GROWING. GROWING. STRONG!

Spring is here. The season of renewal and rebirth is upon us. Like a newborn baby, this season brings with it the sweetness of new beginnings and endless possibilities. Speaking of newborn babies, the Skeleton Key family welcomed the newest Superhero of the Richman Clan on April 19th. Clark Dooling Richman weighed in 8 lbs, 11 oz., 21 inches! Superbaby The Skeleton Key team is growing, too. Mark Richman, Clark’s proud papa and SK’s Fearless-Leader said it best, “…does it get any better than this?” We are proud to share with you, our official announcement that was recently released to the technology and business community:

Greg Lane Named VP of Application Development at Skeleton Key

Jan Schmitt Hired as Project Manager

ST. LOUIS, Missouri (April 18, 2011) - Skeleton Key has tapped Greg Lane as its Vice President of Application Development. Lane, who has been an Information Analyst with Skeleton Key since 2007, will continue to report to Mark Richman, Skeleton Key’s President and Founder.

"I'm excited about Greg's advancement to this new position," said Richman. "I am confident this expansion of his role will help make Skeleton Key's movement into new development platforms a resounding success."

“Skeleton Key is a talented group of software developers and IT professionals,” said Lane. “I’m looking forward to meeting the challenges of this new role to help the company continue to flourish.”

Lane joined Skeleton Key in 2007. He’s been developing custom software applications for more than 20 years. Lane earned a Master of Science degree in Computer Information Systems from Missouri State University in 2006 and a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Truman State University in 1990.

Skeleton Key also announced expanding its staff to include Jan Schmitt as Project Manager.

Prior to joining Skeleton Key, Schmitt was an experienced Help-Desk and Project Manager at Rivet Global, formerly known as The Zipatoni Company, for the past 12 years. Her diverse professional experience includes industry-specific IT functions supporting manufacturing, material transportation, library automation, and medical dictation/transcription systems.

“I’m proud to become part of the team at Skeleton Key,” Schmitt said. “I believe my skills mix well with their consistent, dedicated and passionate recipe that is widely-known to provide quality solutions for all their customers’ needs.”

How can we help make YOUR business grow stronger? Nancy Rodriguez manages Operations & Marketing at Skeleton Key. About Skeleton Key Skeleton Key is an accomplished team of technology consultants who solve business problems. We specialize in the rapid development of custom applications, integrating Macs and PCs in the professional workplace, and providing personalized training. Despite our end-to-end technical skills, we are consultant first and technologist second. We know that you don’t just need technology. You need to know that the technology you choose to deploy will provide the results you desire. Skeleton Key is a Platinum Level FileMaker Business Alliance company, an Authorized FileMaker Trainer, a member of the Apple Consultants Network and a Microsoft Registered Partner.

Collaborative Application Development Teams

It’s a highly collaborative process. I say those words every day when describing how Skeleton Key develops custom business applications. What does that mean exactly? What do we do to foster collaborative teams?

  • Acknowledge our customers expertise. You own or run a business. You’ve done well enough to need a custom application. You must know what you’re doing. We need your expertise on the team.
  • Ask lots of questions. A good question moves the understanding and process forward. A great question takes everyone’s understanding to an entirely different plane. Everyone says they ask lots of questions, but my five-year-old asks lots of questions and that doesn’t mean he should build a custom application for you. Our years of experience have taught us to ask the good and great questions.
  • Listen. Two ears. One mouth. That’s a magic ratio, don’t you think? Asking great questions would be absolutely useless if we didn’t listen to your responses.
  • Think critically. We take virtually nothing at face value. Time has taught us to critically evaluate each step of your workflow – not just to better understand how and where you get your data, but to be crystal clear about what you intend do with it once you’ve got it.
  • Speak candidly. One of our most valuable roles as consultants is to see what you’re missing and bring it to your attention. We don’t sit idly by with pursed lips waiting to be asked to speak up. We candidly and regularly offer suggestions and recommendations as we go – acting on them is totally up to you.
  • Get feedback. At the conclusion of every sales cycle we’re asking for feedback. At each iteration meeting we’re asking for feedback. We informally survey our customers regularly in order to solicit their feedback. We want to improve every aspect of our business and getting our customers feedback is a critical tool in achieving that goal.
  • Take action. We change our behavior based on feedback from customers, colleagues, vendors and peers. In an iteration meeting we’ll scrap an entire application module if our customer’s reality has changed. We adopted a more transparent approach to development, in part because our customers asked for more insight into our development practices. Continuous improvement starts with targeted movement.

I’m certain this is an incomplete list but I hope it gives you some ideas about how to foster collaboration and how we partner with customers in a team effort to develop the applications their business needs.


***
Jason Thomas manages Business Development at Skeleton Key. About Skeleton Key Skeleton Key is an accomplished team of technology consultants who solve business problems. We specialize in the rapid development of custom applications, integrating Macs and PCs in the professional workplace, and providing personalized training. Despite our end-to-end technical skills, we are consultant first and technologist second. We know that you don’t just need technology. You need to know that the technology you choose to deploy will provide the results you desire. Skeleton Key is a Platinum Level FileMaker Business Alliance company, an Authorized FileMaker Trainer, a member of the Apple Consultants Network and a Microsoft Registered Partner.

Saying Goodbye to Q1

For those of us whose fiscal year follows the calendar year, yesterday marked the end of the first quarter. As we say goodbye to Q1 and hello to Q2, I urge you to invest some time thinking strategically. Make this an opportunity to get out of your day-to-day activities for a few hours and consider what’s truly important. As you do, here’s some food for thought.

Goals

  • Did you set goals for 2011?
  • Have you written them down?
  • Are they S.M.A.R.T.? (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely)
  • Who is holding you accountable for them?
  • What behaviors have changed since 2010 to achieve your goals?
  • When will you start?
  • Does your team support these goals?

 

Metrics

  • Have you chosen the right metrics to track?
  • Do your chosen metrics clearly connect an action your organization controls with a goal you’ve set?
  • Are your metrics clearly defined?
  • Have you been asked ‘What’s that mean?’ repeatedly?
  • Is it difficult to track your metrics?
  • How much effort is expended finding the numbers you need?
  • How visible have you kept the metrics?
  • Does your team see the value in the the metrics you’ve chosen?

 

Progress

  • Are you seeing positive progress?
  • Bottom line, are you on track?

What are you going to do about it? Take a look at the turnaround Mark Richman engineered at Skeleton Key. Maybe it’s time to look at Open-Book Management Practices or join us for The Gathering of Games May 4 – 6. Today is a brand new day and brand new quarter. Take advantage of it. Jason Thomas manages Business Development at Skeleton Key. About Skeleton Key Skeleton Key is an accomplished team of technology consultants who solve business problems. We specialize in the rapid development of custom applications, integrating Macs and PCs in the professional workplace, and providing personalized training. Despite our end-to-end technical skills, we are consultant first and technologist second. We know that you don’t just need technology. You need to know that the technology you choose to deploy will provide the results you desire. Skeleton Key is a Platinum Level FileMaker Business Alliance company, an Authorized FileMaker Trainer, a member of the Apple Consultants Network and a Microsoft Registered Partner.