Natoma Technologies, Inc.
July 8, 2013 Issue
The Most Powerful Name In Corporate News and Information
IT Consulting Firm, Natoma Technologies, Inc. is providing Systems Integration, Custom Development, Strategic Planning and Management Consulting that Deliver True Business Value
About Natoma Technologies, Inc.:
We believe technology should serve you, not the other way around.
Founded by executives from leading global firms who saw a better way, Natoma turns IT Consulting around by focusing on business drivers and people's needs. By asking the right questions, you get to the right answers.
We bring a spirit of partnership to every client and apply proven engineering and management methodologies to the specific situation at hand, enabling us to help you solve the most complex or frustrating problems.
Ultimately, we enable you to
control costs, improve efficiency, work smarter, and boost profit margins.
IT and Software
conducted by: Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine, Published – July
Mr. McGartland: Natoma is an IT consulting firm. We do systems integration, custom development, strategic planning, and management consulting. We provide a full range of IT consulting services.
CEOCFO: Would you explain what you do different that may be better, faster, or cheaper from your competitors in the field?
Mr. McGartland: Natoma focuses on the government space- state and local government as well as federal government. The failures in our industry are much too common, in fact they plague our industry. Natoma, in our fifteen years has had a 100% success rate. Every project we have undertaken has been on time, on budget, with a commitment to long-term client satisfaction and success.
CEOCFO: Would you give us a sense of your range of projects, such as the more common things you would do for a government agency, and maybe something that is a little bit more unusual or people may not even realize you can accomplish?
Mr. McGartland: Our most common projects fall in two categories. One would be system integration, where we implement a commercial software package. One example would be Accela construction permitting and licensing software. We implemented Accela at the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, which does hospital construction oversight. We help them define all their biggest business needs, model their workflows, and perform business process reengineering as well as all of the data conversion, custom development, and systems integration. We also do pure custom IT development for some unique needs. For the state of California, we did the voter registration and the election night reporting system. When you watch the election results on the news, the feed out of the state—that is our database software. It pulls the results from all of the counties, tabulates them, and posts them graphically as well as tabular to the web. When we do custom as well as package integration, we tend to excel at leading edge technology. For the state of California, which is a major client, we did the first web services service oriented architecture system in the state. We also did the first java production in the state back in 1998. We won best of show at the first California mobility conference for our mobile app for the California Department of Veterans Affairs. We have several firsts in the state and welcome the opportunity to apply technology to accomplish something that was previously impossible. For instance, with the SOLQ system we did, we took Medicare eligibility checking in California from 6 weeks to 6 seconds. At the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach, our software working with the California Air Resources Board and the trucking industry is credited with reducing diesel particulate emissions by 80%.
CEOCFO: Are you able to use your system involving Medicare eligibility in other states?
Mr. McGartland: With that particular system, we did not do it for other states, but there are several other applications that we have done and are able to use for other states. The Port software that I just mentioned, has been deployed for the Port of LA, Port of Long Beach, and Port of Oakland, and has applicability pretty much at every port in the country. Now that it is live and has been in operation for a little over a year now we’re hoping that we can roll it out to everybody.
CEOCFO: Would you explain what is important when you are talking to a client? What have you figured out that will help to ensure successful project?
Mr. McGartland: Doing government IT work is not simple. You have long lead times because of the budget cycles and other complications. Part of it is working with the clients, getting them to stay focused on what business need they are trying to accomplish as opposed to what paperwork they need to shuffle. If we are going to do something that can reduce the port emissions or get veterans access to their data via mobile phones, we have to focus on what is the business need, what we can accomplish within budget, as well as take advantage of the latest technologies. Some of these projects can be a six-year cycle. A typical one is usually a 2-3 year cycle between when the client gets the idea for the project and when they actually start work. Taking advantage of the latest technology, getting the client to revisit some of their previous assumptions as things change over time, and getting committed executive sponsorship are challenges. If there has been an election or some turnover in the government, if we cannot find the right executive sponsor who is truly going to step up and take ownership on the client’s side, we will not start the project.
CEOCFO: How do you reach potential customers?
Mr. McGartland: Through conceptual sales and long-term lead times for sales, Natoma takes a leadership position in IT governance, especially for state and local governments. We participate in all of the conferences, we give talks, we sit on IT procurement reform committees within small business counsels, and we get very active in trying to push the industry ahead. One of the big focuses for California is procurement cycles. We have taken a very active role in trying to get procurement cycles shortened in California. That is part of our sales goal- staying in front of the clients and getting that thought leadership position where we know their business needs as well as they do. For most of our client base, my staff knows the industries we are working in as well as our clients do.
CEOCFO: Is there a particular level of government that you prefer to work with?
Mr. McGartland: Some of the local governments such as utility districts and the ports, who are not local in terms of municipality but are self-contained government entities, can make decisions faster than some of the other government organizations. We love government clients that can manage their own path. They do not have to worry about different control agencies or other people, which might take longer. If I come out to some of the state agencies that have different charters, constitutional offices, or utility districts, they often can move much faster than a typical statewide agency. Those are our favorite clients, people who I can present a technology or business solution to which can save them money or help them do things quicker and they can take advantage of it without waiting several years to process the paperwork.
CEOCFO: Do you have an advantage the more you work with the government, or does it often comes down to the lowest bid?
Mr. McGartland: The Federal government is much better at considering past performance in the bidding process. They want to see people that have done it before with successful project outcomes. They want to make sure they get someone who is going to do it right. They are looking for value, which is why we have hit a nice niche. We are not as expensive as the bigger companies are, and we are not a mom and pop business. We have a nice little niche where every IT project we have done has been a success. If you have a five million dollar project, it is too small for some of the bigger companies and it is too big for a mom and pop company, you will want someone who can consistently deliver on those size projects. That is perfect for us. For some of the government entities, they value that and they will try to work with the vendor community in general to try to get the right, proven skilled people. The state for the most part comes down to the lowest cost. It is a challenge, which is why we try to work with some of the agencies at the state level who do not rely solely on State General Fund for projects and they have some autonomy on their own.
CEOCFO: Do you find it as difficult as other companies to find the right people with both the technological skills and ability to work with the government?
Mr. McGartland: Finding good people is a challenge, and finding inadequate people is easy. When people hear you are hiring, you are flooded with resumes, and finding the ones that are good in that batch is a challenge. We put a lot of work and effort into our recruiting process, and one of the things that is unique about us is that we ask every candidate to give a formal presentation when they come in for interviews. That involves our receptionist and everybody else, which for some of the IT people is a very different thing for them.
CEOCFO: You have a variety of partners. Are you agnostic with technology, or are there some companies and concepts that you favor over others?
Mr. McGartland: We call ourselves technology agnostic. We do collaborate with some of the product companies, so if that application fits a client’s need, that is great. Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, and Google are great partners. We do many business intelligence and analytics applications for clients, and for one client it might be the Google stack, the next time it might be Oracle stack, and the next time it might be the IBM or Microsoft stack. We do not care, but it is whatever matches the client’s business needs the best. We have never been a software or hardware reseller for that reason. I want our staff to be technology agnostic so that they can recommend what works best and provides the maximum value for the client.
CEOCFO: Would you tell us what is ahead for the company?
Mr. McGartland: We just opened our federal practice this year. In fact, we are working day and night this week on our first big proposal for the federal government. I used to do a lot of federal work, but for the company it is a new thing for them. We are on an aggressive growth strategy. We have a software as a service (SaaS) offering for fraud detection, which we are marketing to all of the states. We are expecting a lot of growth in the next few years.
CEOCFO: Why is this the time to push into federal, and given the still-fragile state of the economy, why do you say this is a good time for growth?
Mr. McGartland: Not in spite of that, but because of that. In 2007, for the most part everybody was complacent, fully billable, and clients were renewing work. Now that money is much tighter, people look for more business value for their dollar. Typically, during recession periods is when Natoma has its best growth because if people have money to burn and they do not care about results. It is a different attitude than when money is tight and they need to get something tangible done. For us, it is the best time to approach new clients because they need to find that business value and collaborative team approach that we bring to all IT projects
CEOCFO: Why should people in the business and investment community pay attention to Natoma Technologies?
Mr. McGartland: The ability for Natoma Technologies to consistently deliver IT solutions that provide true business value is key to our success. There is a local telecom company here that had a need to improve their accounting systems, but they did not have the money to do a full rip and replace. They got bids from some of the big companies, and they proposed much more than the client could afford to spend. They gave us a call, so we went out there. They were looking at 15-20 million dollar bids, which they just did not have the funds. They were a small company with their own challenges, and we did it for $150,000. We looked at the business process rather than technology replacement, and we fixed their business process with technology. People come to Natoma because if they have a business need they are trying to solve, they want to get someone who is a little creative and focused on solving the problem rather than billing the most money.
CEOCFO: Final thoughts?
For the whole industry, this is a very exciting time with the
cloud services and other IT innovations. There are some interesting things
that I think we are going to see across the IT market. The federal
government has embraced cloud services and software as a service, and for
the entire vendor community this opens up so many more possibilities than we
“The ability for Natoma Technologies to consistently deliver IT solutions that provide true business value is key to our success.”- Marty McGartland
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