Macro Solutions, based in Washington, D.C., is a woman-owned IT and management consulting firm focused on assisting federal customers with the selection, implementation, integration and maintenance of critical business solutions.
Company founder and CEO Amy Wright spoke with WashingtonExec about her background and how she has grown the company, founded in 2000, from two employees to a combined employee and contractor staff of more than 160, with 40 percent growth last year.
WashingtonExec: Tell us about your background, and what led you to start Macro Solutions?
Amy Wright: Prior to starting Macro Solutions, I worked in the IT management and consulting field and built a strong understanding of how the federal government contracting sector operated. My goal was always to start my own business, but I thought it was something I would do later in my career. In 2000 I decided it was time to bite the bullet and with my brother, Todd Barnes, we went for it. We created and self-funded Macro Solutions and worked out of my basement at the beginning. Todd and I built the company from the ground up, with the goal of building the kind of company that we would want to work for.
I often get asked what it’s like to be a female entrepreneur in a historically male-dominated field. It’s an interesting question because I never saw it as a risk to start a company; it always seemed natural. I was also never intimidated by a male-dominated industry. I do remember when I first started the business I would walk into a room and be the only woman, but that has changed over time. Now, it is great to see so many other female leaders in this field.
WashingtonExec: What are some IT management solutions Macro Solutions uses in the federal space to help agencies implement critical business solutions?
Amy Wright: We put a strong focus on building high-touch, high-trust environments for our clients and partners, at every level our business. Our company and employees bring decades of corporate experience in helping federal agencies implement core business solutions. This includes financial, supply chain management, HR/payroll, federal acquisitions, application development and agile transition. We have been involved in more than 25 federal implementations for business commercial off-the-shelf solutions. With our enterprise solutions and strategy, we support the complete systems development life cycle – from planning to implementation, operations and maintenance. For instance, we worked with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to reinvent their payroll process. Using a CMMI Level 3-certfiied problem solving approach, we implemented a solution to help them process payroll and benefits for more than 80,000 personnel, an increase of 15 percent from project inception. Investing in the right people and technologies to support long-term sustainable growth is a major factor in the development of our company and client service offerings.
WashingtonExec: How does Macro Solutions’ Agile approach accelerate efficiency and reduce the risk and cost across agencies?
Amy Wright: We apply agile methodology as a solution for government agencies to maximize success rates while minimizing cost and risk. All of our application development, maintenance, and enhancements use agile methodology and CMMI Maturity Model Level 3 processes. Our unique model also applies to “services” that are not specifically technology based to increase user responsiveness with smaller, frequent service enhancements, and an ongoing increase in approved services backlog.
The heart of agile is being able to have fast iterations and processes, which is a challenge that government agencies frequently face. Our agile-based management process solves this challenge and adheres to government agencies in-depth legislative and departmental approval and compliance requirements. This innovative process helps large complex government organizations transition both their products and services via cost-effective principles. To evaluate government agencies readiness for an agile enterprise transition, we created our unique Agile Maturity Model. The model provides a roadmap and remediation process for agile adoption and methodology instantiation within the organization. This type of model forms the foundation for their initial analysis and viability, providing guidance on training requirements, and process tailoring to apply to the agile methodology and creates a baseline for measurable service improvements. Following initial baselining the maturity level can be assessed to determine the level of progress required to ensure continued progress.
WashingtonExec: What is the number one thing that Macro Solutions offers clients that makes the company stand out from other contractors?
Amy Wright: It all starts with our amazing team. When we started Macro it was important to Todd and myself that we instill an employee-focused culture and to this end we meet regularly with our consultants. One thing that really sets us apart is that we initiated a program called “Consultant Care,” which is led by one of our employees. This person’s sole mission is to be an internal advocate for our employees and to make sure they are getting what they need to be happy and productive. By taking a proactive approach and meeting one on one with our employees, we have found that they are more likely to confide in our director of Consultant Care and let her know their concerns. The promotion of strong communication and implementation of our Consultant Care program has led to an incredibly high retention rate.
Happy employees go hand in hand with happy clients. What makes us stand out from other contractors is our transition planning methodology. Projects can fail in transition because when you are awarded a contract you immediately have to move in and start the work and there is not much of a delay. Therefore, we start the transition planning process long before a project is awarded. This is a large investment on our part because we know that there is a chance that we may not get the award. We do all of the pre-transition planning to prepare for the possibility that we will receive the award. This approach has been very successful and we have been recognized for our transition methodology. Our transition planning has allowed us to start a project efficiently and hit the ground running on day one, setting a great tone for the rest of the project.
WashingtonExec: What is one of the biggest challenges that you have faced in your career and how did you overcome that challenge?
Amy Wright: As mentioned earlier, we started Macro Solutions during a challenging time period. We self-funded the company with no venture capital funding and launched it shortly before the events of Sept. 11, 2001. At the time we had very few clients and the government put a moratorium on civilian agency spending and no contracts were awarded for months. There was a lot of uncertainty at the time as the nation was on a state of alert, and we were crossing our fingers that we would survive. We did not give up though and managed to maintain the few clients that we did have and grow the business to what it is today. We have grown from two employees 16 years ago to a combined employee and contractor staff of more than 160 today and our growth trajectory looks promising for the years to come.