Splunk into Data Management

Day-to-day data management becomes more vital to the technology infrastructure of organizations. As we build more applications, reimagine the architecture for established systems, and more, we are continuously seeking out tools to streamline development, increase security and reduce risk. Similar to many other topics, there are plenty of ways to achieve these goals. There are a variety of data management tools to support the development and monitor existing systems. However, some tools reap more benefits than others.

Splunk is a holistic reporting, data analytics, and monitoring platform to equip teams with the knowledge to streamline, secure, and monitor operations.

According to Splunk’s website, they help teams to achieve: “82% reduced downtime, 70% lower risk of data breaches, IP theft and fraud, and 50% faster time to market for new apps.”

How does Splunk produce these results?

Robust Data Analytics Platform

Splunk supplies all of your data in one place with real-time streaming of current status across the system. Teams can analyze data on a large-scale to uncover new information within their systems. Additionally, teams have access to service, infrastructure, and performance monitoring to quickly identify and address troubleshooting issues, identify weak points, and ensure systems are running optimally.

Cloud Software Integrations

Changed applications? Worried about running out of space? No problem. Cloud Integration allows the system to scale with your operations. Splunk can integrate across cloud systems such as ServiceNow and Amazon Web Services (AWS).

AI/ML Integration

Artificial intelligence and Machine Learning is emerging across technology. Regarding data management and analytics, Splunk’s Machine Learning provides forecasting, business insights, identification of event clusters, and predict analytics. These factors allow us to get ahead of problems and anticipate the future state for applications.

DevOps Support

Splunk observability supplies teams with visibility across their full stack to streamline the troubleshooting process, reduce blind spots, scale securely within the cloud, and deploy more quality code. Splunk supports high application availability to ensure consistent feedback of user experience and behavior within critical systems.

Security & Compliance

Splunk covers the span of security and compliance needs within the government sector by covering DFARS clauses 252.204-7008, 252.204-7009, and 252.204-7012. Additionally, the system helps to detect and identify any fraudulent activity across the system. Splunk enables teams to secure systems while running reports and dashboards to inform their customers.


As our team develop and integrate solutions for our federal customers, Highlight constantly evaluating, implementing, and operating mission critical tools. As we implement CMMC and prepare some of our clients for enhanced cyber postures, we’ve been increasingly turning to Splunk and wanted to share our observations that might assist you in your next cyber solution.

Not all data management systems are the same. However, through implementation, teams are equipped with the knowledge to deploy code more smoothly, reduce risks, ensure security across the system, and perform quality maintenance throughout the application’s life.

Episode #15 | Year of Covid-19 

Announcement: Broadcasting from Fairfax, Virginia. You are now tuned in to The Highlight Cast with your hosts, Adam McNair and Kevin Long.

Adam McNair: Hello and welcome to another episode of The Highlight Cast. I am Adam McNair from Highlight, joined by Kevin Long and Victoria Robinson. Hi, Kevin. Hey, Adam. How’s it going? Good, good. How are you? You know, doing great things. How about you, Victoria? Yeah, how’s the West Coast? 

Victoria Robinson: I’m doing well. It’s nice and sunny today. It was gloomy yesterday, 

Adam McNair: . Yeah, you guys got your one gloomy day out of the way for the year. 

Victoria Robinson: Got our one cold gloomy day out of the way. 

Adam McNair: It’s good to know that you got that behind you. Well, glad to get back to have another episode here. And I know the topic that we wanted to talk about is, uh, we are right at a little after a year as to the pandemic. And. Victoria, so it seems like, have you seen a lot online? I guess, is this what a lot of companies are doing now? There’s kind of like a year retrospective. Is that, was that your, your thought process? 

Victoria Robinson: Yeah, there’s been a lot of chatter around LinkedIn and just every social media platform I’ve been on about people reflecting and looking back on what’s changed and what’s happened in the last year, whether it be organizational changes based on COVID or, you know, the masks. It’s changed to work from home, so I thought it would be a fun chat for everyone to come on and just talk about what, what’s happened in the last year at Ad Highlight. 

Adam McNair: Yeah, I agree. I think it makes, it’s a good thing to talk about. It’s an interesting 13 months here. And certainly things are very, very different. I mean, I think we have adjusted to how we run the business and how we work and everything now, but it’s really different from where we were. 

Kevin Long: Never saw a business change so fast, like worldwide, put a cleat in the ground and Turn left. I mean, it was crazy. The speed and difference. 

Adam McNair: A absolutely. I mean, the things that we used to have conversations about, like conference rooms being overbooked or commute time to be able to get into, uh, the office or, or go to go to somebody else’s office. The amount of time and apps that I had for parking in DC right. The amount of time that I spent booking, travel, and de conflicting my schedule, not just work, but personal, because, you know, oh, by the way, on Thursday, I have to go to St. Louis, or Boston, or whatever, and then you had to move stuff around. It just doesn’t, it just doesn’t exist. 

Kevin Long: Nope. Well, not as much. We still have some on site commute questions that we’re, challenged with, but I’ll tell ya. Far less than I’ve ever seen before, even in, you know, classified programs, sitting around saying, what can we do just straight unclassified with people working from home on contractor issued laptops? I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s crazy. I never thought I would see some, I never thought I’d see the intelligence agencies, uh, uh, opening up. Figure out how much work they do that is unclassified and able to do that. It’s 

Adam McNair: yeah, I know. I watched my father over his career. He worked at GSA for a big part of it and they were some of the kind of front runners in government of both alternate work schedule where you’d work 9 days and get a day off. They also push forward a lot on teleworking. Um, they. They went to soft phones integrated into laptops. Oh wow. So as he was, his last several years that he was there, he was constantly teleworking. And I had never had a telework job at all, anywhere. Ever. And ever. I mean, the extent of my teleworking was, you know, if somebody was here to work on, you know, the air conditioner, you’d work from home for a day. When you’re working proposals and things like that, you worked from home in the evenings and weekends after you’d already been in the office all day. And when you went on vacation, you worked from there because you weren’t at home. But that was really the extent of teleworking. Um, So, you know, I think Victoria put some thoughts together here, here for us that, that I think is a good layout of, of what has happened with kind of the experience over the last 13 months. Um, Kevin, when you, when you first heard that there was, you know, a virus spreading, what, at what point did that kind of enter your consciousness? 

Kevin Long: Well, so honestly, March 10th, because I was on travel scheduled from DC to Boston for a conference, Boston to St. Louis to meet with with customers and then flying back on Friday, the 13th, when you called and said, yeah, we’re, we’re, we’re shutting down work from home. Let let us know what you need. Um, so that’s what entered my consciousness, but I mean. Honestly, when it was very low key before that, because, you know, it’s state department, you know, I watched SARS. I watched bird flu. I watched Ebola, you know, also all of the news. It’s all going to happen. Oh, no, it doesn’t never mind.

Adam McNair: Right? So I was much in the same boat. I, I had a, a conference that I went to in New Orleans in early March. And I remember my wife mentioning to me, what about this pandemic thing? And I said, I looked on the map, you know, Johns Hopkins has a map and they don’t have it there. It’s fine. And that was obviously not correct. No. And at the point where I, I got back home, you know, I told my wife that they clearly didn’t have it there because They don’t have a lot of doorknobs in New Orleans. The weather’s warm enough that just the, the doors to everything is open, are open. And, and so it was my, uh, theory that, that that would, you know, keep you safe. Cause that was back when the guidance was that it was on surfaces. Yup. For eight days, eight days on surfaces. And, um, and then. I remember sitting in the office, and we were talking about whether we would telework or not, and there were various people that had some reluctance to shutting down the facility, and I’d had a conversation with my wife about, you know, the idea of shutting the office down or not, and, you know, one of her points was, she said, look, we, you’ve got people with, with kids, and When they shut the schools down, you’re gonna have people that have no ability to have any kind of child care, and this is going to be stressful enough.

And, you know, that’s, you always have to remember that, that people have, A real life that they have to have to worry about. And so as we talked about it, we came to a consensus that, um, that week, that Friday in that March 10th kind of timeframe, that we were going to go ahead and set the office to be, um, you know, remote only. And I want to say it was probably a day later that Fairfax County announced that all the schools were officially closed. And, um, and, and so it. I didn’t think it was going to be a year. I certainly didn’t think that. Now, Victoria, you were, I guess you were still back here on the east coast at that point, right? So how did that whole awareness process happen to you? 

Victoria Robinson: Yeah, it was a weird experience. So I remember hearing about COVID 19 starting to spread overseas at a conference in January. We were in Vegas for a big conference and at the time we were like, oh, this is just like a thing that’s going to stay over there and it won’t spread too much and it’ll be fine. And then by the time we got back and by the time a couple of weeks passed and it just started spreading everywhere and it hit the United States and we were like, oh wow, this is starting to affect everyone. And I remember, um, At my previous role, we were considered essential and we could be on site. So we were on site and people were bringing their kids into work and just having them sit in our lobby and play and like do some schoolwork. So it kind of went from a. This is, uh, this is spreading to, this is going to affect us in the office. So we had kids coming in, we had dogs in the office, you know, we had every work from home fear of, Oh no, people will have to bring their lives in. People were bringing their lives in with them to the office. About six weeks of essential where we would be cleaning the office twice a day or, um, we’d be wearing masks 24 seven while we were in the office. And then we had kids wandering around. So it was quite the experience. I think once kids started coming into the office, I was like, wow, this is really starting to become way more serious. And we might be seeing this for a couple more weeks and then about, I think, six weeks. We finally went from, went back to, to work from home and that was a weird transition also. We were only in work from home for about two months and then we went back to the office again. So. I definitely had an interesting experience of it going, Oh, this is only going to be for a short time. And then we went to home and we were like, Oh, this is really going to keep happening. And then we went to it, Oh, this is going to last for a while. And we have to figure out how we’re going to adapt. 

Kevin Long: Yeah. Yeah. I still remember I, I felt very similar to you because, you know, it was work from home. And so, you know, I was coming back from travel, so, you know, I had my, my, my laptop. Uh, with me. And so that’s fine. And so my house is under perpetual construction. And so I, you know, I was like, that’s fine. I’ll sit on the sofa. I can, I can just work there. And I remember it was like, probably like three or four months in. I was like, you know, I think I’m going to ask it for it. Keyboard and mouse so that I’m not just typing on the laptop itself anymore when it was, it was that switch to be like, you know, I think we’re in this for a little while. So, so I, I’m, I’m not doing makeshift anymore. I’m now, I’m now setting up for the, for, for the, the real deal. And, you know, got, got new desk brought in my, my monitor from the office, got the docking station keyboard mouse set up. So it was like, So I’ve got the office now here with all the technology and everything. I mean, heck, we’re instead of sitting across a table like recording this like we used to now, we’re sitting across the internet like we do, you know, eight hours a day. Anyway, it’s, it’s, it took a long time for me to make that switch and just see, think that it was going to last as long as it has. 

Adam McNair: Yeah. I started laptop, the kitchen table. And that’s going to be two weeks. And, um, my, my, my wife said, you should really like set an office up. I said, it’s going to be two weeks. Fine. I’ll do this for two weeks. Not a big deal. And she said, I don’t think it’s going to be just two weeks. And so I think like in the middle of the second week where we clearly were not going to come back anytime soon. And I had been, cause I get at the end of the day and just kind of exhausted. She said, well, that’s because you’re sitting on a wooden counter height. Chair, right. For, for, for, for, for nine or 10 hours. There’s a reason people have desks. And, um, so I, I, I moved down to a, a room in the basement and I set up there. And it was very much, that was a room that she had used for crafts and stuff. And so I started out with a very kind of low key setup. I just have a table down there that I have my laptop on. And then I, I had IT drop ship me a couple of monitors so that I could, you know, you know, okay, monitors, mouse, okay.

And because also in the middle of all this, it was really, really busy. We were doing all the, um, you know, the ramp up to support the pandemic that we, we do for SBA. And, um, that continued for a while. And then after a couple of, probably, I think it was probably two months, um, at some point there, you know, my wife said, this is going to be a while. Why don’t you set up, you know, we have a room upstairs. Why don’t you set that up as a real office? And, um. And, and I did that, and I, like, I have a window now, which is nice, um, because, like, working in the basement was not a lot of fun, and, um, got a desk chair, got one of those, and so, it’s, the big thing that I think I had to do to adjust, I had a lot of Wi Fi issues in the house, and I had a lot of sound echoey. Issues in the house. So I had to, um, I upgraded my wireless network as part of supporting all of that. And I had to go with a kind of a real microphone in the earphone setup because if not, it was either external noise or there’d be echoes or you’re straining to hear or whatever. Um, so I think that was. Kind of my adjustment. 

Kevin Long: It took, it took no time. Uh, like I was still sitting on our sofa, typing on our lap on my laptop when my wife was like, you’re now using enough internet that are you, you need to look at a new router modem system. She’s not super technical, so she didn’t use those words, but the gist was was upgrade the infrastructure in the house. So you don’t ruin my work to Kevin. And so we did that. And it’s a it’s amazing. But what new new Wi Fi hardware will do for you. 

Victoria Robinson: I have the luck of. I was in a one bedroom apartment before I moved out to the West coast. And I luckily don’t have anyone else on conference calls, but I ended up upgrading to a bed, a two bedroom apartment, just for the fact that I knew that this was going to keep going for one and two, that I was going to be remote. And I was like, I’m going to invest in a nicer desk. And I have a nice office chair. I started the pandemic with probably a 40 desk. I got off. Facebook marketplace that I was like, oh, I’ll sit here and do two hours of work, maybe, you know, here or there on the weekends, it’ll be fine. The, you know, flimsy little chair. And I learned very quickly that that was a very bad investment. Um, yep. And I know there’s lots of people battling out there with their, uh, significant others going, Hey, can I have the, the bedroom so I can have my conference call without, you know, hearing you in the background And, right. 

Kevin Long: That’s a hundred percent true.

Adam McNair: Well, I think that my desk is the table we were gonna throw away because it had a printer on it in one of the offices that I have shut down over the years. I’m not sure if it was a highlight facility or if it was one of the previous facilities I was responsible for, but I remember this table was going in a dumpster and I remember saying like, that’s not a bad table and it’s real lightweight, so that’s the desk that I use. Um, but I, I, I, I get what you’re, you know, where you’re, you’re coming from, from the, the, you get by with all kinds of stuff when you, when teleworking is like a day here or there, but, um, so schedule wise, what like Victoria from, from where you used to be. You’ve done both that, but now you’ve also gone to the West Coast, which is not a specific COVID impact, but were it not for a pandemic that shifted everything remote here, you know, we’d never really had anybody nationwide on the West Coast that was really truly integrated with the headquarter operation. How has your schedule changed? 

Victoria Robinson: Well, it’s funny because During the pandemic, I’m sure lots of people have pandemic hobbies. My pandemic activity was running before, and then I moved in October. I used to run before work and then start my work day and get through the day. And that was my like sanity check through the day. And then I moved and now I’ve trained. I’ve like. Flipped my work schedule. So now it’s, I usually get on between six 30 and seven, maybe some other early God, awful hour. And then, you know, now my day has completely flipped where I get off around, you know, four o’clock and now I have all these, Hours left over in the day. So it was a weird transition at first for sure. But now it’s kind of this nice, what do I do with the rest of my day? 

Adam McNair: Now, Kevin, just based on commute alone, yours has to be unbelievably different. 

Kevin Long: Yeah. Yeah. It’s, I mean, honestly, I don’t wake up at four in the morning anymore. It is really what it is. Um, but, uh, yeah. So, yeah, so that’s very interesting. I mean, my, my commute has gone like when I would go down to client site, uh, at Union Station. I mean, it would take me 3 hours to get there. Right? I mean, anytime you do that much, it’s, uh, you’re doing conference calls and different things like that to try and stay busy. But I’ll tell you, I mean, it’s, it’s hit my audio book listening pretty hard. Um, so, you know, I don’t get nearly as much of that anymore. Thanks so much. Um, but yeah, I mean, I now literally I commute 15, 20 steps, uh, like, yeah, the fact that I have to go downstairs to get the coffee is the real is the real killer, uh, for it. But it’s, um, in terms of schedule, you know, work, work often tends to expand to fill all available time. And so, you know, you still have your, you still have your 8am meetings and stuff, but what, what it really has done is. You know, you, you work at 8 a. m., you work till you’re done, and now, now I’m just not as tired on the weekends. Yeah, it’s, I mean, so, so it’s, it’s kind of, kind of amazing. Uh, in fact, though, I have an 8 a. m. meeting coming up on, on Friday that I have to meet headquarters for, and so I’m dusting off, you know, I was, wasn’t sure if it was going to be for posterity or not. I still have my time to get up series of alarms on my iPhone for. For the 4 o’clock hour that I’m going to dust off on Thursday to turn on to to get into headquarters for our for 8 o’clock presentation. So 

Adam McNair: my schedule I, the commute to the office and I was always fortunate that it was not a. Real big deal for me to get to the office. It’s really close to my house, but the things that I’ve seen that are major, major schedule, different differences are number one, it’s very easy to commit to and book about 10 hours a day. Of just easy, pure meeting time because you’re like, Oh, sure. Wow. I’m gonna be sitting there. Oh, okay. All right. Yeah, I’ll be there. And you sign up for that. The things that from a schedule standpoint, I’ve had to start really thinking about and changing are number one. You don’t, you don’t just have impromptu conversations for the most part. And so I’ve had to, I’ve had to kind of create governance around, well, Victoria and I need to talk about marketing activities once a week. It has to be scheduled. There’s a possibility that if we were in the headquarters and she was in the office next to mine, that she just would have come over every two days and there was no need for a scheduled weekly. Activity can’t do that now. Um, so I intentional now Yeah, it has to be, it has to be very intentional. So, so that’s a thing. And then the other one is, I, I’ve always known, and I, I, I, I kind of learned this many, several years ago where, um, I sat through three or four different back to back meetings with, um, one of the business group managers back at CACI . And I watched him go from one meeting where it was just conversation about something to another one where it was this big problem, multi million dollar, bottom line impact, stockholder, bad stuff, to somebody coming in wanting to bid a new deal. And he did a very good job. Of trying to insulate his mind and switch go compartmentalize and go from one topic to the next, but you could tell that it was very difficult that that that third capture conversation they had was not as optimistic as what he would normally be. And something that I used to do in my schedule was I would block different emotional types of activities into different parts of the day. You know, it’s like, hey, if we’re going to talk about deals and set a capture thing, I’m going to try to put that in the, in the beginning of the morning, because That’s at a point where we can talk about it and we can be optimistic and we are fresh and all of that.

Things haven’t 

Kevin Long: had time to go wrong 

Adam McNair: yet. Yeah, essentially. 

Victoria Robinson: Mine’s still sharp, ready to go, yeah. 

Adam McNair: And if you know you’re going to have this, here’s a program and we are losing money on it and we thought these things were going to happen and this is the problem and we can’t get this fixed and here, you know. I’m going to push that, you know, into a different block, maybe a little bit later in the day, and I would, I would try to group things up that way, and I would also try to get out, I’d go take a walk in Fairfax City in the middle of some stretch of that, and go like, okay, I need to like really shift what I’m thinking about, give some thought to this before I walk into it, and the 8am, 9am, 10am, 11, 12, 1, 2, 3, 4 o’clock scheduled Is a problem to have that kind of space to think about things, but it also precludes you from getting any of the stuff that was actually written about and said, okay, you need to do these things. I’ve had to get really intentional about like, I have every day at like, 330 or something like that. I have something on my calendar where. I have to wrap up when people have reached out and sent me a message. I need to respond to it. And if I’m constantly in meetings, I either don’t do that, I don’t want to be the person that as you’re talking to me, I’m staring at my keyboard and you just hear me typing, and then it’s like, what?

I don’t want to do that. Um, so I’ve had to be a lot more intentional just about blocking out time to do things, which I don’t feel like was really a big issue. With when I was in the office, 

Kevin Long: I don’t know if it’s a new update or not, but Cortana has started looking at my outlook schedule and sending started sending the email saying, Kevin, you should really consider having some focus time in your calendar. Would you like me to book that for you? No kidding. 

Victoria Robinson: I have the same. Absolutely. In the last, like, two weeks, there’s something that Microsoft Office does that Outlook will send you if you’re collaborating or focusing or, like, on calls and it’ll tell you, hey, you’ve been on too many calls. Are you sure you’re getting enough, um, like, work 

Kevin Long: done? Yeah. Are you sure you don’t need time to actually do work? Yeah. And so I’ve honestly, I’ve only had enough time free in the schedule to use it a couple of times, but, but absolutely, you know, I mean, there was one day, I mean, totally not realistic, but, but it blocked off like two and a half hours of my day is focused time. And I said, sure, let’s try that. And it was great. So it, I mean, it showed time is busy. And so I got like actual hour and a half, like carved out of it because of that. And so. Yeah, I mean, I don’t know what kind of, uh, what kind of dark magic Microsoft is running with that to tell, but it was, uh, yeah, it was, it was interesting that they, you know, are looking at that and recognizing the. The required intentionality around that. 

Adam McNair: Now, I guess I should start paying attention to this Cortana emails. I see some of them come in. I’m like, I don’t know what at the 

Victoria Robinson: end of the tunnel, that, that it’ll block off schedule. Yeah, 

Kevin Long: that sounds like that could be good. I mean, I was I was like, man, Microsoft is sending me more spam. And I was like, all ready to get angry at the spam that I read. It was like.

Victoria Robinson: That’s not a bad idea. Yeah. It’s like, uh, it’s like your personal assistant evaluating your schedule for you, but without, you know, the admin cost or anything, it’s just a magic voice. It’s like an Alexa for work. 

Kevin Long: It’s now telling me that my meetings are too long. And are you sure you don’t 45 minutes? But, uh, And I’ve done that a few times too. It’s like, you know, I could probably do that in 45 minutes. And, and no one wants to book you on the quarter hour. So that actually gives you 15 minutes of recovery time. So that’s great. 

Adam McNair: And I think if from a tool standpoint, you know, we teams has been, I think really, really. Just so much better than Skype. So much better. Yeah. Cause I think I actually look at them as almost just separate categories of product, you know, Skype was not much more than a video telephone and. It had a little bit of functionality beyond that, but our ability to do so many things, we’re creating process automated workflows in teams, I mean, we just, it has been phenomenal, uh, for our ability to continue to work. Yeah. Um, And it also has made me really, really appreciate the ability to digitally sign. Like we, we use DocuSign for a lot of things and we have for a long time. And so many little micro decisions that have been made over the years where, you know, three years ago, it was like, why are we still signing paper? Can’t we? Do something different and that was just out of the pure kind of philosophical like this should be easier. We shouldn’t have to store. And, um, you know, I think one of the things that we did a couple of years ago is, uh, we went through and digitized all of the HR files. And, and migrated to an online HR system, uh, because up until a couple years ago, we still had everything in paper. One of the compelling reasons for that is we had storage requirements and we said, look, if we’re going to move to a new office, let’s not move boxes of paper. We ought to scan all this stuff and then put it in a system and get a real system. And that was one of the drivers there. Um, are there other tools that you guys are using, you know, more differently now that we’re remote?

Kevin Long: So, I’m going to let Victoria talk about it because she and and another partner of ours introduced me to something called envision. 

Victoria Robinson: Oh, yes. Envision is an is an amazing tool. But before I jump into another thing that I’ve used completely differently than I did before was Trello, especially for marketing. Um, especially because you can tag people in it, you can make sure that people are assigned to tasks without having, you know, a video or a meeting about it. You just check in, see, oh, there’s my name. And then you just run with it. But to Kevin’s point, envision is basically sitting in a room with a whiteboard without anyone having to request control. Um, But all digital. So essentially you can leave posted notes for people. You can move around things as you see fit. You can type little messages to each other, highlight things. It’s great for design flows because you can change the orientation of everything while other people are watching you do it. It’s a complete game changer, especially for work from home kind of tool. So definitely check it out. I’ll have to look at that. Yeah, when we 

Adam McNair: do proposal solution development. Oh, you will love it. That’s the one thing that I’ve seen is, is difficult. Um, if you end up, I mean, screen sharing PowerPoint and, and drawing, and it’s not ideal.

Kevin Long: No, it’s, I mean, even to the point where you can make things clickable, I mean, to Go from one part of your whiteboard to another. So like, for example, let’s say you’re designing column low to mid fidelity wireframes and you literally want to be able to go from one part to another, you know, a screen to a screen. It’s just in there, and it has tools to export to other other collaboration tools. It’s I mean, I don’t know how to use it. You know, I’m, I’m, I’m not smart like that yet, but I have watched it used and I know I want more of it. 

Victoria Robinson: Yeah, you can follow people as they’re working in the space. You can do like, um, Kevin was saying you can make it clickable. So if you’re trying to do a mock up and try to get gained understanding between, you know, some development people and for, you know, The design team, people can go through and go, Oh, that’s what you meant when you were talking about this process. So if the questions of, I don’t know what you’re talking about, and we can’t talk about it in person, it kind of meets that gap.

Kevin Long: Or if you’re designing like a giant solution diagram, that is a combination of, uh, like of, of other diagrams that you can blow up to it. You can make it so you can click from each different piece part into the, into the exploded version of the diagram. Yeah, it’s. Yeah, Victoria, you’re going to have to show Adam in a legit way. It’s I think in fact, I think the entire any proposal solution architect folks should take a look at that because that I’m excited because that’s a brand new. A tool for me that I’ve seen, you know, late pandemic for for this. So, 

Adam McNair: but a lot of that, so those tools, I think they tie into a couple of things. And one is managing remote teams and. I think from my perspective, the, that intentionality to make sure that everybody’s talking and really focusing on a, a place of record where you keep information and, and requiring better notes and people to keep their information up to date. And frankly, I don’t think that’s. new because of this. I think there’s a lot of organizations that when they run tightly around sprints and, and, and user stories and those kinds of things, they are very much accustomed to that. I would just say that we were not that tightly organized prior to the pandemic. You know, it was, it didn’t have to be, we could all walk into a room. 

Kevin Long: Right. Yeah, we have, we bought these giant, beautiful whiteboards, like, like entire rooms long to be able to just hash it out. 

Adam McNair: Yeah. So I, I, I think that has, um, has certainly changed, but again, I think it’s been beneficial for how we operate. And I think it’s more intentional and more detailed. Um, I think more so, you know, when I look at real challenges that, that I’ve, I’ve seen a lot of them have been tactical things. Like it’s been really hard for us to get laptops. Um, now that everybody in the world is working from home. 

Kevin Long: Oh my gosh. And that started early too. 

Adam McNair: Yeah, we, we, we went from. Our supplier, when you just ordered one, they’d say, okay, well, you know, in 48 hours, we’ll just drop some off at your location with our configuration that we order. Um, we’re generally now about six months out. And so we keep a significantly larger stock than we used to and have to be, you know, more intentional about knowing what we, um, knowing what we’re, we’re, we’re going to need, you know, going forward. I think a lot of our. A lot of our other challenges had had more to do with scale of growing than necessarily doing things virtually. Um, but I, I think they all kind of, we had to work around the inability of having a bunch of people in a room and just stopping in, we kind of set our old office up. There were certain contracts and finance were. Some of them were in a bullpen area and had the ability that was intentional so that they could just like, you know, turn around in their chair and ask a question and it was very efficient and we’ve had to replicate that electronically. Um, Victoria, from your, you know, perspective, as you, you know, are, are, you know, Interacting with everybody as far as being able to communicate and advance the culture of the company. And then I mean, do you feel like we’ve been able to do that and still be kind of what we what it felt like to be a highlight prior to being here only digitally?

Victoria Robinson: I mean, I think a lot of people are talking about trying to establish and maintain culture while we’re virtual. I think it’s been a big topic. We’ve done a really good job of trying to transition that to virtual. I mean, teams is a great resource for that. We have, you know, our communities of interest and, uh, special interest areas where people can just like chat in channels on just like normal outside of work topics, or even trying to, you know, progress your career that way too, um, and learn about different things you might not be learning about where we used to be able to walk into a room and I think another, um, Thing people are kind of leaning on is trying to figure out what’s going on in industry and what the culture is from a lot more leaning towards LinkedIn and websites and things like that. There’s a lot more focus on that, especially when you’re evaluating a company for, you know, as a candidate or something like that, or even looking at. At resources like what we’re doing right now, talking on a podcast. It’s like, what are people talking about? What are they doing? What are they being intentional about? And I think Highlight’s done a really good job of trying to maintain that even in the virtual 

Adam McNair: world. So it does make a lot of sense. Yeah. I did the, the LinkedIn pages is ever more important when you can’t walk into the office and meet people and those kinds of things that makes a lot of sense. Um, so yeah, a couple of other things I think as we wrap up here, you know, as far as what we’ve Achieved during the pandemic. And Kevin, as you look back on the year, you know, uh, achievement wise, what are, what are the things that you think have been in the achievements that stick out the most? I don’t know if I would say that they’re the, the biggest or the most important or whatever, but what, what, what accomplishments from the company do you think have been memorable for you?

Kevin Long: Yeah. Well, so honestly, I, I, I sat on the outside of. And so of the biggest change, so I’m going to let you guys talk about SBA and whatnot, because I’m sure that that’s the biggest or one of the biggest. But for me, what I’ve seen, honestly, successfully moving us and our customers and our Contract staff from 5 days a week, 830 to 530 on site by, you know, all the time to what can you do from home to how do you get them set up with Citrix to how do you get 600 Mac books shipped to, you know, Topeka and 27 other locations around the country for our customers to get that set up. I think that was awesome. And then also, I mean, learning how to work and leveraging remote staff all around the country in a more unified way where we are looking at. If I was doing a code challenge or something like that, I. I know that I would have leaned on the D. C. area folks almost exclusively because that’s where I am. Right? Right. And now, when I’m looking at major bids or hard things to do, I’m, You know, I mean, I’m grabbing Victoria from California and talking with folks out in St. Louis and I able to do that and people in Boston and all over just bringing everyone together. And so, um, I think that that’s probably the biggest achievement in terms of opening the aperture of who’s available to do what to help our customers. Yeah, 

Adam McNair: I, I, I agree. I think that’s a really big deal. I think the ability to expand how we operated and really change that a lot. Because I, I do think, you know, when you, when you want everybody to show up to an office in Fairfax, Virginia, you are really limiting the number of people that you have access to. And it’s not just them showing up today. It’s also, how long are they going to want to show up there? I’ve talked to at least a couple people that, you know, their, their life plans take them to some place else other than Fairfax, Virginia, and they were going to have to have that. Can I work remotely? And do you think this will work? And, Working remotely wasn’t so much about them before the pandemic. It was a lot about the way we operated and it was difficult. You know, we’ve had people before that tried to move and he’d forget to dial the phone up so that they could dial into it and you didn’t have the tools. Really? We weren’t, we weren’t adept at using the tools to really incorporate them in the best way. And, and I think being able to switch and have everybody be, be remote has been, um, that’s a big accomplishment. Amen. I think another one is the ability to secure all of this, um, you know, the, we went through the CMMC process and, and went down the certification path for that because it’s going to be a, an evolving requirement basically for, for DOD, but. We had a decent foundation, uh, the ISO 27, 000 things that we’ve done around our IT and securing it was important that the fact that we’ve been able to do all of this and keep it secure and keep all the the connections and the data where it’s supposed to be and have data controls on it and flag things that are CUI. I mean, we turned that on early on. We said, Hey, look, if we’re going to be doing this, we got to make sure that, you know, the HR and finance department. Make a mistake and start sending social security numbers on encrypted over email. And so we started to put controls on our I. T. systems that never happened.

We were in the office because but the process was H. R. would walk down to the finance and with them written on a Post it. When they were done, they feed it into the shredder. What, that’s, that, that’s gone now. Can’t do that. Um, that’s, that’s a big one. And then I think the, the, the, and Kevin, you alluded to the SBA growth, and some of the other growth in the company. I mean we’re, Uh, we’re a full on large business now. We’re in a 200 million plus a year type company. And, and that’s a, that’s a big accomplishment, but, um, I think almost more than just the, this scale and size of, of growing is, I think we did the best job that we could. And I’d, I’d give this, I don’t know, I don’t, I, you can never give yourself an A, but I, I think we did a pretty, pretty darn good job. Yeah. Of Looking for an understanding of balance between we’re a growing company and all this is exciting. We have a new project. We have to ramp up and you know, the country needs support and all of that with the fact that you couldn’t, you couldn’t buy bread for a month and a half. And people’s kids are out of school, and if you needed to go get an ID to be able to get on site, it might take you six weeks to be able to do that, or you might not be able to, or, um, you know, all those things that you They’re intertwined with how you’re working. You know, as we were talking earlier today about how, how our personal job experiences were impacted by it, everybody’s was. And I think, I think we did a, as good a job as we could have, um, or close to it for trying to make sure that we were understanding and, and, and looked for ways to be flexible and looked for ways to, um, to acknowledge that. It wasn’t just normal and that was okay and we would try to do what we could to accommodate around that. I think that’s really important and I think there’s enough stress that this has caused, um, You know, it’s just, there’s, there’s little hard things, you know, you’re trying to take your kid to Girl Scouts, and it’s a remote session, or you’re going to do it in a park, and people wearing masks, they have to stay away from each other, or whatever it is, and, um, you know, so I, I think a lot of that, That’s probably what I’d point to as the biggest accomplishment. It’s a very, um, you know, more of a qualitative than quantitative metric. But I feel pretty good about it in retrospect. One of the things you also mentioned is something that we’re going to talk about in an upcoming episode. In the middle of all of this, we’ve started to do tech challenges. As you were talking about tapping into resources, you know, Just because COVID is hopefully we’re, we’re rounding some kind of a, of a, of a corner. Well, my desk’s not made out of wood. I don’t think so. This table that I took out of that dumpster, I think it might be just, um, plastic, but I’m not sure. Or I would, but I, I think that that we’re going to continue to operate primarily this way. 

Kevin Long: Yeah. 

Adam McNair: Um, going forward, you know, and we made that decision, you know, when, when Victoria said, hey, I can come over, but I’m going to be in California. Is that okay? As soon as you say, yeah, I guess so. Well, then you’re not going back to the way you were. Um, we’ve got a lot of really talented people here. You know, that have joined the team that are not going to work out of, out of, out of our office. And, uh, I think, like you’re saying, Kevin, you’ve tapped into people all across the country to support some of these tech challenges.

So, if anybody hasn’t seen them, the tech challenges, instead of the standard request for proposal out of the government, where they come out and say, hey, just write to me about how you’re going to do this. They have you do whatever that is. So if that’s building software, you have to go build software and it’s, it’s really not easy. I’d only been involved in one of them over the, over my career and it was really shocking at the time. It was about a decade ago and they said, okay, we want you to come in and actually show us a working prototype of a name check solution. 

Kevin Long: We are going to want us and we’re going to give you names you don’t know about to feed through them.

Adam McNair: Yeah, and I remember having they want us to have a prototype. Really? That’s an that’s an evaluation thing. And perhaps it’s my. My scarring over how that went. Uh, never 

Victoria Robinson: forget once you’ve done one. 

Adam McNair: I sat in that room and watched some really, really smart technical people after about eight minutes ago. Oh no. Like, well, these next two days are not going to be great. So, having started from there, Kevin has been leading our team to do some tech challenges, and we’ve been a part of a couple of them now as a sub, and we’re running one now as a prime, and have had some success. Think good thoughts, everybody. That’s right. That’s something we’re going to talk about on the next Highlight Cast, just that. Some of his tech challenge team, uh, about what, what that’s been like. Uh, Victoria has also been part of that. So she’ll be able to provide some thoughts. Uh, so that, that’ll be coming up. Been an, it’s been an interesting 13 months. Um, but I think we’re still getting by. And I, I think like we talked about, there’s a lot of positive things that have come from that, that we’re going to carry forward. 

So, thanks for listening to the Highlight Cast, uh, to keep up to date with our news and activities here at Highlight. You can follow us on LinkedIn. You can also visit our website, HighlightTech. com that has two T’s in it. Highlight. And you can tune into the next episode where we talk about, uh, tech challenges and then our team approach. So thank you very much. And Kevin, thank you. Victoria, thank you.

Highlight Converts To An Employee Owned Company

Fairfax, VA – On April 16, 2021, Highlight Technologies Inc. announced they have completed the sale of its stock to a newly-formed Employee-Owned Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), continuing the vision of its founder and CEO, Rebecca Andino, in supporting an entrepreneurial workplace culture for talented and hard-working individuals. Ms. Andino, who remains the CEO, made the announcement during a recent company town hall meeting.

Highlight’s ESOP will benefit not only managers and executives; but will also provide significant long-term benefits to its nearly 1,000 employees through employer-only contributions.

The profits attributable to the ESOP are not taxable, allowing earnings to be used for strategic investments and contributions to the employee trust.

“I am excited that each of the employees of Highlight is now an employee-owner. We have a dedicated team that has worked hard to build a well-managed, high-performing business that delivers innovative solutions and services to our government customers. I’m thrilled that our team members will directly share in the value they are creating in the business,” said Highlight CEO Rebecca Andino.

“Being an employee-owned company helps us differentiate as an employer of choice for top talent. There aren’t many other government contracting firms that automatically give employees ownership in the company, and fewer of them are on rapid growth trajectories like Highlight,” said Highlight COO Adam McNair. “Our customers will receive the support of a team of employee-owners who each have a personal stake in customer satisfaction, innovation, and long term mission success,” he added.

The company was advised by FON Advisors (www.fonadvisors.com) and Bean Kinney & Korman, PC (www.beankinney.com), and financed by JPMorgan Chase (www.jpmorganchase.com). Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Seven out of the largest 100 government contractors (as ranked by Washington Technology) are ESOP-owned, and Highlight is one of only two ESOP-owned firms in Washington Technology’s 2020 Fast 50 list.

According to the National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO), in 2021 there are roughly 6,600 ESOPs covering more than 14 million participants. Of the 100 largest U.S. employee-owned companies listed by NCEO in 2020, 12 are government contractors.


About Highlight

Highlight is an award-winning, ISO® 9001, ISO 20000. ISO 27001, ISO 44001, ISO 56002‑certified, CMMI-DEV Level 3‑, and CMMI-SVC Level 3‑appraised, woman-owned federal government contractor that provides critical services to more than 20 U.S. federal government customers. Using our HI-WAY™™ best-practices framework, we design and deliver solutions that integrate current systems and procedures, address the concerns of all stakeholders, and seamlessly advance the missions of our customers. With over 10 years of federal contracting experience, we apply our proven transformation and evolution process to deliver quality services that balance agility, continuity, security, and compliance. To learn more, visit www.highlighttech.com.

Highlight Named as a Finalist For SECAF’s Prestigious Government Project Of The Year

April 5, 2021, Fairfax, VA—Highlight has been selected as a finalist for the 13th Annual Small and Emerging Contractors Advisory Forum (SECAF) Awards. Winners will be announced at the virtual Awards Gala on Thursday, May 6, 2021. The event honors small and emerging government contractors and industry stakeholders that rely on these businesses.

Highlight is a finalist for Project of the Year for the work conducted at the Small Business Administration (SBA). The government Project of the Year award is given to a company that has delivered an exemplary program with significant value to the federal government.

Adam McNair, Highlight COO, said “Our ability to scale to support emerging requirements is driven by our investment in certified processes and our HI-WAY™™ delivery framework. We’re grateful that our capabilities have been able to play a small part in supporting the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Highlight is privileged to support the SBA in providing essential relief to so many American small businesses and individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are pleased that this project is being recognized by SECAF as a project of the year finalist and honored to be a part of it,” said Rebecca Andino, Highlight CEO.

“The SECAF Awards Gala shines a spotlight on the vision and success that enable the community of government contractors to deliver excellence year in and year out. It is a privilege to recognize Highlight as it mirrors the tenants of our own organization—leadership, fortitude, and commitment,” said Richard Pineda, CALIBRE President and CEO and SECAF Board Chair.

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About Highlight

Highlight is an award-winning, ISO® 9001, ISO 20000. ISO 27001, ISO 44001, ISO 56002‑certified, CMMI-DEV Level 3‑, and CMMI-SVC Level 3‑appraised, woman-owned, small business that provides critical services to more than 20 U.S. federal government customers. Using our HI-WAY™™ best-practices framework, we design and deliver solutions that integrate current systems and procedures, address the concerns of all stakeholders, and seamlessly advance the missions of our customers. With over 10 years of federal contracting experience, we apply our proven transformation and evolution process to deliver quality services that balance agility, continuity, security, and compliance. To learn more, visit www.highlighttech.com.

About The 13th Annual SECAF Awards Gala

The 13th Annual SECAF Awards Gala is the premier commemorative event honoring small and emerging government contractors and those organizations that rely on small business. The event will be held virtually at 5:00 PM ET on Thursday, May 6, 2021. To register or for more information, visit here.

About the Small and Emerging Contractors Advisory Forum

The SECAF enables small and emerging government contractors to achieve maximum growth rates in a highly competitive marketplace. SECAF is an important resource for a growing company, providing members with business resources, access to influencers and government agencies, and advocacy opportunities and education. SECAF also serves medium to large government contractors, providing invaluable introductions to specialized small businesses that enable the overall contracting community to work successfully in tandem. For more information, visit www.secaf.org.