Red Condor: Scaling the Business

When I arrived at Red Condor, I had a week of overlap with Tim Flood. He introduced me to everyone that I had not already met and I began to get an idea of what I was in for.

My second day was spent at a Venture Capital firm as Red Condor was trying to raise money. I got to see the projected financials and saw why we needed more money. I will get to that latter bit in a future post but today I want to focus a bit on those financials.

Red Condor had been growing at a reasonable percentage rate over the last 18 months. The plan was to double the business again. The company was starting from a small baseline ($5.5M) so it did not seem completely impossible. The challenge was on the Operating Expense side. To get the company profitable, this growth came with almost no new employees.

This was a challenge for me as two of the groups that reported to me were the Network Operations (NOC) and Security Operations (SOC) group. Beyond what the titles of these two group might imply, they also handled Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 Customer Service on a 24/7/365 basis.

It seemed to me if we were going to double the revenue, that the groups operating and supporting the service would have to grow at a reasonable amount. But in the projected budget, there was only a single new hire and the group was already 11 people. What that said to me was that the group had to become a LOT more efficient.

I spent some time on two fronts. First, I had to look at the processes involved in supporting the business. The processes themselves seemed okay but there were a few holes. We had to look at those process holes and slowly fill them in. More importantly to me it meant I needed to get product changes into the pipeline to reduce the support load on the team.

I paid great attention over my time at Red Condor working on all parts of these problems. We improved our monitoring tools. We improved our support tools (allowing Tier 1 folks to fix common Tier 2 issues). We changed the product to be more robust in the face of issues.

One other activity that I supported was the improvement in Spam Resolution tools. Spammers create new campaigns all the time, so it is important to be able to detect new campaigns, provide updated algorithms, and distribute the updated algorithms quickly. I had a goal of 10 minutes "Time to Block" from being aware of a new campaign to updates were distributed.

The result of all of this work has been an environment that has continued to grow without any new people. In fact today, there are less people supporting the business than when I joined. This means that the personnel in the "Cost of Goods Sold" has declined dramatically and margins have gone up.

This was step one of reworking the business.

Jim Sackman
FocalPoint Business Coaching

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