consulting, integrateIT, small business

integrateIT Sold to Markon Solutions, an Anser Advisory company

integrateIT is pleased to announce that it has been sold to Markon Solutions, an Anser Advisory Company.

A full press release can be found here:

If you are interested in listening to Geoff and I discuss the history of integrateIT, to include the good, the bad, and the in-between, along with why we made the decision to forge a strategic partnership with Markon, please give this podcast a listen:

C2S, consulting, Geoff Keller, integrateIT, small business

The Evolution of integrateIT

Three short months into 2018, I have already failed in my 2018 resolution of blogging with any sort of regularity.  Based on the current climate of the nation, pretty much anything you put into print will draw the irrational ire of at least 50 percent of the public.  Since 100 percent of my material is based on humor, sarcasm, and irony, it’s been tough for me to delve into most of my potential blogging topics.  For this blog, I thought it would be interesting to introduce Doug DeWan, a new member of integrateIT’s corporate hierarchy, in the form of a running email conversation.

Doug came to integrateIT in 2016, having worked previously at Oracle for approximately 9 years.  While integrateIT’s niche is in project and portfolio management, Doug brings a breath of experience in technical solutions, specializing in systems engineering, cloud computing, and database administration.  Doug is charged with building up the technical side of our businesses, expanding the company into a full IT solutions company.  He is also responsible for writing a corporate blog on a quarterly basis, for no other reason than it keeps Geoff and I from having to write so many.

In the words of a certain 2018 Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, and my new best friend since we met February (and I can’t get through a blog without at least one reference), I won’t bore us, I’ll get to the chorus.

David:  Doug, coming from a huge technical firm, what interested you in taking the leap of faith to join integrateIT?

Doug:  Thanks for the introduction. Since you asked, you’ll get my normal no bullshit this is how it is answer.  First off, I’ve never really intended to be part of a massive IT conglomerate that routinely draws the ire of all of the free world’s business and technical community. I’ve also worked at Raytheon for a number of years as well.  So how did I come to work for these large corporations?  Largely this has been through acquisitions.  Almost every job I’ve had as a professional has started with a small company.  I’ve been fortunate enough to find companies that have innovative products and services that make them attractive acquisition targets.  Unfortunately, I never find them early enough to cash in and retire once the purchase goes through (much to my wife’s chagrin).

So what is it about small companies that I like. I can give you the cliched answers of big fish in a little pond, and to some extent there is a lot to that comparison, but it’s so much more than that. The biggest thing about smaller companies is the many hats you can wear, if you are so inclined. For example, in a services company such as integrateIT I have responsibility for client delivery. I also get tapped on a regular basis for proposal activities. Then there is my normal passion of technology and infrastructure and helping out there as much as possible with ever increasing responsibilities. Basically, no matter what you’re hired to do, at IntegrateIT your job is what you want it to be, all you have to do is work for it.

While all of the above is certainly true at integrateIT, the thing that often get glossed over in the day to day activities, is the dedication of the core integrateIT team to meeting customer expectations, delivering the best possible service and customer experience, and the ability to quickly do what’s right to help the customer. It’s something that often gets lost in the large corporations never ending push for quarterly revenue. The value of, and to, the customer is almost always THE core value of any small business, and is certainly true at integrateIT.

Finally, what I didn’t appreciate at the time but have come to admire and really be proud of, is the dedication to community and charitable endeavors that our owner and founders, David and Geoff, display every day. From forming relationships with charitable organizations (Yellow Ribbons United, CureNFwithJack, Jason Beach Foundation, etc), to their generosity in the Employee Charitable Contribution program, and a number of other employee charity opportunities that don’t get the promotion they should, integrateIT is a responsible and valuable member of the community.

So in short, it wasn’t so much a leap of faith, as a confident step into a responsible corporate organization, that has the same values I believe in, and provides the professional challenges I was, and am still, looking for. I look forward to being with IntegrateIT for a long time.

David:  Thank you Douglas, the check is in the mail.  I’ll overlook the fact that you didn’t mention that I personally inspire you daily to be a better human being.

What you didn’t answer though, is why someone with your technical background chose to work for a company with a niche that is different from your own expertise. Cards on the table, integrateIT has always had difficulty recruiting software developers, engineers, etc. Maybe that is because my own technical expertise lies within opening the Reddit app or calling my wife to figure out how to turn off the four wheel drive in my car.  Do tell.

Doug:  Perhaps if you want the answer to specific questions, you should learn to ask the correct questions. Just like a typical customer, be REALLY vague on the requirements, then bitch at the person tasked to perform the impossible, reading your mind. Since we have some clarity into what you really are hoping to get an answer to, let me give it a shot. IntegrateIT now has the breadth of projects and experience to capture technically interesting projects. Additionally, the customers stated and actual embrace of 21st century technology (Commercial Cloud Services (C2S) and GovCloud) provide the languishing government integrator technical enthusiast an opportunity to branch out into the almost parity commercial world of technology. We have a stable group of technology oriented projects, as well as the experience to aggressively capture new projects. Our customers are no longer satisfied with maintaining existing programs, but they want innovative cost effective solutions to hard business and technical problems.  With the experience integrateIT has in C2S, as well as various development contracts, we can offer technically interesting opportunities using almost any technology available. IntegrateIT is now focused on rounding out our capabilities, recognizing that we can be much better customer advocates if we can understand not only the process, but the technical solutions to their problems.  IntegrateIT is driving down the stack to make sure that processes and technology are joined together to provide a single point of responsibility toward delivery and achievement of customer goals.

David: I can absolutely say, without a shadow of a doubt, I understood about 43 percent of what you just said.  And I am good with that.  In all seriousness, I think this does show the evolution of our company, and perhaps most importantly, our desire to offer opportunity and possibilities to someone that wants to grab it.  You are the perfect test case for this.  I would love to revisit this conversation next year, to see where were where are at 12 months from now.  I enjoyed this. Until next time.

Doug: You are my hero. I am blessed to be surrounded by your greatness on a daily basis.

(David might have edited the previous comment from its original form due to space limitations).


Uniting Through Philanthropy

The past year has been tumultuous for our Nation.  The cohesive bond of our great country has been fractured in many ways, and emotions and relationships remain contentious.  Our Country was built on the principles of independence and opportunity.  We are truly blessed to live in this great Country, a perspective that is often lost in the negativity of the 24-hour news cycle and constant trolling in social media.  As the country begins to heal, I believe that everyone ultimately would benefit by setting aside differences and moving forward as a single United nation, embracing the freedoms and unalienable rights that are the foundation of this country.

An area of great pride for me is integrateIT’s focus on philanthropy.  No matter the differences that any of our teammates have, philanthropy is a core value that brings us all together. I am always proud to see our team come together to donate resources- be it time or money- to advocate for causes close to our hearts.  While each member of our team brings a unique perspective of advocacy with passion for a variety of charities, a common area of interest has always been the support of our military and their families.  On a personal front, I have great affinity and appreciation for our service members.  Many of my closest friends and loved ones have served our country; my father retired after 20 plus years as a Naval officer.  When I was younger, I spent several months being treated as an inpatient at Walter Reed medical center.  I saw firsthand how the military treats all members of its family- soldiers or their relatives- as one family.

A year ago I was introduced to the Dockery family, as their son played sports with my oldest son Jake.  The Dockery’s are a model family with outstanding core values.  I was attracted to their positive demeanor, core family values, and passion for philanthropy.  In conversation with Emma, I learned that her family founded the Yellow Ribbons United charitable organization, which supports military families who have been impacted by the loss of a family member who made the ultimate sacrifice protecting our freedoms.  I was immediately intrigued by the organization, and I began to research their efforts.  A staple event for Yellow Ribbons United is their annual Winter Wonderland event which honors our Tiny Heroes- the children of service members who died in combat.  It was an event that Geoff and I immediately wanted to be a part of.

It is impossible put yourselves in the shoes of a child who no longer has their mother or father by their side.  A child cannot comprehend the “why” of what happened to their parent; all they truly can wrap their hands around is the deep feeling of loss.  It is a feeling that never leaves them, and a gap that they endure on a daily basis.  The Winter Wonderland event, even for just one night, provides these children and their families the opportunity to escape into a world of fantasy and entertainment- to be shown the love and appreciation that we all have for them.

Words or pictures cannot capture just how amazing the Winter Wonderland event was. The children were treated to so many wonderful memories, from witnessing a magic show, to a variety of arts and crafts stations, to video games, ball pits, and candy stations. Each child received presents from major corporations such as Build a Bear and North Face. In a touching moment, the mothers and grandmothers of the children received a well-deserved present donated from Kendra Scott jewelers. Without sounding cliché, I can’t remember the last time I smiled so much.  It was incredible seeing so many disparate groups- congressmen, professional athletes, entrepreneurs, military leaders, and volunteers- banding together to support our military families.

I cannot express how proud I am that our integrateIT team banded together to participate in such an incredible experience.  I was touched by the unity and cohesion in the room.  I was proud to bring my son Jake to the event so that he could witness the community come together as one.  I cannot wait to support Yellow Ribbons United in their future endeavors.  I encourage you all to visit their website at to learn more about their outstanding organization.  And most importantly, I hope that we all can find a cause, whatever that may be, to donate our resources to. We are all so blessed to live in the Country, to be part of this community.  Taking the time to reflect upon this and help others certainly puts things into perspective.




A Changed Landscape for Small Businesses in Government Contracting

In case you haven’t heard, the Government is intent on lowering its contractor costs. In fairness, the defense budget, specifically within the intelligence community, was raised to an unsustainable level post 9/11. As time has passed, administrations have turned over, and sadly, memories have faded, the onus of spending on defense and national security has lessened. At first, the cuts were marginal, and frankly, warranted. Companies were getting “fat” on defense, and the market became over saturated. A market correction was needed.

For those unfamiliar with Government contracting, it is worth noting that billing rates are a bit different than in the commercial sector. All contractor rates to the Government are audited; each line item that comprises the billing rate is reviewed and scrutinized. Our company has been a part of proposals where pre-award I was asked to produce invoices and receipts to justify our rate structure. In short, there is no fluff; there are no hidden buckets in which to tuck away profit. For perspective, when I was a 22 year old mini-cyborg fresh out of school, I was billed out by a Fortune 500 company at $250 per hour. Clearly, the customer was paying quite the premium for the ability to say that they would know me 15 years later. Now? I bill for half of that. And I’m twice as awesome.

As budgets have been reduced, companies have been forced to adjust their balance sheets to match the state of the industry, and rightly so. Large companies began losing work to smaller, more agile firms with less overhead. Stockholders were not happy. To compete with small businesses, some large firms have split their Government services from other business units in order to allocate overhead expenses to the “proper” cost center…aka…their commercial sectors. This change put the large companies and small companies on an even playing field, one that, in my opinion, produces the Utopian environment….when all things are equal, talent and innovation is what wins work as opposed to name brand or frugality.

Unfortunately, over the past year, the landscape has continued to change, and not for the better. Funding to the defense and intelligence sectors has continued to decrease, to the point that in the opinion of some, national security could be compromised. Our customers realize this. A certain level of support is needed in order to keep this country safe. To put it bluntly, our customers need the same level of support….but at a lower cost.

Geoff and I built this company with a vision of providing opportunity and stability for all who trusted their careers with us. We have always said that employment at integrateIT is what you make of it. We wanted to develop a culture that provided employees with the ability to define their future. If you wanted to work 40 hours a week and stay in the same job for 20 years? You can do that. If you wanted to learn how to build a company, mentor resources, and participate in business development with the hope of one day starting your own business? We encouraged that. Now? It is tough to look someone in the eye and sell that vision, as the current state of the industry hinders the opportunity that we can provide. It kills us to have an all hands meeting with our staff, to look them in the eye, and tell them that if you are interested in moving to a new position, the reality of the world is that you may have to take a pay cut to do so.

We’ve been in this game long enough to know that there are ebbs and flows, and that the true mark of a successful company is how you come out at the other end of an obstacle. We can sit and sulk, or lean upon the core values that brought us to the dance. We will strive to maintain our status as an employer of choice by providing the best compensation and benefits package possible. We will continue to expand our business developments efforts to tap into new customer bases for diversification, with the hope that new customers will provide our staff with new opportunity to grow their skillset and career. We will innovate our recruiting efforts to entice new talent to join us in spite of the industry. We will keep on keepin’ on. It’s what we do.


Looking Back….and Ahead

When it comes to work, I have a general rule that I only allow myself one day to react to an outcome, whether it is good or bad. I believe that reflection is a key for personal and professional growth. After all, integrateIT’s trademarked portfolio management solution, iSPINE (cheap plug!) will tell you that documenting lessons learned is a key component to project closeout. However, if I allow myself to get too high or too low, I have come to realize that it stunts my productivity. Get excited about a new hire? Take the day and enjoy it, because just as quickly a position will be cut. Add a new teaming partner? Enjoy, because tomorrow a teammate may wish you your best in your future endeavors.

Just like in blackjack, the business cards have no memory. Whether you won or lost a hand, or several in a row (I’ve heard…), each day brings a new deck of cards. 2014 was a successful year for the Company. integrateIT met approximately 90 percent of our corporate goals. We added six new employees, we contributed time and financial resources to several outstanding charities, we added new teaming partners, and Geoff and I ended our ninth year in a row where we are still speaking to one another. The year was not without its challenges. Two of our contracts ended and were not renewed (thanks for the 3 days notice US Government! I kid. Kind of.), the affordable health care act proved to be anything but (for more information on this, read my self-help blog from October, available via the Google), training budgets and award fees were cannibalized, and Scott Stapp still hasn’t found the criminal who stole $30 million from his bank account.

As soon as the year ended, Geoff and I set forth to plan our way forward in 2015. Almost immediately, we found ourselves saying what we have said each year for the past 9 years- that 2015 will be our most challenging year yet. This time, however, I definitely believe it. Our two Prime contracts are up for re-compete this year. Both face uncertainty of renewal. If the contracts go away, approximately 1/4th of the jobs in our company would be cut. That is an impact to our employees, their families, and our company. Not a day goes by that Geoff and I don’t take that very seriously. It literally keeps us up at night. But so much of the future of these contracts is out of our hands, as turnover in Government personnel, business reorganization, and federal funding will all play a part. What can we control? Simply our performance on site. Is it scary that we could receive a 100 percent award fee and still not receive an extension? Absolutely. But this is what we signed up for as business owners, and this is the hand we will play. We can only hope that we will flop an Ace and a King.

Apart from our Prime contracts, industry is facing many challenges. Award fee pools are being cut, contracts are being consolidated, escalation of rates has been eliminated, and training budgets have been decimated. For some reason, no one explained this to our vendors, as their prices continue to escalate. So what can we do? I suppose we could hold our cards, and hope the 2015 dealer busts. But the book will tell you, it’s better to play your hand and give yourself a shot, as opposed to hoping someone else wins or loses on your behalf. We will continue to build the infrastructure of our company. To me, that means participating on as many proposals as possible, no matter the win probability. It means getting creative with training. integrateIT will implement various Communities of Practice, where our staff will teach one another industry best practices. We will save money wherever possible, so that in the event a contract is lost, we can support our staff for as long as possible.

I am a big fan of cliches and quotes. I’m a bigger fan of plagiarizing them and claiming them as my own. My current favorite quote is courtesy of Henry Ford, who surprisingly wasn’t a professional wrestler or a lead singer of a rock band. “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.” For 2015, I think we can do anything. And if we can’t? It isn’t because I didn’t believe we could.