Episode #32: Software Asset Management in the Federal Sector

Announcement: Broadcasting from Fairfax, Virginia, you are now listening to the Highlight Cast. Hello and welcome back to the 

Ashley Nichols: Highlight Cast. I’m Ashley Nichols, highlight’s Vice President for Corporate Strategy and Development, and I’m a longtime listener, first time host of the Highlight Cast, so excited to be here. As always, our team is very excited to discuss Different trends within the landscape of the GovCon work that we all do. Today, we’re going to chat about Federal Software Asset Management. For the uninitiated, software asset management is the business practice that involves managing and optimizing the purchase, deployment, and delivery. Maintenance utilization and disposal of software applications within an organization. So why are we talking about software asset management? Which I’m going to shorten to Sam. So if you hear me say Sam throughout, that’s. Software asset management. Well, recent, uh, OMB guidelines and legislation like Fatara and megabyte have prompted a hard look at cost savings in it agencies in the, in the organizations. So Sam is routinely identified as one of the largest areas of unrealized savings and a robust software asset management process can really help organizations in how they forecast, procure, install, maintain, monitor, track. Reuse software licenses and other assets to realize those savings. So, we’ll take an in depth look at the current state of software asset management inside the federal government and more specifically within and some software factory environments. We’ll talk about some common solutions and best practices, as well as some challenges and some of the security impacts and implications of SAM. So, joining me today are Sarah Dreyer, uh, one of our procurement managers on one of our government programs. I’ll, I’ll leave it unnamed as such. And the program manager and cybersecurity engineer, Kevin Milner and Emily Scancilberry, director of corporate portfolio development. Welcome, Sarah, Kevin, Emily. How are you doing 

Kevin Milner: doing? Great. Thanks. 

Sarah Dryer: Pretty good. All right. Well, we’ll jump right into it. Um, let’s talk about the importance of software asset management in the federal government writ large. Wouldn’t be touched on some of it being regulation driven in the intro, but then more specifically in D. O. D. And software factories where I know a lot of your experience is so. What are some of the major impacts, you would say, of just poor software asset management practices? 

Kevin Milner: So one of the, one of the impacts that we see of poor software asset management is you get people buying software that isn’t really required for what they’re trying to do, or they may get the wrong version. In the DoD, one of the things we really need to watch out for is security concerns. We got to make sure that the software is not developed by an adversarial nation or other harmful entities. We want to make sure that the software we purchase is secure and the easiest way to do that is to follow the DoD guidelines about only purchasing U. S. operated software and that sort of thing. So that’s, that’s one of the big concerns. Absolutely. 

Sarah Dryer: Yeah, Sarah, you have a deep procurement background. Really, you know, Kevin comes from more of the technical background of building the system to support this process. But Sarah, like, you live and breathe procurement of these sort of products. So what would you say I would say cost cost association of it? Um, the lack of understanding exactly what they need to buy when they need to buy it, how critical it is for them to complete any mission. Kevin. Also to the lack of ability to have proper data like at your fingertips. What is going on? Who’s buying it? Where is it being deployed to? Which also comes up to a risk for security as Kevin stated, but then also to I think one of the big things is the lack of centralized repository. There’s not a place where the government can go and see a transparency what’s happening throughout the whole entire enterprise. And without having a proper process of procuring and purchasing and then deploying of the licenses that are purchased, it opens it up to a big risk. And then also too, in the auditing purposes of that, when people, when a auditor comes through, they want to know what’s the Background like where did you buy a farm? Who do you buy it from the cost associated with it? Because if you think about it, if it’s not within a certain cost and it’s too cheap, then why did you purchase that? And if you did purchase it and you deployed it, there’s a risk there because high value and high maintain licenses costs, unfortunately. Yeah, absolutely. So I think you’ve touched on some of the, you know, obviously some of the benefits are going to be the upside to some of the impacts of poor SAM practices. So maybe let’s talk about, you know, in implementing this for your customer, what were some of the biggest challenges of putting together a robust SAM process? And then also the tooling, but specifically what were some of your biggest challenges that you’ve experienced? I think the biggest challenge was defining what the processes were. Like there was not a set process that defines the each stage, the asset management life cycle from procurement to retirement. There is not a stage where you can say, okay, when signature happens, what do they do next? And then the process and the documentation of all that. So that it was one of the major things that we had to first address and then define and then see what the solution for was for the gaps that we found. 

Kevin Milner: Great. Kevin? And yeah, like I would say, especially for government organizations, there is a clear distinction between the money people and the technology people, you know. It just, you can tell by the way Sarah and I are talking, she’s focused more on money and I’m focused more on the technology aspect, so they’re not always understanding exactly what it is that they need to do, so one of the biggest challenges is to, to, um, sort of Sort of help the customer get out of their own way so that you can, you can come in and get them the software tools they need and establish a process that that doesn’t exist otherwise. So that’s, you know, that’s one of the major efforts that we’ve seen coming in is that first we have to identify the process. Uh, we have to figure out what it is the customer wants, you know, where they want to see their, their asset management, uh, how they want to see it, it function and stuff like that.

Sarah Dryer: Kevin brought up a good point about the association of different resources. Tech right now, cyber doesn’t speak to. The money people. The money people don’t speak to cyber and cyber doesn’t speak to the customers. So in the process, you get them all together, basically in one room, and they find out exactly what the project is going on. Who’s doing what? So then they can then look at the overall what’s in the pipeline to be able to predict and then build a budget. So the lack of communication is also a problem there, too, which then results in And how do you bring in the process and build a stronger foundation to then benefit the overall Sam as a whole. So it’s not just software asset management. It’s communication of what is needed through the software asset management. So that brings up an interesting question. Um, and. It really goes to the multiple stakeholders that were involved in this process. Right? You said cyber doesn’t talk to money and they’re just two of the players in this process. How did you approach bringing these disparate groups of people together as well as helping to achieve some buy in from them as part of this process? I think the first thing that we did was get them comfortable with having the experience of interviews like we went to each and every one of our stakeholders and we said, what is it that you need? I need to be able to do X, Y, and Z. Well, then how do you do X, Y, and Z? Well, then you have to talk to another stakeholder. So then in the line of all the interviews and all of the, uh, Kind of identifying what each stakeholder does. We then combined that whole entire, all the gaps and the interviews and the conversations and the basically the money and then put it all together to where when they, when a POC, which is the head of an environment comes in and the POCs are basically the advocate of the customer customer comes in, they asked the POC, they said, Hey, I The P O C needs to have a proper process and strategy on how to obtain those licenses. And who’s going to allocate the funds? Who’s going to manage those licenses? None of that was determined, nor was it even defined. So by bringing them all together and saying, Hey, we know that this is a sticking point and a pain point for you. What we’re going to do is we’re going to have weekly meetings about what you need, what your projects are, and then we’re going to communicate that through every single solitary stakeholder. So we did, we have bi weekly meetings, we have weekly meetings, we have then monthly meetings and brings. Everybody into the process. So everybody understands exactly what their role is, what they need to do and then how they need to execute that. And we did that and we not bought them in. But we build a foundation of trust with them because we had solutions and we executed everything that we said. We had a basically a foundation of you can trust us. This is what we provide. You have seen it over and over and over again. Now that you have seen that we can procure and help you manage all these licenses, we are now going to establish communication to bring everybody in. Wow. That sounds very complex. I know there was some really detailed customer mapping or sorry, journey mapping that went on with that that we’ll talk a little bit later when we talk about the tooling. So, Kevin, like, In terms of customer buy in, did you, do you think about it in terms of what’s most effective, like a prototype or just having them involved in the whole process increases the buy in or both?

Kevin Milner: Yeah, it’s, it’s sort of a holistic thing. You, you have to, you have to do both at the same time. When I first came on to, to our current contracts, they weren’t particularly happy to see me. I don’t, I don’t know if, uh, You know, my, my style wasn’t, wasn’t exactly embraced. So what we had to do is we had to show them the results. We had to show them the workflows that we designed and we had to make sure that they, they saw the value we were bringing to them. And if they didn’t, you know, that was on us. So we, we had to go back and communicate and, and reiterate and go through several different reiterations of, of showing them the plan, getting their buy in, showing them demos. Um, and, and that’s really helped them come to embrace us as, as people that actually know what we’re talking about. And we are able to deliver the changes that they themselves know they desperately need. A lot of it is, is just winning them over and showing them that they can trust you to, uh, to do what you say you’re doing. Because there’s, there’s, you know, there’s a lot of operatives in, in this industry that, That are just looking for a paycheck. So it’s, it’s really good when the civilian employees of the government are able to look and say, Hey, you’re not a, you’re not a typical contractor. You’re doing things the highlight way. And we like that. 

Sarah Dryer: Speaking of the Highlight Way, we have some specific best practices that, that we have in place here at Highlight. We call it Highway, and it’s a combination of our certifications and best practices, but we’ve got one special certification around stakeholder engagement, which really just speaks to our focus on that. I think you can hear it in the way Kevin and Sarah talked about the deep level of stakeholder engagement, That has supported the successful implementation of, you know, their robust Sam process and tool. But Emily, can you talk a little bit about this? That’s ISO 44, 000 for customer relationship management, but that really drives our commitment and structure around a lot of our stakeholder engagement activity. So I’m like, can you talk a little bit about. The criticality of that both certification and those practices and how it’s integrated into really all the programs we do here at highlight. 

Emilie Scantlebury: Yeah, absolutely. I agree. I think this is one great example or use case of that certification and really business slash management practice that we embed in each and every one of our programs across our portfolios. But, as you mentioned, I, so 44, 000, that’s for collaborative business relationship management. Really? It’s centered around ensuring that. All stakeholders are effectively engaged. They can effectively communicate in a shared space and thus collaborate on it on solutions. And what I find through learning programs and how we’re embedding that management style, what I find really is the result is intentional innovation, which is something that we talk about a lot internally here at Highlight. So what I mean by that, uh, Intentional innovation, right? It’s not just innovation to be flashy innovation to be, uh, you know, just saying that we got this new cool tool, right? It’s innovation in spaces where you, where our customers can have the highest amount of impact with the lowest risk. And so, when you think about ISO, 44, 000, the way that’s achieved, um, at least the way I visualize it in my mind is kind of like a wheel, right? Or a circle. Right. And in the middle, you have the certification, uh, so that in the middle, just imagine like ISO 44, 000, and it’s around again, collaborative relationship management. And then around the wheel, you have spokes. And so it’s a, it’s helping, uh, our programs kind of lay out those spokes. So on 1 side, you have our, of course, our direct customer. So their direct office that they’re supporting, but as with all programs, as we know, they’re interrelated, no customer, no office sits on its own island, or at least they shouldn’t. Yeah. Um, and so we help them map out their internal collaborators, um, their external, uh, departments or collaborators. So inside their own agency, you know, what, how does that system relate to itself? Vice like, how does that relate to the citizen as an external collaborative collaborator? And then on the bottom here, you have your suppliers. So for this example, we would be talking about the actual vendor suppliers. No wheel can rotate. Unless it has that strong center spoke. And so that’s how we really deploy ISO 44, 000. It’s that strength that spoke that understanding of the interrelated nature of deploying solutions like what we’re talking about here in software asset management. 

Sarah Dryer: So that was a little off topic, but it’s so related to the success that that this team has achieved. In their customer space that it seemed worth delving into a little bit because everyone talks about customer experience and stakeholder engagement. Um, but when it comes to how it’s really implemented, sometimes it’s more talk than action. And, uh, you know, so we really spent a lot of time trying to, um, operationalize. These practices and fully integrate them so that they’re more second nature than a special thing that we apply, but let’s get back to Sam, Sarah, because you have a procurement background that extends beyond just this particular program. What are some of the ways that you have experienced the government? What’s my options? Have they been using for implementing Sam? And I know it ranges. You guys were using a spreadsheet, I think, right? When you first started this program. So what are some of the. Ways that you’ve seen customers dealing with this, both effectively and ineffectively, so you’re correct. We did start out with a spreadsheet. We call and then when we start out with several spreadsheets, and then we had to consolidate into one spreadsheet, which we call the mother of all spreadsheets that has every possible data point. You could possibly think of that has to do with the products that you obtain, and it’s in your inventory and things of that nature. So in the other procurement aspects, I have seen to where people literally just write everything down, and then hopefully it all pans out. I have seen where they actually use SAM, but it’s not used in a manner that’s efficient for them. I have seen them to where they use SAM, but it wasn’t for, Software asset management. It was more for hardware and then they tried to customize it and it just wasn’t working out for like wall to wall inventories. Things of energy. You can’t do that with with. Sam, I have seen organizations use it for strictly just for warehousing, but not for distribution, which Sam is great for usage and allocations of exactly where these licenses are going. And they can do for A primary or secondary inventories. So, um, I’ve seen probably everything you possibly think of from writing down to spreadsheets to Excel to we actually have, we’re using what’s called Microsoft, uh, power apps right now that we’re using that as a. Kind of a temporary solution until this, our SAM is up and running in service now. So we’ve seen that to where they can come in and see where the inventory is at, the costs and things of that nature. So bottom line, we, I have seen it from beginning to end, just anything you could possibly think of. I mean, it’s, it’s amazing how far asset management has come. Yeah, absolutely. I always just think of asset management to your point, much more in terms of like an ITSM. It was really hardware based, right? And less about the, the software, although the cost savings are only realized, especially when you can dig into actual usage, right? Where are the, where are the licenses deployed and how much is being used? So you can redeploy them as opposed to buying new. So you can, you know, draw down on subscription time or whatever. And I will point out that. You can do effective Sam without having like a super robust tool. I know that you improved the process and the visibility just with your spreadsheet and then with the power apps within the organization, but we are working in that space to develop a module and service now that handles Sam for this customer, Kevin, can you talk a little bit about this service now? A tool that we’re building and what we expected to achieve for the customer in terms of outcomes and benefits.

Kevin Milner: Sure. Yeah. Um, so the tool we’re building is essentially a way to automate the entire procurement process. Typically, a procurement. In, you know, any procurement in any organization would start off with somebody identifying a need. I need an IDE for my code, or I need, you know, some sort of mind mapping software to draw a flow chart. So then they would have to go to whoever’s in charge of the tools, make a request, that person would have to go and make sure it’s approved and budgeted for, there’s licenses available, if not, they’ll have to buy them, that sort of thing. And, and then. Once they finally get through all the negotiation of purchasing and there’s documents that get generated, purchase orders, all that stuff, so it’s kind of a big, long process. And what we’ve really set out to do with with the application that we’re making is to automate that process so that it exists as, you know, a form that somebody fills out. And everything’s handled behind the scenes. And we also want to automate the process, uh, for the, the approvers and for the procurement manager. So what we’ve, what we’ve done with this application is we’ve built an entire request process that, that follows this fairly regimental list of requirements that have to be met before each step continues. Thank you very much. And so what we’re, what we did is, is we developed an automation process for that in service now. So forms in service now, the PDFs get generated in service now via a, a special third party module that we purchased. All the approvals are handled and stored inside the database, so there’s no chance of, you know, a document getting lost or getting signed, not in the proper order. So generally, this, this tool that we’ve made, um, is, would work well in any environment that has a wide diversity of people. Tools required and a strict governance of how the tools are purchased and utilized. 

Sarah Dryer: Uh, yeah, I think that I don’t want to sometimes when you say we automated it and it’s a form or whatever. I don’t want to undersell the impact. of this capability, not within this organization, but as could be applied to sort of any organization that deals with both either a large software development environment, so a large DevSecOps environment, or in this case, I think you’ve also got, you know, this is a multi tenant environment ultimately too, right? So there’s gonna be multiple customers and the, and the essential, um, nature of sort of automating this. To the point where it works for each customer, right? You know, the, you know, the workflow and the, the approval process and the authorizations it’s in line with all the seed drills. So it’s really, you know, more complex than when you say a workflow, right? It’s, it’s, it’s really pretty impressive, frankly. And, uh, you know, I think the way that you have. Developed it, it can be really applicable to a lot of other, especially DoD organizations, because while the specific seed rules and things are different, there’s a lot of commonality in the acquisition process across the DoD because it’s regulated by the same, you know, centralized regulations.

Kevin Milner: Yeah. And, and that’s, yeah, that’s one of the, you know, this tool that we’re developing as a sort of a service now implementation of a tool that we initially developed at another. Customers site using Google Cloud and email and things like that. This is this is sort of a more advanced version that we’ve we’ve had the opportunity to use a bunch of, you know, modern tools, low code, low code applications, that that kind of thing to really be able to to put all the bells and whistles on it. So so we’re pretty proud of it. And we’re definitely, definitely trying to also make it so that it could be applicable to other people, if possible, 

Sarah Dryer: based on the amount of governance and the new rules that every agency has to comply with now and an admitted sort of lack of maturity in this process, you know, across the federal government, um, you know, some are more advanced than others. I, you know, I think there’s certainly broad applicability. You mentioned earlier, you know, security protecting against malicious third party software, but let’s talk about security with regard to SAM and specifically how good SAM processes can help, like, guard against cyberattacks, um, And you touched on some of our work with securing the software supply chain. So I’m familiar with, you know, sort of SCRM, right? The supply chain risk management within the federal government, and your work there. But also how critical having up to date information about your software infrastructure is to guard against cyber attacks, which I hadn’t really thought of, but obviously makes perfect sense if you’ve got a lot of outdated, unknown software or, or, or, Account can’t account for exactly where it is. That obviously leaves you open and pretty vulnerable. 

Kevin Milner: Oh yeah, for sure. One of the examples I like to use is is when we were at the previous customers place they were using. They were using. What were they using as a tool? And our top notch cyber security guy at the time, Lloyd Evans, uh, who’s gone on to do other things now, but he, uh, he identified the, that, The tool was like, uh, the company was owned and ran like the CEO, I guess, was, was a, uh, graduate of the, of the GRU school in Russia and the espionage school. And it’s like, well, maybe we shouldn’t be using, you know, putting a, a software as a service application. Putting our data into that unless we can actually be sure who is running the organization because, you know, there’s there’s a chance. Oh, we had a data and I’m not saying that this. App would happen there, but, you know, it’s conceivable. Somebody could say, yeah, we had a data leak and some of our users data’s got exposed. And now, all of a sudden, we’ve got our, our, you know, sensitive, who we are for information floating out there in the world. And so, you know, As a cyber security engineer, you want to be kind of paranoid and just assume everyone’s out to get you. But, yeah, so, so one of the ways, uh, you know, that people could, could insert stuff, they could mess with the tools. You, we, we buy an unsecured tool. Uh, SAS applications are very dangerous because you don’t know where the, unless you ask, you don’t know where the instance physically is located. You know, then there’s the whole issue of using. Third party modules in your software as you’re developing a lot of developers, you know, we’ll use libraries that other people have published open source libraries like log for J or things like that. And then you have to really look at how those tools are managed and make sure that there’s no way for insidious code to be injected into their process so that you download it and use it in your program. So it’s, it’s just sort of a, a big. Pile of layers that you have to, you have to work through to make sure, you know, everything’s copacetic.

Sarah Dryer: And also with every single solitary purchase that we make with our CDROS, we also have what’s called security artifacts. And each, each one of those security artifacts, there’s a line that represents exactly what the security needs to sign off on. Prime example, the SLA, Service License Agreement. We give them a link, they go into the link, they look to make sure that the Service License Agreement follows exactly what the cyber policy is. Then there’s also what’s called a BEX. Best practice document when there’s an update for security, the vendor will then put out what’s called the best, uh, the best practice document that is looked over by security security with sign off on it. And then they document when and when the software is going to be updated. They have a documentation of that. They look over it. They then go and when the document when the update is happening in the environment, they go back in and they make sure that it was updated correctly, that it was exactly what the update stated and exactly what the vendor needed to do. And so once that signed off on, then the. The procurement process is enabled to then go to the next step, but in that whole entire procurement process, security is there from the very beginning from start to when the person comes in. They said, this is exactly what’s going to be deployed. They know exactly where it’s going to be employed, who’s deploying it, what it looks like, what environment things of that nature and then all the security documents and the artifacts. Are in there, too. So then a stick is built and everything in the palm of things of any turn the background for the government and the D. O. D. to then be able to if an audit happens, they have security documents. They have the backup and they made sure that every single solitary vendor. Does what they said that we’re going to do in the software in the license agreement. Yeah, it sounds like it’s fully integrated and then. Also creates the necessary visibility and documentation, so it helps on multiple levels throughout the process. That’s why communication of bringing in all the stakeholders was critical because we understood that security, and especially now in the DoD environment, that security is number one. Have to make sure that security is taken care of, cybersecurity, and so that there is no, um, breach at all. Absolutely. So I want to throw back a little bit to what Emily was talking about when she was talking about, you know, not only the stakeholder engagement practices that we have, but the intentional innovation practices and your team and program actually. Has been participating in a relatively new program for us here at Highlight, which is our innovation management, uh, system implementation, which is really operationalizing our ISO 56, 000 innovation management certification into the daily operations of our program and Emily, can you talk a little bit more about that? Program and how we’ve ruled it out and some of the benefits that the programs have seen, including this particular team. 

Emilie Scantlebury: Absolutely. Yeah, I would love that. So innovation as a topic, it’s transformative. And as part of that transformation, it can be explosive. And I think explosive. The term itself when we think about it, think about like a firework or, you know, big boom, whatever it might be. And in organizations when they’re deploying innovation, the last thing you want is a firework pointed at something critical. They can’t get, you know. Can’t go down, right? And so intentional innovation is all about finding ways to point the fireworks. So it’s going up in the sky and we can all look and say how beautiful it is rather than internally inside your agency. Um, so that you can really again, reap the value to to its most and Deepest nature and so I think what that really looks like and what this team has successfully done is kind of being able to look at the agency with that holistic view again, and then charting a very clear and intentional path process. Of how we’re going to probe. First of all, I guess, what is the project rate? Where is the space for innovation? Smaller large. Once that’s identified, what is what’s the actual process of how we’re going to get there? What are our smaller milestones? And it’s very similar from my experience of how we approach other development projects. Can we break it down into small sprints possible, put it on a board and discuss the status of them, bring that status to the client, make sure that they’re understanding the iterations that we’re taking on this innovation. And so again, it’s not just deploying something new, flashy that we do in a silo. It’s, it’s collaborating and creating those communication pathways with all of your, all of your stakeholders that have been mapped out using ISO 44, 000. So one other thing I wanted to touch on too, like innovation can be very large. It can be, for example, um, You know, bringing a whole new service now instance to the environment that hasn’t had service now, um, or it can even be smaller, like consolidating data that is being manipulated in siloed processes to kind of like a singular communication or singular platform, um, even in like Excel, as an example, just even that, right? Our customers are saving time. Their personnel are able to kind of stay Release the brain load of I got to do X, Y and Z all separately into just like, no, I just got to do a, does that make sense that that did I explain that correctly, Ashley? 

Sarah Dryer: Yeah, absolutely. I think 1 of the most fun things I have gotten to do this year is work with this team on our regular innovation sessions. We get to set a time. We set aside about an hour every 3 weeks. Where we talk about what’s going on in the program, um, and, and possible innovations. And it, and I’m not saying this group would’ve come up with what they came up with probably anyway, but it certainly deepened my understanding of. What they were trying to accomplish and how they were accomplishing it gave us great ideas about how to apply some of the things that they were doing across the other programs. And if nothing else, they had such an enthusiasm about the whole process. I like to think that it, uh, it helps, uh, help them along their, their way as well. But, but Kevin and Sarah have been really committed to the process and it’s been just great. 

Emilie Scantlebury: Actually, I wanted to hammer on 1 thing you said there that I thought was interesting, which is, um, you know, applying lessons learned across our programs, at least at highlight. And I think this is really unique. Um, no 1 program sits on its island. We don’t just, you know, get transition on and then say, go. Good luck and talk to you in a quarter, right? We’re creating these spaces for intentional innovation, which then by nature, we’re able to bring the lessons learned that our individuals from all sides of our portfolio are bringing to folks like Sarah and Kevin. So, you know, if we’ve heard or learned something over on the left side here again, we’re able to bring that to that discussion, which then only again lowers that risk. I think it speeds up. The deployment of these innovations and it helps the technical training of our technical folks as well. So a lot of value in just creating that shared community. Yeah, absolutely.

Sarah Dryer: All right, guys. Final question. What advice would you give to customers looking to improve their software asset management posture? I think the very first thing that you need to do is get excited about the process. I know that sounds very generic and very cliche, but it’s completely and totally Exactly where you need to do. You need to be the champion for your customer because they will get fatigue and they will just be like, okay, whatever you want, but it’s not whatever we want. It’s whatever the cut it’s the customers need. You have to be excited about it. Have to be able to learn. You have to be able to find alternatives and get really, really excited about the process and the learning of it. And then. The innovation of what’s coming down in the pipeline. Like you have to be that motivator every single solitary day. And we see it all the time. Like it’s, it’s fatigue. It’s, it’s challenging. It’s frustrating. It’s, you have to keep that vision for your customer. And you have to keep that impact of at the end. It will all pay off. And I think that that’s the the motivation that everybody needs is when you have A a picture of where you see them going you have to be able to paint it and then champion that yeah that and that’s a lot but it’s It’s, I mean, I think really critical, right? To be like the champion and the cheerleader and, you know, sometimes the, the, the folks who get them over the hump, but also to approach it with what I’m hearing is a real. What I’ll call problems solving mindset or learners mindset, right? Like, you’re 1 direction that that you’re open and you are excited about solving the challenges as opposed to being sort of. Right. Overcome by them. And also too, you can’t be afraid to change. Like when we first started out with ServiceNow, not one person on our team understood it, but then we started doing training around it. We started adapting the very verbiage of it. We started like really, honestly, they call it the ServiceNow. Bullied. You start drinking it and you’re just like, everything’s great. We love service. Now, you know, we go to the conferences and it’s just like, Oh my gosh, the innovation of it, you can see your customer, what you can see the future for them. And they’re just sitting there like, okay, great. That’s great. But you have to be the one that comes in. It’s all like, we sell this new theme. We’re going to demo it for you and get like all excited. You basically have to like, you have to be the cheerleader because at the end of the day, it is a struggle, but yeah, you have to, you have to, Basically, you have to be integrated it from the beginning to the end, because at the end of the day, most of the users of the system could care less than it’s on service now or what it’s on, right? It’s just all about. Does it make their job easier? Is it intuitive to use? How helpful is it? Right? It’s all about the outcome and the output of the process. How, you know, how we make the sausage. They don’t care. It doesn’t it doesn’t work and to make their job easier. Exactly. Their whole thing is, well, what about how is this going to benefit me? I’m going to tell you how it’s going to benefit you. And then when you answer that, they get like, okay, I’m I can’t wait. I can’t wait. That’s their favorite line. Well, you keep saying this and I can’t wait, but then you demo it. And they’re like, I really can’t wait. So just it’s excited. Like they are excited about it. Absolutely. All right, mr. Milner. First, 

Kevin Milner: I wanted to. Give a shout out to Emily, because she, she was the one that got us our, uh, internal ServiceNow instances long before our customer had actually had their, their instance. So we were able to develop most of our application before we could have realistically gotten started. So thanks, Emily. That was awesome. She got us two so that, well, she got us three. We used two so that we could even practice, uh, our CICD. Pushes and stuff. Okay. So to answer the question at hand, I think one of the ways you can really help. Is to like, identify what their actual pain points are. And when I say pain points, I mean, the part that makes them hate going to work, you know, Oh God, I got a whole day of just signing requests. You know, you want to, you want to show them, Hey, I can fix that. So you don’t have to do that. And you can do things you want to do at your job. And when you present it like that, when it’s like not, we’re coming in and we’re taking over your whole, your whole. Procurement process. No, we’re coming in and we are going to make it so that you don’t hate. Um, and, and, you know, as somebody who’s been at a job that, that I just dreaded going to before, not Highlight, of course, but previous employers that I’ll leave nameless, um, you know, that’s, that’s really big. You spend, you spend so much of your life, like doing work tasks, if we can make it so that the work task itself doesn’t suck, then, then. You know, we’ve enabled somebody to be able to actually enjoy their, their, their job a little bit more and it puts them in a better mood. And then they’re there in a, they deal with other people in a better way. And it just spreads, you know, I don’t want to sound too, too silly, but. You know, it’s just putting some good vibes out into the universe, I guess, by helping somebody do their job in a less frustrating way.

Sarah Dryer: Yeah, I highlight technologies. We make your life easier. You know, like that’s a brand new tagline. 

Kevin Milner: We make your job not suck. 

Sarah Dryer: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Well, um, And I definitely, I think that actually translates to your team. I I’ve never worked with a team that has so much respect for each other, like love for each other and just enthusiasm about, um, solving these challenges in the customer environment. So of course, I’m not going to name the program cause we don’t want to ever give away too much secret sauce, but rest assured this is an a plus team for sure. 

Kevin Milner: Thank you. Yeah, we have a great team. 

Sarah Dryer: All right. Well, guys, I want to thank you so much. Thanks, Sarah, Kevin, and Emily for, for jumping on today. And thank you for listening to our highlight cast to keep up with highlights, news and activities. Follow us on our LinkedIn or visit us at our website, which is highlight tech. com. Thanks. And we will see you next time. 

The views and opinions expressed in this episode are those of the hosts and do not necessarily reflect highlight technologies and or any agency of the U S government.

Director of People & Culture Fiona Sityar Recognized as HR Executive HR Rising Star 2023

HR Executive recognizes five human resource professionals in the 18th annual HR Rising Stars competition, including Highlight Director of People and Culture, Fiona Sityar. The awards recognize up to six HR professionals across various industries who are near the top of their organization’s HR functions and show a promising future as an HR leaders. The winners were selected from a vast pool of rising HR talent and evaluated by a team of judges from across the HR field.

Fiona has served Highlight for six years, supporting our organizational growth and scaling our workforce between 65 to 1000+ people. She started as Highlight’s HR Administrator in a department of one person, now serves as Director of People and Culture, and oversees the Human Resources and Recruiting teams. Today, she manages the entire employee lifecycle from on- and off-boarding, benefits administration, compliance oversight, and reporting to corporate training and professional development.

“Fiona has been a rising star since day one, and I am thrilled she received this recognition. She was a critical part of Highlight’s ability to grow rapidly over the past five years. I am grateful to have Fiona on our team, and I look forward to working with her in the coming years as we continue to build Highlight’s people and culture capabilities.” Said Highlight CEO Rebecca Andino.

“Thank you to Human Resource Executive and the judging panel for the award – I am honored to be recognized as a 2023 HR Rising Star! This award wouldn’t be possible if not for the support from my Highlight team. This recognition serves as a huge motivator and inspiration for us to elevate the standards for HR excellence further and drive continuous improvement and impact within the organization,” said Fiona Sityar, Highlight Director of People and Culture.

Read more about Fiona’s journey here.

Learn more about the award and other awardees here.

About Human Resource Executive®

Human Resource Executive® was established in 1987 and continues today as the premier media outlet covering strategic issues in HR. Written primarily for vice presidents and directors of human resources, Human Resource Executive provides these key decision-makers with the news analysis, insights, strategies and timely research reports they need to excel.

About Highlight

Highlight Technologies (“Highlight”) is an award-winning, employee-owned, ISO® 9001, ISO® 20000, ISO® 27001, ISO® 44001, ISO® 56000 certified, CMMI-DEV Level 3, and CMMI-SVC Level 3 appraised federal contractor that provides Digital Government and Mission Support services across the federal government. Highlight delivers federal loan services, grants management, strategic communications, international development, conference and event support, program management, administrative support, agile systems development, DevSecOps, data management and analytics, cloud services, web services and automation services to National Security and Intelligence (DHS, DoD, State, DOJ, IC), Health IT (USAID, NIH, HRSA), and Citizen Services (FCC, EPA, GSA, HHS, SBA, Education) agencies. For more information, visit www.highlighttech.com