|By Scott H. Cytron, ABC
Michael Parkan is CEO and founder of CTO 24/7, a Houston, Texas-based provider of custom software development projects, tailored integration projects, permanent staff placements, expert knowledge contract workers and specialty skilled employee leasing.
Scott Cytron: What is CTO24/7 all about and who are your primary audiences?
Michael Parkan: CTO 24/7 is a software development and support shop that does whatever it takes to make software development a reality. We tell our clients that we can help them achieve their goals in a manner that reduces the risk that projects will come in behind schedule or over budget.
We promote four services: software development projects, staff augmentation, permanent recruiting and business process outsourcing. Typically, our audience includes companies involved in software development, but who are not primarily software developers, such as insurance, title, energy, manufacturing companies and banks. Having said that, we also sell business process outsourcing to law firms and accounting firms that are not doing software development. In these cases, we usually archive their records, make their office paperless or just improve their internal processes.
Michael Parkan, CEO
SC: I know the company started in 1997. Tell me why you started it, what your expectations were the first several years with regard to growing the business and how the market you serve has helped meet those expectations.
MP: The company originally started as a hobby, more or less, in the beginning. I had moved into management working for a pretty big Fortune 1,000 company – which was great – but the longer I was in management, the further I moved away from the actual technical aspects of development that I enjoyed.
So, I began doing some custom software development in my spare time for people who asked me if I would help them out – and this helped me to keep up with the rapid changes in technology. Eventually, I left the company I was working for and decided to really try and turn the hobby into an actual business.
For the first few years, we tried to make our expectations realistic. The company was growing every year and we had hired a lot of employees, but we tried to be cautious about building a solid foundation and grow at a very controlled, manageable pace. You have to remember that this was the time of the dot.com bust and technology companies were failing left and right. What worked for us was the fact that we were big enough to handle most jobs, but still boutique enough to provide incredible service the larger companies couldn’t.
SC: What is your most popular service, and why do you think this is the case?
MP: Staff augmentation is by far our most popular service. Many companies need help meeting their schedule, but do not want to contract the project out as a whole. In these cases, companies will usually augment their staff with our employees, allowing them to speed up the development cycle.
SC: How can accounting firms partner with CTO 24/7 to either staff their own firms and/or work with their clients?
MP: We can help in a variety of ways. We are always available to take on a software development project or portion of that project. Alternately, we can lease our staff to clients on a contract basis, or if they need a full-time person, we can recruit an employee for them. I should note that we use our own engineers in the recruiting process. This enables us to tell which candidates really know their stuff and which ones exaggerate about their skills.
Finally, we can offer low cost manpower to companies requiring a lot of manual work. For example, we do a lot of coding and indexing for companies involved in mass scanning of documents. Another example is an insurance company where we provide them a variety of rate quotes from a number of carriers every day.
SC: I know Business Process Outsourcing is one of your primary solutions – and one that is becoming more and more important with accounting firms and the clients they serve. Why is BPO so important and how do you feel accountants can educate themselves to become more aware of BPO?
MP: BPO is important because it allows many companies the opportunity to continue the manual work they already do, such as scanning, indexing, research and other tasks, at a much reduced price. Accountants and lawyers tend to use BPO a lot because they are required by law to keep certain documents for a specific period of time. For example, consider a strong accounting firm that has been around for a long time, such as Briggs & Veselka in Houston. You can only imagine how much paper this firm would have to store if it hadn’t moved to a scanned solution.
SC: In IT Recruiting Solutions, how do you feel the Millennial generation stacks up against older generations, such as Y, X and Boomers?
MP: As technologically savvy as the Boomers are, I think you will find the Millennials even savvier and connected; they also tend to be willing to jump to the next big thing more readily than older generations.
Companies seeking to attract Millennials need to look at their benefit plans and see how compelling it is to people of that generation. For example, having excellent health benefits may not resonate as strongly as it does with other generations.
SC: Who is your favorite author? Why?
MP: Malcolm Gladwell rules! The Tipping Point is so profound that Malcolm just has to get the award. In Tipping Point, Malcolm explains why change in society happens. However, what was interesting to me was how he categorizes people as “Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen.” Having an understanding of the types of people out there has helped strengthen our business development approach.