Planning began in 2009. Through a series of acquisitions and aggressive organic growth this Federal Contractor has gone from startup to a $250 Million/year business with 1,100 employees in 3 years. Their story is a testament to solid planning and knowing how you will execute before the tornado comes. It has been very cool to be part of this ride from the initial planning stages. Here is their story…
In 2009, the CEO set very aggressive goals to build a big business quickly. They began planning. A key part of the plan was the infrastructure, systems, and processes to enable very rapid growth, keep costs down, and drive productivity. They would have no time for experimentation – this was about execution on a business strategy. The target was to establish an agile infrastructure that could grow to support a $500m business.
Building this infrastructure fell on their seasoned CIO and a few key IT experts who had done it before. In particular, they had helped build a Federal Government Contractor business before and leveraged a model of CorasWorks on SharePoint to deliver what they needed. But, this time, the IT team could do it better and leverage new tools, methods, and capabilities. To succeed, they had to be better.
They planned to rent hosted services online and build out their initial production environment to be operational after the first acquisition Their objective was to create a unified, seamless, virtual work environment where employees, customers, and partners could all work together. The key is that they understood how to manage the security of the environment while also eliminating the seams of the workplace (organizationally and technically).
The plan was that as they acquired companies and contracts these would be integrated into the environment – kind of like a workplace vortex. As an example of the detail of planning, early on they decided that the environment would fully support the use of tablets (iPads primarily) for users to be able to see, contribute, and access information when working on premise or outside.
The Beginning of Execution
After the acquisitions started they migrated the initial hosted environment into a Private Cloud environment that they had custom designed. This environment uses VMware with massive storage and fantastic connectivity.
At the core is a new Intranet running on SharePoint. But, theirs goes far beyond the norm. In effect, it is a virtual, unified, seamless work environment – their Federal Contractor workplace. It is powered by CorasWorks that provides the user experience and the glue to enable people to see, contribute, and act from wherever they work. This environment is a blend of information and all of the various work processes that are required by a Federal Contractor. Powered by CorasWorks and some other secret sauce their workplace is integrated with their external ERP and CRM (from Deltek) and additional enterprise systems.
Growth and Integration
There are two types of growth: acquisition and internal growth.
Each new company acquired gets merged into the work environment. This contractor does not leave them as separate operating units. Instead it merges the people, information, and processes into their organization. It acquires companies that will be a fit for their integrated model and expand their competencies as they grow. There is one company, with one culture, and one system. No redundancies, no loss of productivity to organization or system seams – a focus on win and deliver business and driving customer value.
They are also aggressive with contract acquisition. For instance, in the last 2 years, they have added four new IDIQs as a Prime Contractor. These new vehicles are managed using CorasWorks as part of their work environment. They manage the task orders, proposal responses, teaming partners, all the way through to delivery and overall program management.
They started with 1-2 Terabytes of active SharePoint data. In 2012, they completed the upgrade from SharePoint 2007 to SharePoint 2010 in a month without major issues. Again, this was possible because of comprehensive planning back in 2009 that included the design of an architecture and inclusion of vendors that support this type of evolution. (CW Technote: When they started they built their workplace using CorasWorks v11 running on SP2007. When they migrated to SP2010 they did not even have to install a new version of CorasWorks, since the same v11 runs on both SP2007 and SP2010).
Their work environment evolves every month. They continue to not just get bigger, but, better. For instance, they are building a new data-smart system leveraging InfoPath forms and workflow to streamline and simplify operations. Most information now becomes PDFs, including forms in processes. This drives a level of consistency that is unusual which supports productivity.
This customer has done an exceptional job at building their business and providing an optimized environment to support growth, execution and evolution. The fact that they had done the job before is critical. Mind you, while they used CorasWorks on SharePoint before, it was in the days of SharePoint 2003, circa 2005. Their current approach is much more holistic, integrated, current (using the latest and greatest) and just plan cooler (imagine their exec meetings where everyone is on an iPad with instant access to shared information).
As to the overall business model and workplace approach – they’ve set another new bar for competition. For a mid-size federal contractor with a consistent set of service-based contracts, this is an optimal approach. Instead of lots of separate siloes of work and organizations, they’ve shown how you can do it all in an integrated workplace run within your dynamic private cloud. The way that they mapped their agile infrastructure, systems, and policies to their business strategy is just plain stellar. And, they are setup to continually innovate – which they do. The result is accelerated revenue growth, lower costs, and increased productivity. It is a model that is working and that appears will take them to their objective of $500m in revenue within 5 years.