you. I can keep my job now.

Tommy:               The lifetime of information in your traditional Social channel software like a Yammer. Really it’s value, it almost diminishes in a matter of hours. When I go into Yammer, I’m usually in there enough that what hasn’t been read in previous conversations is within a couple hours. I’ll check it maybe two three times a day because I like it. I think it adds to the culture your organization. Those conversations, they are very timely. You want to have in a basic reach into the knowledge your organization no matter where people are, you don’t have to be physically next to the person. You put into Yammer and all of a sudden I’ve got a problem other people can help me if they have that skill and knowledge.

Traditionally you hear people say I’m going to manage my skills, I’m going to tag all these people in their profile for their skills. Then I’m going to have this nice little tool that can go look up people and find people based on skills. I think that’s good and I think you know there’s a place for that and organizations put time into that. We help organizations do that but some amazing bang for the buck is if you put it out on something like Yammer you’re going to get help from people. The people that have that skill that really are good at it will want to jump into that conversation and help.

That’s a nice thing about that. That information is not knowledge is much is connectivity and awareness to your organization. When you go to migrate you go say okay I’ve got all this stuff in chatter or Jive or Yammer. I want to move it from this network and from this tool over this tool. A lot of times we tell organizations why? Do you really want to do that? Is that really knowledge or is that just conversations that has a value at the time? You’re never going to be able to make it discoverable at a later date without too much effort and really, does it have value now?

Danny:                  I think one of the things that you just brought up is a sort of a differentiator for us and can be for other professional services organizations which is why would you want to work with a company versus an independent consultant? Our rates are higher than the independent consultant and should be because of things like when someone’s out on a project, they have the whole team to help them out with particular things that they might be running into. It’s more of you’re not just hiring one person from ThreeWill you’re hiring the team from ThreeWill.

Social gives us that because we can … That person’s running into an issue, one of the things that we do really well here is is that if they do post it up on to Yammer and people jump and it’s almost like they gang up on the problem together. All of sudden that person becomes magnified and we’re able to do things that we’re not able to do as individuals.

Tommy:               Right. That’s a really good point. I think … We’ve got Grant at a large client of ours. We’re always concerned about doing anything that looks like staff aug. We’ve got this service called Sustainment which is a pull of people that will take things off of the que and help work things. That is a third level tier support for us. We can have some teaming because it’s a team of people doing that. Then when someone goes out there as kind of a lone ranger to be almost staff on a team and when they’re not surrounded by the ThreeWill team, we get really concerned with that. At the end the day do they do they feel like they’re part of ThreeWill or part of this other company?

Having something like Yammer where Grant … I see a lot of times reaching out into Yammer and he gets that help. It keeps that connection Grant and makes him feel like he’s part of the team as he’s in this stent. We’re working very hard to get Grant on extra teams next year, early next year get him on some really cool projects. Also on the reverse side of that like you said the client gets more value because it’s not just Grant, it’s Grant with ThreeWill behind him. That’s I think is a powerful thing of having a tool like Yammer. You have used email before-

Danny:                  I remember back at Extreme Logic they started those distribution lists. Mass distribution, people asked questions on that, you get people firing back. We was that-

Tommy:               my head and it was, oh gosh what was … It was Ted Pattison’s group, well it was a discussion board.

Danny:                  I remember it had a name to it, I forgot-

Tommy:               It had a name I can’t remember as well. Our podcast listeners are probably knowing what it is right now and they can let us know. I’ll talk to myself later today when I find out and I’ll let you know.

Danny:                  Leave a comment. I appreciate you taking the time to do this and just sort of share more about Social. I’m excited just to give folks a heads up to our the one or two listeners that we have or you, you’ll listen to this later on. I am trying to coerce or take Tommy’s arm, bend it behind his back and try to get us to do a podcast together next year. We want to focus in on Office 365. This is one of the things right now I’m working on a couple of podcasts, the ThreeWill podcast being one. I will continue to do these. These are really fun. It’s just a nice way for people to share what’s going on in projects.

Next year I’m one we’re going to be doing a weekly podcast. We going to be focusing in on Office 365 and having a nice little format as far as what we’re doing every single week. That’s going to be coming after the New Year. I want to wrap up some stuff on … I’m also doing a sales force app exchange podcast. I want to get some of that wrapped up. Basically cover all of the different categories. Get the videos and all that stuff buttoned up and then I want to go after this Office 365 podcast and have conversations just like we’re having this morning.

Just sit around and get people … This is going to be your way of listening for ten to fifteen minutes each week to find out what’s going on in the world in Office 365. That will be coming after the New Year. I’ll  definitely be promoting that if you want to sign up for our newsletter, it’s ThreeWill.com/newsletter and you’ll be in the know. As far as what’s going on with Office 365 so look forward to that next year.

Tommy:               You won’t twist my arm too hard Danny.

Danny:                  Oh good.

Tommy:               I’m looking forward to it. I think will be awesome. I think that will be a good idea.

Danny:                  I think it should be a lot of fun. There’s a lot of different things we could focus in on. I think Office 365 has really become important to a lot of folks. We want to keep people in the know. It will be fun to do that next year so let’s give it a run for a year.

Tommy:               Sounds good.

Danny:                  Awesome.

Tommy:               Let’s do it.

Danny:                  Let’s do it. Thank you so much for everything, thanks for joining me this morning.

Tommy:               Sure. Thanks for having me.

Danny:                  Absolutely. Thanks for listening. Everyone have a great day.

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Tommy RyanInterview with Tommy Ryan About Social Productivity
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Interview with Barbara Green About Her Haiti Mission Trip

Danny serves as Vice President of Business Development at ThreeWill. His primary responsibilities are to make sure that we are building partnerships with the right clients and getting out the message about how we can help clients.

Danny:                  Hi, this is Danny Ryan, and welcome to the ThreeWill podcast. Today, I’ve got Barbara Green here with me today. Barbara is the Office Manager for ThreeWill, that sounds like a fun job. What does that entail on a daily basis? What do you have to do as Office Manager?

Barbara:               Hi, Danny.

Danny:                  Hi.

Barbara:               Thanks for having me.

Danny:                  Oh, sure, absolutely.

Barbara:               Well, as Office Manager, I make sure the invoicing is going out.

Danny:                  That’s important.

Barbara:               I make sure that we’re collecting are invoicing.

Danny:                  That’s really important.

Barbara:               I’m making sure that everything’s running smoothly. If anybody has a problem, they can come to me. I can try and help resolve any issues.

Danny:                  That’s awesome. It’s great to have somebody around here that everybody can come to no matter what the issue is. Rumor is around here, every once in a while the Internet’s been going down.

Barbara:               Yeah. It’s the rumor.

Danny:                  But we’re getting that all nailed out, and getting increased bandwidth, and everybody will all be happy as can be, I’m sure.

Barbara:               Yeah.

Danny:                  In the very near future. Thank you for all that you do.

Barbara:               Sure.

Danny:                  Today we’ve got Barbara here with me. You may have seen some stuff from us on the ThreeWill Foundation. It’s a new foundation that we started, and we’re actually doing … There’s three parts to it, it’s time, talent, and resources. This year 2015, we’re focusing in on time. We started as part of the foundation that started something called volunteer time-off or VTO as we call it. We have PTO which is our regular paid time-off, and then VTO which is a time-off too to do giving back to actually just giving back to the community. You can do it in any number of ways. It could be church-related. It could be some volunteer organization. I know I’m right now, I’m working with a community organization with Red Door Playhouse, and I’m helping them do some marketing stuff like redoing their website, and doing some stuff with their e-mail newsletter.

Barbara did something really cool, and that’s why I’ve got here on her on the podcast, which was she went and served in a mission trip. Now going on a mission trip is very close to my heart because that’s where I met my wife. We went on a couple of mission trips together. I know they can be definitely be life-changing situations, it was for me. I appreciate you coming in here, and I just wanted to just talk about what your experience was on the mission trip. Just list to get us started, let’s hit the high-level stuff. When did you go? Where did you go to? what sort of things did you do when you went on your mission trip?

Barbara:               I went to Bassin Zim, Haiti.

Danny:                  Okay.

Barbara:               Which is like a three and a half hour drive from Port-au-Prince which is the capital of Haiti.

Danny:                  It’s a three and a half drive, our drive from Miami?

Barbara:               From Port-au-Prince.

Danny:                  Oh wow, okay. You can’t drive there from?

Barbara:               No.

Danny:                  Okay, okay.

Barbara:               No, we flew into Haiti.

Danny:                  You flew into Haiti.

Barbara:               And then we had to drive where our location was.

Danny:                  Did you take a bus to get there or?

Barbara:               We rented a vehicle.

Danny:                  Okay.

Barbara:               The pastor of our church made sure we made it to his place safely.

Danny:                  Very nice.

Barbara:               We stayed at the parish on the property there.

Danny:                  Nice.

Barbara:               It’s a parish twining through our church. Our group is called Haiti Reach.

Danny:                  Okay.

Barbara:               It’s a group of us. There was five of us. We went November 4th through the 9th.

Danny:                  Nice. What church do you go to?

Barbara:               I go to Saint Brendan’s.

Danny:                  Okay.

Barbara:               In Cumming, Georgia.

Danny:                  Representing the Catholics.

Barbara:               Yeah.

Danny:                  All right, I like that. We had Kirk in here representing the Methodist.

Barbara:               Well, we get our turn now.

Danny:                  Awesome, so what did you do while you were down there?

Barbara:               This time we went down, there was some Internet problems which some of the guys that were not-

Danny:                  You’re very experienced with that.

Barbara:               No, I didn’t do any of that. The guys that we went with was helping out with that with the dish that was on the roof.

Danny:                  Nice.

Barbara:               We also we went to the school on Friday, and brought down lots of toothbrushes and toothpaste, and are introducing brushing your teeth to the children in the school. We had a big presentation outside. We had one of the older children demonstrate on how to brush your teeth. The importance of oral health, and that was quite a fun day.

Danny:                  Very cool.

Barbara:               That’s what we did mainly, it was our main purpose to going down is distributing all that which took a while.

Danny:                  Was this your first time to this place or you’ve been to-

Barbara:               This was my sixth time.

Danny:                  Oh, my goodness.

Barbara:               Yeah.

Danny:                  Is each time different then?

Barbara:               Each time is a little different but what was fun is over the years, I guess over the past six years, I’ve been able to watch a lot of the kids grow up and thrive.

Danny:                  Are they expecting to see you when you come down? They recognize you?

Barbara:               Yeah, oh yes.

Danny:                  How cool is that? You probably have some special kids that you like to go and see.

Barbara:               Yeah, yeah.

Danny:                  How cool is that?

Barbara:               It’s very fun. I enjoy it.

Danny:                  Has Zach ever gone?

Barbara:               No, he hasn’t.

Danny:                  He hasn’t.

Barbara:               He’s not.

Danny:                  You got to get him to go sometime.

Barbara:               I’d love to get him to go, yeah.

Danny:                  Yeah, I’m sure it’d be good, that would be definitely a life-changing experience for him.

Barbara:               Yeah.

Danny:                  Very cool. You told me the days that you were down, how long was that?

Barbara:               I left on a Wednesday.

Danny:                  Okay.

Barbara:               Which was the 4th, and we came back Monday afternoon, the 9th.

Danny:                  Okay.

Barbara:               Yeah.

Danny:                  You’ve been down there six times. How was this experience different from the other times that you’ve been down there?

Barbara:               Well, I see with us working with this community in Bassin Zim, a little town, it’s just a very small little village. I just watched that we worked with them. We don’t go in and build things for them. We go in and work with them, and show them things. They’re learning, and they’re trying on their own how to do things. They’re really progressing. They care about their children.

Danny:                  Do you get to meet the adults and all?

Barbara:               Yes.

Danny:                  Okay.

Barbara:               We met with the parish council. We listen to their concerns about their kids and their kids’ future, and what they want. They share that with us, and we give them ideas, and we can bring our ideas back to our church, and say, “How can we help them help their children?”

Danny:                  Nice, nice. How are things in general in Haiti since you were there?

Barbara:               It’s very hot. It’s very dry. There’s a definite water problem.

Danny:                  Water problem, okay.

Barbara:               Yeah, and there’s a lot of water-borne diseases. We’re trying to help them purify their water, but with droughts, and the government chlorinating the water on a non-consistent basis then that’s a problem because if they put chlorine in the water, and it’s already been chlorinated, that could cause problems too.

Danny:                  Yeah.

Barbara:               They definitely got the odds against them with that.

Danny:                  Did you feel safe while you were there? Was there any issues at all with your safety?

Barbara:               There was little issues with traveling to the airport in Port-au-Prince.

Danny:                  Okay.

Barbara:               There’s been an election down there, and there was a run-off. There’s a lot of corruption, so there’s a lot of demonstrations. We had to be careful with traveling there. Father Morris, the priest we go down to see, he makes sure that we get to the airport safely.

Danny:                  How many other people did you go with?

Barbara:               There were five of us.

Danny:                  Okay. Is that crew the same crew that goes every year, or just a little bit?

Barbara:               Well, that’s usually we had a new person go with us at this time.

Danny:                  Yeah, a new person, a newbie, huh?

Barbara:               A newbie.

Danny:                  Someone to play all the practical jokes on?

Barbara:               Yeah, yeah.

Danny:                  Yeah, drink that water. No.

Barbara:               No, but it’s always good to go with somebody new just to watch their reaction.

Danny:                  What got you into going on your first mission trip? What convinced you that it was something that was important to you enough to go?

Barbara:               I guess they had someone that had gone to Haiti. They spoke at mass one Sunday, and it just moved me. I said, “I want to do that.” I did.

Danny:                  Awesome, awesome. Now I know for me going on mission trips, it really opens my eyes to how fortunate we are in a lot of cases, I think. I feel fortunate materially, but I don’t know if I feel fortunate spiritually because a lot of you see people appears like they don’t have very much, yet you get to see their insights, and you realize how full of life, and how wonderful these people are, and how much that just, I know coming back from some of my mission trips, I felt like I wanted to get rid of a lot of the material things that’s just seem to be in my way. Anything when you come back from the mission trip when you came back from this one, or maybe even another one where you felt like you were changed, and how were you changed by the trip?

Barbara:               Every time I come back, I feel changed because I wish I was as faithful and grateful as they are for what they have. They don’t know what they don’t have.

Danny:                  Yup.

Barbara:               Sometimes simple is better.

Danny:                  Yeah.

Barbara:               That’s really cool about the people in Haiti.

Danny:                  Yeah, yeah.

Barbara:               They’ve always got a smile on their face even they don’t know when their next meal is coming sometimes.

Danny:                  Do you have a favorite child that you … It looks like there were a couple down there maybe that you like?

Barbara:               Yeah, all the little girls in the school, they’re all just very sweet.

Danny:                  Do they write you at all? Do you stay in touch through the year?

Barbara:               They all get pictures, and they’ll draw little pictures and coloring book stuff, and they’ll give them to you.

Danny:                  I know on the mission trips I’ve gone on, I’d had to raise some money to go on the trip itself. Did you have to raise any money to go down there, or is that something that your parish takes care of?

Barbara:               All we have to do is pay for our airline ticket down there.

Danny:                  Okay.

Barbara:               Like all the toothbrushes and toothpaste that we brought down in duffle bags, that was collected through the church.

Danny:                  Okay.

Barbara:               We did like, “Okay, we want to collect this,” so people would bring. We have lots and lots more to bring down on other trips, future trips.

Danny:                  Okay, cool. They’re considered like a sister parish to you?

Barbara:               They are our sister parish.

Danny:                  They’re your sister parish, okay.

Barbara:               Yes, yeah, they’re called Lady of Fatima.

Danny:                  For non-Catholics, listening to this, typically a church or a parish will have in some other country will have what’s called a sister parish. It would just be a special relationship between those two churches, just like you’re doing where you’re spending time down there, and also when they may send people up here to see us as well. Just a unique, very neat relationship that you have.

Barbara:               It is.

Danny:                  With people who you normally wouldn’t have interactions with. I think it’s a really neat thing that’s done there. Well, thank you for doing this. Let me say on behalf of all the ThreeWill folks for taking the time to go on a mission trip, and for going down there.

Barbara:               Thanks for letting me have the time.

Danny:                  Absolutely. I was excited when we first talked about having this type of option for people to take the five days off, I knew it would be something you’d be excited about. I was really excited for you to be able to do this, and also that be able to do it each year. I think that’s cool.

Barbara:               Yeah.

Danny:                  Thank you for taking advantage of it. Now if you could just make sure everybody else at ThreeWill takes advantage of this as well.

Barbara:               I know, I know.

Danny:                  Everybody is so busy, it’s good.

Barbara:               That’s a good thing.

Danny:                  Thank you for that.

Barbara:               Yes, yes.

Danny:                  We’re very happy that everybody’s busy, but we feel fortunate, but we also need to the time off to give back to our community. Thank you for doing that with this.

Barbara:               You’re welcome.

Danny:                  Thanks, everybody for listening. I hope you enjoyed this podcast, and have a wonderful day. Take care. Bye bye.

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Danny RyanInterview with Barbara Green About Her Haiti Mission Trip
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Interview with Lane Goolsby, Senior Software Engineer

Lane is a Senior Software Engineer for ThreeWill. He is a strong technology expert with a focus on programming, network and hardware design, and requirements and capacity planning. He has an exceptional combination of technical and communication skills.

Danny Ryan:                       Hi. This is Danny Ryan. Welcome to the ThreeWill podcast. Today I’m doing a personal interview with Lane Goolsby. Lane is a Senior Software Engineer for ThreeWill. Thank you for joining me, Lane.

Lane Goolsby:                   Nice to be here.

Danny Ryan:                       It’s nice having you. We’re sitting across from each other as opposed to … We’ve done this once before. We tried doing this over GoToMeeting and the quality wasn’t as good as we would like it to be, so I appreciate you coming here into the office.

Lane Goolsby:                   It’s not a problem.

Danny Ryan:                       I appreciate you driving all the way from Columbus. For folks who hopefully didn’t hear the first version of this, I thought he was still living in Columbus, Georgia, but he’s moved to North Carolina. Is that correct?

Lane Goolsby:                   That’s correct. I’m in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Danny Ryan:                       What’s in Wilmington, North Carolina?

Lane Goolsby:                   My wife is going to grad school for experimental psychology at UNCW.

Danny Ryan:                       How cool. She’s in classes right now?

Lane Goolsby:                   Yes, right now as we speak.

Danny Ryan:                       Really? Is she enjoying it?

Lane Goolsby:                   Yeah, she’s really enjoying it.

Danny Ryan:                       That’s awesome. That’s very cool. Is it really different from living in Columbus?

Lane Goolsby:                   It’s miles apart. I’m really digging Wilmington. I really like it.

Danny Ryan:                       What’s the biggest difference?

Lane Goolsby:                   I guess it’s far enough north that you get some of the northern influences, so you get some of the progressive attitudes and some of the really cool restaurants and the fun little shops to go and do and things to do on the weekend, but it’s still southern enough that you have the southern charm and the hospitality.

Danny Ryan:                       How cool. Very nice. You’ve been there for how long now?

Lane Goolsby:                   A couple or three months now.

Danny Ryan:                       Has everything come out of the boxes yet?

Lane Goolsby:                   No. We’ve got whole closets dedicated … Tetris ain’t got nothing on us.

Danny Ryan:                       I sort of jumped into the personal. I wanted … I guess as a Senior Software Engineer, what’s a typical day for you? What’s typical, or maybe you don’t have a typical day?

Lane Goolsby:                   There’s definitely no typical. That’s just one of the things I love about ThreeWill. Most of the time it’s coming up with design implementations, figuring out how we’re going to implement customers’ desires. They’ll come to us with a particular ask and we’ll figure out how we’re going to go about and make that happen, what technologies we’re going to use, coming up with the general structure projects, coming up with the build and deployment patterns, making sure we actually follow patterns and practices and things like that is usually what I do.

Danny Ryan:                       Awesome. I know you’ve had a lot of different experiences here, a chance to do a lot of different types of projects. It probably keeps you on your toes? It keeps you out of trouble?

Lane Goolsby:                   It keeps me out of trouble more than anything else. Otherwise, I tend to swerve off and start doing things that usually get me into trouble, either with the wife or with the office.

Danny Ryan:                       We talked a little bit about where you’re living now. When you’re not helping people solve their problems and outside of work, what’s some of your hobbies?

Lane Goolsby:                   The biggest hobby that I’ve got is I’ve been working on an automated home brew system for a while, getting in and working on the actual hardware, doing the electrical engineering. By the time it’s all said and done, I’ll be able to sit on my couch and brew beer over wi-fi, the epitome of lazy right there. It’s a really big check mark on my list of things I wanted to do in my life.

Danny Ryan:                       Who inspired you to do this?

Lane Goolsby:                   It was actually a guy named John W. I don’t know what his real name is, but he did a post on one of the popular home brew forums of the build that he did and I’ve borrowed liberally from him in design. I’ve added my own little tweaks to it and things that I’ve done a little bit differently that I think work a little bit better, so it will be kind of fun. It’s just one of those things. I just wanted to see if I could actually figure out how the electrons flow.

Danny Ryan:                       Nice. How far off are you until your first batch is done?

Lane Goolsby:                   I’ve been about three weeks away for about nine months now.

Danny Ryan:                       Is work getting in the way of this?

Lane Goolsby:                   Not so much work, just the move obviously was a big thing, just trying to find free time to do it. Also there were some hardware aspects that I had to figure out some things that I thought I had understood, but when I actually put an electron flow through it, it didn’t work.

Danny Ryan:                       You picked up a little troubleshooting there?

Lane Goolsby:                   Yeah. It’s one of the most valuable lessons that I’ve picked up out of this whole thing, is when you’re doing software development it’s really easy to leave the hook somewhere, to come in one day six months down the road and add additional functionality. It’s a lot more expensive to add those little side hooks when you’re dealing with hardware. That was an eye-opening kind of thing for me. In hindsight it’s real common sense.

Now I understand why a lot of times when you look inside the hood of your car, for example, and you see a little port sitting there that’s not really being used, I understand kind of why they did that, but I also understand now that that probably cost them a couple or ten cents. But when you consider that they’re building five thousand, ten thousand, whatever number of cars, that starts to add up really quick. It’s been really interesting. It’s opened my eyes to a lot of things that I didn’t necessarily think about before.

Danny Ryan:                       For favorite TV shows, movies, books, what do you like to do?

Lane Goolsby:                   It’s mostly sci-fi. That tends to be what I gravitate towards, at least with TV and movies. Naturally being a geek, Star Wars and Star Trek and the whole nine yards. I spoke in the last podcast about how my wife and I were really big into Battlestar Galactica a couple years back. We’ve got a couple of items that were actual set props that were part of the actual series. We’ve got Colonel Tigh’s liquor bottle, which was kind of neat. If you’ve ever seen the series, you know that his liquor bottle was a pretty predominant character throughout the entire thing.

Danny Ryan:                       The liquor bottle is a character? Now I’m intrigued.

Lane Goolsby:                   It’s an interesting thing. It plays a very pivotal role in the whole character dimension.

Danny Ryan:                       It gets him drunk.

Lane Goolsby:                   That’s kind of his problem, is he’s a functional alcoholic.

Danny Ryan:                       I got you, got you.

Lane Goolsby:                   That plays a really big part in his ethos.

Danny Ryan:                       Do you store something in that?

Lane Goolsby:                   No. It sits in styrofoam. Maybe one day I’ll sell it or something. I don’t know. It’s glass and we have fluffy butts and I worry about somebody knocking it off of a shelf or something like that. The other cool thing that we’ve got is we’ve actually got some of the charcoal drawings of some of the sets, specifically the Apollo of Thor, or the Temple of Apollo. I don’t know where I got that from.

Danny Ryan:                       You’re making stuff up now.

Lane Goolsby:                   Yeah.

Danny Ryan:                       I don’t really quite know the difference. That sounds intriguing. [crosstalk 00:06:54].

Lane Goolsby:                   It’s kind of neat. That tends to be what I gravitate towards when it comes to just general non-fiction.

Danny Ryan:                       I just finished this weekend … I read The Martian. Have you read that yet?

Lane Goolsby:                   I haven’t read the book, but it was a fantastic movie. A lot of people foo-fooed on it, but I thought it was actually a really good sci-fi movie. There were some things that weren’t quite scientifically accurate, but you can’t have everything be completely accurate.

Danny Ryan:                       I read sort of the back story on that, and the author had … Sort of self-publishing the book, putting it on his website, a chapter, and then started getting a following from folks. Then people who were reading it were like, “Can you put a Kindle version of it out?” When he did that, it was something where he had to charge something for it, like ninety-nine cents, so he did like a minimum charge and he just got a following. A bunch of people downloading it, really interested in it, and it just of took off from there.

He was a geek in that he just loved to learn about what it would take to survive on Mars, so he started really getting into the … Trying to get into the science behind it and trying to get into what would happen if this happened. The movie, it’s a comedy of errors. He’s a really smart guy. There were some things that he messed up, but it was just interesting to hear that background. That was, probably like you, driven out of the passion of going to create something and then wanting to share it with other people, which is very cool.

Lane Goolsby:                   What I thought was really interesting about The Martian, at least the movie, when they were doing the scenes with the black hole and they were showing how the radiation was warping around the center of the horizon, that was scientifically accurate and that was something they had never done before. I forget the physicist’s name, but I’ve seen him on TV shows. He’s not quite the Michio Kaku level, but he’s kind of along that line. I’ve seen him on several Discovery Shows. He was in charge of doing the science on that, and when they actually sat down and rendered it, they were all kind of surprised by what it looked like. They actually made scientific insight in the making of the Hollywood movie.

Danny Ryan:                       That’s awesome. Let’s talk about … I have to drill people on what’s their favorite phone, what’s their favorite app, what phone weapon do you choose?

Lane Goolsby:                   I’m an Android fan.

Danny Ryan:                       Mr. Tinker, should I be surprised?

Lane Goolsby:                   I had the original iPhone. I actually had arguably the first smart phone. I had the Windows … What was it? It was the Windows PC. It was one of the little folding ones. The screen flipped out and it had a little keyboard underneath it. I had one of those before the Apple even came out. I had the first gen iPhone when it first came out, and then the app store came along, and that was just like the coolest thing ever, ever. I was like, “Man, this is awesome.”

Then seeing some of the lockdowns that Apple was imposing at the time kind of turned me off of Apple, so I went back over to Android. I started out with Android. I’ve kind of been with Android for I guess since I started working for ThreeWill. It was around that time, so it’s been almost five years.

Danny Ryan:                       Really? A favorite app at all?

Lane Goolsby:                   Really and truly, Chrome is my favorite app. I was thinking about that answer when I gave it to you the last time. For me, I don’t like the idea of having to have an app in order to use a service. If I go to use a service and their mobile interface is clunky or awkward, it instantly turns me off of the service in general. I just don’t like the service then at that point at all. Part of it’s paranoia. I come from an IT security background way, way, way back in the day and I don’t like that all these apps have to ask for all the permissions to get into my contacts list and find out what my blood type is and things like that.

That’s why I tend to gravitate more towards using just the mobile browser experience. You lose some fidelity, which is okay. I’m okay with losing some. If I find that this service is reliable enough and I use it enough, I will install the app on it if I find that I’m missing key functionality, but for me Chrome. That’s it.

It’s amazing how much nowadays there is sort of the app versus the web argument, Apple obviously going into really the direction of apps versus Google really focusing in on the web. I use Chrome all the time on so I’m in it probably as … Probably the app that I’m using the most of, even using an Apple device.

Danny Ryan:                       Cool. One last self-serving question before I let you go get back to work. Sorry I’m slowing you down. I feel like that’s sometimes my job around here. I just go around and slow people down. Danny, I could be billing right now. Do you really want to come and ask me silly questions? Sure, sure I do. ThreeWill, you eluded a little bit earlier how you like sort of the variety of what you’re doing here. Is that the main reason you like working at ThreeWill or is there something else?

Lane Goolsby:                   I’ll stick with the answer I gave you the last time I answered that question. I like being the dumbest person in the room. When you’re sitting in a meeting with-

Danny Ryan:                       Except with the case right now. I can guarantee you’re not the dumbest person in the room.

Lane Goolsby:                   Not when it comes to marketing. I’ll guarantee you that.

Danny Ryan:                       I don’t know. Some days I don’t know. I don’t know, but thank you.

Lane Goolsby:                   I like sitting in the room and being in the room with ThreeWill folks like Bo George and Kirk Liemohn and Eric Bowden and everybody else in the company, and we’re trying to solve a problem. I love how we all seem to talk at levels that … Every other company I’ve ever worked at, no one ever talked at that high of a level, or low of a level, depending on how you want to perceive it. Everyone always had that high level conversation of we need to do the thing with the firewall and then we need to do that with this. Here, we’ll actually get into very specifics of not only do we need to open a firewall port, what port it is and what protocols we need to go through and what do we need to have the acks and sims go through.

It’s refreshing to get into those conversations. I’m using networking. It’s probably a bad example, but when we start talking about SharePoint, we’ll talk about we could do it with the workflow or we could do it with this, or we could use some angular, do we need to have an app for that or can we just use it as a sandbox or should we do a see-saw? It get’s into these really fun conversations. I love having that technical churn. That, to me, is what I like most about ThreeWill.

Danny Ryan:                       Awesome. We love having you here.

Lane Goolsby:                   I like being here.

Danny Ryan:                       With you moving up to North Carolina, I’m glad to hear everything is working out, where working remotely is working out great. We would so miss you, so I’m so glad that we’re able to work things out there. You probably can get much more done than anybody else because you’re not around the office here for me to bother. You can just ignore me on IM. Thank you so much for the years of hard work that you’ve put in and for making such a big difference on projects. You just step right in all the time and are hands up in the air, ready to help out however you can, and we appreciate that.

Lane Goolsby:                   I try to be.

Danny Ryan:                       Cool. Very cool. Thanks, everybody, for taking the time to listen today. Have a great day. Thank you so much. Bye-bye.

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Lane GoolsbyInterview with Lane Goolsby, Senior Software Engineer
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Interview with Bo George, Principal Consultant

Bo is a Principal Consultant for ThreeWill. He has 18 years of full lifecycle software development experience.

Danny:                  Hi this is Danny Ryan welcome to the ThreeWill podcast. Today I’ve got Bo George here with me. I’ve got Bro George here with me, that’s going to be your new nickname.

Bo:                         I like that.

Danny:                  Bro George. Bro is a Principal Consultant for us.

Bo:                         Thank you. Thanks for having me. My son you know he’s of that age right now where he to say Bro.

Danny:                  Bro, you’ll have to tell him your new nickname, I’m sure he would love hearing that. Bro George Tell me as a Principal Consultant what’s a normal day for you? Assuming you have a normal day.

Bo:                         Well it’ll vary based on the projects I’m on. Lately I’m in more of a scrum master than a dead lead role. My typical day involves a lot of e-mail, a lot of coordinating people, a lot of watching tasks, watching our timeline and our velocity making sure we’re getting things done. It’s taskmaster these days.

Danny:                  Mr. Taskmaster. Tell me while you’re not mastering tasks, what do you like to do outside of work?

Bo:                         Outside of work typical weekend or the things we do on the weekend … Fortunately we live in Columbus Georgia there’s a lot of restaurants so we always seem to find somewhere to eat. Which is bad but good.

Danny:                  Do you have a favorite restaurant that you and Beth go to?

Bo:                         Yes Saturday night we’re pining for place called Black Cow which has like the best steak in Columbus. That’s where we’re trying to go but that’s not where we ended up. We had it up it like a Japanese Steak House kind of place. Not a bad option but yeah. Then other things we do, we watch a lot of movies and stuff on Netflix’s. As much as I can get Beth outdoors I try to get us outdoors. We haven’t done in quite a while but I love camping, stuff like that. It’s getting a little late in the year to try that out now but maybe in the spring I can talk her into going again.

Danny:                  You mentioned Netflix, are you a binge watcher or you one off?

Bo:                         We sometimes we were. Early on we were binge watchers but now we actually try to make seasons last a little bit. Our routine at night is usually will go to bed about ten and watch an episode of something until we run its course then we move on to the next thing. Lately it’s Luther but we watch Rectify and just anything. They have really good algorithms for recommending stuff we’ll try that stuff out.

Danny:                  What’s Luther?

Bo:                         Luther is something from the BBC. I’ll butcher his name Idris something, I can’t think of his last name but he’s the lead in a detective kind of show. It’s interesting.

Danny:                  So a lot of detective stories.

Bo:                         Yeah. End up on a lot of BBC stuff I don’t know how that happens but even Top Gear and things like that.

Danny:                  Do you watch as a family or is it just you and Beth?

Bo:                         Just me and Beth. My sons of the generation that everything he watches comes through You Tube. Of course when You Tube Red came out he’s on that right away.

Danny:                  Okay so he signed up for YouTube Red?

Bo:                         Yeah, so he could download his videos. Everything he refers to it like when we were a kid it was my cartoon or my show, his is, my You Tube or this, my you tube or that. That’s how he refers to his entertainers now.

Danny:                  What grade is he in now?

Bo:                         Sixth.

Danny:                  Wow. Oh my goodness. That is amazing, it’s amazing how quickly they grow up. You mention some TV series, any favorite movies that you guys have that you keep coming back to at all?

Bo:                         Favorite movie of all time probably without a doubt is Shaw shank Redemption. Just like the story there so anytime it comes on I just stop watch it for that ten thousandth time.

Danny:                  And it’s on pretty often, it’s amazing.

Bo:                         Yeah and you see it in the top ten or whatever of all time with these often.

Danny:                  Does Beth agree with that or does she have-

Bo:                         No, she’s a reality-

Danny:                  What would Beth, this is like the honeymoon show or-

Bo:                         To get me into trouble?

Danny:                  Tell me how did you and Beth meet? Oh forget that.

Bo:                         Yeah, that one already passed. I’ve got a little grief for a long time ago. We find a lot of shows we agree on and movies stuff like that but mine tend to be the guy things and hers of course are the chick flicks or whatever.

Danny:                  Any favorite books or do you have time to read? Do you find yourself reading just for pleasure?

Bo:                         I listen to books for pleasure. Audibles’ one of my favorite apps on my trips up here to the office from Columbus I listen to it regularly. I find that I don’t even pay attention to the drive when I’m really engrossed in the book. One of my favorites recently was the Martian which we also went to the theater to see that.

Danny:                  It was a great movie, wasn’t it?

Bo:                         Yeah I like that one.

Danny:                  It’s like how can they make a … You’re like what I think we’re going to go with this story? It’s a long movie but I was still engrossed by the whole time.

Bo:                         Yeah I mean I kept thinking, “Man they left out that part” but then I was thinking, ” Well we’ll be in the theater for thirteen hours if they keep everything in there”.

Danny:                  Which did you enjoy more, the movie or the book?

Bo:                         I like the book. I think part of it is you get more time with it, with the book. There is just more enjoyment there, in the movie you’re trying to fit that two hour window of let’s entertain people in two. Hit the high points and stuff like that. Sometimes hitting the low points helps raise the high points. That’s what you get with the book I think a lot of times.

Danny:                  Very nice. Last time when I asked Brendan about what books he likes, you know him being from Phoenix City Alabama right across the river, he had the response of, “I don’t read books”. I said, “You’re not helping Alabama at all”.

Bo:                         If I was really being hard I might say it’s an Auburn thing too but you know.

Danny:                  Och, burn.

Bo:                         Caroline started with me this morning about Auburn and Georgia so.

Danny:                  We have a pretty good representation of different schools here but there’s quite a few Auburn folks here that every once in a while they start.

Bo:                         Yeah, almost disproportionate of how many here are from Auburn versus-

Danny:                  I don’t know what happened there.

Bo:                         The tech guys and stuff.

Danny:                  Tommy went to Clemson and I went to Georgia Tech. This is not coming from us, it’s coming from other folks. Tell me as far as phone choice, what do you carry?

Bo:                         I’m Android guy. I don’t think I ever … I haven’t personally owned an iPhone. I’ve been Android the whole time. My wife had an iPhone, my son. I thought they were both pretty cool but I just stuck with Android for the ability to customize. I always felt like it was stronger there. It reminded me a lot of why Windows took off with multiple vendors, multiple platforms and sort of an openness to build upon. I think iPhone is great because you get solid quality for it all being kind of owned by them too. There’s merits there and we are a … I don’t know what you call it when you’re a PC and a Mac and an iPad household. We’re a multi device generational household. We’ve got Mac’s, Android’s, PC’s, everything. I’m a huge fan of the Mac book that we have a home too.

Danny:                  What type of device are you carrying right now?

Bo:                         Note4. Bigger screen the better except for it hardly fits in your pocket sometimes. So I like the Note4. I use the stylus a bit too especially in meetings I carry around a behemoth of a laptop that the battery will die down sometimes or just a pain to keep out. I found myself enough at least a few customer meetings where I’ll just pull at the pen and jot down notes and stuff like One Note or Ever Note are great for that stuff.

Danny:                  You have a favorite app that you use?

Bo:                         Favorite App. I don’t know. I would say depends on the time of the year. Right now college football team season, I’m in score all the time.

Danny:                  Do you do the fantasy football stuff?

Bo:                         No. I won’t bet on it because I’m always wrong about that kind of stuff. I see those guys are getting quite a bit of grief lately which I don’t pay enough attention to know what’s going on but I know that anything that seems too good to be true usually is. Their commercials are like, “I bet a dollar and won ten million”, I’m like yeah some about that doesn’t feel right.

Danny:                  I’m sorry cut you off but what other Apps?

Bo:                         I use Yammer and Facebook a lot because of course we’re social organization and social people, Instagram. For my news Flipboard, huge fan of that for consuming news. So yeah then of course Audible and Kindle. Kindle’s where I do my technical reading so like I’ve got this Share Point Books there typically.

Danny:                  Can you get those for free or do you have to pay for those?

Bo:                         I usually pay for them but they’re typically cheaper than the hardback. I remember the days of carrying around several hardback books and how much that weighed and it’s just awesome to be able to open up your phone or your tablet have all your technical books right there to kind of go through.

Danny:                  We reimburse you for those right?

Bo:                         Yeah yeah.

Danny:                  We do have an allowance for that.

Bo:                         Just recently I bought the SharePoint’s Essential 2013 book which I had bought the 2007 one before because I find it’s a good one to go back to pretty often.

Danny:                  When a customer asks you a question you say just hold on one minute.

Bo:                         I know that’s in chapter eleven, hold on.

Danny:                  Chapter eleven, just a second here, I got a code example here.

Bo:                         Yeah, I love that.

Danny:                  Well awesome. One last question. It’s my self serving question which is assuming you like working at ThreeWill which you’ve been here for a while, you were here then you went away then you came back and you’re never leaving again.

Bo:                         Yeah well-

Danny:                  You’re never leaving, how does that make you feel?

Bo:                         It’s all right. I’m totally fine with that. I left … So my story is just a little bit different. I moved to Atlanta. Found a life style in Atlanta to not be fitting for somebody who likes to be a little more of a small town.

Danny:                  What are you saying about us?

Bo:                         I’m saying the traffic is horrible. You have to live like less than a mile from the office to not be stuck in some kind of gridlock.

Danny:                  I understand.

Bo:                         The only reason I left ThreeWill was really to get back to living in Columbus, a smaller town. My wife’s family’s there and my family’s there for the most part but I did come back and I brought two people.

Danny:                  Yes you did.

Bo:                         I guess I’ve been back I think March will be six years if that’s right.

Danny:                  That’s awesome.

Bo:                         I love working at ThreeWill. I love the the pace, the flexibility, the ability to choose for yourself. A lot of organizations are very top down, very rigid and I find in ThreeWill that if a decision makes sense, if you provide the right information, things can change. You feel pretty empowered here. Then of course we’re always challenged. Being a small company you have to cover a lot of basis, to a lot of different things. You’re not just a guy that knows how to work the widget in the Share Point Farm or whatever. Like I said I’m scrum master right now. My next project I might be actually like heads down writing code stuff and like that. Then the next project I might be doing a migration. Then one after that could be completely custom solution. We’re getting exposed to a lot which keeps you interested in your job. The book I’m listening to now the Outliers mentions that the main thing is that you feel fulfilled your job to make you happy.

Danny:                  You feel fulfilled?

Bo:                         I feel fulfilled.

Danny:                  That is awesome. Well let’s end on that positive note. We’re so happy you’re here with us Bo. I hear nothing but positive things about you and what you’re doing on projects. So thank you.

Bo:                         Thank you.

Danny:                  Thank you so much. Thanks everybody for listening. Have a great day. Thanks bye bye.

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Bo GeorgeInterview with Bo George, Principal Consultant
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Interview with Will Holland, Software Engineer

Will Holland is an Software Engineer at ThreeWill. Will has proven to be adept at understanding a client's needs and matching them with the appropriate solution. Recently he's developed a passion on working with .NET, MVC, and cloud-based solutions such as Microsoft Azure and Office 365.

Danny Ryan:                       Hi, this is Danny Ryan from ThreeWill, and this is a ThreeWill podcast. Today I’ve got Will Holland here with me. He’s a Software Engineer for ThreeWill. Thank you for joining me, Will.

Will Holland:                      Thanks for having me.

Danny Ryan:                       I know it’s a … We’re at Friday on a Friday at the end of the day. It’s been a long week, so bear with us, folks. We’re going to get through this. We’re going to find out a little bit more about Will. Let’s just get this kicked off with just finding out a little bit more about what you do from nine to five. What’s a typical day like for you?

Will Holland:                      Yeah, well, my days start a little bit earlier than nine to five.

Danny Ryan:                       Oh, you don’t work from nine to five.

Will Holland:                      No, no. I’m an early bird.

Danny Ryan:                       Working nine to five …

Will Holland:                      No. I typically start my days a little bit earlier, especially here recently. I’ve been … The project I’m on, I’m working with some overseas resources. I try to get a jump on the day, so I can have some more interaction with them.

Usually the day starts off with getting everything set up for work, and checking in with those over shore resources, and seeing if there’s anything that they maybe need help with. Then after that it’s just making sure that all of the tasks that I have for whatever project are getting done on time. I try to jump into the code as quick as I can.

Danny Ryan:                       When do you … I guess checking in with the folks that are overseas, what time do usually talk to them? What’s a typical … Do you have a set period of time each day that you talk with them?

Will Holland:                      Yes. They usually … They’ll tend to start while we’re all fast asleep, and then around seven o’clock our time I’ll log on. We’re using visualstudio.com, and they have a neat little team room, chat room, feature in there. We’ll start communicating there if they have any issues. That’s usually how we communicate with each other. Then we have a daily stand up a few hours later, and we get a chance to hear from them.

Danny Ryan:                       This is India?

Will Holland:                      Yep.

Danny Ryan:                       The folks are in India?

Will Holland:                      Yep.

Danny Ryan:                       How far off hour wise? Do you have any idea?

Will Holland:                      They are about six hours, five … I think they’re five and a half hours ahead of … Or something like that.

Danny Ryan:                       So you answer questions, and then do you end up setting them up for what they’re going to go after for the next day? Is that-

Will Holland:                      Yep. Some of the tasks that we have in order to complete this project we’re handing off to them, so I am … At the beginning of every sprint we go through and pick out a few tasks that we think would be good for them to go after. They’ve been doing a great job. We just make sure that we’re keeping them busy.

Danny Ryan:                       That’s awesome. Very cool. Is this your first exposure to having an outsource team where you’re trying to? Is it a new thing for you?

Will Holland:                      Yeah. It’s a first time for me managing somebody other than myself and-

Danny Ryan:                       How does that feel? You’re grown up. You’re all grown up now.

Will Holland:                      Yeah. It’s been a rewarding experience and certainly identifying areas that I can certainly grow in. That’s definitely a positive. Yeah, it’s … They’ve made it easy on me so far.

Danny Ryan:                       Very cool. Very cool. That’s neat. That’s … I’m glad you’re getting that exposure. It’s kind of … It’s nice.

Let’s jump over to … This is a personal interview. I asked you about work, but let’s head … Is there, hobby-wise, outside you’re, not the nine to five, seven to five or seven to whatever, whatever kind of crazy hours you’re working.

Will Holland:                      Question mark.

Danny Ryan:                       I know everybody is very busy right now, and if you’re looking for a job go to threewill.com/jobs. Tell me a little bit more about what outside of work, some of your hobbies.

Will Holland:                      Yeah. I have two small children. Liam who is three and my daughter Lillian just turned one. I spend as much time as I can with them, just rolling around the floor. Recently started back trying to learn to the guitar, so I’ll pull that out and play with it. Lilly is a big dancer, so she makes me feel good, like I’m actually accomplishing something on the guitar.

Danny Ryan:                       Great. You play her a little thing, and she does a little jig.

Will Holland:                      Yeah. I’ll practice one song until I feel like I’ve gotten as far as I can go with it, and while I’m making horrible sounds on the guitar she’s dancing away. I’ve got at least one fan.

Danny Ryan:                       Nice. Very nice.

Will Holland:                      Other than that I’m a pretty big gamer. I think I’m the only one here who’s a pretty big gamer. I don’t have near as much time as I used to, but every once in awhile-

Danny Ryan:                       I’m sorry we tend to … We cramped your style here. I’m so sorry.

Will Holland:                      That’s quite all right. That’s quite all right. Whenever the kids are in bed and the wife is busy, I’ll usually sit down in front of the Xbox.

Danny Ryan:                       The Xbox is the console that you like?

Will Holland:                      Yep. Yep. That or I’ll occasionally play PC games like World of Warcraft.

Danny Ryan:                       Okay.

Will Holland:                      I haven’t played that much recently. I’ve been sticking to Destiny on the Xbox. It’s been my go-to game for the past few months.

Danny Ryan:                       Do you binge play or do you …? What’s typical … Do you play for a couple … An hour and then call it quits?

Will Holland:                      Yeah, these days if I get an hour I’m pretty happy with that.

Danny Ryan:                       Welcome to fatherhood.

Will Holland:                      Yeah, yeah.

Danny Ryan:                       Welcome. You’re growing up, my son. You’re just growing up.

Will Holland:                      Prior to that having … Especially prior to ThreeWill, back in the college days that was not unheard of for me to have forty hours in a game a week. Yeah.

Danny Ryan:                       I …

Will Holland:                      I’ve become quite a bit more responsible since then.

Danny Ryan:                       You’re growing up. I’m so proud of you. Favorite TV shows?

Will Holland:                      The ones I’m watching now … My wife and I, that’s our thing that we do together. We’re watching shows like “Fargo”. We both really enjoy that. Some of the other bigger shows like “Gotham”. We’re into that.

Danny Ryan:                       Cool.

Will Holland:                      Nothing, nothing out there.

Danny Ryan:                       So you typically watch them with your wife?

Will Holland:                      Yeah, yeah. We DVR everything and watch it after the kids go to bed. Everything happens after the kids go to bed.

Danny Ryan:                       I hear you. I hear you loud and clear. Books? Any favorite authors, or favorite books that you have?

Will Holland:                      There is a series of authors that write books related to the World of Warcraft, and if you’re unfamiliar with that game, there is a deep, deep story behind all of it. There are quite a few authors that write on the lure of that game. One in particular, her name is Christie Golden, and I really enjoy her books in particular. If I have the time to devote to a book, which again is not frequently here, I’ll either listen to those books on Audible or read the hard copy if I get one of those.

Danny Ryan:                       The books, how do they … The books sort of add more layers on top of what the game does? Goes into different …?

Will Holland:                      Yeah. They’re … The game itself, World of Warcraft, each expansion that comes out drives the story forward a little bit.

Danny Ryan:                       Okay.

Will Holland:                      Being that it’s a video game there’s only so much detail they’ll go into inside of the game. They’re more focused on having actual fun game play.

Danny Ryan:                       Yeah.

Will Holland:                      The books tend to go way, way deeper into either what led to the expansion or something that happened directly after it, or they’ll just take one character from the game and give sort of an origin story of them.

Danny Ryan:                       Very nice. What’s your … Talking about weapons. What’s your weapon of choice? What type of phone do you use?  “Do you have guns or knives?” What type of phone do you use?

Will Holland:                      Yeah. I really prefer the last word. That’s a good one from Destiny.

Danny Ryan:                       Oh, okay. The last word, huh?

Will Holland:                      Yeah. No, my phone … I have the Galaxy S6. Bought those a couple months ago.

Danny Ryan:                       Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Will Holland:                      I’m not a huge phone guy. I had a Galaxy S3 before that, and I had it until it quit working. We got this phone just because it had a really nice camera.

Danny Ryan:                       Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Will Holland:                      It’s important having two young kids to be able to take clear photos and excellent videos. That’s why we went with the Galaxy.

Danny Ryan:                       Camera apps your favorite app? Or do you have a favorite app?

Will Holland:                      Definitely. Yeah, that’s … The two things I use the most, I use the internet browser for checking little random factoids. I have … The Reddit is a fun app. I’ll look at that frequently. Then camera and phone. That’s about the extent of my use of it.

Danny Ryan:                       Well, one last question before I let you out of here. It’s the self-serving question, which is: what do you like about working at ThreeWill?

Will Holland:                      Well, I think the answer is: what isn’t there to like about working at ThreeWill?

Danny Ryan:                       Oh. Give me a high five.

Will Holland:                      I think the real obvious answer is my co-workers, the people that I work with. Even the customers that I get to work with, but more so the people that I deal with on a daily basis. Everybody here is extremely intelligent and extremely dedicated to what they do, and they make it easy for somebody like me, who doesn’t have near the experience that these guys do, to come in and be on a project and not feel like the low man on the totem pole. I feel that I am one of their peers. I am equal to them. They provide many, many learning opportunities.

Danny Ryan:                       Awesome.

Will Holland:                      There’s nobody here that is afraid to help you out with understanding something or showing you a new way to accomplish whatever you’re working on. Yeah, I mean, it’s been … Going on five years, and everyday I get to deal with fun and interesting people. They help me become better at what I do.

Danny Ryan:                       We talked … When talking to people we’ve talked a bit about like humble confidence and what that is. I think your sort of pulling it out and saying … It’s great as a team member when somebody has humble confidence because you feel like you can approach them and ask them questions, and they’re not feeling like you’re … Making you feel small or like you’re asking stupid questions. I think that’s one of the side benefits as well as if you’re working with other people. It’s great that they’re intelligent, but you also need to be approachable, as well.

Will Holland:                      Yeah, absolutely. There are quite a few guys here that when I first started I was immediately intimidated by because they have these giant resumes and they’re always the names that get dropped when people are talking about smart people or people who are good at what they do. Like the Kirks and Erics of the world. It didn’t take long to, once I met them and got to work with them, to understand that, first, they absolutely deserve the reputations, but they are both people who are not too good to help somebody out.

Danny Ryan:                       Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Will Holland:                      I think it’s true for everybody here.

Danny Ryan:                       Where it’s Friday, are you doing the [hacker farm 00:11:36]?

Will Holland:                      I am. I am.

Danny Ryan:                       For folks who are listening in, what’s going on?

Will Holland:                      A handful of us have decided to camp out overnight, or at least I’ll be camping overnight.

Danny Ryan:                       And play World of Warcraft?

Will Holland:                      No. I’ll be sleeping on a couch after we’re done.

Danny Ryan:                       Okay.

Will Holland:                      We’re getting together and just having a good long session of learning new technologies and learning from each other. That way we can go out and better serve our customers.

Danny Ryan:                       That’s nice. Awesome. Well, have a good time tonight doing that. Hopefully they’ll order up some pizza and some caffeine and-

Will Holland:                      Yeah.

Danny Ryan:                       -stuff like that. Enjoy yourself. Thank you for taking the time to do this, Will.

Will Holland:                      Of course.

Danny Ryan:                       Awesome. You’ve been great. I hear so many good things about stuff you’re doing on projects. Keep up you’re … It’s amazing to see how far you’ve progressed, even with this time. I joke around a little bit about feeling like I’m proud of watching you do things. It’s just amazing, so continue on what you’re doing. Continue to grow, and thank you for all that you do on a daily basis on projects.

Will Holland:                      Well, thank you. I certainly will try.

Danny Ryan:                       Absolutely, absolutely. Thanks, everybody, for listening. Have a great day. Bye bye.

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William HollandInterview with Will Holland, Software Engineer
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Interview with Tim Coalson, Senior Consultant

Tim is a Senior Consultant at ThreeWill. He has 15 years of consulting experience designing and developing browser-based solutions using Microsoft technologies. Experience over the last 8 years has focused on the design and implementation of SharePoint Intranets, Extranets and Public Sites.

Danny Ryan:       Hello, this is Danny Ryan and welcome to the ThreeWill podcast. Today we’re going to do a personal interview with Mr. Tim Coalson. Tim is a Senior Consultant for ThreeWill. Thanks for joining me, Tim.

Tim Coalson:      Sure, thanks for having me.

Danny Ryan:       Tim sits right outside the door here, so I get to see him all the time. He has been working very hard recently. You had been sticking around, I’ve noticed, and staying around the office longer than I have most nights. You must be working pretty hard on some projects.

Tim Coalson:      Yeah, I’m working on a branding project. It’s a customer support site. It’s been interesting because we’re delving into some technologies that are newer for me, having been in SharePoint development, some of our options in the past were more constrained by SharePoint. With some of the later releases of SharePoint 2010 and 2013, it’s really kind of opened up the door to use some of the things others have used; JQuery, some of the MVC applications, some of the more modern frameworks and other JQuery UI, so we can make for a better customer experience with an enhanced user interface.

This has been a great project to be able to get to dive into a lot of those newer technologies and to learn.

Danny Ryan:       Spread your wings and fly, Tim. Fly.

Tim Coalson:      It’s awesome, yeah. Some of the other things that have been included on this is some of the CSS compilers such as the SAS and LAS as well. It’s been a good user experience. Good customer.

Danny Ryan:       Keep throwing the acronyms in. This really helps with our SEO. Anything else, any other technologies that you’ve been involved … Is the site responsive? Let me ask you that.

Tim Coalson:      There are some aspects of it. This site’s really been in development for probably over 10 years, so some of the newer pieces of the application, there are some responsive pieces. Right now, we are not necessarily focusing on that, even though that will be … We are using Bootstrap, which definitely supports responsive, but we haven’t been focused on going through and testing each browser size, each screen size to ensure. That is a good long term goal if we’re able to do that.

Danny Ryan:       I appreciate you catching me up on sort of what you’ve been doing lately. Now, the fun part. Let’s talk a little bit about when you’re not using acronyms and working with web sites that are 10 years old, what do you like to do outside of work, assuming you have something you like to do outside of work.

Tim Coalson:      Lately, as my kids have gotten older, I’ve got a daughter who is a junior at University of Georgia. I’ve got two boys, one’s a senior, one’s a freshman up at Forsythe Central High School. Activities with them, really, are a big part of my day. Getting them to school for any kind of special study sessions and basketball practice after school, then weekend activities sometimes. Going up to Georgia, to Athens for things with my daughter, or if she’s home. Of course this time of year, it’s the fall, so I’m busy. Tomorrow will be clean up the yard, leaf blowing. Beside those things, church activities are a big part of our weekends and even during the week. Even some other ministries that our church supports. I’m involved with the jail ministry where I go into the county jail one a month where I share the gospel, share some hope to guys that are feeling hopeless at the time, many times. Also, I’m involved some, not as much lately, with a ministry that provides food to children, primarily, and families of children in the Forsythe county area. Those are things I enjoy outside of work.

Danny Ryan:       Of course.

Tim Coalson:      In terms of other things, I enjoy Netflix a lot, watching some series that I haven’t watched in the past. I’ve been able to catch up on 24 and Downton Abbey.

Danny Ryan:       Are you binge watching?

Tim Coalson:      I do. I much prefer to wait til there’s a whole season, or even in some of the cases 5 or 6 seasons that I can go through and watch at once. Those are fun and, then, of course, to be able to talk to my work peers about those or other people.

Danny Ryan:       Do you watch them with Sonia?

Tim Coalson:      She doesn’t… A lot of the stuff that I watch she doesn’t really enjoy. Of course, Sonia is my wife. I watch the Walking Dead recently. Probably the one she would most watch would be the Downton Abbey, but she’s really not into watching very much TV. Normally she’s sitting there reading or doing something else while I’m watching those.

Danny Ryan:       Do you have any favorite books? You’re watching Netflix while she’s reading, so you might not have any favorite books.

Tim Coalson:      I’m reading one right now called Reframe. I actually read it. I’m re-reading it, which is a Christian book. I listen to a daily Podcast as I drive into work every morning. It’s the Bible. He reads the Bible, basically a guy reads the Bible through every year, so it starts in January and goes through December. Each day there’s Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs. The same guy that does that Podcast also does a book which I’ve been reading, which is very good. The Podcast is called The Daily Audio Bible. That’s normally part of my morning commute on my drive in, which is normally about a 20, 25 minute drive, so that works out well to able to listen to that.

Danny Ryan:       That’s a great way to start the day.

Tim Coalson:      In terms of books, so that was one book. One of our former customers, Brian Blinco he had turned me on to a book about the Wright brothers, which was really interesting. I read that.

Danny Ryan:       I read that as well. Sure did.

Tim Coalson:      That was a very good book. I followed up that one with one on Eisenhower, which was really good. Some of the historical, I like World War II shows, so any show that talks about World War II or even the Vietnam War, but primarily World War II. The Band of Brothers series from HBO I really enjoyed. In fact, I bought that CD or DVD set actually twice. The first time, it was lost. I think I loaned it to someone and never got it back. The second time was more recently. I really enjoy that series.

Danny Ryan:       You can get some good documentaries on Netflix, too, on World War II. There’s a lot of stuff there if you start digging a little into it.

What’s your weapon of choice? What phone do you use?

Tim Coalson:      I have the Android. I’ve had both. I’m not really into the phone wars. I like to give you and Tommy and others are hard time about using the Apple computers. For me, it’s whatever works to get the job done. I initially had an iPhone and liked it, but then later … At the time, Android, you could swap out the battery, you could add your own memory cards, things I saw as advantages over an iPhone, since mine, the battery had gotten week. I chose, at the time I guess it was a Samsung Galaxy maybe S3. I think I followed that up with an S4.

Then, more recently, one of my work peers, Matthew Chestnut, turned me on to a phone, the One Plus, was sort of a knock off that you could buy that came with 64 gig. You can get it for about three hundred dollars or three hundred and fifty dollars. You can buy it unlocked, which is what I did. That’s what I’m using now. It has the large screen like the latest iPhone 6, and it has nice screen. It works fine. I don’t really get into doing the programming and hacking of the phones, but just for basic things. Primarily I use it for-

Danny Ryan:       Do you have a favorite app at all?

Tim Coalson:      I use the calendar app a lot. I use, of course, the email app. I use-

Danny Ryan:       How’s it work with the Office 365 stuff. Do you have the some of the Microsoft apps installed?

Tim Coalson:      I’ll look at some documents every now and then, but I haven’t done a lot on my phone with those. Of course, the OneDrive and those things work well, and I do leverage those every now and again on my phone. Primarily that stuff on my PC. I’m not really into games on my phone, so I don’t do much of that. Facebook I do a lot on my phone, so I enjoy keeping up with people with that, putting out snarky comments on people’s threads. Also, I guess one of the paid apps I did was a task application that integrates in with Outlook so that I can create tasks on my phone.

If I think of something, sometimes I’ll wake up at night thinking about something I’m working on, a project, so I’ll just, so I can go back to sleep without thinking about it all night, sometimes Ill put in a task. That way, the next morning it’s there, it shows up, so I can follow up on it then. That’s an app I actually paid a few dollars for and like.

Danny Ryan:       Great. To wrap up here, my self-serving question: Why do you like working at ThreeWill? Tell me a little about that.

Tim Coalson:      First, let me say that besides those who are on the board at ThreeWill, I’m the longest tenured employee at the time. I’ve been here 11 years now.

Danny Ryan:       My goodness.

Tim Coalson:      Really, it’s about the people. I think in most jobs I think it’s really around the people. The technology’s great, too, but working with people that I trust. I know they’re not going to throw me under the bus, they’re always going to be supportive. We’re going to work together as a team. People are really the primary thing.

Also, the technology. We get to always learn new things. Technology’s constantly changing, so there’s always a challenge of how can I solve this customer’s problem with … What are the best tools that are available? That constantly changes, so it’s between the people, the relationships, not only at work, but also our customers. I usually enjoy getting to know new people and sometimes those customer relationships turn into friendships. I keep those relationships going sometimes through LinkedIn, sometimes through Facebook. For me, it’s really the relationship part of work that’s the most enjoyable, and the technology is a close second.

I enjoy doing the user interface parts of work. That’s being able to know what people want, to know, as a user, the type of user experience I want, that kind of carries over into I think my strengths on projects where I enjoy the user interface work. Thinking about how people want things to work, and being able to apply that.

Danny Ryan:       I know Tommy and I are really appreciative of how sensitive you are to other people, what’s going on inside of ThreeWill, really how we are emotionally as an organization. You’re very in touch with other folks, and we really appreciate you. Especially, we’re very busy right now. The problem with being very busy is sometimes there can be things that come up that we’re not aware of that can be difficulties in working. You’re just always good at being aware of what’s going on inside of ThreeWill and reaching out to people and just checking in on people. You just do a wonderful job with that. You’re sort of our heart inside the company. You really look out for other folks, and you’re now starting to turn a nice shade of red. You’re starting to blush a little bit. Obviously, we’ve loved having you around for 11 years. It’s just amazing. Look forward to the next 11 years. You’re a joy to work with. You take what you’re listening to in the morning on the way to work with throughout the whole day, and we really appreciate that. Thank you so much, Tim.

Tim Coalson:      Sure, Danny, I appreciate it.

Danny Ryan:       Thanks everybody for listening, and have a wonderful day. Take care. Bye bye.

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Tim CoalsonInterview with Tim Coalson, Senior Consultant
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Exceeding Customer Expectations with SCRUM

Bruce is the Vice President of Delivery for ThreeWill. Bruce has over thirty-five years of extensive experience and proven success in IT Professional Services Management, COTS Product Development, Application Management and overall Financial Management.

 

Exceeding Customer Expectations with SCRUM

Danny Ryan:                       Hi. This is Danny Ryan and welcome to the ThreeWill Podcast. I’ve got Bruce Harple with me today. Thank you again, Bruce, for joining me for the podcast.

Bruce Harple:                     Absolutely. Glad to be here, Danny.

Danny Ryan:                       Great. We wanted to take some time in here. I was joking as we were prepping for this that we could probably talk on this subject for much longer than twenty minutes. I am going to try to hold us to twenty minutes, but probably a subject that’s near and dear to a lot of folks hearts at ThreeWill, which is talking about managing customer expectation and talking in particular about Scrum. Tell me a little bit about what you want to talk about today.

Bruce Harple:                     Yes. What I want to talk about Danny is when we think about managing customer expectations, we kind of talk about the Iron Triangle and three things that we want to really set expectations around and then manage throughout the life of a project is scope, schedule and budget. Of course those things all impact one another. So if one either increases or decreases, it actually does affect the other parts of that triangle. I talk about how our Agile Scrum process really helps us manage those three parts of the Iron Triangle, and how we kind of manage that on a regular basis with our customers.

Danny Ryan:                       Awesome. With this, it’s describing … you probably have to get started off with a couple of definitions of some important terms. In particular, for folks who are listening in, we use an Agile process called Scrum. What’s interesting about this conversation is, Scrum is typically used in large development shops. We are using it in the situation where we’re trying to develop products and applications for customers. Because we’re using it, yet there’s some modifications that we need to do to set those expectations up properly. So if you could, sort of at a high level, talk me through User Stories, Story Points, all that good stuff.

Bruce Harple:                     Yes. One of the key artifacts in Agile Scrum that kind of drives and really defines the scope of a project, is something that is collectively called the Product Backlog. It’s kind of an Agile Scrum term. Within a Product Backlog, there are a set of what we call User Stories.  User Story really in one sentence describes a User’s interaction with that application and the benefit that might result as a result of that customer’s interaction or that User’s interaction with the system. A User Story is just a way for us to redefine a requirement into those three parts. There’s a User, there’s an Action, and there’s a Benefit. That kind of forms that baseline of the scope for a project.

Then one of the things that we do, another term that I’ll use is called Story Points. Story Points are the way that we actually size the effort to implement a specific User Story.  A Story Point is just a number. We follow the fibinocci system, that could be anywhere from a point five up to a twenty or higher. The higher the number, the more difficult it is to implement that specific User Story. We assign a Story Point or a size effort to implement every single User Story. That really becomes the foundation for the scope. The scope is the User Stories. We actually take those Story Points and we actually convert those into hours. Once we have hours, we can convert those into dollars, which is your budget. That’s your Scope.

User Stories make up the Scope and then the Story Points converted into hours and dollars, that makes up your Budget. Then, we take those User Stories and group them logically into a sequence that makes sense to implement them, and also kind of grouping them by size. We group all those into Sprints. A Sprint is, typically we work in two week Sprints. A Sprint is just a duration in which you are going to deliver a certain number of User Stories to the customer.  Once we take all those User Stories and size them with Story Points, we then group those into Sprints and those Sprints define the schedule. That’s kind of a baseline, kind of the Scope, the User Stories, the Budget is converted from the Story Points, and then a Schedule is the number of Sprints and the Spring Duration that we plan at the start of a project.

Danny Ryan:                       So these User Stories and the Story Points and this calculation of time and money, that all goes into the statement of work for the customer or how does that work?

Bruce Harple:                     Yes, that’s right, Danny. We actually go through this process during the sale cycle. As we talk to a prospective customer and try to understand their business problem, we really drill down into some lower level requirements, and actually build out the product backlog and all the User Stories. That’s been very successful for us from the perspective of … you know, customers love it when we kind of play back these User Stories. Because their reaction typically is these guys really get my business problem, they get what I’m trying to accomplish. We review that backlog with them in the sales cycle to make sure that we have correctly restated their requirements in these User Stories. We also go through them in the sales cycle, and for our ties, all those User Stories.

They tell us what items are must have items versus should have, could have, or if it’s a willing to have, it’s something that could wait until a later phase. We obviously size everything. Then those User Stories are actually grouped into something we call Feature Groups, which is just a logical grouping of Stories. Then, with that, and we size everything, convert it to hours and dollars. Customers can actually go through that and actually exclude Stories, exclude features. They can really take that whole product backlog and kind of get it sized to their budget. We end up working with them to help them determine what’s most important, where are they going to get the most value for their investment, and that’s where we establish that baseline. What is the baseline of User Stories that are must have, we have to have it in this release of the solution. Then what’s the side of that Story Points, that obviously gets converted to, as I said, hours, dollars, and a schedule.

Danny Ryan:                       Does the customer pay for this estimate?

Bruce Harple:                     No. That’s something that we do during the sales cycle. Now I will say when we start a project, in some cases there may be some requirements that we haven’t had the time to really vet out in detail. In many cases what we’ll do in the sales cycle, if there’s any kind of technical risk or uncertainty or any kind of requirement risk or uncertainty, we’ll tend to put User Stories in our backlog called Spikes. A Spike is just a story that says we didn’t have time to flesh out this technical concept or we don’t have time to flesh out this set of business requirements, so we’re going to allocate a little bit of time in the first Sprint of the project, that we call Sprint Zero, and further vet those things out.

At then we can at that point determine, once we’ve got more detailed requirements, or maybe we do a proof of concept to show if there’s a technical risk or to present a concept to a customer. We can say after that review and after those Spikes are completed, we can then sit back down with a customer and say this particular Spike is resulting in these results, which impact the product backlog in this way. It might not have any impact on the backlog, in the way of additional User Stories or anything like that, but it gives us another checkpoint after that Sprint Zero, which is the first Sprint, to re-calibrate, budget, Schedule and Scope if we need to.

Danny Ryan:                       Just to point out a couple of things that I think are really valuable. Mentioning that this is something we do as part of the sales process. For folks who haven’t gone through the sales process with us, Bruce puts together a very detailed spreadsheet. One of the benefits of having that is you can see where they basically get a breakdown on where the work effort and what’s involved. The other thing I like about that for customers is, not only can they prioritize things, but it’s almost like a shopping basket type of approach, where you can say maybe I don’t have the budget to go after this, but you can play through some scenarios. I know customers just love having that control over what are we going after, and help the customer basically size out the project appropriately. I think it’s just a great thing to give or to hand over to people. It’s fun going through the estimates that you guys come up with, and walking that through and then the customer seeing it and getting feedback from them is really awesome.

Bruce Harple:                     Yes, Danny. I think just to add to that. I think what customers really appreciate is that it lets them see and for them to implement a certain feature group or set of User Stories. Once they see a price attached to that, it really resonates with them. At that point, they’re making an investment decision. They can decide is my business going to get enough benefit from this Feature Group or set of Stories, and it’s worth making this investment. We’re just really trying to give them the data points that will help them make what we hope are the right decisions for their business.

Danny Ryan:                       So we start off with this statement of work that has a certain number of Story Points against it. Of course, the project starts, week number two something comes up. The business climate changes, something happens. How do we adapt to these changes that come up that we know will come up during projects?

Bruce Harple:                     Yes. Exactly. I mean anybody that’s been involved in custom software development knows that you need to identify new requirements as you go. Also identify areas that are more complex than you thought, to maybe implement a specific requirement or User Story. One of the things we really try to do is at the front of a project, go through that product backlog with our customers, explain how we phrase it. We explain how we size everything using these Story Points. We really try to educate our customers into thinking of the Scope of the Project being the number of Story Points that they’re going to get that are associated with this project backlog of User Stories.

That’s kind of the baseline that we kind of always go back to, to say we committed at the start of this that we would develop one hundred Story Points worth of features, for these hours and for this budget. We kind of try to use that as the baseline. In Agile, we talked about every two weeks we develop a set of features that we deliver to the customer. We go through a process called a Sprint Review, which is where you kind of review what you’ve accomplished with a customer. You cerebrate that. You take their feedback. Right. So if any adjustments need to be made you’re getting that feedback every two weeks.

And then, as a part of the Sprint Review, we also go into what we call Spring Planning. I talked about at the beginning of a project, we set a Sprint Schedule for all the Sprints and we take the backlog that we started with. We break it up into these Sprints. When I get done with Sprint One, for example, I’m going to go ahead and look at my Sprint Two plans, what I originally started. And when I do that, I’m also going to bring up, okay, so during Sprint One, we uncovered these five new User Stories.

We estimate that these five new User Stories are … lets say it’s ten Story Points to implement these five Stories. So one of the things that we do as part of Sprint Planning when we’re looking at that next Sprint, we sit down with the customer and we say we’ve got five new User Stories, five new sets of requirements. Are these User Stories or these requirements more important than what we already had planned for this next Sprint? If the answer is yes, some of these are more important and we need to have these included in the next Sprint, then we work with them.

If we’re going to take these new User Stories and these requirements and include those at Scope, then something’s going to be pushed out of Scope, right. Because overall, we’re trying to hold the Scope to the hundred Story Points that we started with as our baseline. They understand that, they understand that they’ve got to … you know, in order to include something new in Scope, they’ve got to kind of push something out to a lower priority. Maybe if we operate faster than we thought we would, and maybe if we get more work done than we thought we would originally planned, we could still do those original stories. But in some cases you can’t, and that’s when things actually get moved out of Scope.

The other choice the customer has, Danny, in that scenario where we’ve uncovered new requirements and we’ve kind of shared with them what those are, what the impact is in the way of size, which also impacts Schedule and Budget. The other option they have is to say these new requirements are important, and there’s nothing I can move out of Scope. I still need to have everything you originally stated, plus these new requirements are important to me. In that case, that would lead us to create a [inaudible 00:14:59] with that customer. We would expand the Scope, which then would impact Budget and Schedule. The beauty of it is, we’re doing that every two weeks.

Danny Ryan:                       Yes.

Bruce Harple:                     We’re constantly in that expect and adapt kind of principle behind Agile. You are constantly looking at where am I today, what did I get accomplished in this last Sprint, what else new did I learn that’s impacting my Scope, what the User Stories have identified, and what do we want to do about that. We don’t want to ignore it, we want to recognize that we’ve uncovered new requirements and they’re valid. They’re important to the customer. We then together decide how do we incorporate and include those new requirements in the project.

Danny Ryan:                       We typically … for the back to the statements of work, will typically write the statement of work around a time and materials budget, not to exceed a certain amount, right? So we write it up that way, and then if we see that there’s things that they want to pull in that would exceed that amount, that’s where we would talk through the change order, we need that additional. But yet let them make the decision as far as whether those new features need to be included or not.

Bruce Harple:                     That’s right. In some cases, we are actually ahead of our original plan. In other words, if our velocity, the rate at which we can implement a Story Point is faster than we planned originally. Maybe we’re better and more efficient. Or maybe we found some ways to implement some Stories that were simpler than we assumed when we did our original estimate. It could be that we’re kind of ahead of plan and ahead of budget, and we can actually take in additional User Stories and not impact the original budget or timeline. That happens in many cases.

Danny Ryan:                       You do that way too much, Bruce. Really, really. I am amazed that just internally I know we look at from a planning perspective, if the SOW is at let’s say one hundred K, we’re planning to really to hit below that, more like eighty K, because we’re typically delivering the solution to people. Not to over-set expectations, but it just seems like we have the ability to manage to that budget and give something to someone that they really want under that budget. That’s really, really important to customers.

Bruce Harple:                     Yes. It is and that’s one of the things that they like about Agile because they are seeing features delivered to them, put in their environment, right. So they can actually do their UAT testing early on as they go. You’re constantly looking at the Budget and the Scope every two weeks. You’ve got that such a great view into where you’re at and whether you’re ahead of what you thought or behind. You get to make those adjustments every two weeks, which is really important to customers. They really love that.

Danny Ryan:                       That’s awesome. I just wanted to wrap us up here. This has been a great conversation. I think we can talk for hours here. But I know one of the things that we’ve come up with through the years was the ThreeWill Promise, which we’ve talked about internally quite a bit where the three C’s, Control, Choice and Commitment. I think that what we’re talking about today really have to deal with those things with Control, we say that we provide the structure for clients to control Priority of Features and Budget throughout the lifetime of the project.

How important is that? How important is it for the client to maintain Control? Choice, because we’re delivering it every two weeks, we’re earning business every two weeks as well. We’re delivering software every two weeks. The great team that you’ve put together, Bruce, out there delivering every single day. The last one is Commitment. It’s where people are really taking on the Challenges, like their own Challenges. I love how committed we are to clients. You guys just do wonderful job. It’s so much fun talking to clients after we’re done with projects and hearing what’s been done. So I appreciate you, Bruce, taking the time. Any thoughts to wrap this up at all? Anything you want to add?

Bruce Harple:                     No. Just that we really enjoy working with our clients. I think they enjoy our process and the way we attack these problems. I think they appreciate the Agile process that we bring to bear. It’s often, there’s plenty of days one of the things customers call out when we do surveys with them and try to understand their level of satisfaction with ThreeWill. It’s one of the things they typically call out as one of the things that they see as one of our strengths, and that they really appreciate.

Danny Ryan:                       Yes. I think it’s … I hear a lot from people that the original reason why they brought us in was because of our technical experience, and then the reason why we stay around and why they want more projects from us is because of our process, because of what they see delivered on projects, which is wonderful. Wonderful to hear.

Bruce Harple:                     Absolutely.

Danny Ryan:                       Hopefully if you’ve gotten to the end of this Podcast, thank you for taking the time to do that. If you are a perspective client and hopefully some of this has helped you out a little bit, or a current client. Really, the whole estimation process, getting a handle on how much time it’s going to take, how much the cost is going to take. That is part of what we do, that’s a part of our sales process. I highly encourage you to come to our website. Reach out to us. We’ll put together the details so that you can really put together a sound Budget and something that’s workable. Please feel free to reach out to us. You’ll interact with myself and Bruce, and folks from his team. It’s a great process that we’ve put together here. Bruce, thank you for taking the time to do this.

Bruce Harple:                     Thank you, Danny. I enjoyed it.

Danny Ryan:                       You bet ‘cha. Have a great day. Thanks everybody for listening. Bye bye.

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Bruce HarpleExceeding Customer Expectations with SCRUM
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Interview with Bruce Harple, VP of Delivery

Bruce is the Vice President of Delivery for ThreeWill. Bruce has over thirty-five years of extensive experience and proven success in IT Professional Services Management, COTS Product Development, Application Management and overall Financial Management.

 

Danny Ryan:                       Hi. This is Danny Ryan and this is the ThreeWill podcast. Today, we’re continuing on our series of interviews with folks at ThreeWill. Today, I’ve got Bruce Harple with me, our VP of Delivery. Bruce, thanks for joining me.

Bruce Harple:                     Yeah. Glad to be here Dan.

Danny Ryan:                       Awesome, awesome. At VP of Delivery, what do you focus on inside of ThreeWill?

Bruce Harple:                     You know, if I had to net it out, my job essentially is to make sure at the end of the day, we successfully deliver to our customers and that we meet or exceed their expectations and that they’re happy with the solutions that we deliver them.

Danny Ryan:                       Awesome, awesome. It sounds like a challenging role.

Bruce Harple:                     It is, but we have a great team of salesmen who are really focused on our customers and their business requirements and their business needs and really work hard to make sure that … They love to please their customers. It helps to have a team of people with that level of commitment to their customers and their customer’s success.

Danny Ryan:                       Do you have a favorite part about this role that you really enjoy?

Bruce Harple:                     I think for me, one of the things that I really enjoy about being in the consulting business and building custom solutions like we do is that every customer, every kind of business and problem domain that you work with is different. You get to learn something new about either an existing customer’s business or a new customer’s business. It’s always a new challenge. You’re taking what you’ve learned from the past.

You’re taking design patterns that you’ve applied in the past and really taking all this IT you’ve accumulated over the years and really trying to figure out what’s the best and most effective way to solve this customer’s problem in a way that’s sustainable by them and in a way that fully meets their requirements. To me, it’s exciting. It’s exciting to solve business problems and it’s exciting to see customers become more effective and efficient in their business processes.

Danny Ryan:                       You’re great at what you do. I’m always amazed at what we hear back from customers with regards to satisfaction. I get to send out the reviews and hearing back from customers and what you and folks do on projects, it just amazes me. Thank you for doing an awesome job.

Bruce Harple:                     You bet. I appreciate it. Like I said, a lot of that credit goes to our teams and the processes that we follow. I think we’re very disciplined. As you know, we follow a SCRUM process, which is a very rapid delivery type process. We’re incremental in getting new features to our customers. They love that. They love getting drops of new features and new codes every two or three weeks. That really plays well with our customers and they appreciate what we do and the quality with which we deliver.

Danny Ryan:                       That’s great. For folks who are listening, the next podcast that we’re going to do, we’re going to actually dive into some of that process, so definitely listen to that. We’ll dive into more work related topics. Now for the fun part. Let’s get some personal stuff. Outside of being VP of Delivery at ThreeWill, how do you spend your weekends? What do you do on off hours? Tell me a little bit more about that.

Bruce Harple:                     I have a young family. I have a son who’s ten years old, so spending time with him and my wife is really where I spend most of my time outside of ThreeWill. We all love being outdoors. We love sports. We love out hiking. We love water sports. I live in Charleston, South Carolina, so obviously out on the water and the beach is where everybody goes when we have our spare time. Really enjoy the outdoors and spend time with my family.

Danny Ryan:                       That’s awesome. For people who might not know, so the majority of your time is in Charleston and then is it every other week that you’re down here? Is that right?

Bruce Harple:                     Yeah, yeah. Roughly every other week I commute back and forth between Charleston and Atlanta.

Danny Ryan:                       While you’re commuting, do you have a favorite TV show or movie or book or author that you have?

Bruce Harple:                     I think some of the books I’ve really enjoyed recently are the books by Bill O’Reilly; Killing Kennedy, Killing Lincoln, and Killing Jesus. In some ways, it’s actually a history lesson of that day and that time.

Danny Ryan:                       Nice.

Bruce Harple:                     I learned a lot more than I knew even growing up, at least in Kennedy’s time. He’s got a couple of new ones out. I think I’ve seen Killing Patton and Killing Reagan, so I look forward to reading those as well.

Danny Ryan:                       You like reading about people dying, is that what you’re saying?

Bruce Harple:                     What do you think about that Danny?

Danny Ryan:                       Now for the really personal question. What type of phone do you use and do you have a favorite app on that phone?

Bruce Harple:                     Yeah, I’ve got an iPhone 6. I thought about doing the 6 Plus, but I really wanted to stay with the 6 because it was easy to fit in my pocket, fit in the cup holder of my car, and things like that. Probably two apps that I really love; one we’ve heard a lot about lately is Waze in navigation. I’m amazed at that app. I love the way it tells you when there’s obviously an accident, a police officer routes you alternate ways. It’s just amazingly accurate.

The other app I use everyday is Google News. I love that because it’s a real quick way to get a snapshot of the headlines around the world. Both around the world, in the US, locally. There’s an entertainments section, a sports section, science and health. It’s a great way for me to stay connected to what’s going on in real short snippets because as you know, we’re all busy and it’s hard to take in the news to find out what’s going on. For me, it’s a great way to stay connected to what’s happening out there in the world.

Danny Ryan:                       Very nice. Is that an app that’s put out by Google or is it like a third party app?

Bruce Harple:                     No, it’s put out by Google.

Danny Ryan:                       Okay, interesting. I’ll have to check that one out. I don’t think I’ve seen that one. Last question for you and it’s my self-serving question, which is what do you like about working at ThreeWill? Assuming you like working at Three Will, what do you like about working at ThreeWill?

Bruce Harple:                     Absolutely. I think that the thing that probably stands out the most, and I mentioned it a couple of times, is just the people. The people I work with there. It’s just a set of very high integrity people that always focus on doing the right thing, that just collaborate amazingly well together, and work well together for the success of the customer. A very humble serving environment, very low ego. It’s just a pleasant place to be and pleasant people to work with.

I think we all have the same goals and principles and desires, not only in our jobs at ThreeWill and serving our customers, but also in our personal lives and making sure that we have that work/life balance. That’s, I think, important to most of us at ThreeWill and it is important to me with a young family, that I can spend that time with them, yet still stay committed and do what I need to do to be successful at ThreeWill and help ThreeWill be successful as well.

Danny Ryan:                       That’s awesome.

Bruce Harple:                     I think it’s the people here.

Danny Ryan:                       That’s great to hear that. I appreciate you just taking the time to do this, to share a little bit more about your personal life, work outside of work. Thank you for doing this Bruce.

Bruce Harple:                     You bet. I enjoyed it Danny.

Danny Ryan:                       You betcha. For folks, we’re going to be recording a podcast here in just a little bit. The next one up will be one that we’ll be focusing in on process and setting customer expectations. I look forward to do it with Bruce, so tune in for that one as well. Thank you so much for listening. Bye, bye.

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Bruce HarpleInterview with Bruce Harple, VP of Delivery
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Interview with Grant Lewis, Software Engineer

Grant Lewis is an Software Engineer with ThreeWill. Grant's consulting experience consists of using Microsoft technologies to enhance business operations in a manufacturing environment.

 

Danny Ryan:                       Hi, this is Danny Ryan and welcome to the ThreeWill podcast. Today, we’re going to continue on with the series of interviews that we’re doing of people who work at ThreeWill. Today, I’ve got Grant Lewis with me. He’s a software engineer for ThreeWill. Thanks for joining me, Grant.

Grant Lewis:                       Hi, thanks. Morning Danny.

Danny Ryan:                       Good morning, good morning. Tell me more about what do you do in your role at ThreeWill, as software engineer?

Grant Lewis:                       We’re a contracted employer that’s doing a lot with internet collaboration within their corporation. I deal a lot with SharePoint, as well as some Jive and other collaboration software platforms.

Danny Ryan:                       Very cool, very cool. When you’re not dealing with these collaboration platforms, do you have any favorite hobbies that you have outside of work? What do you typically do on your weekends?

Grant Lewis:                       I’m a really avid guitar player. I’ve been playing for about a decade now. Got into it, my dad was a guitar player. Picked some of it up after him, and I’ve been playing for a long time now. I enjoy doing that. I also enjoy spending some time with nature. My family’s got a cabin up in BlairsvilleGeorgia. I get up to the mountains as often as I can, me and my wife. Play with our bull dog as well.

Danny Ryan:                       That’s awesome. The thing I love about these interviews is I get to learn new things about the folks at Threewill. Tell me more about this … Is it a certain type of guitar that you like to play? You picked that up from your dad? That’s how you originally picked it up?

Grant Lewis:                       Yeah, that’s right. He was a guitar player as long as I can remember. Sometime around my mid-teens, started picking it up. I just felt like it was a good hobby and I really had a lot of passion around it. As far as musical styles, really I think I’m all over the map. I like to try to challenge myself.

I think it started with rock, more contemporary. Then it moved into more classic rock. Since that time, I’ve tried to branch out into even more styles. Play a little bit of classical guitar, little bit of jazz, little bit of blues. Can’t say that I’m very talented to those styles, but I certainly do try.

Danny Ryan:                       That’s awesome. You like nature, getting up to … That’s awesome, getting up to … Really enjoyable getting up to the Georgia mountains. You said you had a bull dog. Is this … Are you a UGA fan? Did the family growing up? Tell me more about that.

Grant Lewis:                       No, no. Actually, Auburn grad so I can’t claim to be a Bulldog fan.

Danny Ryan:                       You’re one of those. I forgot. Ugh.

Grant Lewis:                       Yeah, that’s right. It’s something that, as I was dating my wife, she always claimed to want. After we graduated from college, it was pretty much the first thing we did, was go out and get a bulldog.

Danny Ryan:                       Wow. Did you meet your wife at Auburn?

Grant Lewis:                       Actually, from high school.

Danny Ryan:                       Cool. High school, so you were dating back as far as high school?

Grant Lewis:                       Yeah, that’s right.

Danny Ryan:                       Cool. I’ll leave it at that. I won’t ask anymore of those types of personal questions. Let’s shift over to any favorite TV shows, movies, books, authors that you have?

Grant Lewis:                       Sure. As far as TV, I like Big Bang Theory. I like the humor there. I get some of the scientific theories that I think a lot of people don’t get, but as someone coming from a scientific background, and has a scientific mind, I think it’s pretty funny how they integrate that and get such a wide audience to enjoy that kind of thinking. So I think that’s pretty cool.

As far as books, I really like Nassim Talib. I think he’s got interesting perspective on things with his “Black Swan”, and his theories of anti-fragility. I thought that his writings were very instructive to me. T kind of altered the way that I think and see the world.

Danny Ryan:                       Awesome. Very cool. I guess a personal question, what type of phone do you use? Since we have various types across the folks that work at 3 Wheel. Then, do you have a favorite app that you have? That you seem to come back to?

Grant Lewis:                       I’m actually somewhat of an anti-conformist, so I went the Sony route, which I don’t see getting a lot of publicity, especially here in the United States. I think they’re a little bit more popular abroad. I’ve got a Sony Xperia Z1 compact, which I really like. It’s got a small form factor. I’m a smaller guy, myself, so it fits me Wheel. It has top tier specs so it was pretty much the smallest top tier phone that I could find at the time.

The other thing I like about it, it’s water proof. You don’t have to be too careful around it. I’ve taken it to the beach before and it gets sandy. You just rinse it off. When I’m out hiking or doing anything, I don’t have to worry about my phone.

Danny Ryan:                       That’s running Android?

Grant Lewis:                       Yes, it’s an Android phone.

Danny Ryan:                       Got you. Then, any favorite apps that you have?

Grant Lewis:                       To be quite honest, the favorite app that I have is, Sony comes packaged with the TV Guide app. I enjoy just being able to … I don’t have a DVR or anything. I actually just have over the air. I don’t have a cable provider. Don’t have any real way to get a sense of what’s on, other than the app. That was a big revelation when I found that it already came prepackaged and it had a setting for over-the-air, and all the local Atlanta stations automatically. That was pretty cool.

Danny Ryan:                       Very cool. One last self-serving question. What do you like about working at ThreeWill?

Grant Lewis:                       I think the biggest thing about ThreeWill is the people. I’ve really enjoyed the kindness and helpfulness that I’ve found there. I think the other thing is just the amount of things that we get to touch. Our internet is constantly being updated with new and exciting technologies. It’s nice to see so much fresh thinking and different ideas being used on a daily basis.

Danny Ryan:                       That’s awesome. Folks, I know we don’t put this out in the public, but Grant was the ThreeWiller of the month, and he continues to surprise us as far as what he picks up. He’s just been a great person to work with and everybody loves working with you Grant. We really appreciate you being here.

Grant Lewis:                       Thanks, Danny.

Danny Ryan:                       You bet you. Thank you everybody for taking the time to listen. Have a great day. Thank you. Bye bye.

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Grant LewisInterview with Grant Lewis, Software Engineer