One of the things I love about doing #podcasts is that I get to dive into really interesting topics with people who have deep knowledge.
To be honest, I wanted to carry on talking about the amazing Centre of Excellence (COI) set up he’s been heavily involved with the Department of Veterans Affairs in the US (apparently the 5th largest Salesforce implementation globally! ) 😲
There was so much to learn and so much to talk about, but I had to be respectful of his time.
As I always say to my guests, I am hoping there will be part 2! (Link below 👇🏻)
I hope you will enjoy listening to this as much as I had making it!
Pei Mun Lim 0:00
Hello, Barton, welcome to #OnThePeiroll, my podcast about consulting about CRM, Salesforce leadership, anything and everything that interests me. How are you today?
I’m great. Hey, thanks for having me. Excited to be here. Yes, in that,
Pei Mun Lim 0:23
that there’s an element of that we connect that we eat with each other at a previous company. But even though we were on some calls together, I’ve not had the opportunity to get to know you. So this is my opportunity. So why don’t we start by you just taking us on the journey of your career in how you got to the point where you are now, which is hitting the Celsius practice at p3.
Sure, it’s been a long and exciting journey. It feels like even though I’m just now 40 years old, I started actually as an intern for a textile manufacturing company that also was into chemicals in South Carolina, where I grew up. As a Lotus Notes developer, intern, I did that for a couple of years. And they they hired me on full time afterward. And I did actually COBOL on the backs for about another year. And then the Lotus Notes team wanted me back. So I moved back over there. And I got some interesting experience looking at the textile manufacturing process and got a bit more into the more advanced technologies. This company was, you know, well over 100 years old, but starting to get into the dotnet. Arena. So we started getting into Microsoft, VB dotnet, and did some biz talk and E commerce server. A lot of those new newer dotnet Microsoft products that were coming out in early 2000s. And then a friend of mine, that was working with me, got called back to a consulting firm. That was some people that he had originally got an offer from by Andersen right before they collapsed. And so he was they were back on their feet again. And I went to work for a consulting firm that’s big in the public sector, and also the commercial space a little bit, but I was actually more on the commercial space side, doing PeopleSoft consulting. So I did PeopleSoft implementations upgrades for about six years after that. So that allowed me to get really good experience with a lot of fortune 100 companies. ERP we were doing, I was gonna make mainly human resources, but also financial services, EPM implementations and upgrades, actually worked on the Wako via Wells Fargo merger. In 2008, I was one of the people that was lucky to have a job. So in 2008, when the financial collapse was happening, it actually gave me more work, because these mergers of all the banks were happening. And I eventually ended up leaving that company 2011 because mainly, I got tired of traveling, I was traveling four days a week, you know, 500 trips a year, it’s pretty crazy. So I got really burned out on that I was ready to start a family. And I had heard of this technology called Salesforce. And my friend of mine had been doing it a little bit on the side for one of the companies that he was consulting for. And I saw that as an opportunity to not have to be behind a firewall anymore. Not have to travel, since it was all cloud based this new technology. So we decided to start our own consulting firm 2011 So it was a big leap. I had made some pretty good progress in the PeopleSoft ecosystem. I was a tech lead, you know, the head tech guy on multimillion dollar project. I was manager about to be director level. So it was a big leap for me to leave all of that knowledge that I had gained in PeopleSoft behind and make the leap to Salesforce, but it turns out it was one of the best decisions that I made in my career. So I’m extremely grateful that I made that leap back then. So we started out Just working for one of the companies that had actually worked before before. And we floundered a bit, and never really got good traction as our own firm. So he and I actually both went to work for another Salesforce system integrator that was growing at the time, I think we were a little bit around 75 people based in Charlotte, North Carolina. And we that was my really in depth experience with Salesforce. I actually had an incentive when I started that I could
get a pay bump if I got certifications. So I actually got my first certification before I even started before I even. And I had not done much Salesforce at all with the consulting company who this was, I barely knew Salesforce, I got my 401, sir. So that proves it just can’t be done.
Pei Mun Lim 5:59
Just a question. So you move from PeopleSoft to Salesforce, and you started a company. So I’m just having a quick look at your profile, you said, I gave up the life of full time traveling PeopleSoft consultant to start a business in the rapidly growing space of Salesforce technology. So you jumped across. It’s a brand new platform, right? How do you choose to look that looks quite good over there? How? Yeah, just talk me through the process that you went through?
Yeah. So I mean, there was there were a lot of factors. One, I was just completely done with traveling and had had a lot of trouble building a long term relationship with, you know, you meet somebody and say, Alright, I’ll see you next weekend. Or maybe I’m traveling that weekend, I’ll see you in two weeks. It just, it’s just really hard to do. So I was, you know, come somewhat desperate. The project that I was on at the time also happened to be really sour. I was, you know, my, the tech lead for this merger, actually between a conglomerate and one of the companies that they owned. So messy politics. Not everybody’s fully bought into the idea. It’s hard to talk to people. People don’t want to be a part of it, because they think they’re going to lose their job as a result. The the nature of the technology was a little bit antiquated. PeopleSoft had been bought by Oracle. Not too long before that.
Pei Mun Lim 7:47
My question actually is, did you think that in the Salesforce world, that there would not be any of this because it is product as well, in theory, if you carried down a consulting line, and got really good at it, that would be your kind of lifestyle. So I’m trying to understand how you’re so established in PeopleSoft world to look at a new platform and go, I really take my chances on you, you know, be great, but
part of being, you know, someone antiquated, I see how much trouble it is to upgrade every year, people are spending a million dollars to upgrade. And they’re living on technology that’s four or five years old. Whereas Salesforce gives you these automatic upgrades three times a year. And, yeah, there’s just, I had to still deal with servers and installing things on a CD. And trying to make sure you have enough server space to be able to scale and things that I didn’t really want to think about. I’m a developer at heart. I wanted to think about really building cool applications and cool products. And so I saw Salesforce as this, you know, way to focus on just that, and not have to worry about servers and hardware and having to fool with technology that three or four years old. That was that was a big part of it. But then, you know, Salesforce marketing was starting to pick up I think that year and Superbowl was when chatter had a Superbowl commercial. So it was I saw it as a really good opportunity. And so I think I was at we’ve gone to work for a consulting firm. That was really good experience. Really good opportunity to the actual had some decent sized clients. And some cool clients got to work for NASCAR. I think one of my first projects worked on the TV network that does all the ACC football games. One of the big real estate companies in Charlotte Duke Energy, one of the big power companies. So it was actually some decent, decent projects and decent experience for a small company like that. But then, you know, as a result of all that good experience and good growth, they were an acquisition target. So they were acquired by Indian conglomerate company. And I got really nervous about that. Because they, they said they weren’t gonna be changes. But all of our leadership left, we got new leadership, that was mostly offshore. My first project after the acquisition was with Duke Energy. And in Nevada, whereas all my other projects I’ve been in Charlotte, so I was like, no timeout, I did not want to travel, did not want to stop, not the reason I got into Salesforce. So let me see what else is out there. And around that time, I got a intro to code science. Where I was brought in in 2014, as the first true technical architect. Before that, it was kind of ownership lead. They were most of the architects were salespeople, that just happened to be really good architects also and trying to stand up the project best they could. But I was at first delineate delineation from sales to delivery for code science, as they were about 22 people, I think, when I started, I got to be part of a really cool thing there and experienced a lot of growth. Year over year, I think we were growing about 35%. For the six years I was there, up to 150 plus maybe 180. I don’t remember exactly the number. But there we were building products for ISVs. And products for the AppExchange, which was really cool. I get to live that product world and I fell in love with it, of being able to come up with cool idea and bring it into the market and see what market reaction was to it and iterate on it. Really given getting into the true agile sense. We also got to work with a lot of really cool companies from to person startups to also major Fortune 500 companies that were building their own apps and getting into getting trying to take advantage of that Salesforce market to because the AppExchange and grown significantly over that period of time. And everybody needed a Salesforce app so they could get a piece of that market share. And everybody was like, you don’t integrate with Salesforce, I don’t want to use your products. And they were like, Okay, here we integrate with Salesforce now. So I got I got the opportunity to work on 50 Plus projects or products, I actually during that time period, from a hands on. And then from a leadership standpoint, probably close to 200 different products.
Between OEM and ISV. We also were brought into Salesforce fair amount, which is really cool to build some things for them. We built the first version of health out as kind of a prototype for them to be able to sell internally. It’s not the version and it’s there today. So don’t blame any of those problems on me. But it was a really cool experience to be able to do that. We also built trailhead for distribution. It’s kind of the internal training module for the Salesforce sales team. Right before we left, we built the COVID functionality into health cloud that needed to be stood up within three or four months is pretty crazy. But Salesforce called on us a lot for some of those hot knit hot, ready projects that we needed to deliver on quickly. We also actually built some DX functionality around custom metadata types, and making sure that those were fully tested as part of the DX rollout. I think our CEO had a really good, really good relationship with wait Wagner, who was the SVP of platform for Salesforce at the time. So I got to meet with him and get to meet with Andy Fawcett, who was the CTO at financial force and waited brought him on so I got to hear some of their cool ideas. I was actually one of the early conversations that was had about evergreen functions, Salesforce Lightning functions at a Dreamforce and 2019. Ish, maybe the Dreamforce before it was announced when it was still a conceptual idea. And they wanted to get feedback from people like me that were building ISV products and how it might impact the ecosystem. That is a Salesforce ISVs, which is quite different from the Salesforce commercial side of things. So that was really cool experience. And then COVID happened, and things were looking a little bit scary. We didn’t really know what was going to happen with the market, I was working for a consulting firm and consulting is typically a business, this is really easy to turn off. It’s not like a product where you’re you have to spend a million dollars to migrate off of a product. Whereas a consulting firm, you can say, Alright, we’re done with this project, we’ll see you later. It actually happened to me in a way when I was working for Constellation Energy in Baltimore, they got bought by Warren Buffett, and he told us all to leave the next day that I didn’t want that to happen again. And I had always kind of wanted to be on the other side of the fence, from being a consultant and being living in the product world and actually seeing what it’s like to deliver the product and get that real customer feedback, and be able to iterate and do have a lot of controlling decisions as opposed to somebody else making the real decisions, and me just acting on them as a consultant. So I went to find Eva, and joined them as CTO. The recent CTO had left not too long before that, so the need was there and the opportunity presented itself. So I took that leap. And it was a whole new ballgame. It was a lot more than I anticipated. Having to build the product, deliver the product support the product, all those different things were coming from all different directions. And it was definitely a lot more to it than I had expected. And then we were also trying to build a marketplace, our own fontina app exchange at the same time. So a lot of different initiatives that we were starting to get off the ground, getting an ETL tool that we could standardize on and then another acquisition happened. And that was actually my fourth acquisition. I didn’t mentioned. I said no, that was my third. I didn’t mention one that happened when I was at BearingPoint, we got acquired by PwC, which was a good thing because BearingPoint went in bankruptcy. And the commercial side went to PwC, the public sector side went to Deloitte. So we got acquired by together work, private equity firms that aren’t together work. And that was another struggle to acquisition personally. We went through some some budget cuts and trying to streamline the business and synergize with the other businesses that together work and bought
emerging of leadership, consolidating functions around HR Finance, typical things that a company that’s buying a bunch of other companies would be doing. So I was struggling a little bit to find my place. And probably nine months before that happened. The guy that lives across the street from the head started asking me to come work for him. From the top we were both building houses at the same time across the street. And every almost every time he would see me say I think you’d be great working with us. Let’s talk about a Sunday and then he took me to TPC Sawgrass here in Ponte Vedra, which is really nice for lunch and really laid it down thick after the acquisition happened. And I said all right. I think I’ll give it a shot. I didn’t know v3 even existed before that I was like, Who is this guy? Don’t know him don’t know v3. Never heard of him in the Salesforce ecosystem before. And once I learned more and more about it, and actually another big deciding factor in making that leap was Jim Hutcherson had recently joined as VP of cloud path platforms and he wrote this book on Salesforce architecture. And I loved working for a technical manager before echo science having spoon and Brian there as being super technical CEOs was something that I really enjoyed it It’s always great to see people understand everything that I’m doing. So the opportunity to have another person like, Jim, that I could report to that, you know, could be that voice for me in the sea level, and also, you know, fully understands everything. From a technical standpoint all the way to try and manage people was kind of the nail in the coffin that made me take that leap again. So actually found out another thing is that B three manages the largest public sector implementation of Salesforce, and the fifth largest overall limitation of Salesforce globally, at the Department of Veterans Affairs. So that was a another really cool thing, once I found that out. And with Jim, and that knowledge, I was like, this is a really cool opportunity. So now I’m actually the director of the Center of Excellence for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Probably one of the largest Salesforce programs that exists, if not the largest, being public sector means that there’s a lot more people that are needed to make sure all the i’s are dotted and T’s are crossed, and things are a little bit slower. But as a result, there’s a lot more need for a center of excellence that can take all of these disparate system integrators that are building their own modules and their own orgs. And try to make sure we’re doing things as efficient as possible. We are, have a consistent release process, we have a consistent DevOps process, we have a consistent help desk that everybody is routed through. We have consistent architecture that everybody’s going to play nice together in the same orgs that it’s going to scale well that we’re being good stewards of our standard objects, account contact case. There’s obviously limits. And they were not taking up too much the limits and leaving limits for other apps and other system integrators that need to be in the works. So that’s kind of the role that we play as v3. We’ve got a major system integrators in there, Accenture, federal, Booz Allen, liberty, it, which is now part of Booz Allen acumen, Salesforce has got a really large presence, both acumen and non acumen. I feel like I’m leaving somebody else out. But there’s a few other system integrators in there as well. It’s really cool to have dedicated platform architects, it’s my first opportunity to have that. So we’ve got really four, depending on how you count on full time, Salesforce PDAs, which is helpful to have. And then I’ve got another eight, Salesforce architects that are part of the center of excellence, and we don’t do any development. We’re just there as stewards as guidance as best practices, building common frameworks, building the DevOps, designing, release management, all those kind of fun things. So that was a long history of how I got to where I am now.
Pei Mun Lim 23:28
I’ve got no, it’s really, really interesting. So I’ve got two questions that came out of your last bit. So um, so help me understand a little bit to be three is a sausage partner. But you run the COE for this program, which is helping cages I didn’t catch it. Did you say it was the vet
force? Department of Veterans Affairs,
Pei Mun Lim 23:55
Department of Veteran Affairs, so you are helping them manage the whole program? Can you just talk to me a little bit about how the whole structure came to be in what are the key things that anyone who’s thinking about setting up a center of excellence has to think about so can I assume, correct me if I’m wrong, but before you came along, they didn’t have one. They were just managing disparate or disparate partners. And then they said, Hang on, we need to pull this together. And poof, or maybe not poof?
Yeah. Still Still pooping. Okay. But yeah, so I think they started using Salesforce in 2017. And at the time there it was kind of a free for all they did have a good sense about how they wanted it to be though they weren’t it wasn’t just a total free for all they want. They knew that they wanted something like a center of excellence at the time. So they were pushing people in that direction. Be three actually got their contract in 2018. So we’re about halfway through our five year contract right now, I believe, where we stood up the prefer Center of Excellence. But at the time, it was just one word. And I don’t know how many system integrators were involved at the beginning. And since 2018, the program has essentially doubled in size every year, to where now we have well over 200 apps. The VA also happens to be the fourth largest healthcare system in the US. They also manage loans and benefits administration for all the veterans of the armed forces. They also have, I think, over 200,000 employees. So and then there, they’ve said they’ve got some employee modules there as well. They’ve got all they track all their vaccines, and Salesforce. So now we’re in six orgs. We’ll be moving to eight this year. And we’ve got two implementations of Health Cloud, we’ve got everything is FedRAMP. High requires so Guf Cloud Plus, we’re in the process of migrating our last two orgs over to go plus this month. We are also have, you know, very high PII, bhi requirements. So all those things that we have to take into account, we’ve got integrations with Department of Defense now. So that veterans can have all of their medical history when they leave the the force. There from the medical providers, they’ll have all their history when they were in service, which is really cool. And I think will be really helpful to the care coordination that will happen for veterans going forward. Something I’m really excited about that’s actually going live next month. And yeah, I think they would Did that answer your question?
Pei Mun Lim 27:04
No, that did not. That was interesting, but I didn’t. But my question was, do you have let’s say, if I want to top five things that someone has to think about, if they are just thinking about starting a center of excellence, what are the key things that need to be in place?
Yeah, so building that center of excellence, I’m sure it was not easy. I wasn’t there from the beginning. But I can see now that especially as you’re scaling that quickly, at the same time. One is to make sure you’ve got that vision from the beginning, or just try to start thinking about that, from the beginning of what it might need to look like as you’re starting to scale your, as you’re starting to scale, you see that need that we should probably not be doing things in 20 different ways across 20 different orgs. We’re actually talking to another agency that has this problem right now, where they’ve got eight different orgs at different release processes, eight different DevOps processes. Really no kind of common practice between the app builders or the businesses at all. So it’s really important to start to think about the things like scalability and maintainability and operations and maintenance. We
Pei Mun Lim 28:27
not easy in the federal space, just talking specifically about this space, there’s a you have to manage all your certs, you have to put all of the security required, profiles, permission sets, code FFLs, we have to do static code analysis. All those things require a fairly high level of knowledge of Salesforce, and all those best practices. So having also an architect is really hard to find. So having somebody that can kind of be that voice for all of the different programs is really helpful. Because they can say, hey, we just did it this way here. It’s going to work the same way here, it’s going to work the same way there. Let’s take what we learned and reuse it so we’re not building everything from scratch every time. So that’s the big thing is look for opportunities like that where you can reuse things. Think about how your Release Management process needs to scale as you’re growing and you’re adding different orgs think about looking at commercial off the shelf solutions, especially as part of a a very large multi faceted multi consultant consultancy ecosystem where people are in and out a lot. Having a reliable off the shelf product or products for things like Your release management, your DevOps, your test management, other security scanning tools that you can use and reuse, and just give somebody a week to train on and hand off as opposed to, here’s how we maintain all of these disparate tools. And have we built this thing from scratch, and it’s gonna take you six months to get up to speed on how to how to use it. So we’re thinking about how to add in some of those other nice to have these on top of the commercial office shelf. So it just doesn’t feel like you’re fitting yourself into a box either. Other good things to think about?
Pei Mun Lim 30:52
How about resourcing in the partnership? So I’m wondering, so the program has p3, running the Center of Excellence, I would have thought that they should have some very key technical individuals who probably should be more count, accountable for strategy and ownership of law, the strategic direction roadmap, or does it all sit with these three?
Yeah, so that’s a good point, it’s also important to have that separation of concerns to not have the fox guarding the hen house. So that’s, that’s kind of the role that we play as B three, we’re kind of the agnostic, third party to all the system integrators. And we are the voice of the the IT department, essentially, to make sure that everybody’s playing nice together, that the best interests of the VA and the business are taken into consideration that VA security is taken into consideration that everybody is following those best practices were the checks and balances, essentially, to make sure that those things are happening. So we we also play the strategic thinker for the VA. They’ve got some really amazing resources, but they don’t have certified technical architects or certified system admins, or certified application architects, so they do rely on us heavily to give them that guidance. And especially with the security team, they’ve always got constant changing requirements that they need and how need to know how to interpret those to Salesforce. Because a lot of time with federal agencies, they’re written for on prem, custom build applications that were written in COBOL. And so they have to know how in the world we even think about translating this to a SaaS ERP system. So that’s where we come in, we say, All right, you have to do threat vulnerability testing. That’s actually something that Salesforce does. So we can take some of the Salesforce documentation and use that to meet that requirement. We can do static code analysis and evaluate the custom built functions of Salesforce. But Salesforce actually does a lot of the things behind the scenes that we wouldn’t need to worry about and meet those requirements. So that’s where we work closely with Salesforce. That PSAs that we have to be able to channel that information, we actually get to see a lot of things that are coming down the pipeline, and we get to see under the hood behind shield and the event monitoring solutions and decryption go GovCloud plus is actually encrypted, fully, there’s no need for platform encryption anymore. So we get to understand all those things and help interpret those for the government.
Pei Mun Lim 34:08
So if you had a large enterprise maybe isn’t huge. But if you had a large enterprise, you’re thinking about going down the theory Road, would you say that it would be a good idea for them to at least have some resources internally who are certified at least on some clouds? Or you know, did you work well, in your setup to have VA not rely so much on B three, for example, to execute their security requirements and any other functional non functional requirements? What would you what would you advise, let’s say no evasion company or any thing like that? What should they do?
Certainly helpful. So my first experience with Center of Excellence was at that first project at GE, that I worked on in Nevada, Sergio and gas, we were very heavily involved with the Center of Excellence and trying to stand up a new business unit. And understanding that there is a person whose sole job is to manage the opportunity object, there’s a person whose sole job is to manage the case object. So that was really interesting to see that basically, all decisions related to the case object have to go through this one person for all the, you know, hundreds of applications that need to use that object. So and those, those people worked for GE.
Pei Mun Lim 35:50
How did that was it sorry, just just, it’s blowing my mind. Decisions must take a really long time, especially if you’ve got an app that goes across different objects and does different things. Was there a lot of red tape? How did they? Yeah,
it does slow down things a bit. But the decision is do get made fairly quickly. Once you get to that point, people are able to, they’ve got the process down, I guess, essentially. So you, they tell you what information to share with them. And then they make their decision. Or they might take a day to think about it and then make their decision two days later. That’s kind of how we do things at the VA, we have an office hours on Tuesdays, we have our architecture design reviews on Thursdays. So it helps to kind of bring those things on Tuesdays that you’re going to talk about on Thursdays to give people a couple of days to think about it talk with the other architects that we have internally on, you know, what we should do? What’s best practice, how is that gonna mesh with all the other things that we got on that object or that or, but yet, it does slow things down. And that’s a constant battle that everybody has to fight. Nobody wants things to slow down, the business is also getting judged on how quickly we can get things to market. So we SB three, we are the stewards of best practice, but we are also measured on how many products we deliver every year. So we’re held accountable from both sides of we can’t just be a blocker security can just be a blocker, they know that too. There’s always that balance between having enough security and not locking things down so much that people can’t log in anymore. So that’s that’s kind of how we, we try to help navigate everybody, and make sure we’re keeping that balance.
Pei Mun Lim 37:52
So before I interrupted you, you, you were talking about how edgy you had people who just specialized or who just own that particular object and manage that. Where do you see the happy medium, being in terms of you know, having enough resources who know what they’re doing in order to drive positions that upon can help them execute?
Yeah, I mean, I know within the federal government, it’s really hard because I was hearing some of the people that work there, say it takes a year to change a job description, to be able to update to, you know, the search that might be required. There’s also pay graves that they have to stay within that are all published online. So there’s, it’s hard to find people with that level of talent without having to give them a generals pay grade, which is crazy to think about. But I think just having maybe two or three people that have at least that high level, read have really, probably two, maybe three people at the VA that are at that level that have done hands on Salesforce, they, you know, know the ins and outs of flow. They know the ins and outs of config versus custom. They may not be at CTA or system architect or application architect level, but they are they tech lead. We also have a lot of citizen developers that are VA employees that do configuration apps and they help guide them as well. So they kind of play all those roles are stretched very thin as a result. But having having two or three is probably the minimum and I guess I’m sure larger commercial companies will have a lot more than that. Because they have different guidelines that they follow.
Pei Mun Lim 39:54
Okay, so let’s give it back slightly to you earlier on. I mean conversation, you’re talking about how you’re a developer at heart, and that you like seeing products being, you know, shaped and brought to market? Where do you in your current role? Where do you get your buzz from? What excites you in your current role?
Um, well, I think it’s more now looking at frameworks, as opposed to products and how opportunities to streamline the way we’re doing things like our domain and selector layers and reusable front end components, what What opportunities are there to streamline, take advantage of some tech debt, let’s use platform events now that it’s available wasn’t necessarily in 2017, when the org was first spun up. So there’s some old applications, what are what opportunities are there to take advantage of other newer sales stuff, Salesforce technologies functions coming out. We’ve got Integration Cloud with mule, soft Salesforce DevOps that’s coming out Salesforce backup, and restore what opportunities are there. And that’s just the Salesforce ecosystem, you always get new fun things to play with. And that’s what keeps me excited about Salesforce is you do have new stuff every four months that you get to take a look at and see how it might fit into your tech debt roadmap. So we also manage the tech debt, and modules that have finished development. So we can take those things and make them better, take advantage of newer Salesforce technologies, make them scale more scalable, because oftentimes, you know, things are done as quickly as possible, just to get them in the hands of the business, for good reason. But now we get to make them even better. And that’s, that’s part of what excites me. And then also, you know, getting to see all these different things. We’ve got 200 apps, I get to see the thing that I was talking about with the Department of Defense integration for health care coordination for veterans, just seeing the dramatic difference that will be from the own Prem home grown thing that was built in the 80s that they were using before. So just being a part of that is really cool. gets my juices flowing.
Pei Mun Lim 42:26
Fantastic. Next question is for me, in that this is something that I’m keen to know. So I think that it’s the the tough projects, those that hasn’t gone as well, that actually offers the most learning. So if you can cast your mind back to the wealth of projects and experience that you’ve had, with different clients, as a consultant with PeopleSoft or Salesforce, or in any, you know, in your long history, can you pull out a few, you know, projects that didn’t go that well? And what did you learn from that? What can you share?
Um, yeah, so there’s a ton of examples. And I guess as part of that, I also used to do a lot of architecture reviews of products, and projects, I guess. And it’s all kind of the common seen common theme between the really hard bad projects, and the reason that we had to go in and do architecture reviews, because something wasn’t going well for a product. And yeah, so the mantra that we kind of said, at Code science, when we were doing those architecture reviews was, it’s a people problem. If you don’t think it’s a people problem, it’s a people problem. It’s not a technology problem. It’s not that something wasn’t built correctly, it was that the people aren’t talking about what needs to be built. They aren’t getting the feedback, they are working in a silo, they are not being agile and shifting direction when they need to shift direction. They’re still doing project management, the way that they were doing it 20 years ago, and not adapting to newer technology that exists. They had adapted to Agile. And the same thing happened with the harder projects. It was really all just really nasty politics with like the merger that I talked about, with another one that happened to be a company that was doing Tella commercials for solar panels. And it was just kind of a toxic environment, more so than a hard project. So I guess the The learning and the thing to come out with all of that is just to try to keep a level head, when you’re in conversations, always be open to new ideas. Always try to understand why people think the way that they think there’s always something behind it and try to get a lot of different perspectives because the person that you’re talking to, they might have some of these deep seated issues and be just mad that they’re the project is even happening. Whereas the five other people that are just outside the door, are thrilled that you’re here, and they can’t wait to hear what this person told you. So just to try and understand that it’s not, it’s not you. It’s it’s not even necessarily the company, it’s maybe an individual that has a reason for something, maybe they think their jobs going away. Maybe they think that people are blaming them for the problems that they have, when maybe that’s not even true, either. So it’s just tried to bring everybody together and say, you’re kind of playing a psychologist a bit. Here’s what this person is thinking, what’s your feedback on how they’re thinking? How can we, you know, maybe smooth this out, so that we don’t have these kind of problems in the future? So that’s the big takeaway,
Pei Mun Lim 46:26
if you will to look back again at it, all the decisions you’ve made, have you have any regrets? or anything? Or, you know, if you were to go back in 20 years, and speak to your younger self? Is there anything you advise yourself to do or not to do or change? Or be? What would you say to the younger Barton?
Oh, boy, that’s a tough one. I kind of think I’m perfect, none did everything exactly as I wanted to. But
I do think that getting all of that experience with a lot of different companies, being a consultant really made me the person that I am today. I don’t know that I necessarily stayed at any company longer than I should have. But I, you know, sometimes question leaving, when I did, a lot of times, the reason that I left was because of a bad project, not necessarily because I was working for a bad company. So maybe take that apart. And you know, people say people leave by managers. But that’s not necessarily true in consulting, you leave bad projects. And that’s, I was really grateful for some of the leadership’s I had in in the past, that would actually fire clients, which was nice. And that’s really a company that you want to be with forever, cherish that opportunity, because it doesn’t happen at all companies. So I think maybe having that mindset a little bit earlier on. It’s it’s not a bad company, or bad leadership, it’s just a bad project. Let me see what I can do to get off this project, as opposed to let me find somewhere else to work. So that’s one thing. Another thing is to start working on your people skills early your people management, your communication, your sales skills are actually super important. Even in technology, it’s getting that buy in for your idea. That is more important than saying, here’s look at this really cool code that I wrote, it’s, it’s, here’s how this will impact you. Here’s how this is gonna make your life better are things to start thinking about. And having those really concise thoughts and being able to present those things, those ideas and those thoughts, getting your PowerPoint skills sharp, and your communication skills sharp. And those are the things that I probably wish I would have done a little bit sooner. As opposed to just showing off the cool code that I wrote, and thinking that it was perfect, that really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. It’s how this code is going to impact somebody’s life or somebody’s business. So that’s, that would be my advice is to start thinking, the impact it’s having earlier and how to communicate that.
Pei Mun Lim 49:30
It’s amazing, this, this conversation has been so so full of like really good wisdom and advice that I think I also for example, the Center of Excellence, there was so much in there that I think will be very useful to a lot of people listening. So I thank you so much for sparing me the time I’m very mindful that the hours are up and for sharing your experience. I really appreciate it thank you so much Barton
Absolutely Pei thanks for having me I enjoyed it I haven’t thought about a lot of these things in a long time so it was good for me to rehashing history