Kevin Burkhart
May, 13 2020

In my 38-year career in the IT industry, one of the most important lessons I’ve learned is how to separate the “Signal” from the “Noise”. And this trait is one I notice in all good organizational leaders, especially in times like these.


Today, business leaders are facing unprecedented opportunities to become distracted. All of us are literally participating in THE seminal event of our generation. Stories will be written about these times 100 years from now. Along with all of this comes an order of magnitude more noise (distractions) than signals (fundamental challenges).  How we respond, both individually and collectively, will greatly impact outcomes. Winners and losers will emerge. How do we, then, improve our odds for positive outcomes?

Back to Basics

In business, as in life, there are reasons why the “basics” are the “basics” – they work. The basics became fundamental building blocks because they stood the test of time, in good times and bad. Focusing on the basics will help us filter the signal from the noise.

In business, and more specifically in IT within the business, we can count on certain truisms. First, in IT there is always a backlog bigger than our capacity to deal with the backlog. Economic shocks/downturns simply amplify this situation – i.e. IT budgets shrink, and backlogs continue to grow. Users of IT, who are also being asked to do more with less, look to in-flight Digital Transformation initiatives to alleviate their needs to become more efficient in getting things done. This "shrinking budget/growing backlog" dilemma will drive fundamental shifts in IT planning and execution.

During go-go times, certain levels of inefficiencies may be tolerated for the sake of capturing market opportunities. Speed-to-market priorities may take precedence over budgetary constraints. In the market in which my company Eagle Creek exists, this may mean the customer engages a large Global System Integrator (GSI), along with its inherent inefficiencies, to build a new platform quickly in order to capture new market share, irrespective of cost. To some extent, quality and cost can be sacrificed for the sake of speed.

However, during economic downturns and times of uncertainty, companies revert to the basics. Across the enterprise, Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and Accelerated Return on Investment (ROI) take priority over speed-to-market. Generating quick returns on investment are prioritized over simply capturing new market share. This can lead to "GSI Fatigue".

Times Like These

For 21 years, Eagle Creek has designed its customer engagement model around basic building blocks – reduce TCO, accelerate ROI, and don’t sacrifice quality in the process. What does this mean in practice?

We start with an engagement model that combines senior “onsite” consultants with “offsite” consultants located in our three US-based Technology Centers. Our “onshore” technology center consultants are a key component to our secret sauce. They represent lower price points, motivated employees with excellent work ethics, a stable workforce (less than 5% employee turnover), and cultural acuity (vs. offshore).

We then add to that a business approach that does not nickel and dime our customer. Our model is not driven by change orders. And we have built a viable financial model based on lower margins (costs). We do things like adding nonbillable consultants to support peak crunch times during projects. Everything is designed to deliver the highest quality services at the lowest possible cost, while mitigating project risks. That, in turn, makes us very “sticky” with our customers…especially in times like these.

Whether you believe we will eventually “return to normal” or evolve to a “new normal”, we are confident Eagle Creek’s unique delivery model, along with our general philosophy of managing IT engagements, is custom-built for times like these.