Keyot was recently featured in the November 2018 issue of Woodbury Magazine. CEO Laura Kelly and President Anjie Cayot sat down with Woodbury Mag to discuss Keyot’s journey over the past 10 years as well as their shared mission to get more young women into technology careers, an issue close to their hearts due to their own personal journey as women in tech. Follow this link to read the article on Woodbury Magazine’s website or download this PDF to get your own copy: Keyot Article – Woodbury Magazine
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This article was originally posted by Jason Lindmeyer, who is currently a Consultant with Keyot.
As an Agile Management Consultant with Keyot over the past eight years and a member of the Agile community for ten, I know that effective Scrum teams can achieve outstanding results.
However, leading a mission-critical compliance program for a financial services client—using nearly 100 individuals unfamiliar with Scrum—demanded an innovative approach. I developed a process to help an organization new to Scrum understand how their brand new teams are performing and if they are able to deliver the program under the compliance deadline. It’s working for us, and it may prove useful for your organization and teams as well.
To meet the program’s rigorous twelve-month timeframe, we brought together ten new teams for Scrum training in January. By the end of the month, all ten teams were sprinting and actively completing scope for the program.
Being “brand new” to Scrum, many team members initially lacked confidence in their abilities. In addition, without a track record of performance, individual contributors and teams were unaware of what they could accomplish within each sprint. My goal was to help teams gain assurance in their capabilities, understand their per sprint capacity, and create transparency for the entire organization on what our teams were accomplishing.
We started tracking teams from the first sprint onward, documenting how much work each team was completing in every sprint. Then, using a trend-over-trend line, we were able to measure each team’s ability to complete scope within sprints. This data-driven process gave teams a better understanding of their performance and capabilities.
Estimating full backlog
After each team had completed four to six sprints, we had them estimate their backlog for the entire program for the rest of the year. Using data from their established track records, teams understood their average team velocity, relative pointing, and were able to estimate backlog more effectively. Reviewing the past sprints and scope already achieved also helped bolster confidence moving forward.
Normally in Scrum, estimating that amount of work can be perceived as excess or unnecessary work due to unforeseen scope changes, and the fact that in Agile and Scrum, no deadlines exist outside of sprints. But in the real world, things are different. Due to our rigorous deadline and specific compliance requirements, there was no lost effort in estimating. In fact, this step proved essential to our teams and our client.
Following the entire pointing exercise we quickly identified where we had risk based on point totals and average team velocity. The specific progress measurements and empirical data removed finger-pointing and emotional judgments. Using this information, we implemented triage processes to meet the objective within the remaining nine months.
Two major risk areas were identified and addressed:
- Capacity—Some teams didn’t have enough people on them to complete the estimated backlog. We needed to off-load work to different teams with less scope.
- Technology—We identified major unknowns that prompted specific conversations regarding the technology. We talked with our client and asked technical architects to develop different solutions to support the client’s work process and meet the program requirements within the mandated timeframe. The recommended solution dramatically simplified our client’s program by optimizing the process and eliminating waste.
Without estimating the entire backlog, these risks may have gone undetected or revealed themselves only after it was was too late to react and adjust to meet the end of year deadline.
Accelerating toward completion
Now, teams are using release meetings and planning processes to re-point backlog every month. The teams are accelerating as they continue to build confidence and capabilities. Some teams even expect to reach program completion in November, a month ahead of the compliance deadline.
By keeping track of sprints and estimating our entire backlog early in the program, our process allows us to adjust and accommodate as needed to achieve scope. A key tenet of Scrum is responding to change over following a plan and this process has significantly improved decision making across our teams and the client. It has also been incorporated as a key input in how the client prioritizes scope across its portfolios.
Paying it forward
Throughout my career, I have benefitted from the generous wisdom and advice of the Agile community. If this tool can assist other teams, especially those new to Scrum, I’m happy to “pay it forward!”
Every year, the Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA) Foundation awards scholarships to young Minnesotan students pursuing a degree in a STEM field. As part of Keyot’s giveback, Crew212 sponsors two of these scholarships, with one specifically awarded to women pursuing careers in STEM. The Crew212 team nominates outstanding individuals who have shown their passion for STEM through their roles as mentors and background with innovative projects.
We are excited to announce that this year’s MHTA scholarships recipients are Katie R. and Donald P.! They will be awarded their scholarships at the MHTA Tekne Awards on November 29th, 2018.
Katie is a senior at the University of Minnesota – College of Science and Engineering and is studying Industrial and Systems Engineering. She has led multiple projects including an optimization effort for the Gopher Grocery Delivery System. Katie is also the Vice President of GOFIRST Robotics, a student-led robotics club that mentors teams for competitions and facilitates workshops. After graduation, she plans on continuing her education through the Stanford Management Science and Engineering Ph.D. Program.
Donald is a junior at the Dunwoody College of Technology and is pursuing a degree in Electronics Engineering. He has multiple projects showcased by his college, including an automated dice roller and an automated snowplow. He is also the lead programmer of the school’s automated snowplow team, which resulted in his team receiving 3rd in 2017 and 2nd in 2018 in a national competition. After graduating, Donald plans on continuing his education through a bachelor’s program in Software Engineering with the end goal of becoming an Embedded Systems Engineer.
Annual Simpson College Scholarship
In addition to the annual MHTA scholarships, Keyot also provides a scholarship to Simpson College, located in Indianola, IA, of which Managing Partner Cindy Rockwell is an alumnus. This year’s scholarship recipient is Taylor S., a senior majoring in Biochemistry. After graduation, Taylor has plans to attend medical school.
The Crew212 team is thrilled to support such talented individuals in STEM and are excited to see their impact on our MN and IA communities in the coming years. Congratulations Katie, Donald, and Taylor!
They’re happening with increasing frequency. Brazen internet fraud and stealth phishing schemes threaten corporate data security every single day—and the situation is only going to get worse. These headline-making breaches are prompting companies to create entirely new departments to manage their information security.
But despite the urgency, staffing these new positions has proved to be a challenge for many businesses because of the shortage of trained IT security practitioners. It has become more than merely a technological issue; it’s become an enterprise issue.
“Until recently, there’s never been a big demand for data security resources among mainstream businesses. Now nearly every company is concerned about managing, protecting and maintaining data confidentiality for its customers and employees. They are looking to fill their teams with security analysts, incident managers and related roles which, until a few years ago, either didn’t exist or were hidden way down the org chart at the technology help desk,” confirms Anjie Cayot, President & Managing Director of Client Solutions for Keyot.
Cayot digs further into the dilemma facing today’s corporations. “Because there is a lack of trained IT & data security resources, companies are robbing talent from each other. In addition to trying to build a team from very few resources, the greater challenge is for companies to build a succession plan so that the people who fill these positions have opportunities to move into leadership roles. How do companies elevate these positions so that they are considered sought-after career choices?”
Why Millennials are Up to the Task
Cayot, whose company has been helping corporations staff for business and IT positions since 2008, is demonstrating that millennials make the ideal candidates for these data security positions. “Several years ago, we created a boot camp training and on-the-job mentoring program, called Crew212, to build the next generation of technology leaders. It is now used by numerous fortune-ranked clients across many industries, including finance, banking, mortgage, printing, healthcare, agriculture, and more.
It was through Crew212’s work with a leading global money transfer and payment service company that Keyot proved millennials are key to satisfying the growing demand for IT/data security specialists.
“We’d already been working with the client to supply Crew212 project management and business analysis practitioners,” Cayot recalls. “When they asked if we could develop some security practitioners who could ultimately move up through their organization, we knew we were on the cusp of something important.” To find the right team, Cayot turned to Cindy Rockwell, Keyot’s CIO and head of the Crew212 program.
Keyot selected six young people, each with zero to five years of work experience. “We looked for candidates with customer-service experience, problem solving ability and analytical aptitudes. We then put them through a customized Crew212 boot camp centered around the client’s business and security concerns. There was a heavy focus, for example, on incident management, network architecture and financial transaction security. They learned tools, techniques, best practices and became ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) certified. We also mentored them on vital skills like methods of problem solving and analysis as well as predictive analytics.”
The recruits then started a nearly year-long journey at the client. Paired with senior security professionals and prepared to handle basic data security tasks, the recruits were instrumental in freeing up management to focus on other critical areas of the business.
Cayot initially met with all six on a weekly basis, scaling back her involvement as the recruits grew stronger in their roles. “Over the course of the year, five of the six grew into individual contributors, each taking on a role in Incident Management, Security Operations, Release Management, Knowledge Management and Risk Management departments,” she reports. One individual left the program.
The client was so impressed with the results that it gave Keyot its 2016 IT Innovation Award, presented to the partner who has gone above and beyond to deliver an innovative solution.
The client’s CIO had this to say of the program: “Keyot’s willingness to work with [us] to identify unique and innovative solutions to meet [our] needs sets Keyot apart. In this case, Keyot created and delivered a solution for the newly minted Command Center and our Information Security team with its Crew 212 program…the energy and drive these resources have provided to [us] is a testament to the hard work that Anjie and her team put in to developing these resources.”
Millennials Have the Capabilities
After years of working with millennials, Cayot has her own theories as to why they are so well-suited for IT & data security positions. “The millennial generation is so technically aware that they are able to adapt quickly. Those who participated in the [client] program converted to full-time roles and are getting fantastic reviews. They are taking jobs held by people many years their senior, so that those people are free to move up in the organization. This program is enabling companies to invest in their IT security teams with junior levels of talent.”
She compares her own Gen-X generation to these more recent college graduates. “Millennials have a greater comfort level with technology than we did at their age. They expect it to work. They don’t fear the unknown. This is such a powerful generation if managed correctly. It’s time to get millennials into roles where they can break down siloes and approach problems from a 21st century perspective.”
She advises companies in need of IT security specialists to shift their focus from looking for experience to looking for capabilities. “If you can find a few people with experience and surround them with a larger group of capable people, you will grow a staff faster and retain them longer than if you tried to bring in a team of super performers who will inevitably move on to different jobs,” she states confidently.
Act Now Because These Technology Demands are Only Going to Increase
There will always be new threats to data security. The best defense is to be prepared with a well-trained, motivated and engaged staff. “With 46 percent of the workforce being in the millennial generation and projected to be 75 percent by 2025, we have such a great opportunity right now to grab those analytical, problem-solving minds, immerse them in this situation and teach them the hard skills around it,” stresses Cayot. “It’s a creative way to build a skilled staff in a space where there’s none available.”
This post was written by Cindy Rockwell, Managing Partner and CIO of Keyot.
Every generation disrupts the status quo, and that’s a good thing. For the past six years, I’ve led a unique service offering called Crew212™, where Keyot trains and mentors a group of recent college grad consultants that our clients can then hire. Through this program, I know the advantages and opportunities millennials bring to the workforce. I have 100% faith in their capabilities and potential to take over corporate America as leaders and revenue-generators.
Here’s what I’ve learned from building the next succession of business and IT leaders, and how you can make it work for you.
Show how their work influences corporate impact
Millennials are driven by purpose, and your company’s mission may be one of the things that attracted them to the organization. But, can they see how their work relates to the bigger picture? Our Crew212™ program uses a multi-week exercise to help millennial consultants find the customer in all organizational functions. In week one, we ask them, “Who is your customer?” “What are they getting from you?” The next week we ask: “Who is your customer’s customer?” “What are they getting?” We continue this exercise until each consultant can connect the dots between his or her individual contributions and the company’s mission.
Give them feedback, regularly
And here’s why: As children in the wake of 9/11, their parents focused on protecting them in an unsafe world. Millennials are used to attention, and they flourish with it. Immediate, effective feedback allows millennials to produce better results more quickly, making their workflow even more efficient. Regular, open communication—both praise and critique—is an essential component of job satisfaction and effectiveness. Conduct weekly one-on-ones, provide group mentoring, and develop clear goals, assignments and tasks. Trust me, regular feedback will unleash a powerhouse of productivity.
Prepare for extreme collaboration
Millennials are collaborative by nature. They work effectively on teams, value community and will breakdown any silos or communication issues within an organization as they connect across departments, divisions and business units to get work done. While baby boomers want to be respected, millennials want to be heard. They approach work with a “you teach me, I’ll teach you, and let’s see what we can accomplish together” openness that prioritizes goals over org. charts. As a manager, being open to learning from millennials will greatly increase your effectiveness.
Expect a 40-hour workweek
But, it will be a highly efficient 40 hours. As digital natives, millennials are naturally analytic problem solvers, who are extremely focused on developing themselves and they thrive on learning new job skills. Millennials also consume work faster than you can imagine, so keeping them challenged and busy will keep them engaged. Expect them to innovate ways to be super effective, so they can embrace their personal lives with equal passion and energy.
Allow for work-life integration
Millennials need to blend what they do personally with what they do professionally to successfully manage both. This may require flexibility from your organization, but until performance proves otherwise, it’s best to assume good intent. For example: We received a call from a client who was confused because one of our millennial consultants had left the office at 4 p.m., while she was in a meeting. When reached by phone, the consultant was on a bike ride and explained he would be returning to the office soon. He knew he needed to work late to support the client following the meeting’s outcome, and wanted to recharge for the busy evening ahead.
Reframe the “lifer” mindset
Gone are the days of the 30-year company veteran diligently working for a pension. Now, businesses should plan to refresh their workforce every 2-5 years. According to the 2016 Bureau of Labor Statistics report, workers in management, professional and related occupations had a median tenure of 5.1 years. For all workers age 25-34, the median tenure was 2.8 years. However, striving to retain your millennial workforce, even if some choose to leave, is still a sound investment in the future. A positive experience with your company can convert a former millennial staffer into an employee referral source, a valuable customer, or a future company leader who boomerangs back with new skills, insights, and appreciation.
Are millennials disrupting the workplace? You bet. Can your company benefit from this digitally savvy, purpose-driven, work-to-live generation? Absolutely! As long as you rethink the status quo and embrace the millennial realities, you’ll reap the rewards.
*This guest post is by Jennifer Oppor, Crew212 member – class of June 2018. Thank you for your insight, Jennifer!*
Congratulations! You’ve just graduated from four years of binge-watching Netflix, microwaving Ramen dinners, and staying up past midnight to study for tricky exams. Now that you landed a job and are “adulting” by shopping for food outside of the frozen and boxed aisles, you are in total control of your choices. Once you arrive home from work, I bet you have hours of free time on your hands no longer being consumed by collegiate sports, on-campus organizations, part-time jobs, or three-hour night classes. You might be wondering how you should transition from a student schedule packed with homework and extracurriculars to the corporate world. This list shares ten ways to be productive with your free time to successfully kick off your first few months of full-time employment.
1. Reconnect with Loved Ones
Do you have an aunt in Colorado, an aging grandma, or a friend from sophomore chemistry lab you haven’t spoken to in a while? Give them a call, see how they are, and show you care by reaching out to rekindle these relationships. Though texting or emailing is easy, a phone call is more genuine. Try calling at least three people each week for 30 minutes or more to have a meaningful conversation.
2. Treat Yourself
Grad, after working hard and chasing your dreams, you’ve made it! Celebrate the little things in life by trying dinner at a new restaurant, buying tickets to a concert, shopping for a trendy business outfit, selecting a classy bottle of wine, or staying in to watch a favorite movie. Do whatever makes you happy! Budget a small amount of money into your monthly savings to have the freedom to splurge without going overboard.
3. Expand Professional Skills
Though the Scantron tests are over, learning and personal growth continue long after walking across the stage. Dare to be intellectually curious by seeking online courses in areas of interest, listening to audiobooks by influential thinkers, or finding an inspirational mentor. Whether it be learning Japanese or practicing VLOOKUPS in Excel, push yourself to try something out of the ordinary.
4. Find a Page-Turner
Though you might be happy to never touch a book again, there are countless classics frequently quoted in the business world. Trust me, many of them aren’t dull. Not only will you benefit from hearing the advice of savvy businesspeople, you will also impress your colleagues by demonstrating a willingness to learn. If you need a place to start, try 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey or How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.
5. Volunteer Your Time
Become an integral member of your community by exercising your ability to give back. With student loans to pay, don’t worry about needing to donate cash to make a difference. Just show up! Consider spending a few hours each month at a food pantry, animal shelter, or local library. You might be surprised how much individuals appreciate an extra set of willing hands.
6. Network with Everyone
Is there someone sitting on the other side of your cubicle wall who you haven’t met? Make sure to take initiative, introduce yourself, and find out how their role might impact your own. We all know LinkedIn is a phenomenal tool for connecting with contacts around the globe, but don’t forget to mingle with the people in your own office. Ask for an opportunity to job shadow a leader or grab a coffee with a teammate and actively listen to what they share with you.
7. Unplug and Unwind
I bet you have a cellphone, laptop, or both within your reach right now. When is the last time you were more than a few feet away from either? In a world full of information and a whirlwind of technological advancements, it can be hard to walk away from a meme compilation to give your brain a break. Set aside at least ten minutes each day to get away from all devices, breathe, reflect, and prepare for the next day.
8. Explore the City
One of the best phrases to hear from a professor on a beautiful day was, “want to have class outside?” While most full-time employees no longer have the option of working outside, we should still prioritize spending time outdoors whenever possible. Enjoy walking around boutique shops downtown, kayaking on a nearby lake, or going for a run in a regional park to soak up the rays during your hours off the clock.
9. Locate a Financial Advisor
Hoping to retire before 60? If you want to have sufficient funds to live comfortably, consider setting up an appointment with an advisor who can help you save for the future. They will have the industry knowledge necessary to provide advice about where to invest your money, so your money works for you! Make sure to shop around before selecting an advisor because some consultations are offered at reduced rates or free of charge.
10. Plan a Weekend Trip
An institution-wide spring break is a fond memory from the past, but PTO provides full-time employees the freedom they need to travel domestically and abroad. Instead of taking five consecutive days off then not having more than a couple vacations each year, try spreading your days out by using one day at a time to create three-day weekends. This allows plenty of time for a quick road trip to explore the state, a weekend getaway to Rome, or a much-deserved stay-cation in the comforts of your own home.