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Privacy

Overview M Corp and its affiliates (alternately, “we”, “us” or “our”) respects your privacy and is committed to complying with this privacy policy (“Privacy Policy”), which describes what information we collect about you, including how we collect it, how we use it, with whom we may share it, and what choices you have regarding our use of your information. This Privacy Policy applies to information collected through our business’s operations, on our website located at the-mcorp.com (the “Website”), any current or future mobile application (the “Mobile Application”), all interactive features, applications, widgets, social networks and social network “tabs”, and other online or wireless offerings that post a link to this Privacy Policy (collectively, the “Services” and, together with the Website and the Mobile Application, the “System”). We encourage you to become familiar with this Privacy Policy. Changes to our privacy policy We may change this Privacy Policy at any time and from time to time. The most recent version of the Privacy Policy is reflected by the version date located at the top of this Privacy Policy. All such updates and amendments are effective immediately upon notice thereof, which we may give by any means, including, but not limited to, by posting a revised version of this Privacy Policy. We expressly reserve the right to make any changes to this Privacy Policy at any time, without prior notice to you. The version of this Privacy Policy posted on our website on each respective date you visit the System shall be the Privacy Policy applicable to your access and use of the System on that date. Our electronically or otherwise properly stored copies of this Privacy Policy shall be deemed to be the true, complete, valid, authentic, and enforceable copy of the version of this Privacy Policy which were in force on each respective date you visited the System. This Privacy Policy is not intended to and does not create any contractual right in or on behalf of any party. What information do we collect? Personal information means information that identifies, or is reasonably capable of being associated with a particular consumer or household and includes identifiers such as a name and email address. This is not an exhaustive list, but a few examples aimed at explaining the definition of personal information. The specific categories of information that we collect are listed below. In order to continuously improve your service and tailor our subsequent communications to you, we may also ask you to provide us with additional information regarding your comments and contact preferences. Non-personal information is data that should not identify or reasonably relate to a specific person or allow M Corp to contact a specific person. Some examples of non-personal information are information about a user’s computer operating system or browser, the number of users that visit the Site and the pages of the Site which are visited, as well as information about how consumers use our Site in a way that is not connected to any particular user. M Corp uses the information that we collect to support the operations of our residential units and to provide Services that are available via the Website and Mobile Application. Categories of personal information collected, and the purposed of such collection The categories of information that we collect include identifiers (such as your name and email address), payment information, and phone number, to our service providers who process the information for the purpose of managing services and processing payment, market to you, and for our internal business administration. M Corp and/or its third party service providers collect this information directly from you or from reports that we receive from third parties. We collect browsing information and IP address, when you use our website. We collect information about consumers’ preferences from third parties to market our services. Categories of personal information sold about California consumers M Corp does not sell California consumers’ personal information. Categories Of personal information disclosed for a business purpose We disclose identifiers (such as your name and email address), payment information, and phone number, to our service providers who process the information for the purpose of managing services and processing payment. Cookies and usage reports By placing a small file known as a “cookie” on your computer (or other device), M Corp’s and/or its third party service providers’ servers passively gather information about all visitors’ use of the System for several reasons, including, but not limited to, the following: statistics collection and analysis, System optimization, analytics (as described below), market research, and maintenance of user login information. The information that we and/or our third party service providers track with cookies includes, but is not limited to, the type of browser (such as Google Chrome or Internet Explorer) and Internet-connected devices being used to access the System, your Internet protocol (“IP”) address, your home domain or Internet service provider, your referrer URL (which is the URL for the website that you were viewing prior to visiting the System), how you were directed to the System, which specific pages you access on the System, how long you view each page, the time and date you access our System and the total number of visitors to the System and any portions thereof. We, and/or our third party service providers, may use the information collected from cookies or similar files on your computer for security purposes (such as authentication), to facilitate site navigation and to personalize your experience while visiting the System. This data helps us and our third party service providers improve our respective products and services. Most popular Internet browser applications will allow you to configure the browser so as not to accept cookies. However, setting your browser to reject cookies may, in certain instances, prevent you from taking full advantage of the System (or some portion thereof) and its capabilities, or cause some features of the System to function improperly or more slowly. Correspondence We appreciate your questions and comments about the System and Services and welcome your messages. If you correspond with M Corp through email, the Personal Information may include the content of, and metadata regarding, any correspondence you may have with us. We may share your messages with those within our organization who are most capable of addressing the issues contained in your message. We may archive your message for a certain period of time. How can I opt-out of promotional correspondence? M Corp and/or its third party service providers may send you emails with promotional offers. If you would no longer like to receive information or other promotional messages from us, please click the link at the bottom of any such email you receive from us and follow the instructions, or alternatively you may contact us at info@the-mcorp.com with the word “UNSUBSCRIBE” or “REMOVE” in the subject line. Your email address will be removed from our marketing list. Please allow us a reasonable period of time in order to satisfy your request, as some promotions may already be in process. How do we use and share the information that we collect? M Corp and/or our third party service providers collect and use the Personal Information to operate the System and deliver the Services, including to provide certain services and improve the user experience, address System integrity or security issues, and conduct research and analysis to maintain, protect, develop, and improve the System, and, additionally, use any information submitted by users as described below or elsewhere in this Privacy Policy. We may send you information that you request from us, promotional materials regarding M Corp or any third party entity or individual affiliated with individual members of M Corp, and any other communication for any other legitimate and lawful business purposes. Additionally, we may retain and use certain Personal Information to facilitate and otherwise address certain inquiries or requests regarding the Services or the System, or respond to your questions or requests for information about or from M Corp. We may also use Personal Information as necessary to ensure compliance with any M Corp policies and any applicable law, regulation or order. Except as set forth in this Privacy Policy, M Corp will not use, disclose, or transfer your Personal Information unless: you expressly authorize M Corp to do so, it is necessary to allow M Corp’s service providers to provide products or services for or to M Corp, it is shared with our affiliates and business partners who may also be responsible for managing and/or otherwise operating a property, M Corp is sending you other information that may be useful to you, subject to applicable contractual or legal restrictions, it is disclosed to entities that perform marketing services on M Corp’s behalf or to other entities with whom M Corp has joint marketing agreements, it is necessary to protect the confidentiality or security of your records, it is necessary in connection with other business purposes including, without limitation, verifying identity, age, and/or payment details, investigating complaints about the System, risk assessment, security, fraud and crime prevention/detection, monitoring, research and analysis, marketing, customer purchasing preferences and trends and dispute resolution, it is necessary to comply with law enforcement, governmental mandate, court order, subpoena, or other legal requirement, if appropriate, for your protection or in connection with an investigation or prosecution of possible unlawful activity; subject to applicable contractual or legal restrictions, it is necessary in connection with a sale of all or substantially all of the assets of M Corp or the merger of M Corp into another entity or any consolidation, share exchange, combination, reorganization, or like transaction, including when M Corp ceases to manage a property, in which M Corp is not the survivor, or it is otherwise necessary for M Corp to disclose it as required or permitted by law. Job Applicants Any personal information you provide us, such as identifiers or employment history, when applying for a career position with M Corp, will be used solely to consider and act upon your application. We may retain your personal information for a period of time, but only for as long as necessary for such purposes. We may disclose your personal information to our agents for the purpose of evaluating your qualifications for the particular position you applied for, or other available positions. We may also disclose your personal information to third parties hired by us to collect, maintain, and analyze candidates for career positions. How do we protect personal information collected about you? Personal information processed by M Corp and/or its third party service providers is processed and stored by M Corp in the United States. M Corp and/or its third party service providers implement and maintain reasonable security procedures and practices such as physical, technical and administrative measures to safeguard all personal information that is processed. Please be aware that no data transmission over the Internet can be guaranteed to be 100% secure. As a result, M Corp and/or its third party service providers cannot guarantee or warrant the security of any personal information that is processed. Linked websites For your convenience, some hyperlinks may be posted on the System that link to other websites not under our control. We are not responsible for, and this Privacy Policy does not apply to, the privacy practices of those sites or of any companies that we do not own or control. We cannot be responsible for the privacy practices of any such websites or pages not under our control and we do not endorse any of these websites or pages, the services or products described or offered on such sites or pages, or any of the content contained on those sites or pages. We encourage you to seek out and read the privacy policy of each website that you visit. In addition, should you happen to initiate a transaction on a website that our System links to, even if you reached that site through the System, the information that you submit to complete that transaction becomes subject to the privacy practices of the operator of that linked website. You should read that website’s privacy policies to understand how personal information that is collected about you is used and protected. User provided content Any information, communications, or material of any type or nature that you submit to the Website or any Mobile Application by e-mail, posting, messaging, uploading, downloading, or otherwise (collectively, a “Submission”) is done at your own risk and will be treated consistently with this privacy policy. Social media platforms and websites Any Submission that you submit to any of our pages contained on a social media platform or website by e-mail, posting, messaging, uploading, downloading, or otherwise is done at your own risk and without any expectation of privacy. We cannot control the actions of other users of a social media platform and we are therefore not responsible for any Submissions contained on a social media platform or website. By visiting any of our pages that are contained on any social media platform or website, you are representing and warranting to us that you have reviewed the applicable privacy policy and terms of use of such website or social media platform and that you will abide by all such provisions contained therein. Children The System is intended for a general audience and is not intended for use or view by children under 13 years of age without parental consent, and we do not knowingly collect information about children or sell products to children. Consistent with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, we will not knowingly collect any information from children under the age of 13. California consumer privacy rights This portion of our Privacy Notice advises California residents of the applicable rights as provided in the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and how to effectuate these rights by communicating with us. Please note that we will verify your identity when we receive an individual rights request from you in order to ensure the security of your personal information, which may require us to collect further information about you. You may also designate an authorized agent to make requests on your behalf. If you are a California resident wishing to make any of the requests as described below, such as access and deletion, please contact us by: Emailing us at info@the-mcorp.com, or Calling us and leaving a message at (916) 254-0355 Right to deletion of personal information California residents have the right to request the deletion of personal information as prescribed in Section 1798.105(a) of the CCPA. M Corp may not delete some or all personal information if it is necessary for us, or our service providers or affiliates, such as to: Complete the transaction for which the personal information was collected, provide a good or service requested by the consumer, or reasonably anticipated within the context of M Corp’s ongoing business relationship with the consumer, or otherwise perform a contract between the business and the consumer, Detect security incidents, protect against malicious, deceptive, fraudulent, or illegal activity; or prosecute those responsible for that activity, Debug to identify and repair errors that impair existing intended functionality, Exercise free speech, ensure the right of another consumer to exercise his or her right of free speech, or exercise another right provided for by law, Comply with the California Electronic Communications Privacy Act pursuant to Chapter 3.6 (commencing with Section 1546) of Title 12 of Part 2 of the Penal Code, To enable solely internal uses that are reasonably aligned with the expectations of the consumer based on the consumer’s relationship with M Corp, Comply with a legal obligation, or Otherwise use the consumer’s personal information, internally, in a lawful manner that is compatible with the context in which the consumer provided the information. Your Right of Access (Request Disclosure of Data Collection and Sharing Practices) You may request to receive details about how we collect, use, and share your personal information. Specifically, you may request to receive the specific pieces of information that we have collected about you. You may also request to receive: the categories of personal information that we have collected about you, the categories of personal information that we have disclosed for a business purpose, the categories of sources from which we collected the personal information, our purposes for collecting that personal information, and the categories of parties with whom we share your personal information. Right to not be discriminated against for exercising your rights We do not discriminate against you for exercising any CCPA rights, such as the access and deletion rights discussed above. However, we may offer you rewards or benefits which we need your data to provide, but we will only provide those rewards or benefits if their value to you is reasonably related to the value provided to M Corp by your personal information. “Do Not Track” requests Certain State laws require that we indicate whether we honor “Do Not Track” settings in your browser concerning targeted advertising. “Do Not Track” is a standard that is currently under development. As it is not yet finalized, we adhere to the standards set out in this Privacy Policy and do not monitor or follow any Do Not Track browser requests. How you can exercise my rights and to whom can you contact for more information? If you have any questions or suggestions about the System, M Corp, our services, or our privacy practices, please contact us by calling us at (916) 254-0355; or by emailing us at info@the-mcorp.com.

Sacramento Business Journal: Why have so many state IT contracts been bungled?

This article originally appeared in the Sacramento Business Journal on Aug. 16, 2013, and is posted here in its entirety and without additional edits. Why Have So Many State IT Contracts Been Bungled? By Christopher Arns Take a lumbering multinational software company. Add a large helping of bureaucracy. Bake until overheated. What’s the result? California’s favorite recipe for a government technology disaster. The most recent example: In February, officials scuttled a massive overhaul of the state’s payroll system known as the 21st Century Project. The job was $250 million over budget and four years behind schedule. A test run in the California State Controller’s Office revealed glaring flaws in software designed by SAP Public Services, the Washington, D.C.-based firm chosen for the work. Controller John Chiang blamed SAP for the disaster. The Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes pointed the finger at Chiang, slamming the controller’s office for poor oversight and for misleading lawmakers about the size of the mess. SAP spokesman Andy Kendzie said the company supports the Senate staff report. It “details a very good picture of what went wrong and where fault lies.” More: State task force releases recommendations on awarding IT modernization contracts The pattern is not new. Many of California’s most prominent tech projects in the past few years have suffered colossal delays and significant cost overruns — more than $2 billion alone for seven big projects since 2011. The California Department of Technology, which last month took control of the state’s largest IT projects as part of an effort to improve efficiency and prevent boondoggles, says the state’s massive and complex technology needs are largely to blame. “We’re building our oversight capacity based on those lessons learned,” said department director Carlos Ramos, who also is the state’s chief information officer. But others point out what seems to be a common thread: Big projects involving big information technology consulting firms such as Deloitte, Accenture, Hewlett-Packard Co. and SAP seem to have big troubles. “The problem on our end is you have these companies that are replete with failure,” said Chiang. Critics of California’s IT track record also point to a Byzantine state procurement process that they say hampers competition and curbs innovation while repeatedly rewarding large companies for shoddy work. For smaller tech firms, especially Sacramento companies with both federal and state consulting experience, the problem is especially frustrating. They have the background to do the work but feel shut out of the process. “It’s frustrating. It’s been going on for years,” said Martin McGartland, president and CEO of Natoma Technologies, an IT consulting firm in Sacramento with roughly 50 employees. “It’s not even incrementally getting better.” An Ongoing Problem Let’s be clear — catastrophes in government technology are not exclusive to California. They’re not even limited to the public sector. According to a study by the global consulting firm McKinsey & Co., 66 percent of 5,400 public and private IT software projects it studied busted their budgets and 33 percent didn’t meet completion deadlines. And 17 percent of projects fail so badly that they’re known as “black swans” in the IT world, the name for ventures with cost overruns of at least 200 percent. The numbers were similar regardless of industry. But there just seems to be something different about California. For one thing, its IT needs are enormous. The state Department of Technology has nine large systems-integration projects in the works right now. The combined value: $3.75 billion. But the list of problems is equally impressive. Since 2011, at least seven contracts larger than $100 million have been plagued by spectacular delays, cost overruns and even cancelations. Two huge projects have been killed just this year, including the controller’s 21st Century Project and a $208 million upgrade of the driver’s license and vehicle registration system at the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Last year, the Judicial Council voted to terminate a courts management system because of state budget cutbacks. The council already had spent more than $500 million on the project. In total, the state paid out nearly $900 million on those three projects before canceling them. And the process may be repeating with the Financial Information System for California, a $616 million overhaul of the state’s fiscal management system. It’s the largest IT modernization program listed by the Department of Technology, and state officials say a new multi-phased procurement process was supposed to weed out unqualified IT vendors. But the project has suffered several high-profile staff defections, struggled to fill vacant positions and lacked funding for years. A June status report from the California Department of Finance revealed the project recently missed 106 noncritical benchmarks. State Bureaucracy Draws Fire There’s disagreement over what’s causing the headaches. Business owners in the IT industry claim California takes longer to develop and award government contracts than other states. Even the United States government — by no means a nimble bureaucracy — seems to pick vendors more quickly, according to several Sacramento firms. State Department of Technology spokesman Anthony Lewis disagrees. “California’s projects are large and complex,” he said. “In our discussions with IT leaders with other states, our experiences were not unusual or uncommon.” But Carol Henton, vice president of state and local government at industry group TechAmerica, said her members have called California worse than many other governments; they report an average wait of 18 months for agencies to develop and award a project. “That’s if you’re lucky,” she said. Local IT exec McGartland said the state often takes at least three years to develop a project, request bids and award the contract. According to a 2009 report from the Department of General Services, the state averaged between 29 and 78 months to prepare an IT project and select vendors. The report blamed extensive revisions to project requirements, inexperienced users creating the proposals, and a lengthy review process that drags more people into the process. The practice takes roughly 90 days for similar projects at the federal level, McGartland says. “The procurement cycle in the state is completely out of control,” he said. When more time passes, technology evolves and becomes outdated, forcing firms to request changes to the project. Agency staff members sometimes underestimate costs and have to revamp budgets when they delve deeper into a system’s overhaul. That’s one thing that went wrong with the controller’s payroll upgrade, according to a report from the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office. “When they began, the project leadership and often state officials perhaps weren’t exactly aware of where they would ultimately go,” said Chas Alamo, a fiscal and policy analyst at the LAO. “As the project developed, a better understanding of the challenges” led to revisions. At the same time, California has a reputation for micromanaging government projects and demanding excessive customization, which technology executives say stifles innovation and adds time, cost and confusion. McGartland said he’s seen state contract proposals with hundreds of specific solutions described. According to SAP’s Senate testimony, the state requested 126 customizations after the 21st Century Project was supposed to go live. The company claimed the requests were “extraordinarily high compared to other large SAP payroll systems.” “The amount of customization that has to go into implementing a tool is often so severe that it’s beyond the core capability of the tool,” said Alex Castro, a partner at M Corp, a Sacramento IT consulting firm with 105 employees. State spokesman Lewis said the state believes giving detailed directions to consultants is actually a good thing. “The more micromanaging we’re doing up front, it will actually lessen the confusion in the implementation and development process,” he said. Question of Quality The delays can have another side effect. Companies usually list their most experienced staff members on bids submitted to the state. But if agencies take longer than expected to award the contract, companies will reassign those workers and often replace them with less experienced staff. That’s apparently what happened with the state’s failed 21st Century Project. According to a report from state analysts, SAP staff listed on the original agreement for the 21st Century Project never worked on the venture for the controller’s office. “They were concerned about the experience of the people that the vendor was putting forward on the project,” said Lourdes Morales, another LAO fiscal and policy analyst who studied the work. State officials suspect those workers didn’t have the skills to grapple with a project of that magnitude, and their lack of experience may have contributed to the venture’s disaster. Chiang said the process needs to be reformed so the state clearly can assess staff experience after picking a vendor and improve accountability. “When you have these big projects, how do you identify the top talent within a company?” said Chiang. “Are you getting their A team, their B team, or their C team? Are they bringing in people they just brought in from the minor leagues?” Of the larger firms involved in the most recent IT debacles, only SAP would talk with the Business Journal about why they believe these projects had delays and other problems. SAP’s software was blamed for problems that plagued several government payroll contracts before the controller’s office chose it in 2010 to replace BearingPoint, another contractor the state fired a year earlier. Those projects included flawed payroll systems in Ireland and the Los Angeles Unified School District, each experiencing millions of dollars in cost overruns and years of delays. The state picked SAP anyway. SAP spokesman Kendzie dismissed the notion that his company has a poor track record. “Our products and software solutions are successful in tens of thousands of public sector engagements, including hundreds in the state of California,” he said. More Competition Needed? Smaller firms also believe the state’s tendency to select large firms also leads to less accountability because those companies often turn around and pick subcontractors to perform most of the work. In that case, government officials have an even harder time verifying talent levels of people on the contract. “It’s not their name on the line,” Castro said. Some also believe the process needs more competition and better ways to judge firms for their past performance. Local firms believe they are often shut out of the bidding process because the state favors bigger companies with recognizable names despite their past failures. “A lot of these large firms, regardless of how poorly they perform, are selected over and over again,” said Castro of M Corp. “I think that’s unfortunate.” The state’s chief information officer disputes the idea that smaller companies are locked out. “We do put in requirements that somebody be able to back up their work,” said state CIO Ramos. One example: The California State Lottery recently sought bids for an upgraded sales management system. Anyone could submit proposals — but only if a firm had previously worked with one of 17 state lottery systems with at least $1 billion in revenue. Department spokesman Lewis said the state tries to accommodate smaller firms, but that some projects are just too big for them. “It’s a very difficult balancing that has to be done,” he said. “You want to have as much competition as you can, but you want to have reasonable assurances that these people can deliver.” Castro said those types of mandates shut out smaller firms with proven track records. He said he thinks between 30 and 50 percent of state IT contracts could be done by local companies instead of multinational corporations with failed work on their record. “There are times that large system integrators fit better than a local firm, no question,” said Castro. “But there are many projects in the state that could have easily been done by a local firm that would have had a better outcome, simply because those firms live and die by their reputation here.”

Privacy

This privacy policy governs your use of the software application Engine (“Application”) for mobile devices that was created by M Corp. The Application is designed to identify root cause issue in Business initiatives. What information does the Application obtain and how is it used? User provided Information The Application obtains the information you provide when you download and register the Application.Registration with us is optional. However, please keep in mind that you may not be able to use some of the features offered by the Application unless you register with us. When you register with us and use the Application, you generally provide (a) your name, email address, age, user name, password and other registration information; (b) transaction-related information, such as when you make purchases, respond to any offers, or download or use applications from us; (c) information you provide us when you contact us for help; (d) credit card information for purchase and use of the Application, and; (e) information you enter into our system when using the Application, such as contact information and project management information. We may also use the information you provided us to contact your from time to time to provide you with important information, required notices and marketing promotions. Automatically Collected Information In addition, the Application may collect certain information automatically, including, but not limited to, the type of mobile device you use, your mobile devices unique device ID, the IP address of your mobile device, your mobile operating system, the type of mobile Internet browsers you use, and information about the way you use the Application. Does the Application collect precise real time location information of the device? This Application does not collect precise information about the location of your mobile device. Do third parties see and/or have access to information obtained by the Application? Only aggregated, anonymized data is periodically transmitted to external services to help us improve the Application and our service. We will share your information with third parties only in the ways that are described in this privacy statement. We may disclose User Provided and Automatically Collected Information: as required by law, such as to comply with a subpoena, or similar legal process; when we believe in good faith that disclosure is necessary to protect our rights, protect your safety or the safety of others, investigate fraud, or respond to a government request; with our trusted services providers who work on our behalf, do not have an independent use of the information we disclose to them, and have agreed to adhere to the rules set forth in this privacy statement. if M Corp is involved in a merger, acquisition, or sale of all or a portion of its assets, you will be notified via email and/or a prominent notice on our Web site of any change in ownership or uses of this information, as well as any choices you may have regarding this information. What are my opt-out rights? You can stop all collection of information by the Application easily by uninstalling the Application. You may use the standard uninstall processes as may be available as part of your mobile device or via the mobile application marketplace or network. You can also request to opt-out via email, at privacy@engineapp.io. Data Retention Policy, Managing Your Information We will retain User Provided data for as long as you use the Application and for a reasonable time thereafter. We will retain Automatically Collected information for up to 24 monthsand thereafter may store it in aggregate. If you’d like us to delete User Provided Data that you have provided via the Application, please contact us at privacy@engineapp.io and we will respond in a reasonable time. Please note that some or all of the User Provided Data may be required in order for the Application to function properly. Children We do not use the Application to knowingly solicit data from or market to children under the age of 13. If a parent or guardian becomes aware that his or her child has provided us with information without their consent, he or she should contact us at privacy@engineapp.io. We will delete such information from our files within a reasonable time. Security We are concerned about safeguarding the confidentiality of your information. We provide physical, electronic, and procedural safeguards to protect information we process and maintain. For example, we limit access to this information to authorized employees and contractors who need to know that information in order to operate, develop or improve our Application. Please be aware that, although we endeavor provide reasonable security for information we process and maintain, no security system can prevent all potential security breaches. Changes This Privacy Policy may be updated from time to time for any reason. We will notify you of any changes to our Privacy Policy by posting the new Privacy Policy here and informing you via email or text message. You are advised to consult this Privacy Policy regularly for any changes, as continued use is deemed approval of all changes. Your Consent By using the Application, you are consenting to our processing of your information as set forth in this Privacy Policy now and as amended by us. “Processing,” means using cookies on a computer/hand held device or using or touching information in any way, including, but not limited to, collecting, storing, deleting, using, combining and disclosing information, all of which activities will take place in the United States. If you reside outside the United States your information will be transferred, processed and stored there under United States privacy standards. « Help Center Terms of use »

Getting to the Heart of It: Business Rules Extraction

Every organization has something that makes it what it is, something that allows it to conduct its business and to deliver value to its consumers. Whether it is a private-sector company that develops pharmaceuticals or a public-sector organization that delivers transaction-based support, each organization offers products or services that are developed and/or offered in a way that provides unique value to the market. While they may share similarities with organizations that do similar things, no two organizations are the same. What makes them unique is their intellectual property, their way of processing information or developing products. For government organizations, this intellectual property is often represented by the business rules that guide their systems, processes and people. These business rules direct how inputs are transformed into outputs, including, for example, how eligibility is determined; how a benefit is derived; how taxes are calculated and how citizen votes are captured and tallied. Mathematics, in general, is a good representation of the importance of business rules. Fundamentally, there is logic associated with both basic and advanced math; this logic guides addition, subtraction, factoring, and for those of us who made it that far (and I wasn’t one of them), determining the surface area of a sphere. HOW you set the problem up, how you manipulate the data to get through the steps; that can change. You can use new math or old math; you can calculate in your head or write out each step. But the bottom line is that you have to apply the logic to the numbers to develop an accurate answer. Attempting the problem without understanding that logic is a waste of your time. Organizations have a bit more flexibility when it comes to developing their business rules, but once developed, they represent the logic of the work to be performed. They are developed through a complex process of interpretation such that similar organizations across different geographies may integrate their own perspectives relative to the authority and flexibility offered by the Federal Government. Breaking it down Simply put, states make unique decisions on how to implement Federal Rules and guidelines and while these decisions must result in compliance, they often also result in considerable variability across states. Local government can often tweak this yet another step further, ultimately resulting in a set of business rules that becomes uniquely theirs. Yes, there is a core of similarity across like programs, but there is also enough variability to result in a unique business model, and this model must be taken into account when designing and implementing new technology. Business Rules are NOT business processes. While there are similarities, business processes describe how people and systems capture and return information. Business rules define how people and systems act upon this data. Business rules aren’t subject to staff levels or workflow capability; they don’t change as the organization increases automation or reduces process inefficiency. Business Processes can be modified as part of your “To Be” vision; Business Rules are part of your “As Is” and must stay consistent even as your organization evolves. Decisions to modernize your organization are rarely based on problems with how legacy systems process existing business rules. Your old systems are generally accurate with regards to calculations and determinations. You modernize because it becomes too challenging, expensive or inefficient to extend or maintain your old system, or because employees’ or constituents’ expectations evolve and the old processes become archaic or inefficient. Unfortunately, the industry “leading” practices associated with new technology implementation often go too far with their focus on the “To Be,” seeking implementation simplicity and efficiency by suggesting that organizations should focus not on their current environment as much as their future environment; suggesting that new systems can be largely “vanilla” with minimal customization as long as organizations are willing to change their business processes to match those envisioned when package or transfer solutions were developed. But again, business processes are not business rules, and this approach, taken to the extremes often employed today, can result in new systems that leave out the critical intellectual property captured in the old systems – systems that don’t correctly or completely capture all of the business rules that are critical for the organization’s ability to address regulatory compliance or transaction accuracy. Nobody knows everything It would be equally ideal if you could look to your employees to provide you with a set of complete business rules, if they could provide them during requirements analysis sessions. But the reality is, most of your employees are focused on a single part of your organization, and it isn’t often clear who knows what. Getting enough people in the room for as much time as would be needed to articulate the rules is impractical; folks have their day jobs and the business of government must continue. Nobody knows everything, and there is a good chance that even in the aggregate, your employees do not know all of the business rules that are essential to running your organization. They rely upon the systems to know this information and they focus their knowledge on the business processes used to capture system inputs and act on system outputs. The most complete set of business rules, the intellectual capital which is essential to the successful operation of your organization, lives within your legacy system itself. They ARE available in complete form. But they are rarely fully documented, they can be difficult to extract manually, and your systems contain a lot of useless information that was captured through trial and error coding. It would be wonderful if you could simply run a tool against your legacy system and produce a set of easily coded business rules, but unfortunately you cannot. It takes a disciplined approach that combines automated tools with manual validation and testing. But the results are worth it. Validate in advance Distilling and validating your business rules in advance of your system modernization efforts is a fundamental way to increase your probability of a successful implementation, which we define not only as an implementation that is on schedule and budget, but which actually delivers the envisioned and intended functionality and return on investment. When you consider that most large projects only deliver 55% of the intended value, when you consider the potential for Federal Penalties, loss of constituent confidence, cost of rework, employee burnout, waste of taxpayer dollars and overall drag on the organization associated with unsuccessful implementations, it is easy to justify taking the time and spending the money to capture your business rules up front. When you capture your business rules, resulting in a clean and complete set of critical data processing requirements for your new system, you are able to begin with a much more complete understanding of the core scope of your project. This leads to many benefits: In general, business rules extraction, done properly, will improve the organization’s ability to plan, execute and manage a project. All parties will have a clearer understanding of the work to be performed. This understanding allows State entities to hold vendors accountable with more confidence and less guess work. It allows vendors to more accurately estimate the level of customization and the general effort that will be required, and can help frame the important decisions that must be made by their clients during the design and development process. Attempting your math homework without understanding the logic behind the calculation is a waste of time. The likelihood that you will get to the correct answer is low, and you’ll be forced to engage in exhaustive trial and error. Understanding that logic in advance will greatly increase the probability that you will complete the assignment successfully. The same goes for system modernization. Extract your business rules up front, understand the logic that drives your organization’s value, and you will minimize waste and increase the probability of a successful implementation.

Install Your Email Signature

Some quick tips on getting your email signature up and running can be found below. If you haven’t already generated your custom code, please fill out the form on this page. Outlook HTML signature installation is a little tricky, but don’t worry! This guide will walk you through the process it step-by-step. Note: These instructions are for Outlook 2010 specifically, but should work for other versions as well. Visit /signature/ Enter your contact information (All fields are required) Open your email and locate message from “M Corp” Highlight the code and press Ctrl + C on the keyboard Create a new signature (Outlook 2010) ☑ File > Options > Mail > Signatures > New ☑ Enter a meaningful name ☑ Select OK Use dropdown menu to assign new signature as default Locate the Windows Explorer icon and click once to open Navigate to the signatures folder on the C: Drive ☑ C: > Users > yourusername > AppData > Roaming > Microsoft > Signatures Locate the HTML document (the one with the name you used in Step 5) ☑ Click once on the file name to highlight it ☑ Right click on the file and select Open With > Notepad (a new window will open) Replace the HTML contents ☑ Delete the existing HTML code from this file (yes, all of it) ☑ Press Ctrl + P to paste your new code into this file ☑ Select File > Save ☑ When done, close the window Compose and send a test message to yourself   Apple Mail has a pretty complicated process of installing your signature. Don’t worry though! We will walk you through it step-by-step. You will be using the HTML file we provided to you for this process. Note: These instructions are for Apple Mail on 10.9.X but all versions are similar. Add a placeholder signature In Mail.app, go to Preferences > Signatures and create a signature with any random content. Name it something meaningful. You will be swapping this out later. Drag the temporary signature to the email account on the left where you will likely use it. Now quit Mail.app. Open the signatures folder This process differs if you are using iCloud. First open the following folder: ☑ Using iCloud: ~/Library/Mobile Documents/com~apple~mail/Data/MailData/Signatures/ ☑ Not Using iCloud: ~/Library/Mail/V2/MailData/Signatures/ Open the folder to show your email signatures in Finder. If you are having trouble opening the ~/Library folder, try holding down the Option key and clicking the “Go” menu in Finder. Check here for more tips if you are still having trouble opening the ~/Library folder. Drill down through the appropriate folders as shown above. Find the placeholder When you created a temporary placeholder signature in step 1, Mail automatically created a .mailsignature file that represents it in this folder. Locate the .mailsignature file in the ~/Library folder. It will have a random name. If you are using iCloud, it will start with ubiquitous. If you need help, you can open the file in Safari and view the contents to make sure it is the right one. Open the placeholder file When you have located the placeholder .mailsignature file, open it with your html editor. I use TextMate, but you will probably find it easiest to use TextEdit. If you are using TextEdit, make sure you have the “Display HTML files as HTML code…” option set in TextEdit preferences menu. Once open, you will see a few metadata lines on the top of the file and some html code below it. Replace the HTML contents Keep the top metadata lines, but replace the HTML in the file with the contents of the HTML file we have provided for you. Save the file when you are done. Lock the mail signature file THIS STEP IS ONLY NECESSARY IF YOU ARE NOT USING ICLOUD. IF YOU ARE USING ICLOUD, PLEASE SKIP THIS STEP. Even though you save this file, Mail.app will use the original version and overwrite your new signature unless you lock the file. With your text editor now closed and the file saved, find it again in Finder and press command-i to bring up the info pane for the file. On this info pane, mark the “Locked” checkbox. Restart mail Restart Mail.app and go to Preferences > Signatures. If you have images in your signature, they will not show here in the preview, but they will show in the real signature if the location is valid.  

M Corp Hired for FI$Cal Legacy Migration Project

M Corp will have a key role on the massive Financial Information System for California – often referred to as Fi$Cal. CherryRoad Technologies Inc. has partnered with M Corp, which has completed over 20 legacy migration projects for the State of California. CherryRoad and M Corp’s $26 million contract will take several years to complete.

The Nobel Prize In Economic Sciences Highlights How Poor Decision Making is Globally Impacting Businesses’ Ability to Grow

Congratulations to Dr. Richard H. Thaler, University of Chicago, for being awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize for Economic Sciences for his contributions to behavioral economics. Thaler’s theory of limited rationality and mental accounting Thaler points out that people are naturally inclined to focus on the narrow impact of each decision, rather than their overall effect. Within a strategic decision-making context, strategies are often created in isolation, without taking into account the potential impacts of other initiatives taking place in the organization. The significance of this award, supported by over 20 years of ongoing research and data from multiple interdisciplinary sources around the world, is a clear indicator that Fortune 1,000 companies that will thrive in the 21st-century economy will be those that remove biases that lead to funding poor and unproductive strategic decisions. Companies that neutralize these biases and drive more measured decision processes will have the definitive competitive advantage of accelerating their business by maximizing the potential of every investment they make. M Corp supports Dr. Thaler’s research and has applied these increasingly powerful behavioral economic models into its subscription-based execution capability measurement platform, named ReM Score™. ReM Score uses many of the same principals to measure a company’s ability to execute and deliver on every strategic initiative it is considering before the investment is made. Address root cause By addressing root cause “Human” decision issues that prevent strategic initiatives from succeeding, ReM Score provides executives the data necessary to prioritize only those initiatives that have the capacity to meet the stated outcomes and accelerate their business growth. Dr. Thaler’s research gives great insight into how individuals make decisions and how human traits impact market outcomes. He incorporated psychologically realistic assumptions into analyses of economic decision-making and proved how human traits impact both individual decisions as well as market outcomes. [1] Dr. Thaler summarized three core areas of human decision making which have economic implications: limited rationality, social preferences and lack of self-control. Rationality Thaler showed that aversion to loss can impact an individual’s decision making. Often participants in an initiative will give biased feedback in their assessment of the project, in order not to jeopardize their standing within an organization. ReM Score uses an anonymous survey method, with randomized questions, which safeguards organizations from employee collaboration during the survey, and protects employees from potential backlash as a result of their feedback. By eliminating the potential for individual employee loss, ReM Score fosters an unbiased data collection process, which has proven to be vital in informing decision-makers during the initiative selection and planning process. Fairness Pertaining to social preferences, Thaler and others pointed to fairness as a potential influencer of decision making. He noted that “some individuals will behave fairly towards others even in anonymous settings without reputational concerns; second, some individuals are willing to forego resources to punish individuals that behaved unfairly towards them.” [2] In most cases, projects or initiatives are evaluated within a social setting. In this environment, where the individual contributor is known, false data and a lack of accountability are often the results. Some individuals are naturally inclined to protect one another from necessary accountability during a project since they believe it is the fair thing to do. This natural thought process produces false data in determining specifically where risks lie in a project; a recurring problem we have witnessed during our 14 years of assessing execution capability. By taking into account anonymous feedback from all key-players involved in the execution of an initiative, ReM Score is able to provide an all-encompassing quantitative measurement of an organization’s capability to successfully execute an initiative. As a result, decision-makers are informed by an in-depth assessment of where their risks lie, based on data specific to the current initiative. Lack of self-control: Fact-based data Thaler also co-authored a book titled “Nudge” and referred to the concept of anchoring, which is a natural tendency of humans to overweigh one piece or trait of information and make an assumption based on it. [3] In our experience, decision-makers often anchor their execution capability analysis on an understanding of where a similar project had failed or succeeded in the past. This tendency can be problematic for the following reasons: Decision-makers’ assumptions of where a project failed in the past often prove to be incorrect Every initiative presents very different challenges and risks, regardless of how similar they may appear to be Most organizations blame the project team without evaluating any other factors. In summary Thaler’s work gives visibility into human tendencies which could potentially increase risk involved in the strategic decision-making process. A numerical, bias-mitigating tool like ReM Score™ can significantly decrease the impact of these human tendencies on the decision-making process, contributing to both fact-based project prioritization and much greater project success. References [1] https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/economic-sciences/laureates/2017/press.html [2] https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/economic-sciences/laureates/2017/advanced-economicsciences2017.pdf [3] https://www.farnamstreetblog.com/2015/12/biases-and-blunders/

Give your data the respect it deserves

We’ve all heard stories about the antiquated and sluggish legacy system that blocks your passage into the slick, responsive technological Camelot. As we race to modernize these legacy applications, these systems that have been the virtual circulatory system of the organization, we often lose focus on the very lifeblood pumping through them – the legacy data. That may sound obvious, or worse, patronizing. For the love of all things normalized, you didn’t just buy a sailboat and call yourself Larry Ellison. You know data migration is part of every large-scale legacy modernization project. But it’s the application that is shiny and new. Moving old data never added any value to your organization, right?

Alex Castro: Culture is the Key to Building a Winning Team

Alex Castro has a special vision for M Corp, one of the fastest-growing firms in California. It’s not about big-name clients or big-time contracts, or even hefty paydays. Instead, he concentrates on building the corporate culture. A company’s culture is definitely an easy-to-overlook, hard-to-define ingredient, but it’s often the recipe for success, says Alex, a one-time rowing coach for the University of California, Davis. Alex says building culture is critical, whether it’s a group of freshmen learning to compete and working together as a team or several-dozen professionals tackling a multimillion-dollar legacy migration project. “When you buy into M Corp, you buy a culture of behavior, a culture of people,” says Alex, who started the company with Chuck Czajkowski and Hung Lee in 2003. “We really try to bring on people who match our culture. People here are part of something. They are part of the decision-making and the direction of the company.” That buy-in makes the difference between M Corp and its rivals. “This is a tough industry that takes a toll on people,” says Alex, a former vice president of operations and information technology for Transamerica Intellitech. “The things we deal with are always a challenge. Otherwise, if it was simple, our clients wouldn’t need our help.” M Corp has gained much attention in recent years, especially after successfully completing high-profile projects for the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and the Employment Development Department. “All that does is get you considered for other projects,” Alex says. “We are in an industry of what have you done for me lately? You have to earn every inch, every day. Our culture is about quality, mutual respect and it’s about delivery.” And the company delivers. M Corp has successfully completed more than 20 legacy modernization projects for the state during the past few years. “That’s the only measure that matters,” he says. “We have one option – deliver.” It’s a business model that is comparable to his days as coach of the freshman rowing team at nearby UC Davis. “Basically, I’m teaching 40 to 50 kids the basics of rowing in six weeks,” says Alex, a Northeastern University graduate and rowing team member. “Then, it becomes a weeding out process.” The early morning practices six days a week for eight months takes its toll. But it’s also a fast-maturing and learning process for the students – and Alex. “It’s so positive, so energizing,” says Alex, who still keeps in contact with about half of the student-athletes that he coached for several seasons. “You’re not just coaching them to be athletes, but to be young men, young women …” He stopped coaching in 2008, just about when M Corp’s fast-paced growth started and his two daughters became more active in sports. “It was just time,” says Alex, whose daughters Isabella, 15, and Raquel, 12, play soccer and volleyball, respectively. “I can always go back to coaching, but I can’t go back to them being 15 and 12. All of that other stuff can wait.” M Corp has enjoyed much success. The company has been listed among the nation’s fastest-growing 1,250 privately owned firms for the past two years, according to Inc. magazine. “Our hallmark moment was when we first retained earnings in the bank,” says Alex during a late-afternoon break at the company’s downtown headquarters. “I am pleased we’ve been able to grow year over year. Every point is a milestone, it’s not an end marker.” And the company continues to evolve, grabbing multimillion-dollar projects. “It took us a good seven years to identify ourselves as a company,” says Alex, a fan of entrepreneur Richard Branson. “We never had a doubt that we could do it. Our turning point is how we were perceived in the marketplace.” But that marketplace continues to change and evolve, and so does M Corp. The company has expanded into a couple more states – and has a large project for a major firm in Australia. “Within five years, we will be a national and international company,” says Alex, who focuses on where to take M Corp next. “I see us as a national provider with deep roots in government … but also successful in the private sector. M Corp is an emerging midsize company. The hallmark for us will be when we land a $100 million project.” That could be soon, especially as state government’s needs are more critical and greater than just a few years ago. In fact, California agencies have approved several $100 million-plus projects in recent years. M Corp has come a long way from operating in partner Czajkowski’s garage in East Sacramento. Now, the company has moved from a loft in the Arden Arcade area to a top-floor, 5,000-square-foot office in the century-old Regis Building in downtown Sacramento, a block from the Capitol and close to many of its state agency clients. “We’re still the same people … we’re just better at articulating and we’ve had some success,” says Alex, who keeps things in perspective. “I cherish (the startup days in the garage), but I don’t miss it. This is just a different garage.”

Protecting California’s Environment

M Corp has completed big data efforts and grabbed headlines for high-profile projects in California. But the decade-old company also plays a behind-the-scenes – and little-known – role in protecting the environment; from preventing the introduction of harmful organisms to coastal ecosystem to reducing the risk of oil spills in our waterways. M Corp has assisted the California State Lands Commission – the agency that oversees state lands, waterways and resources – with a ballast water monitoring system for protecting against foreign organisms and an oil spill prevention system for marine terminals and offshore platforms. The agency and the company have enjoyed a great relationship for the past nine years. “It’s extremely successful, and has resulted in effective data driven programs,” says Dave Brown, Chief of Administrative and Information Services and CIO for State Lands Commission. How successful? With over 600 million barrels of oil transferred each year at California marine terminals, less than four barrels of oil have been leaked annually into waterways for the past several years, Brown says. Commission inspectors aggressively monitor oil transfers at the 41 marine oil terminals in the state, many of which are 40 to 50 years old, and the marine oil spill database plays a major role.  The system allows inspectors to be deployed using a risk-based matrix based on past history of ships and terminals so the highest risk transfers are monitored “It’s a lot easier to prevent an oil spill than clean it up,” Brown says from his office in Sacramento. “The more we can watch the higher-risk players up front, the better off we will be.” M Corp helped build the infrastructure of the marine oil spill database, and CEO Alex Castro developed oil royalty and offshore platform violation systems, effective ways to better track the industry, protect public health and safety and help offset the cost. “Their approach to a subject is a more holistic method,” says Brown, adding the company will provide the necessary resources, from a business analyst to a programmer, to complete a project. “They know what they’re doing, from soup to nuts.” The State Lands Commission also closely monitors invasive marine species that may be introduced by out-of-state ships, a serious concern for the environment. “There are all kinds of invasive species that can be highly destructive and cause significant damage both to the environment and economically.  We need to ensure that ballast water practices prevent these critters from being introduced,” Brown says. Out-of-state ships must report where they flush their ballasts, far enough away from coastal waters where the invasive species aren’t a threat to native California species. M Corp helped build the infrastructure for the system to monitor shipping industry ballast water exchange practices and locations. “We’ve enhanced their system,” says Jackman Tse, a longtime M Corp employee who works on State Lands Commission projects. And State Lands Commission has enhanced M Corp. “We’ve learned a lot, especially the intangibles, like how to build quality relationships,” Tse says of the decade-old connection with the commission. Brown agrees, adding Castro and M Corp helped the commission “build credibility of the IT staff with the rest of the organization” several years ago with the successful projects. But the company is much more than dealing with data and establishing systems. “One of M Corp’s greatest assets is recognizing the impact of change on an organization,” says Brown, referring to how some commission employees were affected by the new systems. “M Corp’s important, not just from a technical aspect, but also how it affects the community and the work force, and how they manage the change these projects introduce.” The company, despite its multimillion-dollar projects in recent years, has the same commitment to the State Lands Commission’s success. “I look at that company, and I’m just in awe how they’ve built it out,” he says.  “They’ve been extremely helpful to our programs and our commitment to protect California’s environment and Public Trust assets.