Revenue Recognition/S-1 Filing
This project enabled the company to produce auditable financials meeting GAAP requirements in order to prepare for IPO.
LegalZoom wanted to prepare for IPO, but the state of order and financial data could not support GAAP requirements. This project required broad changes to the SQL database structures, many internal customer care and fulfillment processes, and the eCommerce website. Payment processing had to change. New .NET applications were needed to support customer care and provide an auditable record of new products and price changes. Because everything was so tightly coupled, most of the project had to be deployed at the same time, with large data migration and a hard deadline.
We outsourced all but the website work to an offshore company whose owner was an architect and worked in our office for the duration of the project. We identified product owners for the new applications and key stakeholders in each fulfillment team, and hired a technical PM. We prioritized everything that had to or could roll out before the main launch and got that done. Detailed deployment planning ensured the rollout went smoothly, and we met our deadline, giving Finance the necessary window to prepare the S-1 filing.
The company is still privately owned, with a current valuation of $2 billion.
Engineering Process Transformation
Instituted standard software development, testing, and release processes in a fast-growing, seven-year-old startup.
LegalZoom needed to mature its IT processes in order to take the next steps in growth. There were many challenges: minimal QA and no dev/test/staging environments, no auditable release process, and source control was used inconsistently. Most of all, the developer mindset was process-averse, thinking that the process would hinder rather than help.
We performed a deep-dive discovery to inventory all servers and their contents that comprised the platform, and to identify stakeholders and the workflows in each fulfillment team. We then built and tested the environments, enlisting these stakeholders as core team members for testing. We also formed a QA team and built a SharePoint workflow for managing releases.
The developer mindset changed gradually, via many discussions and some notable fails, but persistence paid off and the result was a more mature process that could support the next step of preparing for IPO.
Upgrade SharePoint Applications and Move to Azure
Led upgrade/migration of custom SharePoint applications from SharePoint 2010 on premises to SharePoint 2016 in Azure.
A software upgrade had been pending for several years with no forward progress, and new OCIO management wanted to move all local data center servers to Azure (IaaS). Challenges were due to limited resources and lack of access to servers, lack of expertise, and frequent interruptions for production support. My main tasks were to convince management that others should step up and learn how to do production support, to obtain training and support from Microsoft for the resources working on the project, to help the primary resource think through technical issues, and to get permission from operations for the primary resource to have extended server access while he was learning how to set up and configure the server farm. The farms were successfully built in the on-premise data center, and the applications were upgraded and run locally until the Azure environment was ready. This was the first success in moving internal customer-facing applications to Azure.
Website and Database Internationalization and Localization
Led a project to localize Napster's platform for launch in Germany and Japan.
Researched and selected vendor, then led the project to internationalize the Oracle/PHP platform to handle double-byte characters. Managed the follow-on efforts to localize into German and then Japanese. Worked with vendor, local and in-country resources to support successful launches in both countries.
Operationalized Subscription Products
Worked with business owner to prototype, iterate, and operationalize subscription products as a major new product offering.
The executive team wanted to bundle subscription legal services with the legal documents that were already part of the product suite. It was no problem to offer various flavors of subscription services on the website; the challenge was to effect those changes into the fulfillment system so customers actually got what they had purchased, and also would lose access to features if the subscription lapsed.
It was not feasible to modify all downstream processes for each iteration of the product offering, so initially, most services were fulfilled manually; a few could be configured for a certain block of time via the product catalog. Until the subscription features were firmly defined, each cohort of purchasers had to be tracked throughout their subscription life to ensure they had access.
As soon as it became apparent that subscriptions were viable, we began working with fulfillment and the FileNet workflow team to extend workflow to include subscription features, and with the web team to ensure that features available via My Account were accessible with an active subscription.
Subscriptions became a significant portion of revenue and were an important step in the growth of the company.
SharePoint Sites Migration from On-Premise to Cloud
Moved all SharePoint sites to SharePoint Online and decommissioned local servers.
The agency's SharePoint team sites were running on obsolete versions of both SharePoint and Windows Server. The sites were large and stale, and OCIO had no relationships with program office stakeholders to engage in the cleanup. A previous failed attempt to build an on-premise server farm and upgrade the team sites had taken 15 months as a waterfall project. Even though moving to SharePoint Online was a far better solution than building new servers on premises, the move to the cloud was perceived to be high risk by some of management.
The first step was to get executive buy-in to move to SharePoint Online. Next was to identify stakeholders in each program office who could help identify what to keep, archive, or delete. We were able to archive/delete about half of the 1.5 TB of data.
The department had not yet transitioned to Agile, but I used a modified Agile approach, grouping the sites into "sprints" for migration and test by the dev team, with UAT and go-live in subsequent "sprints." The SharePoint contractor team was energized and excited to be going to the cloud, and we completed the project in 7 months.