Mission CrITical

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A blog exploring and addressing issues in the association technology space


The Importance of Aligning Expectations


In my experience on many software projects over the years, I believe that how smoothly any given project goes can ultimately be linked back to the alignment of expectations across all project stakeholders. On a well-aligned team, everyone is aware of and has bought into the project, it’s history, goals, individual responsibilities, and relationships. A good illustration of aligning project goals is the Triple Constraints model in which a project must choose two of three aspects – good, fast, or cheap.


If you’ll permit me to stereotype, I’ll give an example. On a hypothetical project you have business units or customers that expect good, fast, and cheap or different expectations which are the most important attributes on which to focus. The project managers want to be on-time and under-budget, so they expect fast and cheap. And the developers are too focused on quality to be bothered with fast or cheap. Left alone, each individual will make decisions to satisfy their perspective of the project. 


The real-world is rarely this transparent however. The symptoms of misaligned expectations show up in the conversations between team members. Listen for these words and phrases:


  • Would it be easy to...
  • It doesn’t seem that hard…
  • When will … be done?
  • If you want to do it right…
  • Rewrite
  • Scope Creep
  • Technical Debt
  • Eye Rolling

To stay on the same page, individuals on a team need to be introspective about the conversations they’re having and the decisions they’re making. Disagreements can be great because they bring more ideas to the table, but you should debate to understand or to educate instead of to win. When debating about a project, do not immediately dismiss the ideas of others; be aware of every decision you make – especially if you make it in isolation. Why does that decision make sense for this project? It surprises me how often my gut reaction, although reasonable, is inappropriate for a particular project.


To be well aligned, every project needs a clear leader who listens and understands individual opinions, yet makes project level decisions to direct the team as a whole. The project leader’s responsibilities are primarily to establish and continually reinforce the project goals.


  • Unresolved conflicts should be quickly identified and resolved with an emphasis on reinforcing the project’s goal.
  • Make course corrections visible.
  • Focus your team on only what is required.

Help your team to recognize that many great ideas go unused, do not be discouraging though. Always tie the reasons for a forgone idea back to the project’s goals. While someone’s reasoning may be completely factual, those facts may not support the project’s success. 


It may be more art than science, but a well-aligned team has greater momentum and is much more enjoyable to work with. Giving everyone the same target and encouraging self-awareness and flexibility are great starts for encouraging success and delight on every project.


EFFECTIVE CONTENT DELIVERY, Part 2: Breaking the Monotony


Continuing our theme of Everyday Usability, Part 2 of our mini-series on Effective Content Delivery deals with breaking up the monotony of text in the body of your message. You can read Part 1 of the series, "Choosing Your Words", here.


The Problem


How many emails, blog posts, presentations, or other messages have you read (or written!) where huge chunks of text litter the screen, sometimes not even breaking thoughts into separate paragraphs?


The tendency is to try to provide as much detail as possible so everyone has all of the facts, and to do so quickly in order to get the information into the user’s hands as soon as possible—especially if a key decision needs to be made in a hurry.


Why it’s a Problem


Users don’t read large blocks of text effectively – as we discussed in Part 1 of this series - even if it’s a captive audience. Users skim and look at the beginning of content sections for information carrying words to clue them in on what each section is about, and then dive deeper on parts that apply to or interest them.


Worse yet is when the content is full of technical or industry-heavy jargon. It slows the reader down and forces them to re-read sections of your message. Having large blocks of unformatted text makes it even harder for the reader to find and/or keep their place when they are re-reading sections or trying to understand a technical message.


An Example of a Monotonous Message


Take this simple example of a completely fictitious email to a collection of internal association staff members from “Bruce”, which he typed up at the last minute on Thursday trying to get the information to people as quickly as possible (while still being polite and asking for their help):


“Hi everyone! As you all know, next Monday we’re hosting several committee members on-site for a lunch meeting discussing ideas to improve member retention and generation, and we need several people to help out with the preparations. The lunch starts at noon and lasts an hour (held in Conference Room A) but we need all volunteers to report 45 minutes early to ensure preparations go smoothly. We’ll meet in the conference room and coordinate from there. We’re looking for volunteers to setup the conference room with additional tables and chairs, coordinate logistics for putting in place the beverages and hors d’oeuvres that are being catered, ensure committee members are given information packets at the meeting, and put together the packets beforehand, take notes and minutes during the meeting, clean up the tables, chairs and food after the meeting, and coordinate the tech presentation with the projectors and other related hardware and software. Please let me know which task or tasks you’re available to assist with by 10am Friday so we can coordinate and fill in any gaps. Thanks in advance and sorry for the late notice! - Bruce”


Take a moment to reflect on the example then ask yourself these questions:

  • How easy was that to follow?
  • Do you know right away why you’re receiving the email?
  • Can you close your eyes after only reading it once or twice and remember the different tasks they need help with and when the deadline is to sign up?
  • What about on Monday morning when you can’t remember when or where you need to report early—how quickly can you find that information when you re-read the message?

It’s pretty obvious there are some considerable problems with the monotony of this message. Just imagine if it had technical jargon or spelling mistakes as well!


The Solution


We can combat the problem with some really simple, time-honored techniques:


  • Break the message into paragraphs of separate thoughts appropriately.
  • Use bulleted lists for any collection of ideas with more than three items or any collection where the items are more than a handful of words each.
  • Use numbered lists for sequential steps
  • Add sparse, appropriate, but eye-catching imagery such as charts, relevant stock photography, logos, etc.
  • Include side notes literally to the side, not as uniform text muddled in the middle of your message.

None of these items are ground-breaking ideas; the key is to take the extra few minutes to implement them and review your message before actively conveying it to your audience. In the long run the small amount of extra time and effort will pay dividends with a more engaged audience receiving a clearer message.


A Formatted Example


“Good morning! Please let me know ASAP if you’re available to help with the following upcoming event:

On-Site Membership Retention and Generation Committee Meeting

Next Monday, {date}

12:00pm - 1pm, Conference Room A


Volunteers are needed for the following tasks:

  • Setup tables and chairs in the conference room
  • Coordinate catered beverages and hors d’oeuvres
  • Fill and hand out information packets for attendees
  • Provide technical assistance with projectors, etc.
  • Take notes and minutes during the meeting
  • Clean up

Volunteers should report to the conference room a minimum of 45 minutes prior to the meeting.


Please respond by 10am Friday if you’re available to help.


Thanks!


Bruce"


 

Which version did you find easier to read? Which version do you think you’re likely to get better responses from?


Notice the actual content of the message really hasn’t changed and all of the important information is included. It’s all in the presentation of the information, breaking the monotony into readable bits of relevant information.


One last, more important question: this example was for a simple internal memo—how much more important is the formatting of messages you send to your association’s members?


To Be Continued...

In the next installment of the five part mini-series… Part 3: Calming the Cognitive Noise.


Discussion


Tell us what you think!


  • Have you caught yourself, either recently or thinking back, writing large chunks of text and sending it along without taking the time to break it up and really consider how to convey it?
  • What emails, newsletters, blog posts, flyers, or presentations have you seen recently that were really monotonous and what could have been done to improve the message’s delivery?

Gravity: Bringing Business Continuity Down to Earth

Courtesy of Warner Bros.


Since the arrival of my twin girls this year, my wife and I rarely get to see movies - let alone in the theater. Recently, that elusive date night suddenly became available, and we happily traded diapers and burp cloths for dinner and a movie – “Gravity.” No spoilers here - I promise - however, “Gravity” must be seen in 3D and on an offensively gigantic screen. The experience is so immersive and visceral, I found myself empathetically enduring the unimaginable horrors of Dr. Stone’s terrifying predicament. It reminded me how normal, day-to-day operations can quickly escalate into a disastrous situation.

 

Whether disasters happen in space or down here on earth, it is critical that organizations be prepared to handle them appropriately and that preparation begins with business continuity planning. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, one out of four businesses that experience a data loss never reopen.


Stunningly scary, but even more alarming is that 90% of businesses struck by disaster close after two years. Before I offer my explanation to this statistic, let me clarify the difference between business continuity and disaster recovery. Business continuity (BC) refers to keeping business operations working before, during, and after a disaster. Disaster recovery (DR), a subset of BC, focuses on immediate restoration of operations after a disaster such as alternate power and IT infrastructure.

 

Business continuity and disaster recovery have received a lot of emphasis lately due to East Coast hurricanes, Midwest tornado outbreaks, and Colorado floods and fires. Many organizations and businesses are struggling to rebuild and operate after these tragedies. Anything that causes a disruption to your organization’s business processes should be considered a disaster, ranging from natural disasters to burglary, heavy rain, and even power outages. Could your organization maintain continuity after a disaster? Where would your employees go? How would you communicate with vendors, partners, and members?


Since non-profit organizations place a priority on member and client needs, it becomes difficult to invest time and resources toward BC planning. In fact, a 2007 study by Blanke & McGrady indicated that 60% of nonprofit organizations had a BC/DR plan in place. Of the organizations that had a plan, only 13% had reviewed, updated, and tested the plan in the last twelve months. Developing a plan is a good thing, but it should never end there. It must be fully implemented, frequently improved upon, and firmly internalized within the organization.

 

Just as “Gravity’s” Dr. Stone would have been much better off with a contingency plan (although date night would have been less exciting), your organization would also be in a better position with a business continuity plan. If your organization does not have one, I encourage you to start one or review the one you have. There are a plethora of partners and resources available to help you get started. Precise and preemptive business continuity planning is critical for your organization to continue its mission and offer uninterrupted services to your members and clients, perhaps when they need you the most.


Join our conversation. Comment below in response to the following:


1. What’s the most important business operation in your organization?

2. Do you have a business continuity plan? If so, how often do you test it?


The CIO Value Proposition

Association executives always need to keep one eye on the bottom line. With technology playing a growing role throughout organizations, the Chief Information Officer provides a unique value proposition that combines innovate product and service development with efficiency improvement and cost reduction.

 

Some may ask how, specifically, the CIO brings this value proposition to fruition, so here is an overview of ways in which the CIO can significantly affect the bottom line. This list is by no means exhaustive, but hopefully provides a starting point for thought and discussion.

 

Provide a full strategic view of the organization

Technology is now heavily embedded in every business unit of the association - from membership to marketing and conferences to advocacy, the systems, processes, and data are a core element of each department's efficacy. The CIO carries an unusually broad and deep holistic understanding of what is driving the organization, so it makes sense that they should be the nexus of this information. This grasp is invaluable during strategic discussions, especially when combined with the CIO's inherent knowledge of disruption and innovation.

 

A perfect real world example of this comes from the exploding mobile opportunity. Associations are still struggling with mobile - what the market looks like, what it means to their organization, how it could affect their products and services. An effective CIO can not only answer all those questions, they can also provide an even higher level of synergy - how the mobile market can be leveraged by your organization to evolve and distribute your products and services. In leading development of an organizational mobile strategy, the CIO can collaborate with  business units to identify their needs and opportunities, and then drive integrated, scalable  solutions that best meet those needs. 

 

Provide a comprehensive understanding of the organization's business operations

In addition to the strategic view, the CIO has a comprehensive tactical view of the organization, which can be equally as valuable. Every decision an organization makes has the potential to dramatically effect processes and people in other business units. Being able to predict many of these consequences, weigh them as part of the decision making process, and proactively plan the transition to minimize negative impact is an essential part of successful change management.

 

The CIO is also highly aware of the close relationship between strategic and tactical elements. This enables them to identify tactical objectives that will support a strategic goal and then implement a plan to meet those objectives. In this way, the CIO straddles two domains and provides value in both.

 

Deep knowledge of internal and external relationships

Being able to understand relationships at both the macro and micro level is a powerful thing. I always think of relationships as having three categories - people, systems, and data. System relationships are generally internal (one system integrating with another), while both people and data relationships can exist both internally and externally.

 

Once established, all three types of relationships provide the organization with a strong foundation for growth, product development, introspection, and innovation. Without these relationships, however, organizations are destined to struggle. A shortage in system relationships will lead to silos, disorganization, data discrepancies, uninformed decision making, and adoption issues.

 

An effective CIO has mastery of all the relationship types, which they then leverage for improved planning, operations, and decision making.

 

Transition to a digital organization

Associations have slowly accepted the digital paradigm - expectations are now that any and all information will be available digitally, from conference apps to member directories to distance education. From social to mobile to making well informed, data driven decisions, the CIO plays a critical leadership role in this transformation.

 

CIO's are uniquely positioned to help an organization pivot towards a digital stance. The initial phase, based around strategic planning and board discussion, benefits from the CIO's knowledge of the association technology landscape, potential offerings and solutions, and insight into the organizational priorities for the transition. As the initiative splits off into smaller projects, these will each require needs assessment, value judgments, potentially vendor selection and management, and implementation expertise.


Effective Content Delivery, Part 1: Choosing Your Words

Everyday Usability

In this five part mini-series on Everyday Usability, we’ll discuss strategies that everyone in your association can use to effectively convey information to your members (or other audiences), allowing the reader to quickly and easily digest your message, understand its purpose, take actions or make decisions based on it, and find key parts of the message again later when re-reading the information.

Connecting the Dots

There are three main commonalities to be found surrounding association communications.

  1. They all relate to people in and around an association trying to consume information in some manner or another
  2. The way the information is presented is crucial to the success of reaching its target effectively
  3. As the communicator, regardless of your role within the association or the audience of your message, it’s your job to get it right

You don’t have to be a user experience expert to realize the simple truth about reaching your user base: if they can’t digest the information you’re providing with relative clarity and minimal eye strain, your content is effectively lost. You don’t want to force your readers to hunt through or re-read large chunks of indiscernible information, or worse to simply give up in frustration.

Usability Strategies to the Rescue

There are five simple usability strategies that, when combined, form a basis of principles for effectively delivering electronic content.

Here, in Part One, we’ll discuss the first of the five content usability principles, choosing your words, and pick up with the other four principles in subsequent posts in this Mission CrITical mini-series on Everyday Usability.

Usability Strategy 1: Choosing Your Words

The way we organize our content has a huge impact on how much of it our audience is likely to read. If you think even a decent percentage of your audience is going to read your entire content piece, top to bottom, left to right, word for word, then please contact me personally; I own a well-known bridge in San Francisco I’m looking to sell at a great price for the right buyer... Chances are, you’ve even skipped around in this article, maybe even without realizing it! That’s human nature; it’s how our minds map, decipher, and prioritize information. The busier and more distracted we are, or the less engaged we are in the subject matter, the less likely we are to comb through something explicitly and soak it all in.

Jakob Nielson of the Nielsen Norman Group, a well renowned usability expert, conducted an eye tracking study on how users looked at thousands of Web pages.

Findings

Nielsen’s group found a few key similarities among the participants that form what they deemed the dominant reading pattern, or “F” shaped reading pattern:

  1. Reading horizontally from the upper left
  2. Moving down the page slightly and across in a secondary horizontal movement
  3. Scanning vertically along the left side, noting keywords or emphasized text


Implications

So what do the research findings mean for content writers/providers, or even the everyday Joe composing a long email to his colleagues or higher-ups?

  • Your first impression — your heading and the first few paragraphs — are the most important because they’re the most likely to be read thoroughly.
  • Make sure to get a brief but well-worded summarization in early to get across the main point you’re conveying and why it matters to the user.
  • Follow that up with supporting information, starting text groupings with information carrying words and loading your sentences on the front-end with the point you’re trying to get across.
  • Use sub headings appropriately (yes, even in long emails) to maximize skimming effectiveness.

Get your point across early and try to keep the user’s attention throughout by giving them keywords early in the subsequent headings, lists, and paragraphs. This helps get the reader’s attention and makes rereading for specific content easier.

To Be Continued

In the next installment of the five part mini-series… Part 2: Breaking the Monotony.

Discussion

Tell us what you think!

  • Have you noticed yourself following the “F” shaped reading pattern Nielsen and his team discovered?
  • What experiences have you had with good (or bad) content usability, either within your association or out? (Please feel free to change the names to protect the offenders’ identity.)

Game of Thrones: Association Edition


Part of the "leadership team" from HBO's Game of Thrones: Grand Maester Pycelle - Small Council Member/Senior Management, Tyrion Lannister - Hand of the King/COO, Varys - Small Council Member/Senior Management, Petyr Baelish (Littlefinger) - Minister of Coin/CFO


I admit it. My wife and I signed up for HBO for one awesome reason - Game of Thrones. Sure, we occasionally watch a movie, but the original HBO value proposition was entirely based upon getting to watch Game of Thrones once a week.

 

As I was listening to an association colleague vent the other day, I said, "Sometimes the political machinations in an association are worse than Game of Thrones!" I thought about it again later that night, and realized my joke actually held up surprisingly well.

 

Thus, I present: Game of Thrones: Association edition.

 

Brief disclaimer- there may be some minor spoilers below if you haven't watched the series/read the books and intend to do so.

 

The association CEO is like The King - they make all the big decisions, and generally have a somewhat larger than life persona. The CEO has significant power, but that power is balanced by senior management and the Board. The CEO is the standard bearer for the organization (kingdom), and is also the primary driver of culture.

 

The association COO equates to The Hand of the King - managing day to day operations, taking care of a thousand small tasks, and generally executing on the missives from the top. Without the Hand, things grind to a halt, and nothing works right. The COO also often acts as a liaison between the CEO and senior management.

 

Senior Management's counterpart is the Small Council - leaders of their respective areas coming together to agree upon strategy and direction. This group is always an interesting study, as there are often shifting alliances, conflicting priorities, and vigorous debates around the best plan of action. It is worth noting that association senior management units generally contain somewhat less backstabbing and assassination attempts than their Game of Thrones counterpart.

 

The association CFO is very much like the Minister of Coin - responsible for the finances of the entity, and generally the one holding the purse strings. They balance the books, fund major initiatives, and have their fingers in basically everything.

 

The Board's Westeros equivalent would be the Lords - powerful individuals, heavily vested in the success of the enterprise, and of varied and often dissenting opinions on the best path forward. The Board and the CEO have a complex and nuanced relationship that can even become contentious. Sometimes members of the Board will approach the COO and/or members of the senior management team in an attempt to advance specific agendas.

 

I'm sure I missed some additional parallels - how is your association like an episode of Game of Thrones?


Governance and the 60/40 Rule



When an organization is starting a technology-focused business project, it is easy to become fixated on the technology component as it is generally new, exciting, loaded with sparkly features, and much more interesting than the processes and governance that will surround it.

The governance aspect is more laborious, but oh boy is it important.

Take, for example, a decision to implement a new content management system (CMS) and redesign a website. In a case like this, I would apply what I think of as the 60/40 rule - 60% of the time and effort on this project should be spent on the governance side, 40% on the system selection and implementation.

But look! The new CMS makes smoothies, fries bacon, and often has cake at the kickoff meeting! Let's face it, watching the demos for the new system is way more entertaining than discussing in painstaking detail who is going to be responsible for curating which content, what the overall content strategy is, crafting a website purpose statement, prioritizing elements and functions, integrating a marketing strategy, and so on.

That being said, there are any number of systems that will probably meet 90% of your organization's requirements, and the vendors providing those systems have years of experience doing nothing but implementing them for associations like yours. Even a quick risk assessment will tell you that this is not the element that is most likely to fail, so this should not be the main focus of your time and effort.

It's always easy to spend more time on the fun stuff, gloss over the nitty-gritty governance discussions, and hope that whatever process is currently in place will hold up in the new world, but that's exactly the approach that causes these endeavors to fail.

So take the time, do the planning, and make sure you have your governance bases covered. Strategy, impact assessments, training, ongoing education, ownership conversations - they're all just as, if not more important, than the platform you select.

Quick Tips:

  • Make sure you have all the appropriate stakeholders participating early in the process. Err on the side of inclusion rather than being selective; it may slow the process a bit, but it pays back later when folks feel they have been heard and aren’t lobbing grenades over the wall.
  • Identify challenges and potentially difficult conversations early on and then HAVE THEM. Engage the issues directly rather than hoping they will go away.
  • Make sure the process and end results are well documented.


Complacency


As a technology professional, one issue I often run into is organizational complacency.

In this case, I'm defining complacency as being happy with the status quo, doing things a certain way because “they've always been done that way,” choosing the path of least resistance rather than potentially ruffling feathers or pushing boundaries.

Many organizations fall into the category of “risk averse,” and that can lead to complacency.

Technology, in general, is a disruptive force. Technology often initiates change; its growth is driven by market forces beyond our control, and it allows - and sometimes forces - us to be wildly innovative.

I think this is one reason why technology is a sore spot - it is constantly evolving, which forces management to consider process, resource, and strategy questions that can be uncomfortable. Many organizations avoid these conversations all together, and subsequently avoid making the sometimes challenging, but ultimately worthwhile, decisions that technology, and the changes it brings, necessitate. This is what I mean by complacency, and viewed in this light, it is clear how it can be so damaging.

Complacency is a lot like thirst. We all know it's best to drink water before you feel thirsty, as the feeling of thirst is a symptom of already being dehydrated. Similarly, organizations should disrupt and innovate before their business is in crisis - many times, the crisis is a symptom of complacency.

I encourage executives to spend more time considering this aspect of their culture. Does your organization view disruption as a positive thing, or are employees expected to perform the ten step operation exactly as it has always been performed, with deviation (and possible evolution) being frowned upon? Are staff given the time and leeway to not only contemplate the business, but also share their thoughts and ideas in a non-threatening environment, or is all innovation fostered by group brainstorming sessions that produce very little?

In the end, the laws of inertia still apply - objects at rest tend to stay at rest, and objects in motion tend to stay in motion. A great teacher of mine once told me, “You're either moving forward or you're moving backwards - there is no standing still.” I think that's applicable here.

Many organizations may think they're standing still, but in actuality they're being left behind.


IT Strategy Bootcamp



I brought home many things from the ASAE Annual Meeting in Atlanta this year, but probably the most important was a new perspective on how we can better provide IT services to the association community.

At the conference, I spoke with a number of mid-size association executives who shared the same message: their organizations are badly behind the technology curve. They have issues that need to be addressed. They may be about to put more money into a platform or application they don't like in an effort to resolve a myriad of issues without really understanding why they are doing it or what alternative paths might look like. They may be unhappy with an existing platform or vendor - or both, but the potential pain and risk of adopting something new are creating a “deer in the headlights” scenario.

These organizations aren't sure where to start. They may be unhappy with an existing practice or process, but aren't sure how to make it better.

The IT consulting space has generally recommended that the best course of action in these situations is to enter into a full technology assessment – which is a significant undertaking. Until very recently, I was also making this recommendation. In retrospect, I think it may overkill, as the full assessment can easily turn into drinking from the fire hose. In this case, I think baby steps may be the best approach.

So that's the genesis story behind OTI's newest offering: the two day IT Strategy Bootcamp. Our IT strategists come to your organization for two days of meetings, and you emerge with a firm understanding of your existing IT capabilities and a vision for the future technology state of the organization.

Deliverables include a strategic IT report and roadmap document specifically tailored for your organization as well as an executive summary to share with your Board.

We wanted to make this available specifically to smaller associations so we've priced it at $4900 for organizations with less than 25 staff. Old Town IT can scale the IT Strategy Bootcamp so it’s appropriate for larger organizations as well.

For more details please visit our website or contact me directly at thad [at] oldtownit.com if you'd like details.


Fast Movin'



In the last few weeks, Old Town IT has celebrated some major milestones: our ranking for the second year in a row on Inc. magazine’s list of the 500 fastest growing companies in the U.S., a move into our new headquarters office in Alexandria, Virginia, and the launch of our exciting mobile Point of Sale and Member Directory products.

 

The preparations to move our Virginia office for the third time in four years have prompted a lot of reflection about what has transpired to bring us here. I often tell the team that there are no shortcuts to success. Our commitment to quality often means going above and beyond; team members make a commitment to constantly strive for “better,” so our work sometimes requires nights and weekends.

 

Here’s a brief retrospective on how we’ve grown Old Town IT into the company it is today:

 

In 2007, after making the bold choice to walk away from gainful employment, the early days were an exercise in fiscal conservation - so naturally, our first office was a loft in the guest room. A/C didn’t make it up there, and neither did the Internet! We had to drill holes in the floor to string up CAT5 from the router below. The warm glow of four computers made working in the peak of August toasty warm!



 

Eventually my kids found the loft space, rendering it untenable - so Old Town IT rented a room in the back of the local dry cleaner in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria as our first official office. In practice, that office didn’t have A/C either, and the proprietors trekked through periodically with the recently pressed laundry of Del Ray residents. Our first Missouri office was equally charming, situated in the back room of a tanning salon, across the hall from the “fake ‘n bake.”

 

Business kept coming in, and we needed to hire. This was a key transition for us as these brave early adopters became the nucleus of the OTI team: David Schlum, Laura Gates, Geoff Williams, and Laura Silberman.

 

Old Town IT leased a new-construction office space in Del Ray to accommodate our growing team, but construction took longer to complete than planned (doesn’t it always?) so we worked from my dining room table and then from a temporary executive suite in Old Town Alexandria.




We moved into our Del Ray office right before Thanksgiving of 2010. Six busy months later, OTI secured the adjacent space, doubling our square footage.




Today, Old Town IT is headquartered in Class A office space in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. The building features a grand marble entry, reception desk, a gym, Starbucks and FedEx in the facility – the whole enchilada. Our new office accommodates our growing team with a unique configuration that allows for personal workstations as well as collaboration spaces, call rooms and conference rooms, even a web-cam video feed connecting the two offices. The high-tech key-card security system took some getting used to, but fortunately we are quick learners and the authorities have only been summoned twice so far!




Our client list has grown to more than 100 distinguished organizations who trust and rely on Old Town IT to deliver solutions that keep their business humming. We’ve built OTI on the tenets of our unwavering commitments to providing stellar customer service and building superior technology solutions. We know that our success would not have been possible without the unwavering support of our client partners, and we also know that we are only as good as our last deliverable. We will not rest on our laurels.

 

Over the past three years, Old Town IT has grown revenues 1,101% and earned a ranking of 405 on Inc. magazine’s 2013 list of the fastest growing private companies in the United States. We are the only technology firm headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia to be included on the Inc. 500 listing.

 

50 people now call themselves OTIers in the DC Metro region, Missouri, Florida, Ohio, Washington State, and California. We opened our new Springfield, Missouri office in 2011, and it houses a growing team of software engineers, including a research and development team who are dedicated to developing cutting-edge mobile solutions. We are bringing products to market and our professional services team continues to serve some of the most prestigious organizations in the association sector.

 

Despite the rapid growth and fast pace of change, there’s one thing I know for sure – working from fancier office space will not change us; we will continue to throw ourselves into our work, going above and beyond and striving to deliver surprise and delight every day. And while we have not taken shortcuts, we sure have broken a few speed limits along the way.


 

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