TECHVibe Radio – the media outlet for the Pittsburgh Technology Council – continues their Neighborhood Tour with a stop by our offices on the 32nd floor of PPG One.
They spent the tour talking to leaders from SDLC Partners, DDI and HM Health Solutions with the goal of finding out how SDLC Partners has built a world-class consultancy helping regional and national organizations across industries bring the best of technology to bear on their strategic, transformational goals.
View a snippet of the session here or read the highlights below.
Interview One: The Foundation for Growth
Chris Simchick, CEO, and Scott Barnyak, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer, co-founders of SDLC Partners
Q: What does SDLC Partners do?
A: We help customers achieve strategic, technical, and market goals through custom digital solutions and the transformation that comes along with them.
Q: How have you grown so much over the last 14 years – now close to 500 employees?
A: We’ve been very “planful” and we’ve built an SDLC Difference at our core that is rooted in a highly collaborative, practical, and performance-focused philosophy and practice. We invest in IP and drive growth based not only on what we hear from the market, but from our Gartner relationship and the voice of our customers.
We also pay particular attention to the balance between what we do every day and how we innovate. This is what has helped us sustain and grow over the last 14 years.
At the heart of all we do, we enable performance for ourselves and our clients and we believe that mastering execution is the route to building sustainable growth year-over-year, as trends and tech evolve.
Q: What are you doing to maximize the value that you bring to your clients?
A: There are 4 strategies that come to mind and have been a focus for us in recent years:
- We’ve been using strategic planning and the “good to great” model for the last 7-8 years. Key to our success has been keeping committed to executive and team communication and recurring meetings that are hyper-focused.
- We invest in innovating ourselves and delivering consistent excellence to our clients through our mantra “improve – develop – disrupt.” It keeps us focused on continuous improvement and staying nimble to what clients and the market wants.
- Customers are figuring out what they need to do now and in the future. Intelligent automation is a big part of that and we seized the opportunity last year and created our first in a series of innovation labs, starting with Robotic Process Automation and selecting our first formal vendor-partnership with UiPath. You’ll learn more about the potential RPA in Paul’s interview.
- We created an internal startup last year called CyLumena. We saw the critical need for greater information security to deliver on the promise of digital technologies, among others. As entrepreneurs, it was a natural evolution to create our own data and cyber security firm. In less than a year, we’ve grown CyLumena to a team of nearly 40 security professionals, as well as achieved HITRUST CSF certification.
Interview Two: Developing Employees Proactively
Ramon Fontaine, Leadership Strategic Consultant, DDI
Q: What are you seeing in the tech industry related to how organizations are developing their most important resource – their people?
A: DDI has done its own international research as part of our global forecast and it has yielded many insights. In the tech industry, you’re seeing that just 33% of tech leaders have employee development plans like SDLC Partners.
Most companies don’t discuss what the employee needs to do beyond their current role to grow, but also to support the strategy and growth of the company. SDLC Partners is doing that.
Q: What is SDLC Partners doing right?
A: SDLC Partners has a leadership method of mindful planning. It’s intentional. Technology companies need to look at areas like delegation, culture, learning, and creativity, as well as leadership competency. It’s not uncommon for tech companies to reward technical excellence, but, if those employees don’t receive the right kind of training to grow as a leader or manager, they can fail and that erodes that employee’s contribution to the organization and their own career path.
Our research has shown that 70 percent of leadership failure is due to a lack of interpersonal skills.
Q: What else do you think technology companies should be doing more frequently?
A: I compare it to a buffet restaurant. Companies pick and choose rather than develop a plan that takes you on a path. Coaching, delegation, shadowing, and growing your direct reports should all be a part of a plan that is based on the business drivers and what the organization needs to accomplish. Ask yourself “What behaviors do we need to deliver on a particular goal?”
SDLC Partners did this and they have five behaviors that help guide all that they do from recruiting to hiring to consulting to development and rewards.
Interview Three: Delivering Client & Partner Value
Matthew Ray, President, HM Health Solutions (HMHS)
Q: What does HM Health Solutions (HMHS) do?
A: We’re best known for providing the healthcare industry’s largest and most successful cloud platform to run health insurance companies on. Highmark has over 10 million members nationally and processes over one million claims a day. We’ve invested over $2B in technology and HMHS helps us bring many of the innovations we’ve created to markets beyond our local footprint.
Q: How has SDLC Partners been an extension of your team to solve complex problems?
A: SDLC Partners is a great partner, especially on the technology and project management as well as the health plan operations side. They are a great brand but the people they put on the ground have great industry acumen and technical skills.
We have a training program, together, that provides a robust technical onboarding for our clients. Plus, consistency with their teams and skills, along with adding new capabilities, has been a great benefit to us. When we add a new customer, it can take 700-900 people to scale and SDLC supports that.
We have a great startup ecosystem and partnering with SDLC is especially useful on new and emerging technologies as well as incremental innovation and continuous improvement projects.
Q: What is one big thing that your HMHS clients are looking for?
A: Clients are looking to deploy Robotic Process Automation. Historically, they had thousands of manual processes and steps. Even things as simple as logging into multiple systems takes two-to-three minutes times over six thousand people every day. It adds up.
We’re also making big investments in data and analytics. We can blend claims and administrative data to support making better decisions with time, dollars, and focus on innovation.
Interview Four: Innovation Now
Paul Taylor, Digital CIO Lead
Q: How do you balance growth, needed change, sticking to a roadmap, and putting customers first?
A: We take a bimodal approach to our clients’ businesses. They are dealing with a lot of legacy debt and large systems. We work to help them maximize what they can get out of their current systems while taking a proactive approach to innovation – whether it is incremental, continuous, or disruptive.
Q: What is RPA and how can this journey help clients?
A: Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is part of our larger Intelligent Automation service line. We launched a lab in August of 2017 and we are ramping up client use cases with around 40 employees certified in these advanced technologies.
People think of automation as just AI or “bots,” but it’s really about supporting human talent to do what they do best and using technology to provide digital assistance. There are so many functions and processes that could be made better and more accurate while reducing the burden on employees and freeing them up for more innovative or human-required effort.
Q: What makes a good candidate for RPA technology?
A: Really, anywhere that there are repeatable tasks that need to be accurate and processed in multiple forms or channels can make a great fit for RPA. What’s most important is that whatever processes we’re automating is solid. It must be a streamlined and quality process that yields good outcomes before it’s ready to be automated. The good news is that we also have the expertise to help clients assess their RPA use cases, prioritize those with the most value, and ensure that their process is RPA-ready.
SDLC Partners, L.P. is an essential leader of the Pittsburgh technology and business ecosystem. As a consultancy focused on delivering high-performance solutions for connecting business and technology, they have grown into a 400-person firm, garnering awards and attention from the Pittsburgh Technology Council, the Inc. 5000, the Pittsburgh 100, and E&Y’s Entrepreneur of the Year.