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Interview of Kim Miller, VP of Marketing for Booster

Danny Ryan

Co-Host – Danny Ryan

Bio – LinkedIn – Twitter

Sam Marshall

Guest – Kim Miller

LinkedIn

Tommy Ryan

Co-Host – Tommy Ryan

Bio – LinkedIn – Twitter

Danny:Hello and welcome to the Two Bald Brothers and a Microphone Podcast. I am here with the other bald brother Tommy Ryan. How are you doing, Tommy Ryan?

 

Tommy:Doing well.

 

Danny:Looks like you’re still bald. That’s good.

 

Tommy:I am still bald.

 

Danny:Well done.

 

Tommy:Thank you. I try.

 

Danny:And we are here with a friend of ours, and that is Kim Miller. Kim, how are you doing?

 

Kim:I’m great, and I’m not bald.

 

Tommy:Good. It’s not a requirement.

 

Danny:You’ve got enough hair for all of us, right?

 

Kim:I do. I do. Thanks for having me.

 

Tommy:Sure.

 

Danny:Absolutely. Thanks for joining us, and we’ve got an interesting background. We are, I guess, my mother was in your mother’s wedding. Is that right? Am I getting that right?

 

Kim:They were in each other’s wedding. Yeah.

 

Danny:They were in each other’s wedding.

 

Tommy:Yes. Maids of honor.

 

Danny:Were they maids, both were maids of honor?

 

Kim:I think they actually may have been, but I don’t recall exactly.

 

Tommy:Okay.

 

Danny:Okay. But, and then you somehow ended up here in Atlanta, and we ended up running into each other and made the connection somehow which was very cool.

 

Kim:Yes, I think I was living in the basement of your best friend’s house at the time. I didn’t know that he was your best friend.

 

Tommy:Wow.

 

Danny:This is at Daniel Bassett.

 

Tommy:Dan Bassett? Wow. Really?

 

Danny:Yes.

 

Tommy:I didn’t know that.

 

Danny:You look back on your life, and you’re like there are some crazy connections here, but yes, that is true.

 

Kim:And then my husband went to high school with your wife.

 

Danny:They had lockers close to each other.

 

Kim:Next to one another, yeah. Yeah.

 

Danny:Right next to one. It’s amazing. It’s just amazing. So, well, this is a great opportunity. You’ve been very busy recently and just wanted to catch up with what you’re up to. We worked together while you were at Primrose, and now you’re at Boosterthon. Tell us more about Boosterthon.

 

Kim:Sure. Love to tell you more about Booster. I am going to Booster in January this year and coming up on almost one year in next January. Booster is a school fundraising company primarily focused on a pledge based fun run, fundraising concept to help strengthen schools. That’s really our mission.

 

Danny:Okay.

 

Kim:Our fund run concept has a pledge based platform that people can pledge a dollar per lap for the students, and then they run at the end of the week, and if they run 35 laps, that’s 35 dollars raised. In addition to the fun run concept throughout the week while at the school, our teams are delivering character development content to the students every day, getting them fired up and excited about all the things pertaining to the fun run. We serve more than 2,300 schools across the country. We’re really excited.

 

Danny:Wow.

 

Kim:We’ve been around 15 years. We just celebrated our 15th anniversary.

 

Danny:Congratulations. So the company name is Booster and then what the program or your product’s called Boosterthon?

 

Kim:Boosterthon Fun Run.

 

Danny:Boosterthon Fun Run.

 

Kim:Yes.

 

Danny:Great.

 

Kim:Boosterthon.com if you want to learn more.

 

Danny:Very nice. Very nice. And what, you’re still focusing in on marketing for them, correct?

 

Kim:I am. I joined the company as the company’s new Vice President of Marketing.

 

Danny:Excellent.

 

Kim:Real excited working closely with our, all the teams across the company. We are highly collaborative. I love that about this organization. I really was so impressed by the culture and the process of interviewing with the collaboration, with the strong group mindset that exists. Culture is super important to this team. We spend a lot of time on culture focused initiatives because we believe that’s core to who we are.

 

Danny:That’s awesome, and you’ve been there for how long now?

 

Kim:I joined in January.

 

Danny:Is that about a year?

 

Kim:Almost a year. Just two months shy of a year.

 

Danny:Wow. That’s flown by.

 

Kim:It has flown by. It’s been really great just to learn more about a new business coming on out of the educational childcare arena which I had been in for nine years. It was a natural transition. Primrose was so focused on character as well as part of the educational foundation of that program, so coming here and having character development be so important to the DNA of our program and what we’re delivering in the schools was really important to me and very attractive.

 

Danny:Is there something where before you were working with franchise owners, is there certain key contacts inside of schools that you’re working with? Is it the principals or who are you typically working with?

 

Kim:Yes, so we actually have general managers across the country and we have teams on the ground across the country in each of the different markets that we serve, and they’re the primary contacts with the teams at the schools, so primarily our contacts could be a principal but in general it’s more of the parent volunteer who’s leading the PTA or the PTO or the other parent organization for the most part.

 

Danny:Nice. And so we can, feel free to talk about things from Booster, but I know I’ve got probably the most experience with things that we did at Primrose, but let’s just talk a little bit about maybe working with and collaborating with external users. Tell me more about that.

 

Kim:Yeah, so I think, was it about four years ago? Maybe, when we launched the new gateway which was the instrument.

 

Danny:Sounds about right.

 

Kim:About then? With Primrose, and in working with external users, those users at Primrose at that point were franchise owners primarily and school directors, and that was very interesting because we really had to understand first how they used the current instrument to figure out how to evolve it because what we thought at the home office were great ideas when we actually dug in and built out these peer groups, these kinds of online focus groups to test concepts before we actually built it out, we learned that what we thought wasn’t really accurate to how they were using the system currently and how they wanted to use it in the future. We also learned that franchise owners were a little bit different than school directors. The school directors were more likely to be sitting in front of an actual computer screen whereas the franchise owners in many cases were mostly looking at the information on a mobile device because they were in and out of the school a little more often than the director who was primarily on site most of the day.

 

Danny:Nice. Very nice. I know one of the things that when talking about goals and things for the, one of the things you mentioned is understanding why you’re going after certain initiatives. Tell me how that played into this.

 

Kim:Yeah, I think with any project whether it be a SharePoint project or any large initiative, especially in technology, you have to really understand why you’re doing it, right? And what business problem is SharePoint, in this case, going to solve for you, like what is the root of why you even want to have it revised or enhanced or new, brand new SharePoint. So, not being out that clearly, that business problem is really important because it really helps you to develop your ultimate project goals and that will help ensure that your project doesn’t become scope creep because frankly, you’re going to have so many opinions. Everybody has an opinion, right? Of like how something should look or how something should function, and so if you don’t have those business problems identified and clear goals, then you’re going to be over budget and way beyond the timeline on that.

 

Danny:Right.

 

Kim:You need to have a filter so when the ideas come in, you can say okay, do they align with what we’re trying to accomplish? Do they help meet a business need? Or solve this business problem?

 

Danny:Yeah, that’s interesting because I think everybody has good ideas and the idea might map well to a different goal but if you have a clear goal, what the initiative is about, then you can filter out the ones that are not aligned versus saying well that’s not a good idea.

 

Kim:Absolutely, and it may be that it’s not a good idea today based on the business problems we’re trying to solve with this particular project initiative or this particular phase, but it’s good to put it up in the, I like to call it sandbox somewhere or parking lot, whatever you want to call it because you could come up later, so I’ll tell you when I came to Booster in January, I had lots of people coming, getting to know me. It’s been amazing. Love everybody here, and lots of people had lots of ideas. They were waiting for me to get here to share their ideas, and I was like my goodness, there’s so much good information, but I don’t even know what to do with all of it. So I started an ideas grid where I mapped out every time someone gave me an idea. I wrote it down. I wrote who it came from and then I mapped out what areas of marketing I thought it touched, and I’ve got that so when we get ready to build our next plan for next year, I’m going to go to that ideas grid once we have our strategy and say okay, of all these ideas how many of them may or may not fit within this strategy. Where are those gems? So, it may not be a good idea today, but it could be tomorrow.

 

Danny:Tommy and I are in the middle of going through a book called the Four Disciplines of Execution, and one of them is just basically recognizing that you can only really focus in on one or two goals, and they call them wigs, which is wildly important goals. When I hear you talk about this, it’s the having so many things. In marketing, there are so many things you can go after, but really trying to narrow it down to the one or two goals and focusing in on those and saying those are the ones are going to provide the most leverage.

 

Kim:That is so true. Marketing today is as much of a science as it is an art, and really, I see marketing as where those two things really come together especially with all of the new ability to capture data is out there and the ability to really analyze data and understand more in depth how your marketing efforts are working. You really have to almost mesh data science with a lot of creativity to find that gem of that marketing opportunity.

 

Danny:Now, for the franchise, for the extranet, back to the extranet, did you, what changes did you see, were people working together better or was there more collaboration or what are some of the things that you found that happened to put this in place or just some of the things that you learned?

 

Kim:With that initiative, we didn’t necessarily roll SharePoint out as a solution for collaboration in the sense of let’s collaborate on a project initially. It eventually led there but initially, it wasn’t built to be a place you went, and all worked on a project together like in a collaboration space. It was really built to be able to serve up important resources and news and information to the franchise owners, school directors, internal team members at the company. So in that process we built a, what we called a publisher group, so we had a cross-functional team from across the company and each department had a representative and they were responsible for their department’s page on the site, management of the page, updating the page, all of their files, any updates pertaining to their files, they kind of had their little microcosm within the SharePoint system and all of those folks from each of the departments got together and talked best practices. They did troubleshooting. IT was very involved in that, and communications at the company led that group and then helped to facilitate IT improvements that could be made over time.

 

That was huge. You really have to have a group of people who want to support the continued innovation of it. It’s not a launch it, set it and forget it strategy with SharePoint at all, and as I was about to leave the organization, we were even having discussions about kind of the next generation of what SharePoint would look like because there are continual updates made and new features available. So, they’re probably moving ahead with some updates as we speak.

 

Danny:Nice. Nice. How did you, I’m going to jump down to some questions about addressing different generations of users and younger generations and how people work with content. How did that impact what you were doing?

 

Kim:Since it was about four years ago, we were at a little bit of a different place I think, from just an overall technology standpoint, even just in the world, right? Things happened so fast, like so much has happened in that time since we launched and now I think if I had to look back, I think we did what we could at the time to meet the needs of the audience base that we had. Fast forward it to today, if I were to embark upon that same project, I would be a whole lot more progressive in approach and would probably build it with a millennial and Gen Z mindset in mind and probably go more down that path and then help those folks that aren’t there yet from a technology standpoint get trained up to be there because I think you’ve got to kind of push a little bit further to the future and encourage those to really come along.

 

Danny:So everything’s mobile and …

 

Kim:Mobile friendly, highly visual. I would take a market, an internal marketing approach to how the look of the site was. I would basically take marketing principles and apply them to, at the time we said internal communications, but how we communicated and we had had discussions years later after we launched the project about innovative ways to take it to the next level, but sometimes infrastructure wasn’t possible at the time or funds, but if I had to do it again, I would absolutely take a definitely more progressive approach.

 

Danny:A little augmented reality in it?

 

Kim:Yeah, why not? And also …

 

Tommy:More emojis.

 

Danny:I’m kidding, but at the same time I think people are looking at that.

 

Kim:Totally.

 

Tommy:I’ve heard people doing it in ways that you really don’t think would be a business function. You just think of more of the gaming world when you think of augmented reality but I think to create experiences that you feel face to face and you got that with Go To Meeting and Skype and some of those web sharing technologies that there’s more of a two dimensional video experience and now you see collaboration, augmented reality where you can be pointing to the same thing, and it feels like you’re there together, more of a three dimensional video experience.

 

Danny:It’s almost like you’re sitting right here beside me, Tom.

 

Tommy:Right.

 

Danny:It’s amazing.

 

Tommy:Holographic.

 

Danny:Wait, you are.

 

Tommy:Oh, hey, hey. He’s alive.

 

Danny:Quit poking me. Quit poking me. I’ve always promised people that Tommy and I might break out in a fight during the podcast. That’s always; it’s nice edge to have on things, right?

 

Kim:It is so true though. I think it’s really important to really understand the generation, right, so Booster is a very millennial-focused workforce primarily and so when I came to Booster all of a sudden like text messaging common, happens all the time for business. I barely ever used it at Primrose, hardly ever, only if like I couldn’t find somebody in the building and I needed them immediately, whereas it’s really common from a collaboration and culture and hey, what are you doing for lunch kind of thing in addition to business. That and Zoom Meeting. We use Zoom Meeting all the time. Everything’s video conference, FaceTime. I FaceTime all the time. I don’t think I ever FaceTimed in my previous role. We’re just very flex, like you could FaceTime from anywhere and be in the meeting or Zoom in, and I think that’s the way of the workforce, and the flexibility and I got to say being a mom, a working mom, I love that flexibility to be able to Zoom in when I can’t be there in person and still be 100 percent present for that meeting.

 

Danny:Now at Booster, I’m assuming you guys don’t use SharePoint. Do you have an intranet or what do you, is there something that you rely on for internal collaboration if you have documents and things like that?

 

Kim:We use a lot of different tools right now. Asana is a big one that we use more for project management, but it also becomes a highly collaborative tool. A lot of our file systems are box based, but yeah, we don’t have a SharePoint system per se. Not yet at least.

 

Danny:So, just in the, I wanted to ask you about as a VP of Marketing, any keys that you have to collaboration. What are some of the things that you’ve learned through the years?

 

Kim:I think in collaborating, it’s really important to have a growth mindset and to be able to approach those, and I’m going to say cross-functional team meetings or collaboration opportunities with the mindset of wanting to learn something new from that, not just coming to the meeting and wanting to get your point across. I think doing a lot of listening is important. Some of the folks here joke that I’ll come into a meeting and I’ll just listen, and I won’t really say anything and then maybe three-quarters of the way in the meeting I ask a question and they look at me, and they’re like “Oh, wow. We didn’t think about that.” But I’ve just been listening and processing and so listening is a very important I think skill that is something that could be fostered by many in organizations. I know it’s something I could really work on, too.

 

I think the other thing in collaboration is to allow yourself time to think after, so when you finished a collaboration meeting or some collaborative initiative, give yourself time to think and process what you heard, what you think you heard, and then clarify with whomever what it was that you heard was actually what was said because I think sometimes we get so quick to act on things that we don’t take time just to sit and think and thinking is an action, too, right?

 

Danny:That’s a good point. I think we tend to fill our schedules where we go from meeting to meeting and task to task and to be retrospective to what just happened to make some conscious decisions that are not just knee-jerk reactions to what you think is the next step.

 

Kim:So true.

 

Danny:And this has been I think one of the themes starting to talk to different folks about collaboration which was one of the seven habits which is seek first to understand and how important that is. The habit is to seek first to understand then to be understood, and how important it is within collaboration to understand the other person’s point of view and I think you’re also pointing out that providing, really doing empathic listening, putting yourself in their shoes and how important that is as well.

 

Kim:Yeah, and I think the other thing with collaboration, I feel like I’m part of two cross-functional teams here at Booster and each of those teams is led by different executives in the company. Though the meetings are very different in what we cover, they’re both exceptionally well run. There is a planned agenda. It’s super clear ahead of time. You know going in what’s going to be covered. There’s an attention to the time in making sure there’s enough time for each of the topics and making sure we end on time, and there’s really great follow up, and I think that’s a testament to the leadership of who’s shepherding those meetings. So coming to a collaborative meeting as the leader of the meeting is very different I think than coming as an individual who’s participating. I give a lot of credit to the leadership here on how efficient and organized and thoughtful we are in being able to make those meetings successful and beneficial to business.

 

Danny:Awesome. Awesome. So you’re favorite Ryan brother?

 

Kim:Connor. Your son. How can he not be?

 

Danny:I love it. Isn’t he a cute little dude?

 

Kim:Yes. He is. He’s so cool.

 

Danny:He is.

 

Kim:Not that you all aren’t, but you know.

 

Danny:He’s got a new little brother which we’ll catch up sometime on that as well.

 

Kim:Yeah. I can’t wait.

 

Danny:So, tell me just to wrap things up here, it sounds like you got some fun stuff coming up in December. Tell me about that.

 

Kim:Yeah. I’m really; I’m looking forward to the holiday. I can’t believe that Halloween is here and gone. Thanksgiving is around the corner and Christmas is not too far after that. In the December timeframe, we do and we’re doing six events across the country with our teams where we’re bringing regional teams together and I am going to our event in the Poconos which I’m super excited about, though I have no warm clothing, so it looks like I’m going shopping. But this …

 

Danny:Head up, Brad. It’s coming.

 

Kim:Yeah, heads up. Yeah, right. But this is one of our kind of annual conferences where we bring our team members together and we really celebrate them and celebrate the successes that we’ve seen from the fall semester and prepare for the upcoming spring. We’re a highly innovative organization. We like to come together and share best practices, but we really love to celebrate and we love to celebrate our teams. We love to celebrate our clients. It’s just; it’s part of our culture. It’s our DNA. And so this is a celebration and a learning experience at the same time. When I get with out teams across the country who are the people who are closest to our clients, I learn so much from them, and I’ve only been here a short time, so I’m continuing to be a sponge and they just, they get you really excited about the future and I just love to celebrate with them, so I guess I got to buy some clothes which that’ll be fine. But I look forward to coming back with lots of new ideas to put on my ideas list.

 

Danny:Nice. I think that’s a wonderful way of capturing, I mean, I think some, a large part of people sharing ideas is they just, they enjoy being heard and it sounds like you’re really doing that and at least capturing that from them, and that’s a wonderful idea. It’s definitely something I’ll take away from this, is this conversation.

 

Tommy:Yeah, definitely.

 

Danny:Awesome. Awesome, and I think overall these organizations that you’re involved with, Kim, they’re very mission based. They’re making societal, cultural changes and it’s just wonderful to see where you’re going with your career and the impact that you’re having. I really appreciate you taking the chance or taking this time out of your busy week, I know you’re very busy, and just catching up with things. Thank you for doing this, Kim.

 

Kim:Oh, my gosh. This was so fun. Thank you so much for the opportunity to chat with you and I can’t say enough about the time we spent together working on projects in my previous days at Primrose and was a valued partner and he just really loved not only just working on the project, but the fact that your team took the time to coach and teach along the way, so as much as it was a project, it also was almost a professional development opportunity, and we just really appreciate you guys. Thank you for what you do in creating this cool podcast.

 

Danny:Yeah. Absolutely. Thank you, and thanks, Tommy, for joining me.

 

Tommy:Sure.

 

Danny:And thank you, everyone, for listening and have a wonderful day. Take care. Bye-bye.

 

Additional Credits

Podcast Producer – Oliver Penegar
Intro/Outro Music – Daniel Bassett

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empty.authorInterview of Kim Miller, VP of Marketing for Booster
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Business Transformation with Kimberly Eubank

Danny Ryan

Co-Host – Danny Ryan

Bio – LinkedIn – Twitter

Sam Marshall

Guest – Kimberly Eubank

LinkedIn – Twitter

Tommy Ryan

Co-Host – Tommy Ryan

Bio – LinkedIn – Twitter

Conversation Highlights

  • What is WaterScrumFall? – 10:16
  • Approach to Get Funding for Projects – 15:49
  • Leaning on Small Companies like ThreeWill – 26:29

Danny:Hello, and welcome to the Two Bald Brothers and a Microphone podcast. This is Danny Ryan. I’m here with Tommy Ryan, my cohost. How you doing, Tommy?

 

Tommy:Doing well, Danny.

 

Danny:You look great this morning in your new orange, or Auburn orange. I guess you guys won this weekend so that was a good thing.

 

Tommy:Yeah, it’s nice. I like that.

 

Danny:That was a very good thing. We’re here this morning with Kimberly Eubank. How are you doing, Kimberly?

 

Kimberly:I’m doing well, thank you.

 

Danny:Wonderful. We’re so excited to have you here and catch up with you.

 

Kimberly:Also I’m Tennessee Orange, by the way, so your orange is a little off for me, but close enough. It’s in the family.

 

Tommy:A little bit lighter, I guess.

 

Kimberly:Yeah, ours is a little golder.

 

Danny:You make things happen inside of organizations. One of the things Tommy and I, we love when we’re working with people who are movers and shakers inside of organizations. I’m interested to find out more of how do you approach this, when you’re typically going into a new organization and you’re trying to figure out how do you lay out a roadmap. Can you talk us through that whole process?

 

Kimberly:Yeah. To give folks a little bit of my background, I spent almost 20 years with a Fortune 10 Company. In that role and then in subsequent roles, I really was fortunate to have been given some pretty large cross-functional initiatives to tackle. No one every trained me on it, no one ever taught me how to do it, they just kind of throw you in and if you survive that size, then the size just keeps exponentially expanding until you’ve got to the big ones. Some of the things that I’ve learned is you always have to get in and learn and listen what’s going on in the situation. Often, in my role, I was dropped into something that wasn’t my day job. There is a big issue that needs to be resolved, some Gordian knot that needs to be entangled. “Kimberly, go figure it out.”

 

First, I think you have to really show the folks whose day job it is that you’re not there to pass judgment on what they’re doing. You’re there to learn and to see if you can help in some way, shape, or form. They’re in the heat of the battle everyday, so sometimes you do need an external person to come in, to kind of work simultaneously, because the day job stuff doesn’t go away. I think the first thing is really just listening and hearing what they’re saying their challenges are.

 

The place where I have found your conversations become a project is when you actually can formulate a list of what’s broken or what needs fixed or what needs enhanced because when people can actually see it written down, it becomes real. I think finding that list is when people are like, “Okay, she actually got it. She heard what I said, she wrote it down. It’s real. She’s telling people it’s real.” I think the list is the second place for me. Once you have the list, then you really have to go through as the leader of the effort and try to put like holes together, or like pieces together into holes. These five things are similar, they may have to do with order processing. These five things are similar, they may have to do with billing. Whatever they are, you can kind of start to squish them together into projects.

 

The companies that I’ve worked at were very project-centric, so things got funded at the project level, things got done at the project level. Once you can show … You’ve taken your list of items and you’ve turned them into project, then you kind of have to lay out the projects into steps that build on each other. This project is the base framework. The next project gives you the first floor. The next project gives you the second floor. The next project puts in the plumbing and the electrical. Once you do that and you can kind of lay it out in that sequence, you can begin to tell the story because the story is what gets you your financing. There’s always way more projects and way more things that you need to fix than there is capital to undertake in any given year. You have to make sure that your story and the vision that you’re painting for your roadmap, is the most compelling one out there.

 

Tommy:To get funded, a lot of times, it’s that first project you need to get funded, not the fifth project, but you need to tell the story of where this is leading to so they can understand that in order for me to reach that goal, I’ve got this incremental step. You could sell it short, not telling that story, that vision of, “I need to get this project done,” and you’re just looking at the inputs and outputs of that particular project, and some people that might get more technical about this is a project we need to do, focus in just on that project. You’re saying it’s more of laying out the story and the vision of where we’re going and this is the first step in that story.

 

Danny:It’s so interesting how human beings, the story, that’s something they can take with them and get behind and how often that’s a key skill to have and to be able to tell that story.

 

Kimberly:It’s huge, especially in a large corporation. All the traditional project managers out there will hate me, but I hate doing a business case for a project because it’s never just the project, it’s the program. The best example I have of that is I was working on identity and access management at the Fortune 10 company that I was at for a long time. If you look at any one of those individual projects, you would have said there are higher priority projects on the list, but if you want a cohesive, omnichannel customer experience, then you have to get to where your Fortune 10 company has one log-in across all of its divisions, across all of its products. If you don’t, to Tommy’s point, start here at step one, you are delaying the end game. You really do have to paint that picture. I never just went to get funding for one project. I always went to get funding for a program. We would have multiple IT releases throughout the year and I wanted to make sure that I had code in every single release. Even if it wasn’t what I thought it was when I put the roadmap together, it was at least progression.

 

I always went for the whole year and I always had multiple projects in that bucket. Inevitably, the money that they give you in January isn’t the money you’re going to have in July. Cuts are going to come throughout the year on the expense side. You’re going to have to make trade-offs. I always asked for perfection and then as they cut back, I could make the decisions inside the program to swap things out, either to delay requirements or re-prioritize the projects. By getting funding at a program level, which I was very fortunate that I was almost always successful at doing, it allowed me the flexibility inside the program to shift things around if circumstances changed throughout the year.

 

Tommy:That’s interesting because I think logically people might thing that I need to go get funding just for the project and not give the full cost of the program because of the concern of the sticker shock. You’re saying you need to to that, so one, you have some options if the budget gets cut back-

 

Danny:Or when the budget gets cut back.

 

Kimberly:When. It will get cut back, absolutely.

 

Tommy:Then also you’re not coming short of the vision. If you just sell the project, you get that project accomplished, the stakeholders might not be celebrating with you when you get that project accomplished, it’s the whole program’s whole vision. If they don’t know that, they don’t know the end game and the all-in, then you’re not going to be able to get to the finish line because you haven’t given them that insight.

 

Danny:You’ve hit two big of the seven habits, which is seek first to understand, which is habit one. When you say you come and you listen, that’s absolutely the first step in building trust. Then begin with an end in mind, it sounds like that’s what you’re thinking of. Where are we going? What are we trying to do here? You really have to do that.

 

Kimberly:Right. Tommy knows with Agile, I understand, Tommy has educated me that there’s a word for it now. What is it? Water Scrum-fall?

 

Tommy:Yes, Water-Scrum-fall.

 

Kimberly:It’s why I don’t necessarily like pure Agile starts with the end in mind. I am a firm believer that the business has to write full waterfall requirements, so you know what your end is. Then you can break it apart into chunks for sprint delivery. I’m all about iterative development, being able to see the code sprint by sprint by sprint.

 

Tommy:Sure, working software, sprint by sprint.

 

Kimberly:I really strongly believe the vision, end to end, has to be 85% there. Otherwise you don’t know where you’re going and you might code yourself in a corner because you didn’t know what was coming around the next corner.

 

Tommy:That’s right.

 

Kimberly:“Well, if I’d known that, I wouldn’t have set the database up that way.” I’ve been in those shoes a couple of times.

 

Tommy:Yeah, we see that. In a lightweight way, be careful, you’ve entered into the world of process. That’s dangerous around here. In the world of Scrum, the sprint zero and the planning that’s done before you start is cutting all the backlog so you can have that vision, but I think when you’re in these large programs, there’s things that you just have to vet out and almost treat as mini projects that get you prepared for the overall project. Otherwise, you might architect yourself into a corner that, “Well, we didn’t realize this, but …” That comes with your whole view of having a full vision. If you have that full vision, then you prepare that this is where we’re going, not from just a business standpoint, but also from a technology standpoint. When you look at the options that are in front of you, you’re not looking at it just from project one, you’re looking at it from the program level.

 

Kimberly:Right. That’s why I believe there’s a difference between a project manager and a program manager. A project manager is really just focused on that one project and they may know everything about that project, but they’re not necessarily looking at all the pieces that project might impact, whereas more of a program manager really owns the whole end-to-end roadmap. To me, they’re the throat to choke as far as tying things together and making sure that the individual pieces go into a cohesive whole. It’s their responsibility to say on project number three, as you’re trying to work out and collaborate with architects on what the right design is, “Wait, if we do that, remember, project number six, next February, is coming. It does this and this and this. If we do this, are we precluding that later because we can’t preclude that later,” then have that conversation. You really do need to understand where you’re going in order to make sure that you don’t waste time, resources, energy early on.

 

Tommy:Yeah, that’s interesting. The insight that we get is we get that Scrum methodology that has the sprint cycles. We have the sprint reviews and the daily stand-ups. We have those touchpoints with the stakeholder, like yourself, but that’s not the whole thing. What you’re trying to do is there’s communication and there’s collaboration that needs to take place to one, set that vision and continue to communicate the progress against that vision and to somehow get pieces of what you’re doing in front of people to say, “Are we going in the right direction?” What do you think is key outside of a … You’ve got the Scrum process for the development side of things. How do you manage and piece together the right collaboration that happens outside of the development effort?

 

Kimberly:I think the easiest part of a program is the building of it. The getting it socialized internally within your organization and getting it funded is actually the hardest part. That’s going to vary company by company on what their culture is and how to do it. It all, for me, starts with the story. Can you tell a compelling story about your program that makes people walk out of the room going, “We can’t not do that. We’ll find the money somewhere. We can’t not do that.” I was used to large sums of money. It might not be the 50 million you asked for, but maybe you get 25 million the first year. You at least get started. You also start the prep work of making sure that you’re greasing the skids for the next budget year. It’s that constant we’re making progress, this is what it’s doing, and making sure your story thread is very consistent. I don’t know that everyone does that. I think there were only a few of us. I will tell you, I never didn’t get the money I needed with that approach, and there were others who didn’t. I think the communicating and the storytelling is huge when you’re going for the money.

 

Tommy:What was that framework? What distinguished you versus the other person that wasn’t getting the funding? Were you taking time to go meet with people face to face? Were there formal meetings set up and you just had the opportunity to vocalize and have your slice of time to advocate your project, your program?

 

Kimberly:I think I went bigger with the end game than most people. I think a lot of folks really did concentrate on the project at hand, or a couple of projects at hand. Again, it’s hard when you are doing the day job and doing projects at the same time. It’s really hard to take a step back and say, “There’s something bigger here that we need to do. There’s a bigger story that we need to tell.” It can become just a list of projects that you need to complete and check off. I really think what it is, is a lot of folks who have multiple projects on their list don’t take the time to draw the connecting line between the projects to tell a story. I think that’s why I got more funding more consistently than others.

 

I’ve also seen it the other way around, where leadership knew that they needed to make a huge investment in the area and they give hundreds of millions of dollars to the area, and the area didn’t have a good story. Yes, we all absolutely agreed that the area in question needed to be improved, modernized, need more omnichannel, better customer experience, but the how they were going to get there, in that instance, the money came before the story. I think that didn’t work out for well. It became disjointed. They were like, “Oh, we just got this windfall of money, let’s go spend, spend, spend, spend spend.” You’re not necessarily, if you’ve taken this step back and really thought about this, really laid out your roadmap and your story, you may not have spent in the exact same way. I’m actually not really a proponent of the money coming before the story.

 

Tommy:It makes sense to me because you want to have someone that has thought through it hard and has a way to defend why do we need this money and what are we going to get out of this, versus if the money’s just there, then it can be more piecemeal, a land grab, I’ve got my individual project, I’m going to go grab those funds. Then you have five or six people trying to grab those funds, but there’s no coherent vision that’s adjoining.

 

Kimberly:Right, there’s no consistent end game. I think in the collaboration standpoint that you asked about, I think one of the reasons is I do spend a lot of time with the people who know what the issues are, that are in the day-to-day muck and mire, because they’re the ones giving me the list. They’re seeing me, once they figure out what I’m doing and I’m not there to take land from them, “I don’t want your day job. Your day job is not my day job. I don’t want your day job. I’m here to fix a bigger problem that’s overarching.” Once they figure out that I might help them get money that they haven’t been able to get on their own, then you’re walking into that meeting not with just one person asking for this program, but you have the power of that whole group of people saying, “We all agree this is really, really broken, and we all agree that the things in this roadmap are things that we need to fix.” You’re really coming as a force to be reckoned with, not just one individual trying to get money for one individual project or program. I think that also helps grease a little bit on the capital side.

 

Danny:Would love to understand … This has been a great conversation, and it sounds like you’re sort of wrapping this up. It sounds like having your story, but also having how your story relates to other people’s stories is a part of this as well.

 

Kimberly:Yeah, you have to make sure you’re not telling a different story than any individual function is telling. You need to make sure that you’re aligned on if we do this, this is going to help sales operations do that, that, and that. If we do this, it’s going to help customer operations do that, that, and that. If we do this, it’s going to help sales do that, that, and that. Like I said, if they’re going to get their problem, solved, at the end of the day, what I’ve found time and time again is if you’re going to actually help them get the problem solved that they have been trying to get solved for months, years sometimes, then you get the allegiance very quickly because they want to jump on the train.

 

Tommy:Share your perspective, as a woman in technology. A lot of these projects have been primarily technology projects? Or some of them …

 

Kimberly:No, pretty much everything I do is technology.

 

Danny:Share your perspective, share with Tommy and I what is … It seems like we’re often working, our business sponsors are often female. I take that to be that they’re much more open to collaborating outside their organization, they’re used to working with different groups of people. What has been your perspective as a female within a lot of primarily male-dominated department? How has that been?

 

Kimberly:I’ve always been on the business side, sitting outside the IT realm, but I do … We used to joke that I’m not an IT person, but I play one on TV. I think one of the reasons that you’re finding that most of your sponsors are women is because we multitask, I think, statistically better than men. I think we gravitate toward project management, cross-functional type of roles more so than men, at least in my work experience. The people that were given the really big, cross-functional things to do were almost always women. I think it goes to we just like having our hands in a little bit of everything. Because of that, women that are drawn to that type of role … The really successful ones, they speak business and they speak technical. I’ve never had an issue as a woman working with the men, but I also have a very forceful personality.

 

Tommy:No, really?

 

Kimberly:Yeah, I’m so shy and reserved.

 

Tommy:Shut the front door.

 

Kimberly:Exactly. I think that what technical people, whether they be engineers or whether they be IT, they’re very ones and zeroes. It’s black and white, let’s talk about the facts, let’s figure out the best design approach, blah, blah, blah, blah. It’s not emotional, it’s just we’re going to argue it. Matthew at ThreeWill and I are a perfect example of that. We love each other, but we would get into the biggest bickering back and forth things because I’m like, “No, I wanted you to build X,” “But I built Y and here’s why I built Y,” “Here’s why I wanted to build X.” After we get through … Everyone else would just be silent and let us have the Kimberly-Matthew Show. AT the end, what we would often figure out through that back and forth, and neither of us ever took it personally, was that really the answer wasn’t X or Y, it was really a hybrid, it was really Z. Until we fought it out, neither one of us on our own would have ever gotten to Z. I like working with teams of men and I think it’s because I really like to dissect the issue. I really like to go, “Let’s talk about whether A’s going to work or it’s not going to work and what the side effects of it is versus B.” I think if you do that, then you also get their respect.

 

I can’t say … Man-splaining is a big word. I actually try to think back in my career, whether I’ve been man-splained to. I’m sure I have, but I didn’t even realize I was. I don’t think that’s been a big issue in my career. I feel like if you come in and you’re listening to what they have to say and they’re listening to what you have to say, then you build a rapport and you build a respect. At the end of the day, it’s really about is this person going to be able to help me move the project forward? Is this person adding value to the team? I have to say that as I was coming up, at the working team level, I didn’t see how the men and the women on the working teams were really treated. If you want to talk promotions and upward mobility, yes, I saw some differences, but at the working team level, we treated each other like peers more often than not.

 

Tommy:That’s great.

 

Danny:You were talking earlier about working across departments and then working outside your organization with vendors or partners. Where have you been successful in doing that?

 

Kimberly:I’ve worked with a zillion vendors over the years, some large and some small. When I think about the big projects that I worked on really closely with vendors that I really feel good about, I can name three examples with vendors who were small. They weren’t the Accentures or Deloittes of the world. They were small niche shops-

 

Danny:Please, tell me one of them was ThreeWill.

 

Kimberly:One of them is ThreeWill.

 

Danny:Please, they don’t all have to be ThreeWill, but at least one of them.

 

Kimberly:At least one of them was ThreeWill. One of them, who that actual company has now, the owner retired, so he sold the company to someone else, I won’t mention the name because it changed names, so the name wouldn’t matter. That was, we were doing a network conversion in that project. We were moving from actually TDMA to GSM in the mobile space. They were brought in to do all of our pre-production and post-production testing. They tested our provisioning to make sure we had all of our provisioning accurate. We dropped them into the field to do field tests, to make sure that the network was performing. They were doing IT testing for us and they were doing network testing for us. We continued to use them not just after that for merger integrations, whenever we would bring in another carrier and we needed to merge their network with our network or we needed to convert their billing system to our billing system. They were excellent, but it was a small … It was 20, 30 people, probably 50 and its apex. Because they were small and because they were really in the heat of battle with us every minute of every day, we got very close. We really, there was a respect there. We accomplished great things with that vendor.

 

Another vendor that I had is actually, I’m going to name them because they are still the same name, Openet out of Ireland. I worked with them building a new rating methodology for the company. Again, that was where I didn’t know what I didn’t know. No one did because it was brand new. We kind of had to figure it out together. There was a lot of technical complexity in it and that same back and forth that I described with Matthew, we really had to be that precise and that detailed. Then with ThreeWill, again, I’ve worked with you guys in two different companies and it’s that openness, it’s that ability … In all three of those instances, it was the ability to just treat those vendors like they were one of the team. They weren’t special, they weren’t different, they were in the heat of the battle with us. You’d talk to them just like you would talk to anybody else, sometimes maybe even a little more, a little more energetically. I really feel like those types of relationships brought about better work product.

 

What I’ve found with some of the larger vendors that can come in is there is more of a hierarchy of who do you need to complain to if something is not going right, or who do you need to talk to-

 

Danny:Right, there needs to be more process to keep the quality there.

 

Kimberly:Yeah. It’s not as interactive and it’s not as … I haven’t formed bonds with those folks like I have with some of these smaller, more niche shops. If you do good work like that, you’re going to get good referrals. For me, size has mattered, with vendors.

 

Tommy:What’s next for you?

 

Kimberly:Right now, I actually just finished my last gig a couple months ago. I’ve learned a new word, it’s called fun-employment. I’m currently in fun-employment right now.

 

Tommy:You’ve learned this from millennials, right?

 

Kimberly:I did. My last team, a large portion of it was in New York City and a large portion of it was millennials. When we ended that assignment, we all went off to find our next gig and they informed me that in NYC with the millennial crowd, it’s not unemployment, it’s fun-employment. I’ve kind of taken that as my mantra this summer. I am in the process of looking for my next challenge. I really like transformational work. I really like work that has a lot of different components. I am that typical multitasking, cross-functional kind of woman. I do like being able to take the pieces and rearranging them into a more seamless, integrated whole, and I like technology. I want to stay in technology and I want a job that has some challenge to it, but beyond that, I’m not so specific about where the next few months is going to take me.

 

Danny:Wherever you go, you’re going to be successful.

 

Kimberly:Thank you.

 

Danny:You will. We’ve loved … I know I’m a bit of an outsider looking in, but everybody has loved working … Matthew, some days, I’m not sure.

 

Kimberly:Well, Matthew.

 

Danny:I think Tommy and I really, we look for people like you who are really making things happen and where we can build a long-term bond and we can build up trust and be able to form a relationship over a longer period of time. It’s just been wonderful to see the things you’ve been able to do and just to be a part of it. I think Tommy and I are really happy to be a part of what you’re doing.

 

Tommy:For us, ThreeWill, it’s more than just work, it’s creating an impact on people and being behind people that you feel excited about being behind, that you know something is going to get accomplished in something big. That’s been exciting for us over the years. It’s great to see someone that is passionate. There is a lot of people that kind of just punch the clock, even at the higher-level roles, and to see someone that really wants to care about the problem, and we care about the problem. There’s nothing worse than working for someone that doesn’t care and doesn’t motivate the team. We’re looking forward to seeing the impact you make in your next gig.

 

Kimberly:Thank you. From my standpoint, having a vendor that you know is going to get the job done and that you can trust and that you can … Over time. It’s happened over time. I’ve been a little bit more and more hands off with you guys because I know that you … Matthew and I joke that we speak each other’s language. He speaks Kimberly and I speak Matthew, we got it. It’s good to have that rapport because then you don’t have to micromanage as much. Absolutely, if there’s ever an opportunity to work together again, we’ve done it at two companies, so-

 

Tommy:We like things in threes here.

 

Kimberly:Everything comes in threes, right?

 

Danny:Thank you for doing this, Kimberly. I appreciate your time. Thank you, everybody, for listening. Have a wonderful day. Bye-bye.

 

Tommy:Bye.

 

Kimberly:Thanks.

 

Additional Credits

Podcast Producer – Oliver Penegar
Intro/Outro Music – Daniel Bassett

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empty.authorBusiness Transformation with Kimberly Eubank
Transformation.jpg

Digital Transformation – Interview with Scott Schemmel

Danny Ryan

Co-Host – Danny Ryan

Bio – LinkedIn – Twitter

Sam Marshall

Guest – Scott Schemmel

LinkedIn – Twitter

Tommy Ryan

Co-Host – Tommy Ryan

Bio – LinkedIn – Twitter

Key Points

  1. Digital Transformation is really about understanding and helping shape the business strategy and aligning the technology to support that via enterprise applications, collaboration solutions, and analytics.
  2. Scott describes transformation of one company from a traditional product model to a SAAS model and another company where they leveraged IOT analytics to make better decisions about a manufacturing process.
  3. Collaboration is very important to growing business relationships and ensuring customer success.

Conversation Highlights

  • What is Digital Transformation and some examples? – 2:20
  • How does collaboration fit into Digital Transformation? – 7:21
  • Internet of Things example – 20:58

Danny:Hello and welcome to the Two Bald Brothers On A Microphone Podcast. This is your host Danny Ryan. I’m here with Tommy Ryan. How’s it going, Tommy?

 

Tommy:It’s going well. It’s going well.

 

Danny:Yeah.

 

Tommy:How are you doing old man? Gonna be a day-

 

Scott:Oh, were you a year older tomorrow?

 

Danny:45. Can you believe that?

 

Tommy:45-

 

Scott:45?

 

Tommy:Wow, you can’t be 45. I’m 40.

 

Danny:Wait, Tommy, you’re the older brother. You can’t be 40.

 

Tommy:Oh, that’s right.

 

Danny:Unless I’m 35. I’ll take 35, that’s much better. Oh, boy. Yes, how time flies and we have today with us, Scott Schemmel. Boy, Scott, I’ve known you for quite a while. It’s been many years, hasn’t it?

 

Scott:It has been, yes. Good to talk to you, Danny and Tommy.

 

Tommy:Good to talk to you, Scott. Appreciate you taking your time out of your schedule to do this. We’ve … Scott is someone we’ve worked at a couple of different companies and have enjoyed working him. You’ve played a lot of different types of roles. We just wanted to connect up with him, see what’s going on, catch up on things. I know he’s helped out with some of our events in the past. When we did the … It was probably years ago that we did the Office365 and the new business operating system thing with the white paper and you helped our with that, which was great.

 

Tommy and I just wanted to spend a little bit of time with you. From our last couple of conversations, I have heard a lot from Microsoft, and I’ll just get it kicked off with this. I’ve heard a lot from Microsoft in the Partner Conference about digital transformation. I wanted to get your take on what does that mean, what is that … How does that … With your role, what does that mean, where do you … Give me more of a background on what you mean by “digital transformation”?

 

Scott:Sure. To me, and I’ve had a couple IT leaders, CIO type roles, the last two companies I’ve been with. It’s really about understanding and helping shape the business strategy and aligning the technology to support that via enterprise application, via collaboration solutions, via analytics, NBI. Data, of course, is becoming more and more prevalent, but just data, but how do you turn that data into actionable insights. Even on to some of the IOT, the Internet Of Things, and the analytics around that. Our is, “How do you align the technology strategy to meet the business needs to grow revenues, to grow profitability, or reduce risk?”

 

Tommy:Awesome. It sounds like the first piece of this is understanding what your business strategy is and understanding … Spending time with folks within your organization and understanding from a business side of things what are you trying to accomplish?

 

Scott:That’s right. That’s right. To give you two examples from my experience, two roles ago was with PGI, a global conferencing service provider. Our digital transformation was around a number of things. We’d gone through a lot of acquisitions, we had focused down to the collaboration space, and we were pivoting from more of a Telco based conferencing service provider to software as a service provider, selling our web collaboration services with the audio conferencing backbone.

 

Tommy:Okay.

 

Scott:As digital transformation, there was everything around the end-to-end sales and customer experience, all the way through the order-to-cash process. We were looking at our systems that were designed for a company of two people or a company of 20,000. Us provisioning and then tracking the usage and billing after they’ve used the conferencing solution to, all of a sudden, we were selling named user licensed and needed to be able to offer self-service ways to provision those. We needed better ways for our Sales team to track opportunities and look at leads. We needed better ways to bill and bill up front for those subscription licenses. It was looking at that strategy and how did the behind the scenes technology from the front office, inside, and the back office, going in provisioning system, how did we need to consolidate and integrate those to make a better customer experience?

 

My last role was with a mining and manufacturing company. Different digital transformations. Still along the lines of leveraging technology to meet the business needs, but there, we were manufacturing a global commodity. We mine, we send it to the refining process, and we load it onto rail cars. A very industrial business, a very physical product. We were never gonna not have that physical, tangible product. Certainly not a subscription service, it was a sale by the ton, but where we saw opportunities in the marketplace was, “How could we get better internally and have better information and data and reduce our cost with our supply chain, so we could increase profitability?” There was still a lot there in terms of improving collaboration in terms of providing a business ready ERP system that helped us support and view our business. In terms of the analytics and the data and information that we could provide around our product to be better in smarter and faster in the marketplace.

 

Tommy:Sound like … I guess, with the part of these transformations, the reason why … Just wondering why … Comes from focusing a lot on collaborations. Is the collaboration piece the … Trying to … you saying come up with this, “What is the strategy and what is making the …” At PGI, it sounds like a different way of … Everything from selling your products to delivering and moving through more of a service type of engagement. I guess, having the collaboration there, that supports that change, I get. Would you say that or how does collaboration fit into all of this?

 

Scott:It did, right. We used social business software there. We used collaboration within our CRN tools. A couple of examples, one was, as we were growing and building relationships with large multinational customers, we moved from when I started being a very regional company. Instead of Premiere Global Services, the nickname was Premiere Regional Services. We served our top customers very differently in the Americas versus Europe versus Asia. Our customers were asking for a seamless experience. Moving to a new CRN platform allowed us to have Sales leadership that was looking at a global customer holistically, not regionally. That collaboration definitely played an impact there.

 

Another example where collaboration played a big factor was in our customer success program. As most fast paced customers … Once we sold our software, that wasn’t enough. There were nuances with making sure they had our software downloaded on their mobile devices, making sure they all got set up and provisioned and knew how to use our web conferencing solutions. We developed a customer success team that, after the sale would happen, they would get involved and make sure the networks were set up and things were secure and people were trained and we leverage our CRN tool to be able to track that.

 

Danny:Okay.

 

Scott:They moved from working out of email and not having good visibility to … What was coming down the pipeline to … They were looking at our sales pipeline every day and tracking it and getting a customer manager signed early. That greatly improved how effective we were at getting adoption of our software with our customers and making them more successful in returning the RLI. We’d call our return on collaboration by enabling them to see the uptake and see how effective they were better, more effective meetings than they were before they used our tool.

 

Tommy:Scott, were there ways to measure that adoption or is more of a general sense from the team that, “We feel like we’re more collaborative. We see this as a successful way to approach collaboration.” Did you ever have any measures for that or was it more subjective in nature?

 

Scott:There was some on both sides. We were moving towards quantifying what we could. Some of the things we were capable of doing was tracking usage by host of meetings. If it was a customer with 5,000 accounts, we could track and give the account manager, the customer success manager, and our contact and the client access to data that showed how many meetings they had the day before, what their trends were, average length of meetings. Sent some key information just to validate that the service was being used. Some of that was very useful and showed trends. We could help use our software for the individuals to use the best way to connect based on where they are calling from, if it was mobile or via the IP phone or via 800 number or a local number. We could demonstrate some return by enabling their participants into their meetings to use the best method. That was one way we were able to start quantifying a return on the value they were buying from us.

 

Then, there was some work we were doing also to look at our larger companies and be able to go back to them and say, “The financial services industry. Here’s your meeting record compared to our whole basket of financial services companies and, by the way, you typically have nine people for an average meeting when your peers have six.”

 

Tommy:Interesting.

 

Scott:Be able to provide them information that, against their peers, in a non … Right. An industrial way to help them understand where they might be more effective or less effective or have extra people attending a meeting that … “By the way, these other two people don’t pay anything in the meeting, so are they really adding value, are they adding extra cost to that meeting?” For example.

 

Danny:Yeah. You mentioned in this last position that you had that it was a more of a … With the mining, that it’s more physical and mentioned that, I know we were talking earlier about IOT. Tommy and I are … We’re interested to hear more about what did that involve and want to hear more about that.

 

Scott:Sure. We were leveraging a software called Plant Intelligence, which is a way to organize all the timesharing data. The Plant was 54, 55 years old. A lot of new systems and devices and measurement devices centers, but also a lot of legacy stuff that might have been there 30, 40, 50 years. All that could plug into our distributed control system, our DCS, and then we could pour that or bring that easily into PI as it was called, Plant Intelligence. What PI was doing at that point, and this is back a year and a half ago, was basically collector, keeper of all this time sensitive data. Engineers and operators would use occasionally to say, “Hey, this equipment just went down. Let me go look at the data before or after that.”

 

What we able to do though, is say, “There’s much more value to that time sensitive data.” We demonstrated through a number of proof of values that we could use it to map data logically on a map around our plant. That was very important because, safety was a huge part of our culture around a mine. For an engineer or a maintenance person who was going to repair a piece of equipment, if they could pull up that map and say, “Oh, at this piece of equipment these three near misses or incidents have happened.” That gave a lot of information.

 

We were able to start doing some dashboards for our executive team and our plant leaders. We were able to prove out value with predict of maintenance to say, “Hey, this pumps’s not working right. Go out and look at that.” In one case, we went there, the pump was off kilter, they switched to an alternate pump. It was a $30,000 repair, but that would have been another day, two week before they found it and it could have easily been $100,000 or more repair. Right there we proved out that there’s real value here.

 

The other thing we did, moved more into the machine learning and IOT analytics. We took two proofs of value, one path was Microsoft introduced us to a VI and analytics company that had data scientist on staff. We gave them a problem to solve and said, “Here’s our continuous process manufacturing. We’re doing a design from experiments on the plant. Every week we’re tweaking one of three or four variables. We’re gonna run that for a week and then change the variables again and after a eight week period of time, expect to see how we can on it.”

 

We wanted to augment those experiments with some data science and machine learning. They leveraged the machine learning and IOT analytics with their measure. They leveraged our PI data. It was successful, but not home run successful. It was kind of like a sacrifice point. We moved the runner across, we learned a number of things, we got some value out of it, we got some lessons learned. One of the things was in a two to three-month window, it was very difficult for somebody outside to come in and learn our manufacturing process. There was the heavy amount of back and forth. Trying to engage them and bring them up to speed.

 

The other proof of value we did was with a startup company that has machine learning in our language and other things built into their software. We could stream serious data and it would go through and find patterns, do pattern recognition. With that, in a matter of a couple of weeks, we were starting to see some … The different problems that … This particular problem at our plant was if ore grade or variables changed in the inputs coming into the process, it could gum up the mill and we could lose 6-24 hours of production. By the way, this is 60% of our production line. At a manufacturing plant where we run at capacity and sell everything we can make, that had a huge economic burden when that went down.

 

The problem was our operators, although they were super smart and experienced and many had 30 or 40 years at the plant, they didn’t have visibility to changes in ore grade, for example. A 1% change in ore grade can seriously affect how this mill operated. They were either waiting too long and that section of the plant went down or they got nervous and they slowed the line feed down and maybe left it down too long. We were under optimized. What were doing was the machine learning tools and was recognizing these patterns, allowing it to analyze the data. Instead of that ore grade going up to the lab and getting results back the next day when it’s not useful, we could use sensors and provide approximation showing ore grade’s improving or not. The next step was, “Let’s recommend based on historical evidence how to best run that plant, so we can optimize the throughput at all times and prevent the downtime or the reduce utilization?”

 

Danny:Awesome. Very nice. Tommy, this reminds me of your seamen days.

 

Tommy:It does. Yeah. Yeah, it reminds me of how manufacturing days and process engineering days and Internet of Things. Like everything, it’s the new buzzword that re energizes folks around technology and making sure that we embrace and not lose sight of some of things that bring business value and, especially at manufacturing. Having inputs that drive systems downstream. It’s important to make that as real time as possible and make it easy for people to consume that information either from a visual standpoint or from even putting it into an Excel pivot table to allow people to look at it in a way that they can understand and act on it. I think it’s becoming more accessible …

 

As consumers, seeing Internet of Things, you think of locking your front door with an app, being to able to check and monitor things in your home. It’s just similar technologies that are becoming more accessible. Entering into the business conversation versus being purely at the level of the plant floor, when you look at that, do you see anything with Internet of Things that plays into executive or management roles that are at a level that wasn’t having that exposure to that data or is it just re energizing the thought of, “Let’s enable the people on the plant floor”?

 

Scott:That’s a great question and I think you hit on two key concepts right before that. One is, what is the business outcome, the business value going to derive from … Out tier any technology investment, right?

 

Tommy:Right.

 

Scott:That varies by company. At my last company, General Resources, the value of being able to optimize production and reduce unplanned downtime is huge. Both in revenue and profitability. Then, making it accessible and easy to use. That was a key point. As we proved out value, we showed, “Here it can be done. We need to automate this, make it part of the routine,” and actually had put a greenbelt project around it to really operationalize it. One of the things we need to do is, it’s great that you have an alarm over here in Plant Intelligence, but the system these operators are looking at in the network control room is the BCS. We worked with the BCS folks and were able to say, “I’ve got this trigger now. I’m watching for these patterns. Send an alarm back into the BCS.” The path we were on was, they would get between 5 and 7,000 alarms in a day and it was just to the point of absurdity where it’s a needle in a haystack. They would clear a lot of alarms and miss things.

 

We were actually using the pattern recognition to start figuring out which alarms correlated, so we can eliminate a significant portion of those to make those alarms more meaningful and more useful. To answer your question, I’d say principally, it was for the operators to augment their expertise with better data, so they could make better decisions on the floor. How that would apply to the plant manager and the executive team is, looking at on stream time, looking at utilization, looking at the business benefits we’re deriving from it. With some of the proven value, how do you invest … We’re at the right place to invest to accelerate leveraging it more where it makes sense.

 

Danny:Scott, this has been really helpful. I know you’re looking for your next role, are you looking for a CIO role or … Tell me more about what type of … Is it in a certain industry, what are you looking for as your next move in your career?

 

Scott:Yeah. Thanks for the question, Danny.

 

Danny:Yeah.

 

Scott:Certainly looking for … If I back up, my career has been at the intersection of Business and Technology and love to make an impact and drive change. The digital transformation we’ve talked about, the IOT analytics are strengths. Also have strengths in new product development and BI analytics and helping grow revenues and profitability. More that new breed of IT, CIO leader who brings the business background, but understands technology. Part of these last two roles I helped co-found and run two businesses. I’ve had that entrepreneurial background as well. Really looking for an opportunity where I can have a seat at the leadership table and help shape the business strategy, but then leverage the technology to improve the business results. Improve the growth and profitability.

 

Industry wise, I’ve proven I’ve been able to jump from one industry to another and have telecom experience. Now, mining and manufacturing. Had financial services and energy management in the past. I’m a quick learner. Enjoy learning different industries and have proven being able to do that. I also would like to leverage the experiences I have to make an impact and whether that’s continuing a path of IOT, analytics, or BI and analytics or another digital transformation. It’s more, to me, about finding a meaningful role where I can make an impact than the title.  Looking for a growth company that’s looking to bring a leader on and challenge them to go succeed and drive business results.

 

Danny:You … We’re focusing in on the Atlanta area, obviously, and sounds like a growing company, it could be a mid sized company to a larger company, really it’s … I guess it not much or if it matters much the size of the company?

 

Scott:Right. It doesn’t … The last two companies have been half a billion, $600 million revenue. Very comfortable kind of … $100 million up to the Billion dollar plus companies.

 

Danny:Awesome. Awesome. Thank you, Scott. We’ve enjoyed with you through the years. I love seeing  where … I’m interested to hear where you end up next. You’ve got a very accomplished career so far and look forward to finding out where your next adventure is. Tommy and I have appreciated staying in touch through the years and continuing to work together. The market looks great right now. You won’t have a problem getting multiple offers, I’m certain of it.

 

Scott:Right.

 

Danny:The Atlanta technology market right now is wonderful. It’s a … If there’s any indicator from the amount of business we’ve been getting lately, it’s a good time right now. If there’s anything Tommy and I can do to help out, we definitely would love to references or anything we can do to support you, just let Tommy and I know.

 

Scott:Great. Thanks Danny, thanks Tommy. I’ve enjoyed working with both of you in the past and I know you’ve continued relationships with my former companies and have done a great job there. I enjoyed working with you guys too.

 

Danny:Thank you so much. Appreciate that.

 

Tommy:Yeah, thanks Scott.

 

Danny:Tommy, you were going to say some- … okay.

 

Tommy:Yeah. I was just saying in the years that we worked with Scott, what I see is the common theme is, I think, Scott really cares about adding business value and being tied to the business drivers. You can find CIO’s out there that are a lot of times just chasing after the next new technology. I think Scott takes up a pretty practical approach of embracing what is gonna move the needle from the business side of things. At the end of the day, we know that’s the key thing. Technology should enable, not drive, the decisions that are being made in organizations. I’ve seen that maturity since the beginning of working with Scott. He’ll do a great job wherever he lands.

 

Danny:Yes. It’s refreshing-

 

Scott:Thank you.

 

Danny:Scott, to hear you talk about the … ‘Cause, CIO’s could really drive the topline as well. We’re just so used to hearing about cutting cost that, we think you’re gonna be successful in your career, because you’re gonna be part of making … Letting the business be able to go after more and more opportunities. That’s definitely the right approach from our standpoint. Scott, thank you so much for taking the time to do this. Really appreciate it. Tommy, thanks for jumping on the line as well.

 

Tommy:Sure.

 

Danny:You guys have a wonderful day and thank you, everybody, for listening. Take care. Bye-bye.

 

Scott:Bye-bye.

 

Additional Credits

Podcast Producer – Oliver Penegar
Intro/Outro Music – Daniel Bassett

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empty.authorDigital Transformation – Interview with Scott Schemmel
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You’re Number One – Interview with Tricia Mercaldo

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 Two Bald Brothers and a Microphone podcast. This is your co-host Danny Ryan here with Tommy. Tommy, how are you doing?

 

Tommy:I’m doing well. Excited about our first interview.

 

Danny:Our first … This is Tricia Mercaldo. Tricia, you are our first interview, not our second.

 

Tricia:That is very exciting. Okay.

 

Danny:This is a little bit of an inside joke because I think at ten years we had what we called our ThreeWill heroes and they were people who really influenced ThreeWill over the first ten years, and Tricia was one of them, and she happened to be the second person we recognized and I think her husband, Allen, noticed that she was the second, so he pointed out that you’re our second, so you’re our first interview. Do you feel privileged to be on?

 

Tricia:Absolutely. Hopefully I am not your last.

 

Danny:You’re our first and last interview. Thank you, Tricia, for doing this just to get us kicked off here and started. We’ve known each other for I guess it’s close to ten years because we’re up on at least seven years since the 10-year anniversary and we knew each other before that and coming up on ten years; wow the time has flown, hasn’t it?

 

Tricia:Yes, agreed.

 

Danny:It has flown, and so we first got to know each other when you were Director of Collaboration? What was your title back then? Or was it Director of Apps?

 

Tricia:Director of Communication and Collaboration for Turner.

 

Danny:Awesome, awesome. So, that was I guess when we first had our couple of conversations together, I was talking a lot about SharePoint and you probably thought I was crazy about talking about SharePoint so much and then eventually we started looking at it and we were able to work together and do some great stuff together there, and I appreciate the opportunity to work with you during that period of time.

 

Tricia:Thank you.

 

Danny:Absolutely, absolutely. So today, what I wanted to do was to get into some of the things that I know you’ve talked about at conferences more around the soft side of collaboration and talking about making changes inside of large organizations and sort of how some of these technologies can help support you to do that, and I know Tommy and I, we talk a lot about ThreeWill’s culture, I mean it’s very important to us. So as we get this kicked off I just wanted to talk a little bit about: How do you use these platforms to influence positive culture change inside these larger organizations?

 

Tricia:So, collaboration is an overused term these days, and people think that if they talk to each other, that’s collaboration. So it’s an interesting concept but inside a large organization, the larger the organization the less collaborative it becomes because it spans across too many areas, so many people and all the organizations struggle with their internal culture and I’ve seen this in a couple of places and even my last role with Cree, which wasn’t a huge organization like Coca-Cola but it was still 7,000 people across the globe and culture certainly drives productivity and employee engagement, and the more engaged your employees are, you guys already know this, the more productive everybody is.

 

So, leveraging SharePoint and now with the rest of the Office 365 tools, Microsoft is really starting to get it: How do we bring people together, not just on the SharePoint platform but with Teams and Planner and all the other products that they’re wrapping together. It gives people a way to communicate with someone they’re not sitting next to. So the culture will change when you implement these tools, whether you want them to or not as long as you allow people to use the tools, because they will discover how to find a person across the globe who does exactly what they do and begin to share information, chat with them, in ways that they never have before. So that’s a positive thing and if leadership or someone in a higher leadership level across the organization can understand how those products can work together, and leverage that for a culture change it’s really fun to watch that happen.

 

At Turner Broadcasting, when we started out with you guys and we did MOSS, remember MOSS?

 

Danny:Yes.

 

Tricia:One of the things that we did on the back end is we built it so that we could connect various business entities in the future even though they would all say they didn’t need to be connected at that time, and that’s been a fantastic thing. As you know, that team is still going strong, as a SharePoint Center of Excellence they’re in Office 365 in SharePoint online now and so we were able to leverage the power of the platform and we were kind of sneaky about how we set it up because we wanted people to be able to share content and search across site collections even back then when they didn’t even understand the power of the product. In the same thing both at Coca-Cola and at Cree establishing an environment where people can ultimately get there is really important I think.

 

Danny:When Tommy and I often talk about culture, we talk about what our shared values are and the culture; Turner Broadcasting and Coca-cola and even Cree, I imagine the culture’s very strong in the shared values; you want to continually emphasize those as well. Was there often a shared value inside these organizations that was open communication, overused word collaboration, but did that have to be part of the culture in order for this to succeed? Or how does that fit into …? Was there often …? One of the values of the company is this idea of sharing openly.

 

Tricia:Yes. I think in all of those places and many others, I’ve had the opportunity to see others present their culture and their intranets and employee engagement across many different companies and communication across the enterprise and building trust across the enterprise is always something that ends up on a company’s mission and values. Whether it is really fostered and whether they have to tools in place to do that becomes the question. So I don’t know that you’ll find too many companies, perhaps there are some, where they wouldn’t want to foster great communication and having an open, trusting environment. But it is not always the case; either people can’t find a way to make that happen or the more engineering type organization you’re in, the more people keep things to themselves and so you’ve got to have something really cool and shiny and interesting for those engineers to use in order to get them there and I think Office 365 is now starting to offer those cool shiny things, not just SharePoint, right?

 

Danny:Yeah, and do you think …? I think a lot of this as well is people will look and see if the leadership is open with their communication so how has it been going out and making sure that everyone is seeing that the leadership is being open and communicating and has that been a part of what you’ve tried to do as well?

 

Tricia:Yeah, absolutely. Again at Turner we actually … Oftentimes we would have to write a script for the executive but we would convince the executive that it was great for them to do a quick little video showing their favorite feature of Office 365 or talking about some way that their organization is leveraging their new … And we didn’t really call it SharePoint we would call it whatever their site name happened to be and just not a professional video just a quick snippet of them talking about a feature.

 

Coca-Cola executives did a great job talking about … They were really supportive of social media inside the organization, and while they may not always be the one posting in the social media for employees, there was certainly some activity that happened there to support the company being social and communicating across boundaries, so I think that’s really valuable. We didn’t quite get there with Cree, but they’re on the right path to get there as well. There are some executives, and I think it’s critical to seek out the people who have either done it in a company prior, or they understand it; seek those out, pull them together and I was doing that at Cree to have them start a dialogue about: How do we extend this beyond just the people who are interested and get the executives on board?

 

Danny:Mm-hmm (affirmative). Now I think one of the things that I was impressed with at Turner Broadcasting was how you guys educated a lot of folks, you had the monthly groups that would get together as well, and it was really a part of everybody was … you ended up training a lot of folks and teaching a lot of folks how to use the platform as well, which I think was really smart of you guys to do that to pick up adoption.

 

Tricia:Yeah, I think that’s crucial because some of these tools you can easily get help, and understanding the power of the platform and how it’s designed so that you can leverage it, and so there we did start with … We did try to identify people who would be interested across the company, and then we drew them in, and we would actually have a user group, and they would lead the user group meetings by showing something that they just learned how to do that we might never even think of doing, right? So that really fun and then we did the introductory and more advanced level education, and that’s still happening there, we did that at Coca-Cola as well, mostly by webinar rather than classroom training but it was still effective, and I think that part of it is really, really important.

 

So, discovering your champions, and maybe in obscure places. We had executive’s admins who just got it and loved it, and engineers and whose personalities were totally different and then a whole bunch of people in between so it was really fun to bring those people together and make them feel good too about what they’re learning and discovering.

 

Tommy:Tricia, how did you find those champions? Because we found that that’s a great way to drive an option is to have people showing real examples of how they’re using the platforms. So how did you discover those people, did they come to you? Did you seek them out? Was there some way to find where they were in the organization?

 

Tricia:Yeah, yes. So I think the best way to do that is not stay in your chair, so you have to understand the structure of the organization and then find out who the people are across that organization, maybe at your level, maybe a level lower than you, ask them to lunch; you guys know I love to go to lunch or have a coffee or just go out to where they are and talk to them. You will be surprised how much people know and how many people would love to be engaged in a different way that typical IT teams never ask them to be. So even at Cree, where … Cree is a manufacturing organization; there are a lot of brilliant engineers there designing the next elite dividing sources, it’s fascinating. But they all stay in their space and so I was able to pull different people just in a pretty short time.

 

When you start talking about what might be coming and asking who might be interested, people will come out from all over the place as long as you don’t ask them to do a lot of work for you but they can share ideas with you and be part of something different, people are pretty up for that. We had some brilliant guys working on our SmartCast Technology team and, you know a little bit difficult to work with because they’re so brilliant and they’re working so fast to get new products out. But they were so easy to hook in, and they become your evangelists, and then they’re talking to the engineer over in a whole different organization about what they just did, and they don’t have to like each other, by the way. But they do listen to each other, and all of a sudden, stuff is happening. So it’s really a fun thing to do, but you kind of have to make that happen, they don’t really come to you.

 

Tommy:Okay, yeah. So you seek them out, spend time with them, understand what the value is for them and somehow enable them. So, how do you make it easy for them to evangelize; what things have you found are great support mechanisms to take those champions and make it easy for them to have a voice for the company?

 

Tricia:So, you should always feed them, whether it’s donuts or lunch, and then you give them the cool stuff first. You make them part of your … Maybe not your initial implementation, but pretty close to the beginning so that they become part of the implementation of the products and they can help you figure out how to leverage that product in their particular environment, and they become the champions of their domain, and suddenly they want to talk about it. So it’s a fascinating thing to happen, but you can’t just do it once, you have to continue to foster that relationship, or they’ll just do it and go away and do their own thing again.

 

Danny:Tricia, I imagine with talking about doing your own thing, there may have been some differences between Turner and Coca-Cola but you were an internal group providing these options for services and working with a lot of different departments and I know over the last 10 years or so there’s been a lot of options outside of going with something that maybe Microsoft has and going with more of like an SAS offering where they can just sort of go buy it, set it up and they’re off and doing their own stuff. How did you get consensus with groups or were you able to get consensus with groups using what you’ve got already instead of going after what the bright and shiny thing is that’s the latest thing out there. How did you deal with that?

 

Tricia:I think that is 100% dependent on your executive support for your goals and missions so making sure that, as high as you can go in your organization … So at Turner, I knew the CIO and CTO very well because I was there for so long, and it was a little simpler to meet with them and help them understand the value of using products that are designed to work together in a suite and that you’re already paying for, right? At Coca-Cola that was a little more difficult; as you guys know they chose to go with Chatter instead of Yammer, but they had a pretty large sales force team as well for obvious reasons it’s a very large organization and selling a lot of different products and marketing. So our CIO, who I also met with regularly, and CTO, could not be convinced that Yammer was a better way to go, but they did support the other Office 365 products within the organization, partially because that was a very large investment for the company from a licensing perspective.

 

So, finding the way to speak to that organization to the senior level: Do they want to talk about dollars, do they want to speak about value, do they want to talk about the soft cultural pieces? You know, what is the language of that senior executive, and speak that language to that executive so that when someone tries to do something different, they’re gonna listen to that a little bit, and at Cree, we just finished the Office 365 project a month or two ago and that was very new, this was all subscription licensing and all of that was very new for that company so we talked more about the stability of the product and the environment and they were beginning to really say “Okay, good. We don’t want to go pay for anything else” and so we talked a lot about the dollars and the cost of the product suite and how Microsoft continues to add new capabilities to the product suite and it doesn’t cost you anymore and so that was kind of the sales pitch there and they were very good about not letting some of these engineering teams go pay for something different if we could show we had the same capabilities.

 

So Microsoft has tons of … And you can search for it online using that other product called Google. The analysis, what are the features of this product versus another product, Teams for example, people were skeptical because it was a Microsoft product but when they really looked at it they were like, “Yeah, okay we can use Teams and we’re already pay for it.” So building those business cases over and over again it’s not something that you do once and it stops, right? You have to do it all the time. Again, stay connected with your business people so you know what they’re up to, so you can hear about it first before they go do something else.

 

Danny:The question about sort of … And I’ll share sort of one of the things I’ve noticed from my perspective but how things have changed since we made the move to Office 365, I think one of the big things that I’ve seen is … you were sort of getting into this, but the number of features or what Microsoft is able to do more quickly nowadays than what … Traditionally, SharePoint was a three-year product life cycle you sort of got whatever the version was and three years later you got an updated version of that and had a really tough migration in the meantime, the pains of the way it used to be. Well in my day, we upgraded software.

 

Tricia:Or redid.

 

Danny:Redid software, and what benefit am I getting out of this? It just seems like nowadays I can … We’re a small, agile organization and we can barely keep up with what’s coming out and I imagine there’s other things like … What else has changed from your perspective since moving from the, I’ll call it the good old days of SharePoint, installed on Chrome to nowadays where it’s Office 365 and you’ve got whatever the latest version is all the time.

 

Tricia:Well, so I’ll say, the fantastic part about it that is from a mobility perspective or multiple device perspective, they’re really getting that right and they didn’t for a long time but now they’re really getting that right so it’s tough to justify not going in that direction, especially if you have a large workforce that is remote, a sales force out in the field that kind of things, so the value is certainly there. Keeping up with the latest releases and understanding how quickly those are coming, preparing your employees for that is a tough job and you have to sell it as though it’s the iPhone or their Android, where things are updated all the time and compare it more to that which is why it’s good that they’re figuring out the mobility piece because it would be tough to say, “Just like on your phone, everything’s changing.”

 

But it’s tough for an internal organization, I’ve found, especially in finance organizations, they don’t really like stuff to change and so getting new features even in Exchange or Outlook, you know like the junk folder, we had to turn that off at one point because mail was … You have to train it, and important mail was going in that folder and it just showed up one day, and we didn’t know it was coming and we couldn’t communicate it and we had to find a way to turn that off. So it’s a lot about communication and I think your technical people can watch the roadmap and the new list of features that are happening but it’s almost like that’s a full-time job so I don’t know what the answer is there. But you have to prepare your employees who are using the products for not having it the way it used to be where you were on the same version for 10 years, it’s more like on your phone.

 

Danny:Yep, yep. That makes sense. You were also talking about different types of users where the folks in finance are different than the engineering group; any insights on addressing the different generations of users and how that fits into what you’ve done inside these different organizations?

 

Tricia:Sure. So, my generation doesn’t like change apparently. Although, I claim not to be part of that group, unless I’m directly in that group and that might be a problem but-

 

Danny:Tricia, you’re so young at heart.

 

Tricia:That’s right.

 

Danny:You’re young at heart.

 

Tricia:So, understanding and trying to help the different generations get through that is a very important part of the process. The younger generation who has grown up with technology, really fun people to work with I think, but they’ve grown up with it so they would be upset if something wasn’t changing every couple of weeks or every month because that’s what they have grown up with. So that’s a little bit easier so again when you’re looking for champions, don’t forget the kids. Sorry, I don’t mean that to be insulting, but don’t forget them.

 

Danny:I think she’s talking about Oliver, I’m looking over at him right now.

 

Tricia:Yeah. Right, Oliver? So don’t forget them, because they’ve got great insight and they can help you champion the products and be part of the new stuff and they can go, you know the whole reverse-mentoring concept in a less formal way, they can go help the guy in finance who’s mad every day because there’s a new feature in Excel that he didn’t know about; hook those people together and let them leverage each other to get excited about what’s coming and how it’s changing. But don’t forget to have the conversation with the Microsoft team and provide the feedback about the pace of the change because people can’t take too much, that’s too big and to help Microsoft find a better way to let people know what’s coming before it gets there so that they can prepare people if it’s a big enough change, and they haven’t quite figured that out and I don’t know that any of these companies have figured it out but I think that’ll be key to the long-term successes of all of these companies.

 

Danny:I think I remember you talking about you were part of some group or committee from Microsoft that was providing feedback to the product team at one point in time?

 

Tricia:Yeah, Coca-Cola was large enough we were part of a CAB and we met twice a year and we were able to provide feedback on new features and communication and that sort of thing. But even while I was at Cree, I met with my account team every single week mostly because we were moving a lot of products into the Microsoft suite but we had a lot of conversations about the pace of change and we asked them to take that feedback back to the teams and I think Microsoft is listening to that a little bit; as much as they can.

 

Danny:You said they’re called CABs? Like red wine?

 

Tommy:Customer Advisory Board?

 

Tricia:Customer Advisory Board.

 

Danny:Is this just some excuse to drink red wine? Is that all?

 

Tricia:Pretty much, yes.

 

Danny:Sorry, Tommy. You were going to say something.

 

Tricia:It was Seattle.

 

Danny:In Seattle. Tommy, you were going to say something.

 

Tommy:Yeah, what I was going to say is it’s great that Microsoft has those formal feedback loops with large organizations that have many people that are impacted by their products so it’s a great way to kind of aggregate the needs into representatives that go out there but also, what I’ve found and I’m very excited about and I’ve seen it kind of in action is the UserVoice feedback loops that are out there so all the products that are out there in the suite of Office 365 that have their own UserVoice forum that you can suggest an upgrade or change or concern about the platform and you can see the folks at Microsoft are saying, “We hear your voice, it’s being considered. Oh, it’s actually on the roadmap and, hey, it’s actually been implemented.”

 

I think that’s an awesome thing that they’re doing that … I know it’s out there with some other small software companies and I think they’ve adopted some of those more agile, open philosophies that you see with the smaller companies that some of it maybe came from the Yammer acquisition or just came from the leadership of [inaudible 00:32:29] to say, “We need to get closer to our customers,” and that’s just another avenue that you don’t have to be a Coca-Cola to get your voice heard.

 

Tricia:Right. You’re right and people need to be encouraged to use those forums because you have the attitude, “Well we’re so small, how are they going to listen to us?” But you’re right, those are there; you need to give them the feedback I think it’s really important. Otherwise, how do they know?

 

Tommy:That’s right, yeah it’s not fair. Yeah, we see things that are either what we’re experiencing as a team or what our customers see, we’ll go out there and put it in UserVoice and announce it in Teams and say “Hey folks, I just put this out there, can you give me a vote, a thumbs-up on that so it has a stronger voice out there on the forum?”

 

Tricia:Yep.

 

Danny:Cool, so I’d like to keep these … I don’t want this to be too long because I think Tommy and I could talk with you for another hour. But I just wanted to say Tricia that Tommy and I really appreciate the relationship we’ve had with you over the last 10 or so years, however long that is and we appreciate staying in touch with you and next time you’re in town or next time we’re up there we’ll definitely go out for lunch and have some lunch together.

 

Tricia:Awesome. Awesome.

 

Danny:So, tell me what’s the next couple of months look like for you? What’s going on? Anything we can do to help out? Or what’s next for you? What’s your next big thing?

 

Tricia:I am looking in the area of program management, so I’ve taken some time off and it’s been wonderful I’ve had some other things to do during this timeframe and so I’m starting to get back into looking for something more in program management; a little less in technology. Throughout my career at Turner I had the good fortune to sometimes be part of the business and liaison with the technology and how to automate processes and improve processes within a business group, and I haven’t done that in quite some time and so I’m seeking opportunities where I can be part of the business and use my technology background to help them grow.

 

Danny:Are you looking primarily in the area you’re living right now?

 

Tricia:Yes.

 

Danny:Okay, awesome. This has been awesome. I appreciate … Tricia thank you for taking the time to do this and maybe six months, eight months from now when you’re in that new position you’d like to check back in again and see how things are going. But I appreciate you sharing the insights from working at three really great companies and it just was really neat to sort of look back on all of this and thank you for taking the time to do this.

 

Tricia:Thank you so much and thanks for letting me go first.

 

Tommy:You’re welcome.

 

Danny:Tricia’s number one. Tricia’s number one. You have to bring that back to Allen, okay? Make sure he knows that.

 

Tommy:Ah, don’t you worry, don’t you worry.

 

Danny:Excellent, excellent. Well thank you everyone for listening, taking the time to listen to the podcast and Tommy and I look forward to having these types of conversations with folks in the near future whether it be folks we’ve worked with in the past or folks we would potentially work with and just love having these types of conversations and love just sharing more about making these organizational changes and talking about communication and collaboration and it’s great to hear from folks like Tricia and thank you for listening and have a wonderful day. Thank you, bye-bye.

 

Tommy:Bye.

 

Additional Credits

Podcast Producer – Oliver Penegar
Intro/Outro Music – Daniel Bassett

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Danny RyanYou’re Number One – Interview with Tricia Mercaldo
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Microsoft Inspire 2017

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.

Connect with Microsoft employees, industry experts and partners as we host Microsoft Inspire, formerly known as the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference. It’s the great event our partners know and love, with a brand new name. Join us in Washington, D.C. to build connections, increase engagement with Microsoft, and transform your business with innovative sessions and experiences.

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Danny RyanMicrosoft Inspire 2017
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Topics Covered for Upcoming Podcast Interviews

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, and welcome to the Two Bald Brothers and a Microphone podcast. How’s that feel Tommy?

 

Tommy:Yeah. Here we go. Let’s do it.

 

Danny:Let’s rock this thing buddy. It’s June 29th.

 

Tommy:Okay

 

Danny:We’re reaching the end of the quarter and we wanted to talk in this podcast about, for the upcoming interviews that we have, what sort of questions do we want to go over? And where our overall theme for the podcast has been, you know, focusing in particularly on people at Three Will-

 

Tommy:Being bald.

 

Danny:Being bald, socks, those types of things. And I know in general, we play around with … What’s the word of what we do? And it keeps coming back to collaboration.

 

Tommy:Right.

 

Danny:And so I think that’s the overarching theme of the podcast, has been collaboration. What I’m excited about with the podcast is that we’re going to open it up, we’re going to interview some folks and we’re going to invite them in.

 

What I wanted to talk to you today about was some of the topics. What do we want to talk to folks about? And why are we going to talk to them about it? And just sort of what some of the goals are. I think as we branch out and give a new name and start meeting up with new folks. I’ve got a list, you know, we met up and talked through some of the things that we might want to cover as a list. And how do you like-

 

Tommy:It looks pretty fancy there!

 

Danny:I know.

 

Tommy:Holding your surface book.

 

Danny:I know, isn’t that nice?

 

Tommy:Tablet.

 

Danny:Detached

 

Tommy:Disconnected from your machine thing.

 

Danny:Call it the clipboard.

 

Tommy:The clipboard.

 

Danny:This is the clipboard. And this is OneNote. You’ve seen OneNote before.

 

Tommy:Yes.

 

Danny:Spent plenty of time in that.

 

Tommy:Way too much time.

 

Danny:So the first one, obviously I’ll get, we want to keep them to a length of 15 minutes, maybe, or so. Just something that’s edible. That’s not too long. That you can listen to between meetings.

 

Tommy:You can listen to three of these in general traffic in Atlanta.

 

Danny:Listen to four of ’em driving home. No, actually two of them, it’s not that bad. So I’ll get us kicked off. You and I will do a little intro to the person, and who they are and sort of, “Why do we have them on the podcast?” So maybe introduce them, and their title, and their company if they want to let us say what company they work for.

 

So really we’ll ask them about their role, back to, “What is it that you do? What’s your role within your organization? And how does collaboration fit into that role?” And so trying to find out from them, sort of where’s this whole theme of working with large groups of people, working together to accomplish goals.

 

Tommy:Right, because I think there’s different roles that play into collaboration in an organization. It’s not just the director of collaboration.

 

Danny:Yep.

 

Tommy:It would be good to get aspects from different points of view, that make it work.

 

Danny:Yep. It would be nice too, I think in general … We will have some clients that will come on. I also want to have some partners that we work with as well. We may go through this set of questions too. Maybe, just thinking of what folks would add some value to this conversation. And what people may have maybe a unique perspective on collaboration and working together. What works for collaboration inside your organization?

 

This will be interesting, just to see maybe the different types of companies that are out there, the different industries. You know, you have some folks you are really innovative and some industries who are a bit of a laggard. How do they deal with that when it comes to collaboration?

 

Tommy:Right, yeah. When are they ready for certain types of tools and certain types of approaches?

 

Danny:Absolutely. What’s the most difficult thing about collaboration? It would be great to hear some stories about maybe something they tried and it ended up not working. What did they learn from that? Hearing those stories, I think, those are incredibly valuable.

 

Tommy:Oh yeah, definitely.

 

Danny:To hear that sort of thing. What collaboration technologies, you and I are geeks, so every once in a while we have to talk about technology, so we might talk a little technology talk here.

 

Tommy:Of course.

 

Danny:Obviously this is more into-

 

Tommy:So when are we going to talk about process?

 

Danny:Oh geez.

 

Tommy:I don’t see that on the list!

 

Danny:We talk plenty about process on the podcast.

 

Tommy:Yes.

 

Danny:We have. We’ve lost a lot of listeners because of the talk. What technologies get the most traction within your organization? Obviously we’re working with customers and we’re very Microsoft-centric. We’ll probably end up, with some folks, geeking out a little bit about what works within Office 365 within organizations for collaboration. Like it or not, people process technology. So, you know, you’ve got the technology piece of this that I think we would like to understand from people. But, we don’t want to lose people either. We don’t want to get too much into the nuts and bolts.

 

What’s the best business advice someone has given you about collaboration or you have given? So let’s see if we can get any nuggets of wisdom from folks about collaboration. And what’s your favorite collaboration related book? And see if they’ve got one there. So maybe it’s something we can add to our list or maybe if they want to share a little bit about what they got out of that book.

 

And then just wrap up and thank you. So overarching theme for this is really is just something where you and I … Maybe from our unique backgrounds and wanting to learn more about collaboration, just having some people onto the podcast. Really I love the conversational format of things with the podcast. It would be great if some of the folks were able to come here in the office. That would be great. It would give our producer a new challenge to set it up for three people instead of two, which is always a good thing. But some of them will also be remote. We’ll setup either Skype or GoToMeeting or whatever ends up working out for us to interview folks.

 

Tommy:Yeah, it would be good to get different perspectives. I think you get, kind of, stuck in your own world of what you think is collaboration and what’s effective. It’s always good to get other people’s point of view. And you’ve done a great job at talking to people within Three Will. I think we’re ready, at this point, to start broadening that view to see what other people think about collaboration and what works.

 

Danny:Awesome. Anything else before we wrap up here?

 

Tommy:No, I think that’s it. Ready to do it! Let’s do it!

 

Danny:Alright, let’s do it. We’ll invite some people on. Look for upcoming podcasts where we have some interesting folks on. Where we can talk through the world of collaboration and look forward to learning with you guys. This will be a lot of fun.

 

Tommy:Definitely.

 

Danny:Thank you, buh-bye.

 

Tommy:Adios!

 

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Tommy RyanTopics Covered for Upcoming Podcast Interviews
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Another ThreeWill Client Wins Best Intranet of the Year

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.

Last year ThreeWill client Cadwalader was one of the winners of the Best Intranets of 2016.  Another ThreeWill client, Goodwill, has won the same award for 2017.

The user-experience research firm Nielsen Norman Group announced the winners of the Intranet Design Award for 2017.    Among the winners for Best Intranet was ThreeWill’s client Goodwill (Press Release).  The winning intranets were chosen by expert review based on design and usability from an international field of submissions.

ThreeWill worked with Goodwill to design SharePoint dashboards for managing and reporting on sales, people, donations, square footage and other financial information.  ThreeWill also performed a health check on their SharePoint environment . They were having some issues with their hosting provider and asked us to take a look at their farm and make recommendations for stability.

ThreeWill was referred to Goodwill by another client, St. Francis Hospital, based on our experience and knowledge of SharePoint.

ThreeWill, a Microsoft Gold partner based out of Atlanta,  helps teams work together better by building solutions on SharePoint using an agile process.

Learn more about Goodwill – http://www.goodwill.org/ .

Read more details and purchase the report here – https://www.nngroup.com/reports/intranet-design-annual/.

Contact us today about building an award winning SharePoint initiative for your company.

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Danny RyanAnother ThreeWill Client Wins Best Intranet of the Year
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How to Assign ThreeWill as Your Office 365 Partner of Record

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.

Over the last 15 years we’ve been fortunate to help hundreds of customers.  If you’re a customer of ThreeWill and you want to do us a huge favor, please assign us as your Partner of Record.  This enables us to keep our Gold Certification and to serve you better because we have more resources from Microsoft to help you on projects.

Step-by-Step Instructions to Add ThreeWill as Your Partner of Record

  1. Go to the Office Customer Portal at https://portal.office.com/adminportal/home#/homepage.
  2. Log into your account using your user name and password.
  3. In the left navigation pane, select Billing, then Subscriptions (screenshot).
  4. Select your subscription and click on More actions in the bottom right corner under the price per user/month.
  5. In the More actions drop down menu, click on Add Partner of Record. This is where you will attach their Partner of Record (screenshot)
  6. Enter 566560 for the Microsoft Partner ID.
  7. Click Check ID to verify ThreeWill and Click Add this partner to all of your subscriptions without an associated partner.
  8. Click Submit to complete assigning their Partner of Record (screenshot).
  9. After you customer assign us as your Partner of Record, we will receive an email notification that lets us know that we have been assigned as the Partner of Record.

To Change or Remove Your Partner of Record

  1. Follow steps 1 to 5 outlined above.
  2. In the More actions drop down menu, click on Edit Partner of Record.
  3. On the Partner information local pane, the Partner of Record ID assigned to the subscription will be shown. Click the “X” inside of the field to remove it.
  4. Click Submit. The Partner of Record has now been removed for this account and the subscription no longer has a Partner of Record.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is a Partner of Record?

The Partner of Record for an Office 365, CRM Online, or Azure subscription is the partner who is helping the customer design, build, deploy or manage a solution that they’ve built on the service. It is not the partner who sold the subscription.

What are the benefits of specifying a Partner of Record?

Customers benefit because it provides the partner access to usage and consumption data, so they can provide better service and help customers optimize their usage for their desired business outcomes.

Who can attach a Digital Partner of Record?

The administrator role, also known as the owner, is the only role within the customer’s tenant or account that can attach a Digital Partner of Record. Service admins, co-admins, and partners designated as delegated admins do not have the ability to change the Partner of Record.

When should a Partner of Record be added to a for Office 365, CRM Online, or Azure subscription?

Microsoft recommends a Partner of Record be assigned to subscriptions right away. Partners of Record can also be assigned for Azure subscriptions in the admin portal for that service.

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Danny RyanHow to Assign ThreeWill as Your Office 365 Partner of Record
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How to Assign ThreeWill as Your Azure Partner of Record

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.

Over the last 15 years we’ve been fortunate to help hundreds of customers.  If you’re a customer of ThreeWill and you want to do us a huge favor, please assign us as your Partner of Record.  This enables us to keep our Gold Certification and to serve you better because we have more resources from Microsoft to help you on projects.

Step-by-Step Instructions to Add ThreeWill as Your Partner of Record

  1. Go to the Microsoft Azure Portal at http://azure.microsoft.com/.
  2. Click on the My Account icon on the upper middle of the screen.
  3. Click on Usage and Billing.
  4. Log into your account using your user name and password.
  5. In the left navigation pane, select Subscriptions.
  6. On the Summary Subscription Page, click on Partner Information on the right navigation. This is where you will attach your Partner of Record.
  7. Enter 566560 for the Partner ID.
  8. Click Check ID to verify ThreeWill.
  9. Click Submit to complete assigning their Partner of Record.
  10. After you customer assign us as your Partner of Record, we will receive an email notification that lets us know that we have been assigned as the Partner of Record.

To Change or Remove Your Partner of Record

  1. Following the steps outlined above, log into the Microsoft Azure Portal.
  2. On the Summary Subscription Page, click on Partner Information on the right navigation.
  3. Highlight the Partner of Record field and delete the Partner of Record shown in that field.
  4. Click the check box. You have now removed the Partner of Record for this account and your subscription no longer has a Partner of Record.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is a Partner of Record?

The Partner of Record for an Office 365, CRM Online, or Azure subscription is the partner who is helping the customer design, build, deploy or manage a solution that they’ve built on the service. It is not the partner who sold the subscription.

What are the benefits of specifying a Partner of Record?

Customers benefit because it provides the partner access to usage and consumption data, so they can provide better service and help customers optimize their usage for their desired business outcomes.

Who can attach a Digital Partner of Record?

The administrator role, also known as the owner, is the only role within the customer’s tenant or account that can attach a Partner of Record. Service admins, co-admins, and partners designated as delegated admins do not have the ability to change the Partner of Record.

When should a Partner of Record be added to a for Office 365, CRM Online, or Azure subscription?

Microsoft recommends a Partner of Record be assigned to subscriptions right away. Partners of Record can also be assigned for Office 365 subscriptions in the admin portal for that service.

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Danny RyanHow to Assign ThreeWill as Your Azure Partner of Record
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What Makes a Great Stakeholder?

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 Ryan:Hello and welcome to the ThreeWill podcast. This is your host Danny Ryan and I have Tommy Ryan here with me, my co-host. How are you doing Tom?

 

Tommy Ryan:Doing well Danny.

 

Danny Ryan:Great. We’re trying a new format where we’re standing up. That seems to be the theme.

 

Tommy Ryan:That’s the theme around here. Stand up; stand-up desk, stand-up podcast.

 

Danny Ryan:Sitting is new smoking, right? I guess there’s probably going to be a stand-up desk in my future. I think it’s a great idea. Just getting up and also walking around and every once in a while getting out of that desk. We don’t want to get to be 70-80 years old and all you see is some hunched-over dude. I think it’s a really good thing. Let’s start it off with the socks. Let me see … Now I’m looking down. What did you do today.

 

Tommy Ryan:That’s nice. Not too bad.

 

Danny Ryan:I have asked … from my children have asked me what I want for my birthday and I told them dancing socks so we’ll see if …

 

Tommy Ryan:Oh, you going to kick it up a notch.

 

Danny Ryan:Yes, because I just have black socks on right now so I’m not going to show you my black socks. Great topic today was one with sort of just talked about a little bit earlier and I think it will be a fun one to cover which is what makes a great stakeholder. We’ve been in business for like 15 years … I guess right around 15 years.

 

Tommy Ryan:August 23rd will be 15.

 

Danny Ryan:My goodness … and through that period of time have had a series of great stakeholders and wanted to talk through with you sort of what makes a great stakeholder. What do you see as the characteristics of a great stakeholder so let’s get this whole thing kicked off. What’s one of the key ones that you see as far as a characteristic of a great stakeholder?

 

Tommy Ryan:I think a great stakeholder has vision. Not only has vision but can map that vision to business value and communicate that in a way to their organization to kind of get what they need to follow through with that vision so being able to obtain budget, being able to obtain internal buying from teams like IT organizations, other business stakeholders that need to be subject matter experts to pull off that vision and to be able to find what it takes to pull that together to see through that vision so that’s a tough combination; having vision and then execution together. That’s some of our best stakeholders that have that combination.

 

Danny Ryan:Not only do they have the idea but they have the willingness or where with all to go execute on that idea …

 

Tommy Ryan:Right. They might not have project management disciplines or disciplines that are required to implement against division but they can see it through and get the right people involved to make that a reality.

 

Danny Ryan:Great so it’s a key, having a vision and being able to execute on that vision. What’s another thing that you see as a key characteristic?

 

Tommy Ryan:Another key one I think is humility in a sense. A lot of our great stakeholders have strong personalities but they have a humble aspect of “I can’t do it by myself.” It takes a team to do it and we tend to find the stakeholders that we work with the best are the ones that are willing to say, “We don’t have it covered. Let’s look at expertise that we can bring in to kind of round out the team and make sure we’re successful.” There’s a lot of times the ego gets in the way to say, “I can do it all. I don’t need any help,” and so they end up kind of closing off opportunities to be more successful because they think they can do it themselves.

 

Danny Ryan:The fact is we’re outside help and if somebody never feels like they’re going to ask for outside help, we’re never going to get involved. That’s one of the things early on from a marketing standpoint is looking for people. There is a lot of folks out there who just want to go do it themselves and that’s great but then this may get into another characteristic. I think they have to be willing or I guess part of humility is looking for some outside help, recognizing they can’t get it done all by themselves or all with internal teams or whatever they may be hung up on using internal teams but they’ve got to be able to be willing to look for that outside help. I think this gets into another one which is they have to be great collaborators. We do a lot of collaboration software but as individuals they’ve got to be able to be willing to work together and want to collaborate with someone to go create something as well.

 

I think a lot of our … the end product of what we’re creating is are these solutions typically on share-point where you have large groups of teams collaborating together. They themselves have to have the characteristic of being great collaborators because they’re going to not only work with us but work with a lot of internal teams to go get the things done, they’ve just got to be able to pull all these different groups together to go pull this off.

 

Tommy Ryan:Right. Another aspect of that is in the communications side is not only collaboration but also being able to make those tough decisions and be direct and really ask for the things you need to ask for and do that in a way that works within large political systems which are corporations that they know what are the right punches to pull to kind of pull it through because I think in most cases in large organizations that need these big projects accomplished you’re a lot of times rewarded by not picking your head up and not drawing attention to yourself so to be direct to ask for things to be aggressive towards “we’re going to make this goal.” That sometimes goes against the culture of some large organizations and so you have to be brave to be a good stakeholder to have those direct conversations with your leadership to ask for the things that you need to be successful and to get the right people involved and that sometimes is not a shy person. It’s a person that is willing to make those … kind of be in those awkward situations but see through that situation so you can be successful.

 

Danny Ryan:I think along with the vision that we’re talking about earlier is that ability to translate what they’re trying to do into business value and a key point for a great stakeholder and a couple of people come to mind with this is they have the ability to go get budget. If they’re never able to be able to have this idea to go translate that over into what the business value is of this and sometimes we collaborate with people to talk about what the value is of something. I know I’ve been doing a lot of migrations lately and trying to translate it over into why do you want to invest this money into doing the migration but a lot of these stakeholders have to be able to say, “Hey, this is going and creating this new community side. This is what the benefits are of doing this. This is why we should we go spend this money.” They’ve got to be really good at that.

 

Tommy Ryan:Right and they’re taking the chance because they’re kind of putting their neck out there because companies care about the bottom line so when you’re going to make these investments, you’re taking away from that bottom line for the promise of things will be better and those things. To have the results of what that vision … the vision that you said … it’s a lot of hard work. It’s actually seeing it through and making the left and right turns as you get roadblocks along the way because it’s never going to be a smooth path and your original vision can been seen through. There is some adjustments along the way and a smart stakeholder and an effective stakeholder will know where to give and where not to give and where to push through and say, “Team, we’ve got to do this. This is going to be important in the overall success.”

 

Danny Ryan:I think that through the years the best stakeholders have been people that we’ve gone through some struggle with. I think that’s sort of where rubber hits the road, where you really see are you a partner or not and looking at where a challenge comes up and seeing what the other side does during that challenge and really seeing yourself through that … I know some of our key stakeholders we’ve been through that and they know what happens when things inevitably go wrong and it’s nobody’s fault about it but how do you react to those situations.

 

Tommy Ryan:Right and I tell you that’s when we build our best relationships and if you do see yourself through a tough situation with a great stakeholder, that’s a life-long stakeholder and although you don’t want to see those bad situations occur, you know when they do occur this is going to be tough but if we make it through it, we’re going to have a better relationship, a better bond in a sense with that stakeholder that they know, we’re going to see them through the tough times so we in a sense have got their back and they’ve got our back. It’s a mutual thing that you have to have this trust that’s built up and what really strengthens trust relationship is through having a situation where things go wrong and it could be things that someone is at fault and admitting that, “Okay, well this did not go well and this is what we’re going to do to learn from that and this is how we’re going to adjust and this is how we’re going to compensate for that situation and do that in a fair and equitable way that allows you to move forward,” and that’s important.

 

Danny Ryan:… and we’ve had situations where it was a win-lose where we may have … we’re on projects where we could have been at fault with somebody and seeing what happens during those times. Do they go after … There has been situations in which we see someone say, “I understand you guys have come up with a good resolution to this and I’m not going to … at every meeting I meet with you, bang you over the head about this,” and we’ve had some customers who are that way and it’s like we need to look at it and it’s win-lose. They’re not thinking of “how do we learn from this and grow to be better as organizations,” and some of these you walk away, you realize …

 

Tommy Ryan:… you did a good job.

 

Danny Ryan:… this is not a good client. You need to walk away from that.

 

Tommy Ryan:You finished what you’ve committed to and then you don’t look for the next opportunity and the opportunities don’t just fall at your feet in a sense, it’s because you’re continuing a relationship, building that relationship, having those conversations and if you do have that strain of it, it’s a win-lose. Then when you come to the end of that commitment there’s not going to be another opportunity and so you gracefully move on because there’s customers that need our help and there is nothing worse than putting a lot of energy towards a situation where you’re not behind that stakeholder and that’s tough. It’s hard to get up every morning and work hard in that situation. Those are the toughest projects but you have to finish through on your commitment and then you’re at that walk in the road that, “Okay, is it worth entering into a new commitment or we’re better off having some bench time and then looking for that next opportunity.” We’ve been fortunate were a lot of our … through the last 15 years or so a lot of our stakeholders have been at three or maybe four companies and we’ve followed them around. I think it’s just been something where they can rely on us. You know who I’m thinking of.

 

Danny Ryan:Yeah.

 

Tommy Ryan:She goes by Bad Penny. I think it’s her name. If you’re listening to this, you know who you are but there’s multiple folks who have moved on from company to company and we’ve just been lucky to continue the relationship with them and really just fortunate that … and I think it’s because they go and they come when they want to make changes and their wrong terms of purposes rising stars because they’re going and trying to do the difficult things that they’re doing and in a lot of ways I feel fortunate to be able to get to know some of these stakeholders who are going out there and making things happen in these larger companies because …

 

Danny Ryan:… you feel like you’re a part of that too and there is some pride in that to say, “We’ve done some pretty amazing things” and definitely takes that stakeholder to be the leader and you want to follow those leaders that are strong, ones that make a big impact.

 

Tommy Ryan:A key characteristic of a stakeholder is that it’s a woman. We’ve joked around about this but I don’t know whether it’s a … through the years we’ve just … it seems like there’s been a lot of … I think in nowadays in IT I think sort of the leadership that we’re seeing in women coming into IT is that they have a lot of these characteristics of great stakeholders which is they work collaboratively, they are trustworthy, a lot of the things …

 

Danny Ryan:… they’re humble in the right way.

 

Tommy Ryan:… in the right way and so I think we joke around about it but as a market person one of the things that I do is I want to understand what’s our key persona. What is the person who really does make up a great stakeholder and some of our best stakeholders hasn’t been all women but I’m seeing …

 

Danny Ryan:… a good proportion.

 

Tommy Ryan:… a good proportion of them are. It’s whatever that means. It means whatever it means but it’s been … I think we’ve been really fortunate to work with some great … and it’s been great in the IT industry because it’s been primarily male-dominated and to see some up and coming stars go and make things happen in these organizations and to really come in and shake some things up and needs to be a part of that.

 

Danny Ryan:Definitely. Anything else that we haven’t covered yet that you’d like to …

 

Tommy Ryan:Probably you’ve hinted around this but I think innovation is a key aspect that they are comfortable with new ideas and willing to break through the status quo to be innovative and try something new that has a certain risk component to it but they have enough wisdom to know how much to buy it off but that energy to be innovative, I think that has to be within the person. You can’t make someone be innovative. I think they naturally have that ability to kind of see through an existing situation and say, “We can do better and this is how we’re going to do it.” I think innovation is probably the one thing we didn’t mention.

 

Danny Ryan:Yeah. I’m sort of looking out a list over here on the chalkboard. I think we’ve probably hinted at this but they’re not typically political creatures themselves but they know how to deal with politics. They’re very direct. They don’t fool around with … I think for us a majority of the business that we’ve had over the lifetime of the organization has been non-governmental because we didn’t … I think we like to go and we’re not political creatures ourselves. We’re problem-solvers. We want to come in, get something done and don’t want to have something that we’re not just doing this because this person doesn’t want to do this on this certain day. It’s because we want to come in and really solve our business problems but these folks that the stakeholder has to be able to deal since they’re in larger organizations, they’ve got to be able to deal with the politics that are out there but I think they just put out, they just realize that’s part of their job.

 

Tommy Ryan:Right. They look at it from a logical standpoint of these are constraints within seen through my vision and as a part of that picking the battles that you need to pick, the right battles to be able to go forward with the vision and there’s going to be some people that will be nay-sayers and you have certain conversations there to listen but not have that discourage you in seeing through your vision unless there is something obvious that you overlooked but in a sense they don’t get beaten down by kind of political systems they know how to work within that system and do just enough to make that impediment go away and see through their vision.

 

Danny Ryan:Anything else before we wrap up here?

 

Tommy Ryan:No. I think that covers it. Thanks for covering this topic.

 

Danny Ryan:Absolutely. For folks who are listening who are our key stakeholders, thank you so much. A part of why we feel like we’re going to be in business tomorrow is because of you and it’s because of the trust that you’ve put in us and as an organization and I think Tommy and I are very thankful for the years that we’ve had working together with some really great stakeholders. For folks who this sounds interesting to and maybe we haven’t worked together we’d love to hear from you. Obviously drop by the website. The person you’d be interacting with would be me and just be looking for more of a longer-term partner. If you’re looking for … If you have some of these characteristics that we have of a key stakeholder we’d love to talk to you so thank you for taking the time to listen to this today and have a great day. Thank you. Bye bye.

 

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Tommy RyanWhat Makes a Great Stakeholder?
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Cadwalader Partners with ThreeWill to Win Best Intranet of 2016

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.

Earlier this year the user-experience research firm Nielsen Norman Group announced the winners of the Intranet Design Award for 2016.    Among the winners for Best Intranet were ThreeWill’s client Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP.  The winning intranets were chosen by expert review based on design and usability from an international field of submissions.

ThreeWill worked with Cadwalader in setting up their SharePoint Infrastructure on Azure, Authentication, SQL Infrastructure, Design/Implementation of Branding and Handshake Software configuration.  The project lasted 3 months and was completed on time and under budget.

When wrapping up the project with a project retrospective, Cadwalader shared that they liked having a concise sales cycle, a full product backlog to support justifying hours and dollars for the project, having multiple user experience experts available and our ability to find ways to solve complex problems.

ThreeWill, a Microsoft Gold partner based out of Atlanta,  helps teams work together better by building solutions on SharePoint using an agile process.  Cadwalader chose ThreeWill based on our experience with SharePoint and working with other law firms.

Learn more about Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP – http://www.cadwalader.com/about/.

Read more details and purchase the report here – https://www.nngroup.com/reports/intranet-design-annual/.

Contact us today about building an award winning SharePoint initiative for your company.

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Danny RyanCadwalader Partners with ThreeWill to Win Best Intranet of 2016
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ThreeWill Customer Appreciation Night

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.

Join Us for a Night of Improv at the Red Door Playhouse in Roswell

We’re so grateful for you, our customers.  Let’s have a fun night out full of laughs and celebrate our successes together.

  • 7:00pm – 8:00pm  – Drinks and hors d’oeuvres will be served.  Get a new profile picture done with a professional photographer!
  • 8:00pm – 8:30pm –
    • Welcome and Recognition of Our Shared Successes – Tommy Ryan and Bruce Harple will share some successes from the year and get us kicked off.
    • ThreeWill Labs Presentation –  Learn more about what we’re doing to stay ahead of the curve from Pete Skelly.
    • ThreeWill Foundation Presentation – Danny Ryan will share more about how we are giving back to the community.
  • 8:30pm – 10:00pm – Improv Show.  Just like on ThreeWill Projects — you’re in control.  We’ll be gathering suggestions for our Improv scenes from you before and during the show.
  • 10:00pm – 11:00pm – Enjoy the night with more food/drinks, Meet the Improv cast, other customers, and ThreeWill folks or get that profile picture if you haven’t already!

This is going to be a lot of fun and we hope you can make it!

Other Details:

  • Bring a Friend/Spouse/Co-Workers – No need to come alone – make a night of it!
  • Business Casual Attire – yes, it’s fine to wear those new jeans.
  • The ThreeWill Team will be invited as well – meet someone you haven’t worked with yet!
  • This is a great place to network – we’ll play a fun game where you can find one thing you have in common with others at the party.
  • If you want to have Dinner before the event, there are some great restaurants in the Downtown Roswell /Canton Street area.
  • We’ll also be collecting donations for the North Fulton Communities Food Pantry that night.  We ask that you bring either a box of cereal or pasta or a can of soup (no creamed) to donate.  Thank you!
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Danny RyanThreeWill Customer Appreciation Night
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Feeling Grateful for a Colleague? Write a LinkedIn Recommendation

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.

Last week we had an event at Microsoft Alpharetta office – it was on moving to the cloud on your terms. Pete Skelly did an excellent job presenting on the New Business Operating System covering subjects like Top 5 Benefits of Moving to the New Business Operating System (including Office 365 and Azure) , Three Perceived Barriers to Moving to Office 365 and Azure, and The Business Impact of a Continuous Delivery.

The second part of the event was a Panel discussion on moving to the Microsoft Cloud. We were fortunate to have a great panel that included leaders from Ernst & Young, Atlanta Braves, McKesson, and PGi.

We had about 80 people register for the event, but last week mixed two things that are like oil and water – (the chance of) snow and the SouthEast. All of the Panelists were able to make it to the event (miraculously), but we had a lot of cancellations because Fulton county cancelled school for the day – if you want a good laugh, here is the weather for that day.

Yes, 0 inches of precipitation (snow).

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Image Credit – Christy3514165 

Friday afternoon after the event, we were feeling pretty thankful for the panelists and discussed how we could show our appreciation. After some discussion, we thought that it would be good to write a LinkedIn Recommendation for each of the Panelists.

I was writing my recommendations this morning and noticed that a majority of the recommendations that I had received almost stopped after 2010. I used to love to go look at my recommendations if I was having a bad day. Recently, I find myself going to the testimonials section of our website to feel like we are making a difference if I’m having a particularly challenging day.

I think when endorsements came along, people stopped taking the time to write recommendations. It’s easier to click than to take the time to put your thoughts down in words.

Here’s my challenge to you (if you’re setting goals for this year). Next time you are feeling grateful for a colleague, why not take the time to write a recommendation? Chances are that you will get a recommendation in return. I’m definitely guilty of this – I’ve stopped writing as many recommendations.

You could probably set the goal of writing one LinkedIn Recommendation a week? Set apart 30 minutes on Friday afternoon to write this.  Put this down in your calendar as an appointment for yourself.

Of course, for my connections (probably the only people who will read this ;), write a recommendation for me and I’ll do one for you in return.

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Danny RyanFeeling Grateful for a Colleague? Write a LinkedIn Recommendation
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The ThreeWill Promises – Control, Choice and Commitment

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.

What is The ThreeWill Promise?

Our promise to our business sponsors:

  1. Control – We provide the structure for our clients to control priority of features and budget throughout the lifetime of the project​.
  2. Choice – Because we deliver working software every two weeks, we earn our client’s business every two weeks.​
  3. Commitment – We take on your challenges like they are our own; you will not find another business partner more committed to your success.

Internal Discussions

We’ve been discussing our brand promise often recently on our internal Yammer network.  It’s a relatively new concept for us. I wanted to summarize what we really do for our business sponsors.  Yes, we are technical and process experts in our given domain. but how does this ultimately translate over to benefits to our customers?

Control

The first promise is control.  We want you to feel and be in control throughout the lifetime of the project.  To do this, we need to provide structure.  The way we do this is you own the priority of the features (what goes into the next Sprint) and you decide where the budget is spent (more about that in a minute).  The feedback we get from many of our projects is that what is liked best is the process we use to structure the project.  We typically get hired because of our technical acumen, but the reason we stick around is our execution of the process.  In fact, sponsors like the experience so much that they want us to teach other projects on how to “do SCRUM.”

Choice

There are a couple of options on how we price projects.  A majority are T&M with a budget cap.  We have adopted a fundamental tenet of SCRUM, which is to deliver working software every two weeks.  That means you can stop when you feel the product is ready.  And yes, this does happen.  Some opt not to use the remaining budget; others opt to use the budget on other projects that could use some attention.  This means we earn your business every two weeks – because you are in a good state at the end of each Sprint.  Note, especially for larger projects, there is a Transition Sprint – usually for 1 or 2 weeks to do appropriate training and transition of deliverables.

Commitment

Our last promise is commitment.  Simply, when you hire us your challenges become ours.  Take a minute to read some of the testimonials here and here.  The only way we build this reputation is putting your needs in front of ours.

Making the Promises Real

We don’t want these promises to be just words on a website or a slide.  As a part of ThreeWill, we need to hold each other accountable and call each other out if we aren’t true to a promise.  As a customer, we want you to challenge us if we fall short of any of these promises.  Iron sharpens iron.

Leave a Comment

If you’re a customer, we’d love to hear any experiences where you have seen the promises in play.  Feel free to leave a comment below.

If you’re another ThreeWiller, I’d love to hear your words on what these promises mean to you.  This would be great to supplement the page on what it’s like to be at ThreeWill.

If you’re a prospective customer, we’d love the opportunity to show you these promises in action.  Reach out to us here.

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Danny RyanThe ThreeWill Promises – Control, Choice and Commitment
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ThreeWill Hero – Steve Pattison

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.

This Month’s Hero

This month’s ThreeWill Hero is Steve Pattison from Polycom (Vice President, Strategy and Business Development). Steve is another person that we were introduced to by Owen Allen at Microsoft. Based on initial conversations, we could tell that it would be great to work with Steve as a sponsor and that he had great vision for integrating enterprise video within SharePoint to realize the user experience that Steve was the first to dub “YouTube for the Enterprise”.

Meeting Up

The first time we met Steve was at the SharePoint Conference in 2009. Steve’s a very well connected guy so he was very familiar with people and companies that we had worked with in the past, like Jive Software. We talked through what we would need to do to make the relationship work – although Steve had time and budget constraints, he was upfront so we could work together on a plan that would work for both sides.

A Good Partner Helps Make Great Connections

As we pointed out in the blog post on Bill Lynch, one of the best signs in a partner is that they connect you with people that make an impact on your company. Steve made sure that we were connected with one of the most influential people in the SharePoint ecosystem, Mark Gilbert of Gartner, who is an influential analyst covering SharePoint. He’s exceptional about connecting folks and we are grateful for this.

Hands On Approach

We worked very closely with Steve to develop the first version of the integration for the Accordent Media Management System (now rebranded as the Polycom RealPresence Media Manager following Polycom’s acquisition of Accordent) with SharePoint. Don’t let having Strategy in his title throw you off…although he’s great when determining the right strategy, he can also roll up his sleeves and make tactical decisions. We had to address some serious constraints at the beginning of the project. Steve thoughtfully reviewed the options and was decisive when we needed to move forward.

The Polycom Team

Working with smart, hardworking folks is an integral part of being successful in a partnership. Along with Steve, we were fortunate enough to be teamed up with Chris Spanellis in Engineering and Chuck Malloy in Professional Services. Chris was key in helping us understand how we could properly architect a SharePoint Integration solution that would best leverage the AMMS platform and he continues to be our goto guy in engineering to this date. We started working with Chuck when we had a release version that would go into Accordent/Polycom customer environments. Chuck is great with process and the kind of person you want to work with when you need to get down to the brass tacks of getting a solution rolled out to a customer. We could go on, but just thought it would be worth mentioning some of the Polycom Team that made the AMMS integration with SharePoint successful.

Accordent’s Acquisition By Polycom

Polcyom’s acquisition of Accordent was a great move for both companies and positioned Polycom to become the leader in the video content management and delivery market by integrating Polycom’s leading open standards video software solutions with Accordent’s innovative video content management solution.

Working with Polycom

Polycom is one of the most exciting companies to be working with at this time – for example, this year they won the Microsoft Partner of the Year for Unified Communications Innovation award. They are making the right investments and we are excited to begin working with their sales folks in the field. There is no doubt that 2012 will be an exciting year for the Polycom/ThreeWill partnership.

Clients Working Together

It’s always great to see our clients working together. Earlier this year, Jive Software and Polycom announced a strategic relationship. Steve has long envisioned the day when the worlds of enterprise video and social networking would come together, and it is exciting to see it happen especially given our strong relationship with both Polycom and Jive.

Today

We’re excited to be working with Steve to this day. Recently, we met with him at the SharePoint Conference to talk about the next version of the integration. He’s connected us with new folks at Polycom (wonderful folks like Zip Zieper) and we look forward to helping the field roll out successful integrations.

Steve, from the whole team at ThreeWill, we want to thank you for your support and the trust you have placed in us to work together to build a great integration with SharePoint.

A Word from Steve

Upon hearing that he was a ThreeWill Hero, Steve had the following to say:

Working with ThreeWill has been a great experience from the outset at Accordent, when Microsoft first recommended ThreeWill to us as a leading SharePoint development organization, to this day at Polycom as we continue to lead the market with enterprise video solutions for SharePoint. ThreeWill has been consistently committed to our success, our partnership with Microsoft, and the needs of our customers as we provide video access and scale to the SharePoint user community.

Thanks again Steve for being a ThreeWill Hero!

Learn More About the Polycom RealPresence Media Manager
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Danny RyanThreeWill Hero – Steve Pattison