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Alex Castro Joins Sutter Medical Center Foundation’s Board of Trustees

Alex Castro, CEO and co-founder of M Corp has just been announced as a new member of Sutter Medical Center Foundation’s Board of Trustees. “Our new board members bring great knowledge of the community and enthusiasm to the Sutter Medical Center Foundation board. We are excited to have them as we know that Sutter Medical Center will continue to have a great presence in the community because of their efforts,” said Gregory Walaitis, Executive Director, Sutter Medical Center Foundation. As a new board member, Alex will support and cultivate the philanthropic efforts and goals for Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento. M Corp is excited about the partnership and the chance to contribute to the Sacramento region by helping to foster and sustain healthy communities through collaborative initiatives.

Execution Capability is THE Management Theory for the 21st Century

Execution capability is a data driven metric indicating the business’s ability to deliver on a specific strategic initiative. 10% of business success is rooted in strategy, and the remaining 90% is dictated by execution. However, most companies would report percentages far below that. Most businesses struggle to bridge the gap between implementation and strategy, with 61% of them reporting problems.  The loss of productivity, opportunity, and earnings results from a lack of data-driven decision making, which should be used to narrow down the pool of initiatives to only viable ones. According to Harvard Business Review’s article, How to Overcome the High, Hidden Cost of Inconsistent Decision Making,  “The problem is that humans are unreliable decision makers; their judgements are strongly influenced by irrelevant factors…it is an invisible tax on the bottom line of many companies.” The article points out that “academic researchers have repeatedly confirmed that professionals often contradict their own prior judgments when given the same data on different occasions.  For instance, when software developers were asked on two separate days to estimate the completion time for a given task, the hours they projected differed by 71%, on average.” Decision bias and poor decision making practices cause even successful companies to lose substantial amounts of money, without even realizing it.  Given that on average, it takes $8 in revenue to generate $1 in retained earnings, the impact of poor decision making is significant. How to correct decision bias Management theory has not changed very much in the past 20 years, as the big management ideas of the past, such as business process management (BPM), total quality management (TQM), and lean [management] are less applicable to current needs.   In many of the largest global institutions, executives are finding that by the time the older management theories run through their processes, market demands have changed, and the organization is forced to start their initiative-selection process all over again. The focus is to identify viable initiatives quickly, through measurement tools such as ReM Score™, and to abandon the initiatives that cannot meet performance targets.  This is difficult in an age where innovation and action are progress.  This includes everything from acquisitions, product launches, and back-end business process re-engineering efforts. Scoring each initiative quickly creates viability pools that are used to determine which initiatives should be considered: Once the pool of initiatives is identified, existing decision making practices can take effect to determine value to the business, and level of return.  The removal of bias from the decision-making process eliminates the waste that is currently plaguing the S&P 500, resulting in a reduction of bad initiatives, and an increase in net earnings. Conclusion The pace of market movement no longer allows for traditional management principles to be applied in the decision-making process.  Accuracy in decision making is the differentiator for global businesses to survive and thrive in a very transformative economy. Removing the biases that executives and managers apply in selecting an initiative will eliminate the waste that is negatively impacting corporate earnings, and will provide more data-driven decision making opportunities. Utilizing an execution capability metric, such as ReM Score™, delivers actionable data to the decision-making process, to increase competitive reach in quickly evolving strategies. To learn more about ReM Score™, check out http://remscore.com.

M Corp Sponsors Texas Public Sector CIO Academy

M Corp is a proud sponsor and exhibitor of the Texas Public Sector CIO Academy held this year at the Hilton Austin on Wednesday, November 4, 2015. Alex Castro, CEO of M Corp serves on the advisory board for the event as an industry representative. He will be appearing at the event to represent the company and meet with event attendees in Austin.

Fast-paced growth, entering new markets highlight M Corp’s Strategic Plan

M Corp has announced an aggressive plan to expand business – and the company, from entering more markets to developing new offerings. The company’s strategic plan was detailed to employees a few weeks ago, after the three founding partners and new Chief Operating Officer Deanne Wertin conducted detailed research and planning activities during the fourth quarter of 2013. “We want to be very public about our painted picture,” says Wertin, who was announced as the company’s first-ever COO in November. “After 10 years, we have built the brand recognition and the support. This is really a maturation of the brand.” Indeed, the company that started a decade ago in founding partner Chuck Czajkowski’s garage has become one of the nation’s fastest-growing IT firms, landing on the Inc. 5000 list the past two years, most recently at No. 1,159 with a 362% increase in revenue during the past three years. M Corp — a provider of Legacy Modernization, Business Analytics, and Readiness solutions for government and private-sector clients — moved to a 5,000-square-foot office on the top floor of the historic Regis Building in June and has completed dozens of projects for the state, including the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), Employment Development Department, Department of Healthcare Services, Department of Motor Vehicles and the Board of Equalization. Now, the privately owned company has a goal of establishing eight to 10 new key clients in California – in addition to its current customers — and entering 10 more states during the next three years. M Corp. executives also want to aggressively enter the U.S. banking industry and expand the firm’s presence in Australia, where the company has completed projects for a financial-services giant. In addition, the company would like to partner on federal government contracts, augmenting marquis solution provider teams with their defined methodology and expertise for successfully migrating legacy systems. “We’ve set out what we want to do,” Wertin says. “Now, we’re ready to make it all happen.” M Corp will continue to focus on its three key areas – readiness, modernization and analytics. And current clients, especially state agencies and departments, will experience the same first-rate results. “We’re not going to change something that is working, that would be foolish,” Wertin says. “But they will benefit from the process because our understanding of what really makes projects successful will expand as we work with more and more client organizations.” M Corp wants to become a unique place for employees as well. Part of the company’s new process will include developing an Mcubator – a business incubator – to encourage employees to think outside the box. Employees could develop a new product or service, or even a spinoff company. “We want this to be a place where this is more than just a job,” Wertin says. “It’s the partners way of supporting and fostering employees’ entrepreneurial goals.” The strategic plan is the latest move for M Corp. In November the company announced major changes to its executive team with the hiring of Wertin as COO and establishing more defined roles for the three founding partners. Founding partner Alex Castro has become the chief executive officer, while fellow partner Chuck Czajkowski and Hung Lee have the newly created positions of chief technology officer and chief development officer, respectively. Wertin, an industry veteran, will handle the daily business operations and focus on expanding the firm into new markets.

The Future of Government Systems

It’s a subscription model. The pace of consumer expectation, market demand, and innovation is blistering.  We are consuming technology, apps, and services as fast as they can be produced, and we use them for a micro-moment before we get bored with them and move to the next new offering.  This is the new normal.  The way citizens want, or really expect to interact with their government is driven by a culture where services and products are specifically tailored to them and their needs, right now. So where did this sudden burst of speed and expectation come from? Our relationship with technology and how we access it has been evolving rapidly in the 21st century economy. First it was Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), then came ‘The Cloud’, then it was Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), followed by the formalization of the Internet of Things (IoT). Now the natural sequence leads us to Systems-as-a-Service (SyaaS). The approach of ‘owning’ every system or offering is unsustainable; today’s operating model is based on a subscription approach. The talent pool is shifting constantly, technology platforms are evolving constantly, and obsolescence for any given system averages 5 years or less. The outsourcing model is trying to keep up, but even that is starting to falter. The largest systems integration companies on the planet are completely rethinking their outsourcing offerings, because they can’t make money doing it anymore. If you want to get funding from a venture capital (VC) firm today for a platform offering, it had better be a subscription based offering. VC’s don’t want to fund product development anymore; there’s no money in it, and it is too hard to compete against cloud. Companies are having to adjust strategy two to three times per year because any direction is good for only 4-6 months before the market shifts. New products need to be conceived and go to market in 6 months, whereas 5 years ago, the timeframe was 18 months. The average life span of an S&P Index company is less than 15 years, whereas in 1997, it was 40 years. The current outcome metrics for government and private sector systems initiatives has the same risk profile as a VC funded startup; that’s not low risk. An outcome economy. We work within and serve an outcome based economy that values buying a finished product instead of process, and subscription as opposed to ownership. The challenge government faces is the same one that every Fortune 1,000 company faces: they can’t keep up with the pace of new demands. The volume and complexity of legislative changes, citizen expectation, technology changes, security breaches, and net impacts of initiatives on elected officials are massive. Government system projects now cost billions, not hundreds of millions. There is only one shot to get them right, and there is no backing out of the rabbit hole anymore. Expectation is absolute, without regard for conditions or mitigating factors. The future of government systems is a subscription model; government owns the rules and the policy, and buys an outcome, not a project. Companies with platforms and offerings show up with solutions that are already configured and ready to work. Vendors own the risk of technology selection, hosting, configuration, maintenance, and enhancements. Government pays a subscription fee when the system works, and not a dime until it does. Time-to-market, by half. Time-to-market needs to be half of what it is right now, and when the need shifts, the burden is on the supplier to make the changes under a continuous delivery model. When the offering doesn’t work any longer, government can move on to the next subscription provider that is delivering the value it needs. The pace of change is too fast, and to expect government to ‘own’ the process for keeping up is simply, well, unfair. Government is being stretched thinner and thinner every year. This transition to a subscription model will be challenging for some, but it is already taking hold in places like California, Texas, and Florida. In recent years, this type of transition was seen more in behaviors such as leasing office space rather than buying/building, privatizing the construction and maintenance of toll roads, and in the decommissioning of data centers to host everything in the cloud. Not only is this model viable, but it is currently being used every day in government. The future of government systems is a subscription model. Pay only if it works, no more buying software or services, no more multi-year RFP processes, and no more managing development efforts. If it works, government pays, and if it doesn’t, they don’t.

M Corp Successfully Completes Major Project for California Public Employees’ (CalPERS) Retirement System

M Corp has successfully completed a major project for the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, migrating about 500 million records of data from a mainframe to a new database system. CalPERS, the nation’s largest public pension fund, will be able to basically “mothball” the mainframe, generating a significant savings in maintenance and operation costs. “This will allow CalPERS to decommission the mainframe,” said Shannon Alley, a project manager for M Corp and the nine-month project. “It’s really all about horsepower.” M Corp’s six-member team used longtime partner ATERAS’ eavATP tool to migrate the data from the mainframe to a Windows interface that lives on an Oracle database. The result is an easy-to-use, effective and money-saving solution for CalPERS. “We developed an excellent, seamless solution for CalPERS,” said Alex Castro, one of the three founding members of M Corp. “It will save CalPERS money and moves the data to a new database.” CalPERS employees will only access the data on the Oracle database; its 1.6 million pension members will not be affected by the migration. “It has the look and feel of the mainframe, there is no training needed for the end user,’ Ms. Alley said. The CalPERS’ project was a great hands-on experience for M Corp, one of the nation’s fastest-growing IT services firms during the past three years, according to Inc. magazine. “There was a lot of complex code. We learned a lot,” she said. “I’d like to get another project like this.” Decade-old M Corp continues to build its reputation as the industry leader in delivering structured and proven legacy modernization and analytics services through its established roadmaps and frameworks. M Corp uses its fully developed and proven Legacy Roadmap and proprietary frameworks to execute complex legacy system conversion, migration and modernization projects. These frameworks are proven and documented methodologies and processes, resulting in consistent and low-risk solution approaches.  “We’ve completed several high-profile projects, and we’re always ready to take on whatever projects come our way,” Castro said. “We’ve worked for some of the nation’s largest state agencies and some major corporations.”  “We have the people and tools to tackle any project,” Castro said. “And with each project, like the recently completed effort for CalPERS, we further strengthen our skills and talents.”   Download this press release

Don’t let bias cloud your decision-making: eight ways executives cloud judgment

The mainstream business community talks about emotional intelligence more than ever. At a time when daily headlines confront our nation’s history of prejudice and inequity, painful self-reflections are helping us grow better at seeing things for what they are. In the technology industry, decision bias is pervasive in our everyday thinking, whether you are a Fortune 500 CEO launching a new product, or an IT project director fighting the odds against failure. People are vulnerable to blind spots that hide the truth and keep us from making sound judgments based on data. Numerous studies, including one published by the Harvard Business Review, show that even highly accomplished professionals are subject to distractions, which say “the problem is that humans are unreliable decision-makers; their judgments are strongly influenced by irrelevant factors, such as their current mood, the time since their last meal, and the weather.” Here are some dangerous forms of bias that lead to flawed decision-making: Confirmation bias Seeking and prioritizing information that confirms your existing beliefs, or using information to justify what you already believe. Framing bias When you draw different conclusions from the same information presented differently, such as when you use proforma spreadsheets to display financial or budget information skewed toward a certain outcome. Anchoring bias Excessively focused on the first information you are presented with when making a decision. Gossip works this way, the first thing you hear about a person can change your perception forever. Sunk cost bias The refusal to abandon something that is not working or underperforming simply because you have invested in it. Monte Carlo bias Named after the famed gambling destination, this bias means putting excessive weight on previous events, believing they somehow represent future outcomes. It’s the assumption that past performance dictates future results. Availability bias Overestimating the importance of information that is easiest to recall, or taking whatever is right in front of you as gospel truth. Self-Assessment bias Unskilled individuals sometimes overestimate their abilities and experts sometimes underestimate theirs. Understanding how people tend to assess their own skills can reveal common bias in performance. Bandwagon bias When we jump on the bandwagon, it means we do something simply because people around us are doing it. We say, “this is what everyone else is doing, so I guess it’s the thing to do. They must be right.” By no means is this an exhaustive list, but these are important clues to understanding dangerous bias that can undermine an executive’s ability to make objective decisions based on data and rational thinking.

M Corp Sponsors Sacramento County Golf Tournament

M Corp is a proud sponsor of the 2015 Sacramento County Open Championship taking place at Ancil Hoffman Golf Course. The tournament proceeds go directly to Sacramento Children’s Home, a non-profit organization offering a range of residential and community-based programs to children and families. M Corp is sponsoring the 11th hole at the tournament, aptly named the “Tin Cup” hole. Each player will be given the challenge of using a 7-iron the entire way throughout the hole. “M Corp will host a margarita bar at the 11th hole where players will have the option between tequila sunrises or margaritas, along with their very own cocktail shakers!” says Eri Furukawa, Marketing Communications Specialist at M Corp. About M Corp: M Corp delivers structured legacy modernization, readiness, and analytics solutions, using roadmaps and frameworks established over more than a decade of successful high-risk projects. The company, a member of the Inc. 5000 and listed as one of the fastest-growing firms the past three years by Inc. Magazine, offers specialized products and services to public sector, financial services, agriculture, energy, and health care. Founded in 2003, M Corp supports projects across the United States and in Australia with a focus on eliminating dysfunction and increasing the economic benefit to our clients. For more information please visit the-mcorp.com About Sacramento County: Sacramento County provides services from animal licensing to building permits to health and welfare to zoning. The County is governed by a five-member Board of Supervisors. Each is elected from one of the five supervisorial districts of the County for a four year term. Other elected officials include the Assessor, District Attorney and Sheriff. The County Executive runs the day to day operations of the County. About Sacramento Children’s Home: The Sacramento Children’s Home is opening doors to the future by maximizing the potential of children and families. With eight programs across six locations, we are Sacramento County’s most comprehensive child and family service organization, focusing not only on treatment of child abuse and neglect, but also on prevention and early intervention. We make a significant difference in the lives of 5,500 children and 4,200 families every year, giving them hope for a better tomorrow. Download Full Press Release

Happy 10th Birthday, M Corp!

The Boston Red Sox ended an 86-year-old curse and won the World Series, Janet Jackson grabbed headlines for her halftime performance at the Super Bowl and Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook. And three friends — Alex Castro, Chuck Czajkowski and Hung Lee – also founded M Corp in an East Sacramento garage in 2004. Much has changed since those early days, but the core of the company remains the same a decade later. “We behaved more like a consulting company than a contracting company” when M Corp started, Alex says during a late-afternoon break at the firm’s headquarters on the K Street mall in downtown Sacramento. “When we started implementing the model, we focused on the team.” Rather than building a contracting company filled with short-term contractors, M Corp focused on finding consultants and employees who could remain with the firm and move to other projects. The business model attracted the best candidates who provide experience, hard-to-find skills and knowledge for state government contracts. “We wanted to retain the intelligence, the experience and continue to develop that culture,” Alex says. “When we started to implement that model … we started to enjoy some success.” But the fast-growing firm truly hit its stride in 2009 and 2010. “We started to truly understand who we are,” Alex says. “We began to focus completely on the delivery process.” The company has completed several high-profile projects for the state, including for the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), Employment Development Department and Department of Health Care Services during the past few years. Completing those projects, on budget and on time, has made midsize M Corp a well-known firm with the State of California — and nationwide. M Corp has been listed as among the nation’s fastest-growing privately owned firms by Inc. magazine. Now, the company is expanding to new industries and markets, and embracing a more entrepreneurial approach. “We are really fostering an entrepreneurial core,” Alex says. “Let employees flourish in the same ways. It’s about drawing on the entrepreneurial spirit of our employees and fostering their ideas.” In order for the company to flourish under the new model, a chief operations officer has been hired, while the founding partners were given C-level responsibilities and titles. “I became an entrepreneur to inspire other ideas,” says Alex, recently named CEO of M Corp. “This gives us the freedom to choose things, to develop new ideas.” It’s a business model that will benefit and raise the bar for M Corp, he says. “The reward of building M Corp has been putting your face in the wind and leading the charge,” Alex says. But the company founders will continue to play a critical role in the next-generation development and make sure M Corp remains true to its roots. Alex says: “I’m still in a garage, it’s just a bigger garage.”  

The Future of California’s Government

Overview The average person checks their smartphone 46 times a day. We, as consumers and citizens, have developed behaviors and expectations in our daily lives driven by service providers who simultaneously play catch-up to where others have set the bar, defining the next generation of ideas to capture our attention. The transformation of California’s businesses and government is less self-directed, and more market-driven. Alex Castro’s educational session at Government Transformation highlighted how other states are addressing the expectations generated by private sector performance, and our own needs as they relate to California’s future. Economics The economics are driving California’s transformation because the more the constituency has in terms of its ability to fund programs, the more the expectations of government rise. Post-recession, California has seen a fluctuating recovery in its tax revenue, in part due to the state raising its taxes, contributing to gains stimulated by economic growth. Much like in Texas and in Florida, California saw a sharp peak in 2010 from federal dollars, eventually falling back within its historical range. The data is showing that California’s overall federal funds are lower than states like Texas and Florida. In Texas, tax revenue gradually increased after the recession due to a large portion generated by an increase in taxes from oil and gas production. From 2003 to 2013, Texas more than doubled its estimated onshore crude oil reserves. Fracking booms led to significant growth in the domestic oil and gas industry, increasing local government revenue through increases in property and sales taxes. Florida has seen a slow improvement since the recession and has not yet reached the same levels of tax revenue as they stood in 2008. A good deal of Florida’s revenue is centered on the tourism industry. Other States – Texas and Florida It is important to note that generally when dealing with public sector, trends in policies and governance shift from East to West in the United States. According to McKinsey Center for Government, 44% of large scale government transformation efforts meet their targets. By that same vein of thought, that means an overwhelming 56% of initiatives fail. Florida’s legislature directly measures the success of their initiatives on a yearly basis. The constant act of justification each year drives the model of budgeting based on performance on transformation. Florida TaxWatch measures government efficiency. Associated Industries of Florida are pro-business and enforce lower taxation rates. Since 2005, Florida has eliminated the policy branch of the State CIO two times in order to drive consistency and accountability. Only recently has the branch been reinstated. In Texas, they experienced a major multimillion dollar scandal which drove procurement reform, and resulted in Senate Bill 20, a measure to eradicate bad procurement practices. In 2015, the state of Texas stopped all active procurements for 6 months to revamp the structure of the procurement process. Private Sector What we are seeing in the private sector is a constant sense of self disruption. Companies are in an endless battle to anticipate trends, capture market share, and lead industries. Several examples can be seen as a manifestation of private sector’s transformative capabilities to push markets into transition. The hearing aids market saw a huge and rapid-fire shift from the impact of 3D printing. Within the span of a little over a year, companies who did not adopt digital printing techniques were wiped out of manufacturing hearing aids completely. Wang Laboratories created an early model CPU which would then be categorized as a personal computer. Eventually the onset of microcomputers phased out the company’s development. Lucent Technologies, a telecommunications company adapted to changes in technology by incorporating VoIP into their product lines, replacing outdated business telephony solutions. Cisco released a handheld video camera named Flip, only to be destroyed by the rise of Apple’s iPhone 3G S when it was released on the market. The largest transitions that are currently dominating the technology sector are cloud-based tools and services, mobile, and Internet of Things (IoT). Under cloud-based services, Amazon Web Services surpassed many enterprise suppliers in its ability to capture market share while sustaining a 78% growth in revenue. AWS has more than 10 times the computing capacity of all of its 14 closest rivals combined. According to Alex Castro’s model of transformation, the overlap between where your business is today and where you go tomorrow is what you retain. However in order to support the new model, there are major enhancements which need to be made, hence the gap in readiness. Conclusion With the average transition time between product iterations lasting 12 months, it is not enough to sustain and retain the current model of operations. We currently live in a world where the pace of private sector transformation in order to keep up with consumer demands, coupled with government reforms in other states is forcing its hand with California’s pace of transformation.