MICHAEL G. TULLOCH
Director of IT Consulting
My name is Michael G. Tulloch. I am the Director of IT Consulting at Quantros, Inc., maker of clinically developed, easy-to-use software solutions designed to help improve quality, and safety, and accreditation standards compliance while lowering costs. I’ve held this position since February 2009.
I am responsible for building a new IT Consulting Services business within Quantros to complement the existing software product lines offering safety/risk management, accreditation and compliance solutions. The IT Consulting group specializes in customization of our existing products as well as building applications from the ground up.
BACKGROUND, EXPERIENCE, AND HOW I GOT HIRED:
My background in software development and particularly in offshore development was of great interest to the CEO, Dr. Sanjaya Kumar. Dr. Kumar had just built a captive ODC in Chennai, India and he wanted to grow an IT consulting business leveraging both the ODC and the US based engineering teams. My experience as an on-site project manager managing a development team in Beijing, China, as well as my sales background, was a good fit for building this type of business particularly focusing on the existing client base of about 2,300 hospitals nationwide using Quantros products.
DAY IN THE LIFE
Each week begins with a status review of the IT Consulting projects pipeline. The pipeline consists of projects that are in the process of requirements definition and projects where statements of work (SOW) and pricing have been delivered to the customer/prospect and we are awaiting sign-off. The second component of the Monday meeting is to review all of the on-going projects that are currently in development to discuss the previous week’s issues and how they will be addressed. Finally, we review any production issues that are on-going or were resolved during the previous week.
Now it is time to put on the sales hat and address any product customization requests that have come in from our existing customer base. These requests are funneled from our customer relationship people including Account Managers, Sales and Professional Services to IT Consulting for review and pricing. I work with our customer facing people to define the requirements and then with the engineering team to estimate the work effort. Once I have the estimate I create a SOW and deliver it to the customer for review and sign-off. The SOW contains the requirements as well as a high-level estimate of the project costs.
In addition to the internal projects we are actively seeking projects from non-customers who may need our engineering services. We respond to many RFPs seeking to build custom application software within the healthcare vertical.
If someone came to me and said, “You’ve got the dream job – I want one just like it!” here’s what I’d tell them: Get as much experience as you can from all sides of the software development life cycle. I started in operations as an end user of a mainframe application used to provide transfer agency services to our mutual fund customers such as Eaton Vance. Working in operations will provide you with an understanding of the business as well as the end user experience that will be a tremendous help when you get into the software side of the business. End users of software are the life blood of what we do in the software development business and to understand and build software that makes their job easier, more efficient and more effective is most gratifying.
My next step was to move into the systems area as a Business Systems Analyst (BSA) where my job was to document both the business and functional requirements. This is a vital step in the software development life cycle; if requirements are not accurately captured then you end up delivering software that does not add value for end users. Once you hand off the requirements to the engineering team it is the BSA’s job to write and execute a test plan to ensure that the engineers have built to software correctly. I always found testing to be one of my favorite parts of the process because I would challenge the engineers that I was going to “break” their code and they would fire back – “Go ahead, BSA.” This witty repartee was always fun and good-natured but it underscored our commitment to building and delivering good, solid code. The final component of the BSA’s role is to train the end-users on how to use the new software and this is where the cycle begins anew. End users can always see better ways for the software to help them in their jobs.
Having worked my way through the software development life cycle from requirements to delivery, including project management, has given me the perspective I needed to be a successful software development professional and I never wrote a line of code in my life. And that is something the engineers love to point out. Now that I am in sales, I feel comfortable talking to all the constituencies associated with any software development process and that knowledge/confidence can felt by your potential customers and will lead to new deals.
I will never forget one of my first development projects – Price Recovery – (the name still makes make smile) where I was the BSA and worked hard for nearly a year only to have the project shelved due to reprioritization. I was very upset and told my boss in so many words, he let me vent and then asked, “Did you get a paycheck?” I did not see his logic at first but he said that the only thing I could control in this process is to do the best job possible and that projects get reprioritized all the time.
Software development is both an art and a science and while processes and procedures are necessary it also takes a good team with the right mix of personalities and skill sets to ensure the highest quality of delivery. Some of my fondest memories involve my colleagues and I working through the night to hit a deadline, and then going out to breakfast as a team after we had completed the conversion project.
Michael G. Tulloch