We’re so proud of Paul and we’re thankful for his years of services as well as his continued exemplification of our Core Values: Ace – Heart – Ally. We sat down with Paul to discuss his 20+ years with SCS, to ask him what he thought of this milestone, what he loves about working at SCS and more.
This year you celebrate 20 years at SCS. What thoughts and emotions come to mind when you think about that?
That I’m getting old! Really though, I think that it takes a very special company to be a member of it for 20 years. There is something different about SCS and I don’t have any plans to leave.
In what ways has SCS grown over the years?
Good question. I think the biggest difference is that our leadership team is comprised of people who can all successfully do their jobs. In my role as President, I don’t have to worry that things aren’t getting done when I’m not there. Lots of CEOs can’t take a break or a vacation. That’s not the case here.
When we first started, we did mostly application development and infrastructure for our clients. Now we have a large presence in the data and analytics space. We currently do about 40% data and analytics, 40% application development and 20% infrastructure. Our data analytics team is very visible in the community with books and speaking engagements-a nice growth area.
We have a much better public presence. People are starting to recognize our name and that’s a big deal for a small company.
What do you see as your biggest accomplishments since you began at SCS?
I helped get the SCS methodology implemented when I first came to SCS. Although processes have changed over the years, much of that core methodology is still in use today.
I’m proud of helping to write the Visualizing Data with Microsoft Power View book. I never thought I’d be an author! It was a lot of work and filled up a lot of weekends, but it was worth it.
I’m definitely proud of what my business partners and I have accomplished in the last five years while running the company. Our company is strong because we make many decisions as a team and we have a shared pride in SCS.
It was a huge transition in job responsibilities for me to go from manager to CEO. In that time, I’ve figured out what’s needed to make the company successful. I know what metrics to look at, know what my role is, and where the company is heading.
How has this industry evolved over the years?
The biggest difference is that today, almost all solution development is agile. In the past, teams implemented a waterfall method where solutions were fully designed, fully developed, and then deployed. Now, we break the solutions into smaller pieces and deploy components in the first few weeks of a project to provide customers an ROI right way. It also allows the project team to make adjustments early in the project to keep changes from having a huge impact on the budget and timeline.
The implementation of cloud is a big change. Many of our data and analytics projects import data from cloud based applications such as SalesForce. We are also developing applications that run in the cloud and are migrating our clients’ infrastructure to the cloud too.
Also, the amount of data we work with has changed dramatically. In 2001, I remember building reports off a table that had 22 million rows. I remember how amazing that was to me. Now, a table with 22 million rows is a normal sized table in a normal sized database. The challenge for our clients now is to be able to gain insights and make decisions based on this large amount of data that is being collected.
Application development has changed considerably over the years. Previously, we were only developing web and Windows applications to be used on PCs. Now we build solutions for PCs, phones, and tablets. We need to ensure that our applications work properly in all environments and ensure a good experience for every user.
What is the best part of your job? What excites you the most?
I have two roles at SCS—consultant and CEO.
In my consultant role, the best part is when I build a solution that makes my client very happy. It’s my biggest joy. What excites me the most? I like learning new things and working on projects that involve technologies and methods that I have not worked with before. My number one Strengths Finder strength is Learner. I have always loved the variety in my consulting role.
In my role as President/CEO, I love working together as a team to make decisions and overcome challenges. Everyone at SCS has their own strengths and I appreciate the contribution each employee provides to provide better services to our clients. I get most excited when I get to sit down and meet our clients that I’m not working with and hear great things about our consultants. I’m looking forward to more opportunities to do that in the future and thank them personally for their business.
We started with 10-12 core values and many were values that every other company has. We wanted to reduce our number of core values to 3 or 4 to make sure they stand out and are easy to remember.
The first value we all agreed upon is Expertise. All of us at SCS are experts or are striving to be experts in something. Clients hire us for this exact quality.
Second, we know that we can’t succeed without Passion for technology and helping clients with solutions. Technology is always changing so passion drives our team to learn those new technologies and implement them for our clients.
Lastly, many of our original core values encompassed the concept of Partnership. We have always stressed being consultative and doing what is best for the client. We are not here to only provide a solution development resource—staffing firms are used for this purpose. We partner with our clients and provide them with the tools they need to be successful. We often build a solution and train our clients, so they can take over where we leave off. We are their Microsoft technology experts.
To make our core values memorable, we wanted to create an acronym. We brainstormed synonyms for these words and came up with Ace, Heart, Ally. We want our clients to experience “AHA moments” when they gain insight they didn’t have before.
What is the best piece of leadership advice you’ve received over the years?
I’m a problem solver and I’ve always been that way so when someone needs an issue resolved, I tend to want to fix it “right now”. I have learned that it is ok to tell people “Let me think about it” instead of providing an immediate solution.
This is especially true when the issue is less technical and more of a people situation. The extra time allows me to think about all aspects of the issue and talk it through with others before coming back and making a decision. It forces me to think through the details. As a result, I make much wiser decisions than if I had tried to resolve the issue in the moment.
What’s your 20-year vision? How do you hope to grow?
We want to grow but still stay a small company. We love the fact that we are not a company with a lot of bureaucracy. If any employee has an idea on how we can better serve our clients, that employee can make it happen here. Being a smaller company also allows us to get to know each other well. That knowledge helps us match up the right consultant with the client needs.
In 20 years, I see us being a 10-15 million dollar company at that point. In addition,, we will have more leadership positions and the opportunity for employees to take on both leadership and ownership roles.
SCS is currently one of the best Microsoft data and analytics companies in Minnesota. In the coming years, I want to see SCS offer 1-2 technologies or skills for which we are considered the best in the nation! We have very smart people here at SCS so that is a very realistic goal!
If you’d like to learn a little more about Paul, click here.