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Episode 4: Kingsmen Software - The Origin Story with Bill Clerici

BTB Episode Guest Graphic-Bill Clerici


About the Episode:

Kingsmen Software CEO, Bill Clerici joins us for this week’s episode of Beyond the Build. We discuss his career, his impact in the industry, and how Kingsmen Software is unique in software delivery and employee development. We dive into everything from his early dream of being a volcanologist to how an output model can benefit a company. 


About the Guest: Bill Clerici

As Managing Partner and Chief Executive Officer, Bill Clerici leads our high-caliber teams to build enterprise level software platforms. Clerici has been a partner with Kingsmen since the early days of the company—back when Kingsmen Software was based in Davidson, NC. Clerici joined Kingsmen in 2014 to further develop our product pipeline and to grow our portfolio of regional and national accounts. He has a wealth of IT and software experience in the financial services industry, having spent the last 21 years delivering software solutions for financial products including Investment Banking, Commercial Banking, Research, Risk Management, and Retail.   

An expert in technology delivery, project management and relationship management, Bill Clerici runs our App Studio, managing technical delivery to clients and continually investing in building high-functioning teams and our one-of-a-kind Agile software delivery Program that is the cornerstone of Kingsmen.   

Prior to joining Kingsmen, Bill has provided Senior VP level team leadership at Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Wachovia, focusing on centralized data management, and building enterprise level risk platforms.  

He graduated cum laude with a BS in Computer Science from University of North Carolina at Charlotte and holds a BA from the State University of New York at Buffalo.  


About the Host: Pete Seeber

Pete Seeber is a Partner and the Chief Strategy Officer at Kingsmen Software. In this role, Pete is responsible for overseeing the expansion of Kingsmen. Pete also plays a key role in developing new products and services, identifying new markets, and creating strategies to achieve these goals. To this end, Pete is adept at partnering with our clients to help them overcome their technology and business challenges to reach the complete development of their business model and vision. Pete is a combination of technology, risk and finance executive who has developed his multi-disciplinary background over 25+ years of business and entrepreneurial experience in professional services, large scale consulting, information technology and cybersecurity. He is an entrepreneur who was lucky enough to start his career under the umbrella of one of the most respected consulting firms in the world. It was these early professional experiences that shaped his passion for moving businesses in the right direction and his own personal mantra, “Always Forward”.  He is a proud graduate of Wake Forest University. Pete has been actively involved in the Charlotte and Lake Norman communities as a member of the Board of Managers for Greater Charlotte YMCA (through YMCA Lake Norman and YMCA Camp Harrison), Eliminate the Digital Divide, Habitat for Humanity, Summit Foundation, Davidson Youth Baseball Association and others.


About Kingsmen Software:

We are dedicated, experienced practitioners of software development. We grow software iteratively and adapt quickly to changing business objectives, so we deliver the right software at the right time. Our proven approach combines processes, tooling, automation, and frameworks to enable scalability, efficiency, and business agility. Meanwhile, our advisory & coaching services enable technology leaders, business partners and their teams to learn and adapt their way to sustainable, collaborative, and data-driven operating models.


Production Credits:

Produced in partnership with Mistry Projects: https://mistryprojects.com/

Bill Clerici 00:07

And when you come up in that world, you think of things differently even on the technology side than you typically do you know, maybe if you're in the general bank or another kind of corporate um...


Pete Seeber 00:17

Realize profits deal by deal in that space, right. So it's a little bit quicker impact, a little bit. Welcome to the Kingsmen Software Beyond the Build podcast, where we highlight our friends in the software development community. We get to know them, their story, their influence and their impact at a deeper level. We also have a good bit of fun along the way. I'm your host, Pete Seeber. And among other things, I'm the Chief Strategy Officer here at Kingsmen Software. Welcome back to another episode of the Kingsmen Software Beyond the Build podcast. I'm your host, Pete Seeber. With today's episode, we're going to do something a little bit different. This is actually segment one of a two part series with our guest, Bill Clerici, who is the CEO and a founder Kingsmen Software. For a while now I've been wanting to sit down with Bill and crawl around inside his head about all things Kingsmen Software. He does a great job explaining what makes Kingsmen so unique, and how they go about partnering with clients and successful software delivery engagements. I hope you enjoy the conversation and get as much out of it as I did. Bill has an easygoing personality, and you'll be quick to see why he's been able to become so impactful in his role. In this first segment, Bill covers the start of his own career, and what led him and others to create a unique company and culture at Kingsmen. I love his take on an employee centric culture that results in a highly reliable output based model for the Kingsmen clients. He talks a bit about working with large enterprise organizations, as well as his own experience working in those organizations. He also talks about how Kingsmen serves FinTech and startup companies. At the end of the day, regardless of company size, it's all about adding business value, and translating software development into that business value on time and on target. Let's get into it. Enjoy segment one with Bill Cleric. Think I want to call this Inside the Build today because we have an insider, our CEO Bill Clerici. Good enough to join us today. share his thoughts on what we do here and how we do it. What makes Kingsmen unique? Welcome, Bill. Tell us about yourself.


Bill Clerici 02:38

Oh, thanks for having me. Pete.


Pete Seeber 02:40

Yes, strut around, show off a little bit.


Bill Clerici 02:43

Really? What would you like to know?


Pete Seeber 02:44

I don't know. Anything. Where'd you come from? How'd you end up here? What do you do?


Bill Clerici 02:48

Oh, what do I do? Oh, that's that's a great question. You know what I would say over the last 10 years, if you asked me that question, the answer would always be different. So now it is different, you know, but I you know, I come from I come from Buffalo, New York, but I've been down here since in North Carolina since 1995. So I guess that makes me hopefully, the joke always was when I moved down here that you know, you were, what's the difference between a Yankee and a damn Yankee? Do you know the difference?


Pete Seeber 03:17

Damn, Yankees stay?


Bill Clerici 03:18

Damn Yankee says. Yeah. So. So that's what I was called for


Pete Seeber 03:22

Did you get your native card yet? Like your native North Carolina-


Bill Clerici 03:24

They tell me it's in the mail.


Pete Seeber 03:25



Bill Clerici 03:26

Yeah. So I think it's coming. Any day now is what I'm expecting. So I came down in 95 and a different time then, especially in the technology world. You know, it was really different. I had one degree in geology from from Buffalo. It's a it's a degree that is was a lot of fun to get, but not super useful when you try to go out in the in the workplace.


Pete Seeber 03:48



Bill Clerici 03:49

Rocks, you know, rocks and looking for oil. You know, they don't tell you when you when you when you get into that major. They don't tell you that, yeah, by the way, the only jobs that are really out there. That'll be you know, that they pay well, but you're gonna be chasing oil. You're gonna be working for an oil company


Pete Seeber 04:06

You're gonna be working on a platform, watch out for the hurricanes.


Bill Clerici 04:08

Yeah, yeah. I mean, you know, like, they've made it all great. sound great. Because, you know, when you're going through the courses, you're taking volcanology courses and you're, you're learning about how just, you know, volcanoes erupt in, you know, disruptive and all that stuff. Right? And so that was a lot of fun. You're like, Oh, I'm gonna become a volcanologist. And then they, but they don't tell you that geologists they they live to 120 years old, and they never leave their jobs.


Pete Seeber 04:31

Very low stress.


Bill Clerici 04:32

Yeah, well, yeah. Because yeah, and then they stay in those jobs forever. So they don't open very often. So you gotta go, you know? So then I came down here and I said, Okay, I gotta get a real job. \


Pete Seeber 04:40

And you you spent some time working with the banks. So actually banging your head against rocks became beneficial.


Bill Clerici 04:45

You know what I learned a lot from that. You could hear them jiggle around as I did that for years, working in corporate America. So came down here, went back and got another degree got my I got my computer science degree, and that opened up a bunch of doors, and since it was Charlotee, there's there were banks all over the place. It was a good time in the late 90s, early 2000s was a good time to get into technology.


Pete Seeber 05:07

That's when technology didn't really exist here in Charlotte, right? It was just fledgling the banks were beginning to change be less banky, and a little bit more techy


Bill Clerici 05:15

And it was the Wild West. I mean, you could do anything. When you were on a development team, there was no compliance, there was no you know, there was, there was no oversight on anything. So we were just doing whatever we wanted to do. And, you know, sooner or later that had to change. But I came up to the banks started as a, you know, as a young developer and moved my way up to eventually, you know, leading teams and running teams, and then, you know, running more organizations got to move around a little bit. But it was mostly in the capital markets world. So investment banking, and investment banking is a different place to be than general banking,


Pete Seeber 05:47

A little bit more high pressure than deposits.


Bill Clerici 05:49

It is, and most people don't understand the difference, like and even when you get hired at a place like that. You're like, Oh, you're gonna be in the capital markets group, like, okay, fine. You don't know the domain, you don't know, you understand what it is. But then you find out after a few years that there's a whole group of other people working on the general bank side, you're like, Whoa, what's the difference? It's like, oh, those people, yeah. They're in a different world. Right. I mean, deposits, as you said, is, that's what most people think of when they think of banking,


Pete Seeber 06:16

Basic bread and butter. But yeah, you're on the cutting edge, wheeling and dealing, or at least supporting the organization that is doing that bringing in big deals and big profits for the organs.


Bill Clerici 06:24

Yeah, the investment bank, were always the places where that's where all the money was made, right? I mean, the banks want the deposits, so that they can use them in investment banking, that's where it really comes down to


Pete Seeber 06:35

So they were really patient with technology on that side of the house


Bill Clerici 06:37

I don't know about patient. You know, I knew guys who, you know, who worked who were technologists that worked with folks on the trading floor, and back in those days, it was okay for somebody to throw a phone at you if they didn't like what you were doing. Right? Berate you, yell at you, scream at you. That was it was a 90s, it was the 90s 2000s, you could get away with that you couldn't do that now, right. But back then, trading floors were just starting to become digitized. And, you know those guys, those guys work hard. And they you know, they work hard, they play hard. And but they also didn't have a lot of time for you. And it was an area where you really had to be able to learn a specific domain pretty quickly. And coming up through that world, I think, taught me a lot from how important is it to get, get the right thing done for folks. And because it was tied, it was tied to real money. It was tied to money that people were making. And when you come up in that world, you think of things differently, even on the technology side than you typically do. You know, maybe if you're in the general bank or another kind of corporate-


Pete Seeber 07:47

You can realize profits deal by deal in that space. Right? So it's a little bit quicker impact.


Bill Clerici 07:53

Yeah. When a guy throws a phone at you, because you just lost him. You know, you know, $80 million deal. Yeah.


Pete Seeber 07:59

Sense of urgency.


Bill Clerici 08:00

Oh, yeah. You kind of hits home pretty quickly. Right?


Pete Seeber 08:03

Then it hits your head.


Bill Clerici 08:03

Yeah. And then And then everybody knows that he you know, he threw a phone at you. And they talk about it for years now. Yes, I am. Yeah. Right. It was not me that the phone was thrown out. But I do know somebody who actually had that as a real story. And you go, wow, that's, that's a different, that's a different place. So you know, where Kingsmen is today, a lot of that is rooted in things that I saw way back then and how things were run, especially when you look at, you know, it was the Wild West, right? I mean, you could push stuff to production, there was no oversight into what was going anywhere. It was just the development team doing whatever they thought was needed. And that's how things worked.


Pete Seeber 08:40

Yeah, So so. So it's a great jumping on a great jumping off point, right? Like sometimes, when you're thinking about what you want to be when you grow up, right, whether it's in your career or in your life, you you have a few different mentors, you have the ones that show you the right way, and you want to emulate that. And then I've always felt like you learn just as much, if not more, from things that can get done the wrong way. Right. Because those stains those bruises, the extent that those that scar tissue tends to stay with you a little bit longer. Was that a driving force, in setting up Kingsmen, in the way that things happen here and the way that we run the shop,


Bill Clerici 09:15

You hit you hit it, right on the head. Most of the things that we have in place today from a program perspective are in response to the things we saw over and over again, that did not work, right. And so you know, when you finally find a program that does work, and like what it's, you know, a lot of what it consists of is, Hey, make sure you don't do these things. Or if these things happen, how do you address them or work with them in a way that is not as negative as it was back in the day, because back in the day, the way they would do things is they would say, hey, so and so just came up with a great business idea. Here's the idea. How long do you think it's going to take? Oh, and by the way, you have six months to get it done. And that's how things were driven. Right? It's like-


Pete Seeber 09:25

And oh, by the way, we're gonna change executive leadership two months into it.


Bill Clerici 10:01

Well, that happened a lot, too.


Pete Seeber 10:03

So any progress you've made, just went through the floor, you got to build it back up.


Bill Clerici 10:07

That's right. I mean, there in the in the corporate world, and I think it's still happens today. But there was, there was a time a good period of time back in the 2000s. Where it you know, there was like a running joke, because technology leadership would literally change every 18 to 24 months. And that's about the time it takes to get a project off the ground, understand it enough and get it coded and and get it up through levels and get people to look at it and finally get it to kind of ready for production? Well, there was a lot of people who would work on these projects for 18 months, and then find out the whole leadership had been changed. And the new leadership had a completely different direction, you know, so-


Pete Seeber 10:43

And we don't need that anymore.


Bill Clerici 10:44

Yeah, that thing that other guy wanted is not a big deal anymore. So-


Pete Seeber 10:47

Which is demoralizing, right? From folks that from the development side, when you're in that space, you're living two weeks at a time for for a year and a half to two years. With incremental goals building this beast. And so when that gets ripped out from under you, because of a strategic shift in what's happening, that that can sever a team?


Bill Clerici 11:09

Yeah. And back then there was no program, there was no, I mean, you know, agile, just in general came about in the mid 2000s, and really didn't start getting a foothold until, you know, 2012 2013, that's when agile really started to take off. So back then there was no program process, everything was just waterfall. That's the only thing everybody knew. And that definitely didn't work. I mean, in when you when you look at organizations that don't run well and don't communicate well, well, it makes it even worse, you know, for those types of programs. So, you know, for the most part, you had teams that were just doing whatever they could do to get stuff done. That meant working nights weekends, you know, I mean, the technology organization was always getting dumped on because there was no process in place to hold anybody accountable for what was asked for, versus what's getting delivered. And that caused a lot that caused a lot of stress. I mean, you know, I spent many years not taking vacations. Right, you, you felt bad for taking one week off a year. Because, you know, there was always these deadlines, and the deadlines weren't driven by what you knew could be done, or when it should be done, or anything that had any type of structure around it, it was done by based off of somebody somewhere else who just happened to pick a date, because that sounded like a good time, it was the end of the quarter


Pete Seeber 12:29

Some meandering path that impacts your life for a few years at a time


Bill Clerici 12:33

That was not informed by how much what the work was how many people it needed, how long it would take, what the complexity of it was, it was not driven by any of those factors, it was just driven by, you know, Joe had a great idea. And it you know, hey, we'd like to show that every quarter we get something out. So you got six months.


Pete Seeber 12:50

So at a certain level Kingsmen the birth of the idea was that we've got something good here, let's stop doing it in this insane environment. If you stay in that situation, you're just gonna, you're gonna end up on the side of the road burnout. Making some sort of a career change. You like what you do. But if you don't like a, the environment that you do it in, or the people that you do it with, then, it's not much fun.


Bill Clerici 13:18

No, that's true. And I think you end up with two types of people in those big organizations, folks that just get beaten down, and they, they just come to terms with it, and then they live it, and then they perpetuate the problem by just becoming part of the system. Right? Because they know they become institutionalized. It's my my favorite quote from Shawshank Redemption is like, you know, you're there long enough to where at first you're afraid of the walls, but then you get to depend on the walls. And that then that's the only thing you know, and so folks that stay there for a long time fall into that where they're just like I know how this process is going to go. So I'm just going to come in and work my 40 or my 36, or whatever it is that they work, and then they go home because they don't push it anymore, because they've tried to do that early in their career. And they either failed or got beaten down. Or, you know, it happened to all of us multiple times where the the folks that always are trying to make things better, they get bloodied. You know, and some people after one or two times of that they're just like yep, I'm out. I'm just gonna kind of go with the flow and, and then there's other of us where we go, okay, you know, I can't I can't work like this for the next 30 years of my career, I want to do something and I want to have some value behind it. So what do I do and you're stuck at that point. Do you stay in the corporate environment where you know, those golden handcuffs are, that's a true thing, I mean, you know, that the idea that they pay well, and the benefits are great, and they've got long term benefits and all those things are fantastic


Pete Seeber 14:43

The road that I'm on I know where it's gonna take me in five years and in 10 years, and I've reconciled myself to be okay with that, so just keep your head down and moving down that road.


Bill Clerici 14:54

So you do that or you got to jump out you got to do something different. And so that's what we did. I mean, we there was a couple of stops along the way, you know, going from the banking environments to hey, finally jumping out into into Kingsmen. But the whole purpose was, hey, we've learned a lot of what you said earlier, we've learned a lot about what you know how to run a good development shop, and what to do. And then, of course, definitely what not to do, what are the things that cause issues and you take those things, and you turn them into positives in your program, of how you interact with your your customers, how you interact with your employees, right? And there's a lot of things there that you go, Hey, I remember how they used to teach me how to deal with us as employees. And we want to make sure we don't do that.


Pete Seeber 15:36

Well. And I want to hover on that for a minute, right? Because everything that you just talked about sounds like, you know, if you know what right looks like, then you want to do that with the right people, and you want to make it an enjoyable experience for them. So at the end of the day, it's really about everybody here at Kingsmen. Because if you have good people who are great at what they do, you're going to find the client work, the work will gravitate to you. And you're going to have exceptional output. So and that's what I appreciate about being here the most, and I've seen a lot of different organizations, it's a very employee centric culture. Right, right. And that's not by accident. It's very much by design in everything that we do here.


Bill Clerici 16:17

Yeah, and the biggest thing that we I would say the number one tenant that we came out of, maybe maybe there's two that we came out of when we said, you know, we're going to start this thing is that this company was going to be engineer, focused. And engineers, were going to be the ones who drive it, and the ones that we make sure, you know, this company is really supporting. Because, you know, what happens in most organizations is your engineers are the folks that are usually the lowest on the totem pole, they're treated that way, you know, everything is always dropped on them. They're the ones who, when things go wrong, are the ones that are up late, you know, not that not that other folks aren't, but that's typically the way it goes. And so we were like, this is gonna be engineering focused. And the other part is that, that we learned from the corporate environment is that, you know, having an output based model is the biggest, the biggest differentiator that we have across everybody else. And it's a concept that a lot of folks still struggle with, because they're so used to, you know, an input model, they don't realize they're used to an input model that, oh, I work 40 hours a week, or I'm on a project and I'm 50% on this project, I'm 50% on this project, that means 20 hours, right? They're very hour based on how many hours you spend on something, as opposed to, you know, we're focused on how much business output do you deliver as a as individually, but also, maybe more importantly, as a team, because that's the other thing, that's another thing that we, you know, we learned from the corporate places that it wasn't, there was not a lot of team accountability. And when I mean, team accountability, I mean, across everybody who was really responsible for getting whatever that thing was out in the world for people to use. That includes your business people that includes all aspects of your technology organization, and your developers, right. And I think what, what we saw, and what we did not really like is that everything really at the end of the day came down to the developers, the engineers, they were forced to take on whatever they were told to take on. And if things didn't go, right, they were blamed, you know, if things did go right, and they never got credit for it.


Pete Seeber 18:22

In those environments, there's more stress and pressure related to getting the deadline extended and asking for more budget dollars, there's more stress there than there is stress on, hey, what are we getting done on a daily basis, to hit the deadline and drive the output?


Bill Clerici 18:39

Yeah, and when we started doing that, internally, at the time, when we started building the program, the initial program back in the corporate days, is that's what it was. And we were really outsiders, compared to all of our other peers. Even in the investment bank, we couldn't get anybody else in the investment bank to once we started doing what we were doing to follow what we were doing. And that's just because I think a lot of people are afraid of change. You know, and then a lot of people have tried to do change before and it failed and got a smack down because of it. So you get this natural. Yeah, I've seen that before. I don't want to do it.


Pete Seeber 19:09

I'm not going to be that person.


Bill Clerici 19:10

I'm not gonna Yeah, that guy, you know, that guy tried to do a bunch of stuff. It didn't go right. And now he's, you know, stacking vending machines or something like that. Right. And but we learned a lot from that and said, You know what, that's that's not that's not the way you really want to structure these things. You really, there's no partnership here. There's no, there's no process to understand how much people can do and how much teams can do. How much how much the work is, I mean, there was nothing really around that at the time. And everything was so if you went to the way they they ran waterfall back then good lord projects went on for years, you know, and nothing would ever get done. And that is outside that has been outside of the technology, management change. And even even when it didn't change, you never saw things to get into production very quickly. And there was a lot of reasons behind that. Most of it was because nobody really understood the work. Nobody had an eye an idea of how to size it, nobody had any idea how much their teams could do in a given amount of time. So if you don't understand those things, how can you pick a date?


Pete Seeber 20:08

Right? Right, right. So so But picking a date, I want to go back to being output based versus input based, right. And we'll, we'll do a little roleplay here, right? Where you just close me, like, I'm the new client, I don't understand it, explain it to me, but but as you get into it, what I want listeners to understand is that the ability to predict that output, and stay at that velocity that determines the date, right, and that's what makes a shop like Kingsmen so successful, because at the end of the day, it is as much about the build as it is hitting the timeframe for the build. And that's not an arbitrary timeframe, that's, you know, features and development that have been promised to end user clients, right, that they are counting on. So it all ties in together very intricately. So three to one, close me. Go.


Bill Clerici 20:57

Yeah so you know, when we, when we talk to clients, we usually hear the same issues over and over again, that, hey, I've got three, four or 5, 6, 8 people on this thing, and nothing's getting out the door. We don't know how much there is left to do. You know, so so what we're really about and the things we talk about are being able to set expectations, and then meet them. I mean, that's what really software development should be about. It should be about how do I set expectations of what you know, you've told me what you wanted, are we in agreement with what that is? And then how do we meet those things, and we prove it to you over time. Where most people fail is that they just jump right in, and they put finger to the wind and say this is how big something is, instead of having a process that allows us to partner with you. Because what ends up happening is at the end of the day, you're on the hook for whatever project you're trying to get done. And you have to go back to your management and be able to say, this is what I'm doing. This is how much money it's gonna cost me. And this is what I expect to get done. And if we can't, if we can't give you a good story behind how we're going to make sure we make you successful, then the odds of you wanting us to come into your shop is going to be Yeah, you mean you just you know it's a horseshoe-


Pete Seeber 22:05

It's just another time and materials nightmare.


Bill Clerici 22:08

And you've done this 100 times. And right, so So when we come in and talk with folks, we want to understand their problems, their stories, what they're really looking to do, but we have a process that we go, okay, we're going to take you through this thing so that you and I both understand and have an agreement about what you're really asking for, we're going to put, we're going to put a process on that to understand and break that work down small enough to where we can, we can size it in a way that we can come back to you and give you a relative size of what we really think this is, and you'll be able to see it, we'll show it to you matter of fact, we'll work with you to help build that sizing, because you'll be a part of that whole thing, which is different than oh, we're gonna go off for three months or six months and come up with a requirements document. And we're going to do requirements that yeah, everybody's done that before with the giant documents. But we have a process where we're actually taking you through a series of steps of things that help us build that knowledge base to understand your domain, what what you're trying to do. And we also try to understand how do we measure if you're successful or not, because that's what you really need to be able to take back to your management and go, hey, these, we're gonna bring these guys in, because they're going to be able to deliver this business value. And here's how I know it's working or not. Well, most people can't say that to their management. They're just like, I'm hiring these guys, or I hired a bunch of contractors, we're going to try to get this thing done.


Pete Seeber 23:22

Fingers crossed, I've heard they're great.


Bill Clerici 23:24

Right, right. And we're going to come in with a program and show you what the program is, we're going to be very transparent about what we're going to be taking you through what we expect of you. Right. I mean, that's another thing that's a little different for us is that we're putting expectations on our clients, just like they're putting expectations on us, you're gonna, if you're gonna hire us, you're going to expect us to, you know, deliver, but we're going to expect you to participate. Right? And, you know, be there and be a partner with us, instead of just throwing things over the wall. And let us letting us go try to figure it out on our own. So the process we have the program we have has been, you know, it's been around for, oh, God 10, 12, 15 years now. And it's been super successful. We come in, we have a series of workshops and things we do, there's a certain way that we structure things and a sequence of steps we take you through so at the end, we have a good idea and you have a good idea, before we make any decisions of what you've asked for, and how big it is, and then how long do we think this is going to take based on how fast our teams can go. And we'll tell you about how fast our teams can go because that's part of the velocity things we we talk about as partners when we onboard with you.


Pete Seeber 24:27

So how do you layer into that right? One of my favorite movie lines, like new stuff has come to light, right? So so you've done, you've done all that pre work, you've done your discovery, you've come up with your estimates. Now. We know the output we can establish the date. But inevitably, this is just life, things change. A customer has a different request or requirement might change the business may have pivoted how does that new stuff coming to light, how does that get layered into the build?


Bill Clerici 24:53

Yeah, the nice thing is, is it discovery never stops, even though we do an initial discovery to come in and do it you know, a little larger thing. We are, we are constantly doing discovery throughout the whole project. And we have the right routines and ceremonies and processes in place to have that kind of work intake as we go along. But we treat that work intake the same way as we did when we were we did the original discovery. So as new features are asked for, we run through the same process, we understand, you know, we go run through some quick workshops of how does this how does this relate to our existing models and things we've already agreed upon? Where do those models need to change? How much does it need to change? Do they need to be refactored? Did we have did we have the right models in place to start with, so that this is just adding on and extending the models as opposed to rewriting things because that's typically where new features will trip teams up is like, they didn't, they didn't do enough upfront to understand the whole domain to understand that we'd put the right models in place that this is easy to extend as you get new features.


Pete Seeber 25:56

But that goes back to your earlier comment about participation. We need to walk lockstep forward and understanding if the new feature has come in. Okay, did it replace something else? Is it just net new? Yep. And what does that do to timeframes? What's the priority? What is the costing, what's the size of that new feature? And how do you cost it out? And where does that fit in the budget?


Bill Clerici 26:17

Yep, that's exactly right. So I would say like, you know, for, for anybody listening that the takeaway, really what you get here is, when I was in corporate America, the conversation was always reactive. And the technology side always having to prove why they could or could not do this new thing that you just asked for, a new feature, just get it in there, just get it in there, just get in there. Well, so we so you're always on the defensive on the technology side. What our program allows our teams to do is be proactive, and and put the decision making instead of on a technology team to come back and tell you well, should we do this, can we get this done and when is to put it back on the actual product owners, the client, and say, look, you've seen our process, you know how fast our teams can go, you know how much they can do within a given amount of time, you've asked for this new thing and we went and did our quick discovery on it and understand where it affects our models. And we understand how big we think that thing is, you know, based on how big it is, we can actually tie a money value to that, which if youthink about it, that's pretty interesting. It's like who else anywhere can go, hey, that new feature you're asking for is $150,000. Right? Put a number on that thing. And then what ends up happening is when you can put that there's two things that happen First of all, once once they have a couple of times where they just can't you just shove it in, we go nope, our team has a particular capacity, because they can only get so much done. And this is this size. So you have to if you ask for something that's 50 points, then we have to pull 50 points out of the current, whatever, you know, roadmap is and we're going to slot this in and then everything gets moved. Are you okay with that? A, and then they have to once they do that once or twice and get, oh, I got to do that, then they get it. But the other side of it is when you come to somebody and say, Hey, this new thing you asked for is $150,000 it really hits home to them. Is that something really that's I want to do that. And a lot of times-


Pete Seeber 28:12

I just thought it was neat. But now it's like a million dollars.


Bill Clerici 28:15

And that and that's a different discussion for a technology organization to go, hey, that's $150,000, we're glad to build it for you. You want to do it? And then those folks going wait, based on the budget and what I have to get done. You know what, that's just Bob's pipe dream. He brought it up in a meeting and never liked Bob. Yeah, never liked Bob, and all his ideas always fail. So no, we're not going to do it. Right. And so those little things help you become really good partners with your with your client, but also help them from going down roads that they shouldn't go down.


Pete Seeber 28:46

So how often? And how do you, there's different kinds of clients, right? That there's, there's, it's a large majority of of what we do, right? It's large, sophisticated enterprise organizations. Because when you have that dialogue, and you present what we do and how we do it, they're familiar with it, they're excited about it, because it's, we have the data, it's proven that it works and we're able to deliver, but I don't want to focus there. There's another segment of of our client base, and I think it's more exciting side is more of your FinTech, startup, smaller organizations. And I bring this up because those organizations typically have a great idea that's disruptive to an industry that if they can get it off the ground and move it forward quickly with some funding, man, they can make a difference that they can grow. That's that's the exciting side of this business to me personally. How do you have that dialogue with an organization like that, who you're talking for five minutes and there's five question marks over their head. They don't even understand what you're talking about. You talk about points and velocity.


Bill Clerici 29:52

It's it's a different we, we've gotten pretty good at knowing what people are used to and whether or not you're they're used to time and material. They're used to you used to fixed bid they're used to change controls. And what we usually do when we talk about, you know, you know, output and why is that a thing and why should you care about that as a thing. You bring up time and material or you bring up fixed bid, or you just say the same, you just say the words, change requests, and you will see most people, yeah, they want to date. Yeah, they started. Yeah, there's all kinds of, you know, you could see in their face that blood drains out and they go, oh, my god, yeah. So that's the way we talked about it, we go, you know, what you remember those, those things where every, you had a great idea, you talk to your technology organization, and they went off and spent six months, doing whatever, and then you know, your business changed, or whatever, and you had to come back to them. And you said, or they showed you something, and you go, yeah, that's not exactly what we talked about. And then they go up, sorry, that's what's in the spec. So we're gonna need a change request. And that goes through these 18 gates. And, you know, it may be three to four months before we. So they've all gone through that. And so if you just, you know, when you talk to folks, and you just talk to them in a very natural way, it's like, Hey, we're all about GSD. And that's, that's getting stuff done. And how do you do that, but have the right structure around it. And Pete, really, what you probably care about, you don't talk about it, because that's not how it's ever described is you just want business value. That's all you really care about, you don't care about, how do you really care if I have 100 people on this project or if I have two? If you get the business value that you need and you can show that to your organization, isn't that important? Wouldn't that be more important than how many people I told you we had, or what their bill rate was? Right? Who cares? Everybody's everybody's had 100 people projects that never got anything done. I mean, how many millions and millions of dollars-


Pete Seeber 31:40

We worked really hard, though.


Bill Clerici 31:42

Right? I know, there's a lot of the others a lot of stuff there. So if I just came in and said to you, hey, you know what, we're gonna come in with a process that's going to hook what you're asking for, to business value to how much can be done, and when is that more valuable to you than, hey, I'm just gonna give you four developers and two analysts and three QA and a project manager, what's more valuable to you, you understanding that you're gonna be acceptance, you're gonna be accepting business value every two weeks from us, that's what we do. Or you're gonna, we're just gonna throw a bunch of people at you, and then we'll see where it goes. Right? And that's, that's how we start the conversation. And once we kind of go down that road, we have some ways to kind of talk about, okay, what is what is output and how do we define it? And, you know, how does that work from a program perspective, but people I think, have gotten to the point now, where they get it pretty quickly, within five or 10 minutes now we get people to the point of, oh, I'm just thinking about people and hours and time to, oh, you guys are going to be delivering something on a constant cadence, oh, and I'm gonna be able to define what that is, like, we tell them we go, you're gonna be able to tell us what you want done and when, and you're gonna be able to see how much we're getting done every two weeks. So you're going to be seeing business value come out.


Pete Seeber 32:54

And I think that phrase business value is what cuts through and translates, right? When you're talking to the business side or the entrepreneurial side, they want to know that their vision can come to life by June 30th of 2025. Right? Come hell or high water, that date is going to be hit and here's why. Because when they know that that data is there, and they have the confidence in the process, then, like I said earlier, they're not just building this product for fun. They're building it, because there's promises made to people on the other side that move their entire business forward.


Bill Clerici 33:29

That's right. And usually, you know, I mean, even even after our conversations, and a couple of things going through, once we start going through our discovery process, they get it pretty quickly. And business people get it quicker than technology folks in general. So they get it and they're ready to go. So, you know, once we sign contracts with them, and they see how we work after an iteration or two, they go, oh, my gosh, this is a lot different than what I'm used to you guys. I'm seeing what you guys are doing. I know what you're going to do over the next two weeks, you're showing me what you did do over the last two weeks and I can I can I can actually compare that to what you said you were going to do. Oh, and I'm part of the process of saying what I want done when because, you know, a lot of times when requirements are just thrown over the wall to you to our technology organization. You don't always know it, there's no there was no real easy way to know what is really important and what isn't. So you need a partnership there with a with a product owner or somebody you know, on that side who knows, who can tell you if something you're doing is super valuable, or hey, that's something we can push down the road. Is there something more valuable that we can pull in? You know, you have you have two or three of these conversations and all of a sudden they see the light that this is a different deal.


Pete Seeber 34:39

How often do you find yourself in conversations with like I said before large scale sophisticated enterprise organizations who want business value, and you have this conversation about what Kingsmen does and how it's done. How often do you see them back away from table and go whoa, yeah, we are not ready for that my man. That's intense


Bill Clerici 34:58

Yeah, it doesn't happen. It doesn't happen often, but it has happened. We have had organizations where we said, this is the way we work. And in order for us to be successful and you to be successful, we need to an agreement of, hey, we need participation here, we're going to need you, we don't need you 80 hours a week, but we need you. And we actually lay out how much time we need from you in a given project. Hey, Pete, you're our sponsor, you're our executive sponsor, whatever you are, you're a product owner, we need you in these routines each week, which which equates to four hours or eight hours a week or two hours, whatever your level is. Some folks it may be 20 hours a week, depending on you know, what their role is, but we're able to tell them what that is. And that's a that's a different conversation. And they say, oh, I know what's expected of me. But you got to have the partnership. But we have had other ones where we've explained it to them. And we said, hey, we're, you know, we need somebody there. We're just not, this is not a government spec deal, where you just throw a giant BRD or whatever it is over the wall, and we go off for six months, and build some stuff and then hand it back to you. That's we don't see value in that we don't we're not we don't think it's successful to do that with you. And we have had once or twice folks go, You know what, we love your program. Oh, my God, I wish we could do what you wanted to do. But organizationally, we're not ready for it.


Pete Seeber 36:13

Yeah, they at times, maybe they're not far enough down their own technology transformation. Right lifecycle right they're at step one and two.


Bill Clerici 36:21

Yeah, they're just yeah, they're just getting started. They're just stuck. You know, they're just bringing people in who know they need to transform, but they have a lot of other things they need to get in place first, before they can go. Yes, I can commit to product owner to you and, and so much time because they don't they don't want us to fail, which is a good thing. I mean, those are the good people. You're like, hey, they're like, I wish we could work with you. I would love to work with you. And we're like, we'd like to work with you, too. Yeah, we're not ready to date yet. And so but yeah, who knows, in a year from now, or two years from now, they may be ready. And then they're like, You know what, we got this cleaned up, we got this in place, we brought in some folks who are specialists here we have, we have an understanding strategically of what we want to do as an organization as a company. And so now we we're ready to bring in that kind of high end SWAT team, because that's what we are, we're not, we're not just throwing bodies at problems, we're actually coming in and helping solve problems, we're helping with strategy a lot of times going, let us help you actually, with the strategy and how you can do these things. Plug us in where you need to, because we have, we have a lot of experience in a lot of places. And since we've been in, I think capital markets is the most extreme environment you can be in from a development perspective. So if you can work in the capital markets environment, and be successful there under that pressure, and that tension and that complexity of a domain, you can work anywhere. So what we find is that when we go outside of the capital markets domain, we find it oh, this isn't so bad. Yeah, we can jump right in here. Because it's a lot like this, or we've done more complicated things in the capital markets world that were kind of like this. We've gotten into payments, you know, over the last couple of years, and there's things in there that that directly translate into ways we would manage those types of things, maybe on the other side, but in capital markets, you know, there's payments go through things and you know, there's investment that happens, and you get to know a lot about how that, yeah, there's a lot of domain knowledge and how that stuff, you know, what those payments and how those things actually come out in the investment world and if so, if you can do those things, you have a leg up on everybody else, and coming in and being able to be domain experts in that new thing quickly. Because there's a lot of other things you were that were more complex.


Pete Seeber 37:55

That brings us to the end of segment one in our conversation with Bill Clerici, CEO at Kingsmen Software. If you have not yet met Bill, you can tell from this podcast that his passion jumps right out and grabs you. There's more to come in this conversation as we launch segment two with Bill in the near future. Until then, go build something great!

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