Article Published: December 22, 2014
Article Published: December 22, 2014
How can something change so significantly over 10 years, yet never veer from the concept that gave it life in the first place? It’s a complex question with a simple answer.
But the principals at SDLC Partners know. With a company-wide goal to become the “Execution Partner of Choice” for its clients, the organization has been turning the complex into the simple for the past decade—even as the company has grown exponentially in size and in customer engagements.
SDLC specializes in business transformation, business intelligence, and technology solutions. Clients hire them for their focus on execution. The organization helps companies integrate systems, execute process improvement plans, and/or determine how to best use available data. While those terms can sound somewhat esoteric and hard to define, SDLC’s value comes from the fact that they can not only define the tasks at hand, but they know how to guarantee that everyone in the client’s organization can do the same.
“Ten years ago, we saw a gap surrounding the successful execution of systems and strategies—companies could not get their strategy to come to life, because it was too difficult to understand and execute,” said Chris Simchick, CEO and one of SDLC’s three founders. “Client companies needed the right capability to demystify the complex. You don’t always need a bulldozer to dig a hole.”
Enter SDLC, with its collection of expert business perspective and in-depth IT knowledge. Beginning with just Simchick and his fellow founders Scott Barnyak and Christy Maruca in a small office in Monroeville, the firm today employs more than 300 professionals in two locations, with a third currently being considered.
“The same issues exist today as 10 years ago, but client drivers have changed over time,” Simchick asserted. “There’s more pressure among our clients for them to serve more people in different ways. Organizations have become more complex. Regulations in healthcare, for instance, are driving a lot of complexity. Revenue models have changed for clients. Consumers have been very impatient, and this feeling creeps into every interaction.
“But while some aspects of customer challenges have changed, our approach has remained consistent,” he said. “How can we help them become more efficient? It’s all about maximizing opportunities and overcoming obstacles.”
“Other boutique firms are sharply focused, but we start on the business side and cover development of technology solutions in a comprehensive approach,” said Maruca. “Even today, our local competition doesn’t have the breadth we offer. They typically address one dimension, not the whole picture for the client like we do.
“At the same time, we’re very selective about the clients we work with,” she added. “That’s because we need to truly be a partner, not a commoditized provider.”
Barnyak noted that during the economic downturn, SDLC made the strategic decision to keep investing in people and the business while others were cutting back. The company saw that its clients’ belief and loyalty had only been strengthened. Maintaining and expanding those sorts of legacy client relationships remains a staple of the SDLC strategy.
“We find ourselves moving into an extended planning mode with long-standing clients,” Simchick said. “The more time we spend with clients, the more they can see where we excel. This has kept us from being pushed into one role. It’s been an evolution, and a positive one.”
SDLC also has evolved through regular employee input—welcomed, encouraged, and acted upon—gained through quarterly and other regular internal forums. The principal partners also take a critical look at strategic and operational priorities each quarter, to make sure the ship is sailing in the right direction. This blending of entrepreneurial innovation and careful deliberation has helped SDLC stay on a path of steady growth for 10 years and counting.
“Ten years from now, we want to be the “Partner of Choice,” a company that customers see as meaningful, that places clients at the forefront, that continues to invest in its people, that is a destination for talent, that expands outside of the Pittsburgh market by industry and geography, and that drives work back to Pittsburgh.” Simchick summarized. “Our first decade has gone fast; I think that’s a sign we’re having fun.”