12 Most Needed Tips to Stay Sane While Moving the Family Across the Country

I first posted this on 12Most.com, which is a great collection of information and contributors!  If interested in doing a 12Most post I highly recommend reaching out and getting involved!  On with the show!

As you can tell by the title of this post, I have a new place to call home.  Recently my wife Tara Privette received a very nice, scratch that an incredible opportunity for her career.  The only thing this career opportunity was not in Minnesota, it is in Virginia Beach, Virginia.  So we decided as a family to dig up the roots in Minnesota and plant them in Virginia.

Joey Baci Daisy Jace Keith - #mn2va

Now what I have come to find out is relocating for a wife’s job is quite unique.  For us it did not seem all that strange because we have always been a two parent working household sharing just about everything.  There are no “man” jobs or “woman” jobs in our house, there are just “jobs”.  So there here are the 12 things we learned to stay sane while moving the family across country.  Now to give some logisitics background on this, my wife started her job in Virginia in early July the kids, the dogs and I did not come down til three weeks later.

1. Communication

Yes, communication is number one on this list! There are so many details that need to be worked out that if you are not using all means of communication, you will not survive! You must rely on technology, verbal and nonverbal cues as well as listening. Yes, listening is a key factor in communication. There will be many, many, many lists to write down, so listen, well and write down or you will forget…trust me!

2. Rely on people you don’t know

There are many people you will need to rely on for this journey. Many of them you have never met or had a relationship with in the past. There will be relocation companies, Realtors, insurance companies, financial institutions, employers, friends, new acquaintances, hotels, gas stations, and restaurants. That is just a short list. You will in most cases have to trust them, but if your gut tells you “Hey you, ya you with the brain, I just threw a red flag up, want to do something about that?” TRUST what your gut is telling you!

3. Renegotiate everything

That is right! Everything is usually an opening offer and this situation calls for counteroffers. You will not be offending anyone, they expect it. The relocation path is a very fluid and changes daily, sometimes even hourly. What I found is most of the people with this path just want everyone fairly treated. After all, what more can anyone ask for?

4. Pack, unpack, repack, rinse and repeat

The most valuable lesson I learned was packing for the 1,300 miles trip from Minnesota to Virginia. Non-stop packing for the house, for the kids, for myself, and the car. Yes, I drove it all by myself….oh wait I did have 2 kids an 6 year old and an 8 year old, oh yeah and two 50lb dogs. I did a pretty good job of getting all the clothes necessary for the trip and another week before our whole house arrived before the movers showed up (trust me get this done before they show up, they are fast and it will get packed if not in Safe Zone). The one thing I did not do was pack a smaller bag with just clothes and essentials for the road trip. Lugging two HUGE suitcases in and out of the hotels was not fun. Lesson learned!

5. Dads know your role, it is not the one you were taught growing up!

Being that it was a unique situation according to everyone, we were relocating because of a career opportunity for my wife. I got to take on some unique roles for the last 3 months. I essentially became the main caregiver for the last 3 weeks. Which I gladly stepped up and took on and absolutely loved the time the five of us got to spend. I really gained a whole new appreciation for the many roles my wife plays in our children’s life as well as mine. WOW, we have a great mom and wife!

6. Throw your schedules out the car window while driving!

The quickest thing I found out was those pesky times society places on you about breakfast, lunch and dinner, yeah they don’t work in this situation. There is just so much going on you do a lot of relying on your stomach to tell you what meal it was. Breakfast exactly at 8am, lunch at Noon, and Dinner at 6pm really is hard to do. Be flexible and make an adventure out of it. Yes, the kids the first night of the trip ate dinner at 9:00pm. They loved it!

7. Packing your vehicle for access

As I mentioned before, we took a 1,300 mile road trip! Everything must be with in arms reach with easy access. That goes for the Driver as well as your passengers. Keep in mind little kids have car seats and short arms. Make sure snacks, water, DVD’s, coloring books, books, music, toys, and high fives are within an arms lengthen to keep everyone happy. Oh and for the driver make sure Google Maps, Coffee, Water, Snacks, and Energy Drinks can be found without taking eyes off the road. This can be accomplished by setting up your passenger seat with a little strategy! Sidenote: make sure to find all the chargers you will need and put in your bag as you find them!

8. The dreaded “I have to go to the bathroom” from the backseat

There were two things I learned along the way with four passengers with bladders the size of a pea. You have to always, I mean always have them go to the bathroom at every stop you make. Remember to ask! Remember to take them! Secondly, limit the number of times you say “Anyone have to go to the bathroom” you will be stopping everytime you ask. This question some how triggers the “yes I have to go pee” response. It is like the ring bell or something.

9. Invest and leverage YOUR technology

The consumer probably has at its disposal better technology hardware and software than the of the companies in which you will work on this journey. If you get a chance, introduce them to these technologies! Without a printer and Box.Net buying a house in another state would not have happened so quickly. The realtor and loan officer absolutely loved these two pieces of technologies for quick responses and properly processed documentation. Being that Mom was back and forth for a few weeks we used Facetime, Skype video and Google chat video. It all depended on which hardware was in front of us at the time. This really helps stay connected. Texting was a lifesaver, so gear up those thumbs. Most of all I really enjoyed using all the technologies on my phone!

10. Bring your online communities along for the journey

Let people know what your are doing. Share your experiences with your online communities. For the most part people like helping, seeing photos, and sharing the experience with you. In preparation for our move across the country, I established a hashtag #mn2va on twitter. This allowed people to easily see what tweets were in regards to this transition and travel.

I also prepared my facebook with an album called A Man his Two Kids Two Dogs and a Vacuum! #mn2va July 2011. This helped centralize all my photos and comments. Leverage Location Based technologies so people know everything is ok. This is also fun to see what badges and pins you can gather along the way. I also used a great new tool called Glympse! This helped Mom know where we were at all times. She also knew right away once getting to Virginia Beach I was going the wrong way to the corporate housing and quickly called!

11. PATIENCE PATIENCE PATIENCE!

Everything is not going to work out according to YOUR plan. Things must be taken in stride and adjusted every step through this journey. Going back to number 1 on this list helps a lot. Always state the problem, then the desired outcome, then hear solution and then make a decision. There is no need to get angry, yell, scream, call names, or hang up phones (I did none of these things by the way). These tactics and emotions get you nowhere!

12. You are doing the right thing!

There will be bumps in the road, naysayers, confidence reducers and doubts. Just remember many many many folks do this all the time and it works out 9 times out of 10. Especially when it comes to driving across the country with 2 kids and 2 dogs by yourself. I heard “You are a brave brave man” and “Really, you sure you can handle that?” and “Whoa, what are you doing?” have the confidence that with proper planning, using your street smarts, technology, and enjoyment of succeeding, you two can keep your sanity while moving clear across the country.



Missing My Hero, Missing My Dad

My Dad’s life will not be chronicled in history books.  His name will not be mentioned in middle school classrooms around the nation as a great man in history.  There will be no statues in his honor, or streets named after him.  But my Dad was a great man.  His life was worthwhile, meaningful, and impactful, and his passing leaves a void in the hearts of those whose lives he touched.

When I think of what makes a great man, some key things come to mind.  Honesty, integrity, compassion, empathy, the ability and desire to teach, and a commitment to making those around him happier, better people.  This is what my Dad was to me.  He challenged me to be a better person, and he helped us all in many ways to make the most of our lives.

Dad and Me Silversword Golf Club Maui

 Over the years, my dad touched those around him in many ways.  He always wanted to make everyone around him happy.  He wanted each moment to be a memorable one, no matter how mundane or routine.  He liked to make memories.  My Dad was always getting people together, whether it was a day of golf before a wedding, meeting for breakfast after a family reunion, he was always the last one there, making sure everyone else had what they needed, and were enjoying themselves.  My Dad was always surrounded by people having fun and enjoying life.  Growing up with my dad, this was one of the things that, to me, made him larger than life.

I hope that I am the type of father to my kids that my Dad was to me.  He was there for me, no matter what.  He once drove for four and a half hours to OshKosh Wisconsin and sat in a bone-chilling downpour to watch me play football.  I wasn’t a starter, and I didn’t play a lot, but if his kid was doing something, then he was going to be there no matter what.  My dad was always there, always telling us he was proud of us.  He was there for everything, graduations, cheerleading competitions, Saturday morning football games in another state, weddings, birthdays.  If it was important to you, then it was important to him.

My Dad was always there to dispense words of wisdom and useful advice, sometimes even when you didn’t ask for it!  He has touched not only my life, but many of yours as well.  He went by many names, Dad, Timmy, Unc, and Grandpa, and he was always there for whoever needed him.  Whether it was advice on parenting, marriage, finances, or work, he always wanted to share a helpful opinion.  I didn’t always appreciate it at the time, but later when I looked back, he always seemed to be right somehow.  His advice was always sound and useful.  One of the many things I am going to miss is being able to pick up the phone and call my dad to ask “Hey dad, what do you think about this….”

The world has lost a great man, one that made a difference to all of us.  My Dad leaves a legacy of laughter and happiness, and he would want us to celebrate his life and remember what he shared with us.  I know there will be difficult times and sadness as we deal with his sudden loss, but the one thing I know about my Dad is that he would want us to celebrate the memories we have of him, and the good times we had together.

So Dad, I just want to say “thanks” and “I Love You” and save me a spot at the first tee on that golf course in heaven.

This was the Eulogy I wrote and delivered on April 16th, 2007….

Tim Privette

 


 


Planting the seed for 2012 Organizational Planning

So I have worked at some really large companies here in Minneapolis and have come to realize they move slow towards change, so I decided to plant a seed for planning in 2012. Since planning for 2011 is already in the books!  Try this approach for your BIG reorganization in 2012 (seems like this BIG organization changes .  Because let’s face it at least 50% of the fortune 1,000 companies will do one of this in 2012.  The only problem they have been doing it for 50 years now with similar or worse results.

1. Survey your employees, shareholders, and customers and ask them this question:

What is one problem we have?

 

2. Again survey your employees, shareholders, and customers and ask them this question:

What would be one thing you would innovate within our company?

 

Now gather up all this information and pick the Top 5 problems and Top 5 Innovation ideas.  Now the next thing you do will sound absolutely crazy and a lot of work, but that is ok that is the purpose!

Next post Top 5 Problems List within your company and ask all your employees which one they would like to solve and ask them to put their name next to the problem solving initiative.  That is it.  If the employee has some skills, passion or purpose wanting to solve it they will put their name next to it.

Next post Top 5 Innovations List within your company and ask all your employees which one they would like to tackle the innovation and ask them to put their name next to the status quo breaker or catalytic mechanism initiative.  That is it.  If the employee has some skills, passion or purpose wanting to innovate they will put their name next to it.

There you go your top  10 projects for 2012 and the resources and organizational structure to go with it. Yup you have a problem solving organization. The company moves away from the silo’d business structure of Marketing, HR, Customer Service, IT, Legal, Merchandising, Distribution, etc. and builds teams with this eclectic group of skilled people to solve the problem they signed up for!

Now in these new problem solving departments or project teams you have all the experts, roles, and titles banded together to solve the problem or problems. No duplication of people or roles across silos,  problems get solved,  people are happy they are doing what they want to be doing, problems get solved, cost are reduces,  produce more revenue and profits, and unfortunately you may have to reduce staffing levels, but this may help reduce costs of products or services good for consumers. The reason the last one happens is every silo today have similar problems but duplicate the solution and tools across those silos.  This typically happens more when trying to innovate, but happens in problem solving also!

End result of this planning is 5 Problem Solving and 5 Innovation Implementing Organizations.  The company is no longer structured around industry specific silos, applications, or skill sets. This is no way to say companies still do not need these skill sets, because companies do.  Companies still need HR, Marketing, Technology, Supply Chain, PR, Communications, Business Operations, Customer Service experts, they just need to be deployed as ecosystems to solve problems or innovate.

So if you have some leadership authority at your company start suggesting this now and then by 2012 you should be able to execute! What do you think the hurdles will be?  What behavior characteristics are going to be evident when proposing this?  How do you think leadership organizations will form around this idea?

It would be pretty interesting see this initiative come across your email inbox, intranet or enterprise social business application, hey! Would you participate?

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What Social Media ROI looks like with Warners’ Stellian

This story has a little bit of a twist on using the social channels to buy a washer and dryer.  There are several elements of interacting online that brought me to Warners’ Stellian’s for purchasing our new washing and dryer.  This example of social media ROI is based purely only conversing with and observing Julie Warner online.  Julie is the Marketing Assistant at Warners’ Stellian Appliance Co. Inc.  The reason I say “online” is I have never met Julie face to face, which is weird because we have many of the same connections here in Minneapolis.  I started following Julie about two years ago, based on her and I being connected to several of the same people in Minneapolis.  One person I would like to thank for introducing us is Katie Schutrop.

So I observed very great interactions Julie was having for Warners’ Stellian, colleagues, and friends.  I even saw her steal a sale from a competitor because the competitor’s customer was extremely frustrated with them and Julie was there in the same channel to help! Personally using the social channels to actually steal a customer and  close the deal is quite impressive.  Much should be written about how she did this!  This observation sealed the deal for me that when we were in the market for their products and services Warners’ Stellian was going to be on that list.

In full disclosure,  I did no researching of prices, models, or customer reviews for these products.  I had a pretty good idea of prices ranges of what we should spend, but that is it!  I just knew where we should buy based on researching and knowing a company based on one of it’s employees.  My wife Tara did a lot of the research on price comparisons, customer reviews and model reviews.  So she was the educated consumer on the product being purchased, I was not.  I do believe she had some ideas on where she wanted to go and buy too, but since I was driving (“he who drives takes you in a direction”, yeah I just made that up), I suggested we swing by Warners’ Stellian to see if they could compete based on Tara’s research.  I also explained Warners’ Stellian was local and we should try this route.

This was my first ever visit to Warners’ Stellian.  Upon walking in you are greeted by a Warners’ Stellian employee that takes your name down so they know you are there and let’s you know if you have any questions or want to speak to a sales person to just let her know and she can find someone for you.  This allows you to walk around the store and not get bombarded by sales folks asking if you need help.  As we looked at the washers and dryers, I asked Tara “So are the prices in line with your research?” Tara said yes and they have the exact models I was looking for.  So right off the bat my research and her research were lining up.

The next step was to talk through the models we were looking at with a sales person.  She answered all of our questions about price, feature differences, and product history.  We then sat down with the sales person to discuss purchasing and she was awesome! Very personable, helpful, and informative.  She helped us make the right decision about warrenty choices without being “salesy” about it. She even made a call to the delivery drivers to move up the delivery day by 3 days because when she indicated the date for delivery. Tara and I must’ve had the “Oh really? The laundry is really piling up” look on our faces and without hesitation she picked up the phone and got the delivery date moved up.  You can’t teach that customer service, you can hire for it though!

Taking it the extra mile is a sure sign of empowered employee!  They value every customer that walks through the door.  The Delivery Technicians were friendly, helpful and returned to the house no questions asked when there was a slight problem with the install. This was a another sign of the overall commitment to the customer.  See it is not just your marketing, twitter feed, facebook fan page updates, or billboards you need to worry about making an “impression” that turns into ROI!

Overall I was extremely happy with the choice I made to take a chance on observing a social media channel, then base a purchase on it.  Believe me this was not a cheap purchase to take a leap of faith on, but I figured the worse thing that could happen was being disappointed.  So this is an example that businesses have to be aware there are probably a lot more customers watching and observing your business more through the people accounts than the logo’d ones.

Get these people out there and just as prominent as your logo! Now this adds an element of responsibility by your employees being aware of situations like this, but with some good old fashion media training, you will be pleasantly surprised how much this type of awareness adds to the element of success.

I probably would not have done the same purchase path with a logo’d account.  So think about this in your strategy, planning, and execution when deciding company accounts vs real people accounts in your social accounts landscape.  You may want to measure and quite possibly incent them differently.  Just a thought!

 

ps. Sorry about the miss spelling in my Gowalla checkin, it won’t happen again!

 



What Social Media ROI looks like with Walser Auto Group

Her is part two of what Social Media ROI looks like from a customer.  This story starts about a year and a half ago when I met Andrea Kopfmann via twitter.  I met Andrea via a couple tweets here and there from other people I know via this channel.  Over this past year I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Andrea both on and offline!  This personal\professional relationship set in motion expanding into doing actual business with Walser.

I was in need of  new tires for the Excursion and I wanted to apply the Bona Bros model to this business transaction too! In a couple of conversations on twitter (forgot to screen shot those, sorry!) I mentioned I needed to get new tires for my Ford Excursion. Which is not a cheap!

Right away Andrea mentioned that Walser Auto Group had a deal going on buy 3 tires and get the 4th one free (first thought “hot damn” that is a good deal).  I started making plans to make an appointment to get my new tires.  Now the actual process took about four months to complete, but Andrea stuck with me the whole way.  She DM’d me the information of the nearest dealership to my house, which happened to be Hopkins Walser Dodge Chrysler Jeep at the time I would be scheduling. She also looked up my city (not creepy because Andrea and I know each other!) and gave me a google map including directions. She also gave me the name and number of the Service Manager at the dealership!  Information on a silver platter treatment was awesome!

When I eventually got the appointment scheduled I was closer to the Walser Buick GMC dealership in Bloomington, MN. This location also happened to be next to where Andrea Kopfmann is the Director of the Walser Foundation.

Since the Walser Buick GMC is right up the street from my current contract,  Andrea was kind enough to come pick me up and drive me back to the the dealership, because by the time my vehicle was done I was out of their normal curtiousity shuttle service that is provided by Walser (hopefully I did not set a precedent for you Andrea!).  This is where people relationships trump business hours and makes for long lasting impression of the brand based on the person and not the fancy designed logo on the outside of the building.

I will definitely return to Walser for my tire needs in the future (Customer Retention).  I will also keep them on the radar for other vehicle needs (Customer Development).  So in the course of doing one transaction based on one of their employees reaching out as themselves and getting to know a customer they sold 4 tires and gained a customer for future revenue and it costed a lot less than trying to get new customers through other activities TV, billboards, inserts in newspapers, and banner ads.

This example is yet another reason to let your employees shine for you where ever and whenever they can and it produces actual social media ROI.  First, you have to have foster a culture of empowerment (trust me 98% will succeed for you).  Second, start looking at the collective power of all your human accounts versus your logo’d accounts. Last, make sure your business is tying these real world social conversations of your people to bottom line business financials where possible.

Thank You Andrea for everything! Thank you Walser for empowering your employees to allow for these channels to development customers for the long term!


What Social Media ROI looks like with Bona Bros

So many folks struggle with the concept of “How do you actually get ROI from all this stuff on the twitters?”  Well I decided to show and explain how this looks like IRL (In Real Life).  So this story starts about a 2 years ago.  I have met many people, yes people not logos or brands, people.  By meeting these people I get the opportunity to be introduced to the companies they work for and with. Through these people I get to know the brands, then decide whether I like the products and or services their company provides.

So the first story started when starts when I bought my 2004 Ford Excursion last year.  I was looking for a reputable auto mechanic and like I normally do, sent out a tweet asking for recommendations and that is when Adria Richards recommended Bona Bros!  I had known Adria via twitter for a about a year prior to this recommendation and highly respected Adria and her work so I entertained the recommendation.  Adria did disclose she was currently working with Bona Bros with there website and social profiles (she still manages the technical side of their website).  This strengthened the recommendation, because I know Adria is very particular about the Clients she does work for.  So I brought my Excursion there for that complete service overhaul when you buy a new used vehicle.

I am so glad Adria recommended John, Matt, Jacque, and John Jr. of Bona Bros.  These people are absolutely top notch with the service, repair recommendations, honesty, and all around human touch they apply to their business.  This sold me on them for all my service needs for my Urban Assault Vehicle (#uav – now you know what this hashtag stands for).

During my 1st visit Matt indicated I may need a new ball joint in another 20-25,000 miles.  This assessment was spot on and why I brought it back to them for the repair.  Once again I was throughly impressed by the staff at Bona Bros about their attention to detail and explanations of some key repairs that will be upcoming.  This latest visit to get the ball joint repaired Matt indicated I may want to have the u-joint repaired on the drive shaft, but it was up to me.  Well let’s just say I did not listen which brings me to the series of tweets that happened while I was there the second time.

So this is what a simple request for a recommendation can turn into on social media channels.  So I encourage all businesses in the social channels to be on the look out for these small opportunities to make big impressions for the ever coveted return on investment.  Many of your customers are not all that impressed with your BIG marketing campaigns, but your customers do appreciate when your people help them on a small scale!  This is the difference maker social can do for small and medium sized businesses to get above the noise.

This is the first of three posts I will be doing on what Social Media ROI looks like in the real world.  The next two posts will be about  Walser Auto Group and Warners Stellian. These are all based on real life engagements and purchases.  In full disclosure nothing and I repeat nothing was done by these brands except having good business people and good businesses.

On a side note this interaction also included me encouraging Jacque Bona of all things to buy the book written by Olivier Blanchard called Social Media ROI, which I have not decided if that is irony or good business through social business channels…..


Join me at #ungeeked Chicago May 12th-14th & #RoastBrogan

You should attend unGeeked if you are responsible for developing or managing your company, organization or client’s social media, marketing, branding, advertising, on-line community, customer service, or recruiting campaigns.

  • Branding, Marketing and PR VPs, Directors and Managers
  • CEOs, CMOs, and VPs of mid to large companies
  • Not-for-Profit Organizations – Cause Marketing Professionals
  • Recruiters, HR and Legal Professionals
  • Community Managers, Social Media Managers
  • Customer Service, Sales and Advertising VPs, Directors and Managers

ungeeked_pointing

The format is “open discussion” The topics focus on enhancing, positioning and leveraging both the internal and external brand. Power Points are strongly discouraged and instead, on-going and intimate discussions among Discussion Leaders (speakers), regional leaders and attendees are encouraged.

chicago speakers

Who is speaking at unGeeked?
Spike Jones, Jason Falls, Barry Moltz, Heather Taylor, Anita Campbell, Olivier Blanchard, Hajj Flemings, Lou Hoffman, Chris Heuer, Amanda Hite and Jeff Willinger and more.

 

Full list of  Discussion Leaders (speakers)

Click to see list of Discussion Leaders

 

Scheduled Discussion Topics

Click to view Discussion Topics/Schedule

 

Registrations include one admission to

Celebrity Charity Roast honoring Chris Brogan

#RoastBrogan on twitter

 

brogan

 

Hostmaster: Jason Falls

When: May 11th, 2011Time: 5:30PM – 9PM –  Honors/Roast begins:6PM 

 

Roasting Panel: C.C.Chapman,  Dave Murray,  Jason Falls,  Liz Strauss and Troy Janisch

Join Chris Brogan and family, while his friends deliver comedic insults, banter, tongue-in-cheek criticism and outlandish stories along with heartwarming tributes to honor one of our most recognized social media thought leaders, while supporting the charity SitStayRead.

 

Roast and Auction to benefit Chicago Charity SitStayRead Literacy Program. Items for auction:

  • One lifetime membership to Exploring Social Media (valued at $300 per year) – from Social Media Explorer
  • Two certificates each entitling the bearer to a 6 bottle in-home wine tasting for up to 14 people with private wine adviser for 2 hours (valued at $350 each) – from Wines For Humanity
  • Two Chris Brogan T-Shirts from Mom Pop Pow

 

thebrandbuilder

Newest author, Olivier Blanchard is on the forefront of spearheading theSocial Media ROI initiative.
A copy of Social Media ROI is included with 3-day Registrations.

Click here to Register for unGeeked Chicago

 

SAVE When you RSVP before 4/30/2011

 

 

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When Influence Happens

So I was reviewing my google analytics, yup bad boy livin on the edge! I was in there last week asking the ever present question “How are my blog posts doing across the intertubes?”  One thing was glaringly obvious having someone ReTweet your blog post that has MAJOR influence on and offline will attract people to your site.  Now I am not saying you blog to have people with high online influence ReTweet or Share your posts across the internet.  What I am saying is if you are blogging you need to be plugged into the social dynamics of what happens online when this does happen!

So here is an example. I wrote a post about hiring a Business Analyst on the marketing team was blasphemy and it caught the attention of someone that is highly influential online and someone I highly respect. This post was done on July 2010 and based on the actions taken by this person remains high on my pageviews list.  The reason I use this as an example, is because it is the only post that has been sent through the intertubes by someone with some major online influence:

Blog Post Influence


Just to prove that this person has influence I screen grabbed this person’s Klout score:

Klout Score of Person RT's the above Blog Post

The reason I wanted to make this post is to give people something to think about when putting their content, ideas, discussions and they choose to ignore, not be aware of or bad mouth the current set of measurement tools. Are these measurement tools the end all be all, No.  Are they the most accurate, No.  But you have to pay attention when actual results happen!

Was I happy that this post got picked up and RT’d, Shoosh Yeah! I would be lying if I said No, sorry I like the oxytocin, we all do (no not that one this one)!  Has it resulted in the goal I had set out with when I started blogging (I still don’t consider myself a “blogger”) at this point no, but this has potentially helped, time will tell.  So I suggest take a few minutes and review your google analytics and see what action correlated to your highest pageviews.  A second suggestion is to use annotations to when you make blog posts, this makes for easier review later. You can also use it to leave some notes about actions that were taken that increased traffic tweets, RT’s, @replies, comments, status updates, etc.

Peer Index of RT'er

Are  you running a corporate blog within your online strategy?  Turn the business folks loose into google analytics, seriously!!!!! They will be a huge asset in the analysis of online activity captured in your google analytics. Give the business folks the opportunity to play around with the results from the actions they are taking (hopefully you have the business folks helping you blog, not just your community manager or social media manager) and this will further show some non-financial activities lead to true financial activities like sales, customer retention, reduced attrition rates, customer development, cost reductions in spend, etc.

On a side note this blog post was picked up organically.  I wrote it, tweeted it and it was read and RT’d by this person with no DM, email, or @reply to help out.  To me this proves you put out good content, people will share without being asked or paid to do so.




Have an IT Organization, Try this Model on for Size

This post was inspired by another que from discussing a topic via twitter.  So it seems that most mid-size, large, and super large companies are struggling with getting how to get IT and business resources closer to adapt to the  rapid nature of the market changes that happen both in business as well as in technology.  From what I have seen and what I going to explain is the financial model has to support this interaction model as well.  For the most part how a company is paying for things is one component that is getting in the way! The model I am going to explain is based on working inside of the model and not creating the model itself.  I am no way shape or form taking credit for the creation.

@ElliotRoss' Request

I do have experience seeing it work and work well and that is the perspective I am offering up. I have also seen many attempts to fix the financial problem at several companies since I have worked in this model and I have yet to seen anyone succeed. The major buzzwords that sometimes associate this financial model are transformation, matrixed organization, centers of excellence, and delivery centers.  The model we used had one concept: Internal Consulting Firm or Development Center to our own business.  The technology resources within the Development Center model were hired by the business to do a job, they do it, the business pays, and they move onto something else, period.

A key ingredient to the  Development Center is that it reports directly to the CTO or CIO of the company.  There are basically three layers management.

1. Director of the Development Center

2. Discipline Community Managers

3. Discipline Community Practitioners (BA, PM, Developers, UX, UI, IA, Data, DBA, Infrastructure Engineers, Engineers, etc)

This flat organization is focused on getting work done and improving the enterprise. I do believe this was one of the key and essential ingredients to our success, but the main course of the feast was the financial model. This model actually facilitated partnering and sharing the responsibility of delivery for the enterprise (not in a buzzword in a powerpoint deck way either). Yes it sounds funny to say a financial model was a main course of delivering success, but it is true.

I am going to dig into the financial model from a very high level. Before I start let me qualify what I mean by financial.  I mean financial by the concepts and not hardcore debits and credits, by no means am I a financial analyst or accounting specialist.  I would recommend if you do decide on this model find the people that love talking debits, credits, forecasting, and financial modeling and buy them lunch and coffee! This relationships will pay off huge (yes pun intended).


Build a Development Center

This is an organizational structure that houses all the disciplines within the development of technology.  The development center will have business analysts, project/program managers, engineers, data architects, technical architects, infrastructure architects, DBA’s, server technicians, developers, and one layer of management.  These development center resources are able to form a whole development team to partner with a business unit or multiple business units to build and implement technology. Once this technology is implemented the business unit takes over full support for the technology.

This puts the technology and business unit resources really close together to maximize total cost of ownership, time to market, and technology making business more efficient.  The development center resources can perform staff augmentation to business units that don’t need a whole development team, as well.  They just need a couple resources to enhance a current technology.  The development team is there to partner with the business unit technology staff.  The us and them is not tolerated in this model.  This clearly divides support and maintenance from new development.  Ask any IT professional when you have resources trying to do both it never works.  This model works because the Development team needs the business unit IT’s expertise, experiences and partnership to deliver on the mark products to that business unit!


Revenue and Expense

The Development Center financial operational model is revenue expense.  What this means is this unit must operate at zero.  The Development Center resources are charged to a project just like hiring an external contractor or consultant.  So if the Development Center resource works 40 hours per week at $100 per hour, the business unit pays the Development Center $4,000 to their revenue.  On the expense side the Development Center must pay out their own expenses training, salary, bonus, computer, etc.  If the expenses total $1,000.00 the Development Center is now sitting on $3,000 in revenue…..got to get back to $0.00!

Being that they are revenue expense they have to get back to money if they run a profit based on the resources billable hours.  How do they do this, you may be asking? Here is what we did. We called up the business that we technically over charged (I will get into why this is not a bad thing) and said “Hey we have $3,000 here we need to give back to you.” Business Unit: “Uh really, you want to give me money back?” DC: “Yes we do, it’s your money….we don’t sell anything so yeah we want to give it back.” Business Unit: “Oh wow this is awesome!” DC: “Should we set up some time to see what your next set of needs and problems there are to help with?” Business Unit: “Yes let’s do that I have a couple of ideas”  This sounds too good be true doesn’t it!  I was part of many of these conversations.  So how much the conversation changes if you are delivering expected results for your business!


The Art of the Financial Model:

The art of the financial model will start creating collaboration, sharing, and communities of practice! The  Business Unit and Development Center technology people proactively and reactively immerse themselves into communities to make each other better (this is not easy and you need some resources dedicated to making this happen).  There is no “us and them” there is just “we” deliver technology solutions for making the enterprise work well and in some cases gain competitive advantage in different markets whether that be talent acquisition or not bleeding talent, drive customers to purchase based on allowing the technology the get the consumer closer to the enterprise.  In most cases you can not train this, you hire for it if you do not have it.  This could mean a complete overhaul of resources.  I know that sounds painful, but how less painful and costly is your current model?


Competitive Rates

Yes the Development resources have bill rates just like the consultants and contractors outside the organization.  At the beginning of the year the Development Center is given a budget to cover the resources expenses; including assets, training, and overhead of management (they are not billable).  Each discipline was assigned a bill rate that was reflective of their role, skill set and experience.  The manager of that discipline was responsible for finding work for their resources and bill them out to cover the expense budget allotted to them at the beginning of the year.

This part of the model was always the relationship building part with our business units.  At the beginning of the year we would have Service Fair.  All the business units would come in and meet all the resources from the Development Center.  The Business Units would explain the types of problems and initiatives they have needs for within that year and how much of each service they would like to buy to get these problems or initiatives implemented.

At the end of the fair we would all get together and figure out how we get back to $0.00 with all the services we sold and just like clockwork, every year the answer was “Uh Oh we do not have enough services to cover our expenses!” It became quite comical because we would all freak out and think wow we run RED for 6 mos they are going to shut us down!  This is not a bad way of thinking, it keeps the fire burning trust me, a little pressure to perform is not a bad thing!  Low and behold by June we are typically $10 to $15 million in the BLACK.  This was not because of poor planning or estimating, it is just software development life-cycles realities.  Sometimes your on and sometimes your off, but with good partnerships and real collaborative financial efforts what is produced everyone wins.


This model is a framework and not an end all be all to the solution.  This framework can be dropped into just about any company and any industry, but the art of the financial model comes from the people delivering and executing technology to make the business more efficient and some cases gain competitive advantage.

Being that more and more companies are realizing Software as a Service and Platform as a Service is a more cost effective, secure and gets them back to running their business and not upgrades or a software factories (you should not be a software factory unless you are selling software). The Development Center financial model helps facilitate the implementation and management of these new ways businesses should be running their technology landscape.

I think without this organizational and financial structure implementing the above mentioned technologies can and will run into many road blocks and cost overruns (I have seen it!).  Because of the flexibility the Development Center offers of tying project teams to solving a problem or innovating and not to an organizational structure, they can solve or innovate and move on.  A business unit does not have to pay for 50 people to build, implement, and support because they do not have to with this model.

So next time you are wondering how can I solve my total cost of ownership of technology for my business, implement the  Development Center financial and resource model, your wallet, business, and investors will love you for it!


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