• The Importance of Scaling – Part 1 of 3

    (This is part one of a three part series of articles examining the importance of scaling all aspects of your growing business. Part two and three can be found here: The Importance of Scaling – Part 2 of 3: People and Culture, The Importance of Scaling – Part 3 of 3: External Partners and Communication)

    While many organizations experience success and growth quickly, few are able to sustain it over time. Immediate success brings new and different challenges: shift in the competitive landscape; increased back-office responsibilities; aggressive business development capture requirements; increased focus on profitability. Small businesses previously accustomed to filling smaller-scale, specialty roles as a supporting teammate, now find themselves leading large-scale pursuits and opportunities that require significant organizational change. You must redefine your value in your company’s new role, shifting attention to areas you may have previously relied on large teammates to provide and ramping up internal operations to support these larger efforts.

    Ultimately, the ability to compete, hinges on your ability to scale the core aspects of your business to meet these new demands. In this three part series on Scaling, we consider a number of contributing factors to success at scale, starting first with Planning and Focus.

    Planning

    If there is one universal component to successfully scaling a business, it may very well be planning. Without proper planning and preparation, no business will scale successfully. In their “How To Scale Your Small Business” article [1], @SinglePlatform accurately speaks to this point further, “Scaling your business is all about thinking ahead…while part of your brain needs to focus on the short-term strategic and tactical needs for your business, the larger part should be thinking about the long game”. As your company grows, engaging in those strategic planning and visioning sessions that help define the roadmap for where you want your organization to be takes on additional importance and criticality.

    At IBC, our planning efforts spanned all aspects of our business including: enhancing and refining our back-office roles and responsibilities; internal systems modernization; developing our strategic plan for business development and organic growth. We also recognized the need to handle the increased level of administrative and financial activity that accompanied our larger programs and efforts. As a result, we planned for and implemented a number of enhancements to our supporting tools and infrastructure to automate and streamline key processes around resource management, opportunity tracking, and financial management and compliance. Finally, we executed a series of planning sessions to refine our service offerings and reinforce our go to market strategy. These planning efforts improved our ability to effectively respond to opportunities and operations challenges as they arose.

    Ultimately, if you don’t dedicate time to adequately plan for your growth, your company runs the risk of shrinking back down to size.

    Focus

    As your organization continues to grow, it is extremely important not to lose focus on what you did that got you to this point to begin with. Companies can make the mistake of hastily expanding the services they bring to the marketplace, in an ill attempt to keep pace with the competitors offering those same services. This can detract from the core capabilities of the business, adversely affecting the areas that have historically provided the lion’s share of the company’s success.

    In “How to Prepare your Business to Graduate from the 8a Program” [2], @caronbeesley takes this even further and advises companies to narrow their focus with growth. Speaking specifically to government contracting, she suggests, “You can’t take on the whole government. Identify specific agencies, sub-agencies or departments. If you’ve already done business with a certain agency, look for ways to repeat that success.” Again, doing what you did that got you here and doing it the best you can is what will most likely lead to your continued success.

    At IBC we purposely narrowed our service offerings into 3 primary solution areas and refined our focus around 5 core vertical markets to allow us to organize and prioritize where our time and effort is spent. This eliminated a number of non-value and unnecessary cycles for our teams, and allowed us to concentrate our efforts in those solution areas we best support and where our customers needed us most.   As a result, It allowed us to build stronger client relationships, allowing a level of specialization that would have otherwise been unattainable.

    Not only will you find that having a more strategic focus will allow your company to avoid fruitless pursuits that will stretch your resources too thin, it also prioritizes your organization’s core competencies, which will allow you to continue to delight your customers while further distinguishing you from your competition.

    Summary

    Dealing with the changes resulting from your organizations growth and success is certainly a good problem to have. Your ability to scale your company successfully will hinge on all of the above factors, although certainly these are just some from a list of many. What other considerations should be taken when your company scales? We invite you to join our discussion and share your ideas, thoughts, and strategies.

    Join the #HowToCompete discussion:

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    [1] http://www.singleplatform.com/2014/06/02/scale-small-business/

    [2] https://www.sba.gov/blogs/how-prepare-your-business-graduate-8a-program

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  • #HowToCompete through Collaboration

    As your company has grown, do you find yourself having a harder time connecting with your employees? As our number of employees, clients, and worksites has increased, so has our need to find new and innovative ways to collaborate. At IBC, 65% of our Executive Leadership is not in the office on a normal workday. When you factor in our full extended management team that also work offsite on a daily basis, that number increases to 90%. One can only imagine how difficult it must be to hold basic status, planning, and strategy meetings while achieving a high active participation level. As we have begun to mature, new ways to drive collaboration have developed:

    1. Be Flexible With Expectations

    These days it is unrealistic to have all employees working in one location on a strict ‘9 to 5’ schedule. When you factor in additional client obligations, finding times for groups of employees to meet can be extremely difficult. Flexibility is key to overcoming this challenge. For example, instead of always having your meetings at the same location, try rotating locations closer to large employee clusters to make things easier for those coming from client site. This past week, in an effort to increase attendance, IBC held a company All-Hands Meeting away from our normal meeting location, but closer to where a number of employees are located; it worked! It was our most widely attending all-hands meeting in the past two years. Accept the reality that in today’s dynamic work environment, you will not always be able to meet face-to-face. In addition to this, there are tools that have proven to be more effective in collaboration than the old “tried and true” techniques of ten years ago. Online collaboration tools and techniques can and should be used to your advantage!

    1. Use What Works For Your Company

    It is safe to say that the days of only collaborating remotely through phone and email communications are long gone. Growing companies need to be able to strategize, respond, and react in real-time, no matter where their employees are located. Play to your employees strengths. “You’ll get the greatest payoff from online collaboration if you make use of an eclectic range of collaboration tools that support a diversity of working and communication styles,” wrote Alexandra Samuel in Harvard Business Review.[1] At IBC, we use Evernote to share notes and ideas, allowing our employees to build off of each other’s thoughts that come out of brainstorming sessions and comment virtually. For internal communications, we leverage Yammer when broadcasting information quickly and in real time, to ensure that no one is left out of the loop. This also allows us to host this information in a searchable format rather than in someone’s overloaded inbox so it can quickly be found. And while we do still use traditional conference calls on a daily basis, when appropriate we turn on the webcam for a more personable videoconference call. These methods work for us, but that doesn’t mean they will always work for us, so we are constantly looking forward to the next idea. But, as Microsoft states in their Whitepaper Accelerating Team Collaboration with Social, “the key is to use the right set of social technologies that support open communication and seamless collaboration”.[2] Find what tools work for your employees and allow your company to be flexible in those tools to continue effective communication amongst your staff.

    Closing Thoughts

    Collaborating becomes harder and harder the larger and more widespread your company is. As an emerging business, you need to be flexible to accommodate those within your organization, and utilize the tools and techniques that work to help facilitate collaboration. IBC understands that adapting to the changing environment is key, both for our organization and our employees, and by doing so, our collaborative efforts have never been stronger.

    These are some of our techniques on #HowToCompete using new forms of collaboration, what are yours?

    Join the #HowToCompete discussion:

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    [1] https://hbr.org/2015/04/collaborating-online-is-sometimes-better-than-face-to-face

    [2] http://az370354.vo.msecnd.net/socialhub/Accelerating_Team_Collaboration_with_Social.pdf

     

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  • #HowToCompete through Opportunity Identification

    How does your company identify opportunities to pursue? Dozens of solicitations are identified each week by our staff, but how do we decide which ones get sent to the recycling bin and which ones remain? As your company has grown, have you found your process has changed? Are you finding that opportunities that your Small Business would have been a shoe-in to win, are now long-shots for your Large Business? We at IBC deal with these issues on a seemingly daily basis.

    Given these issues, what can we do to increase our capture win-rate? Here are a couple areas that we are currently focusing on:

    Leverage Your Company’s Competitive Advantage

    Bill Carmody, CEO of Trepoint, says “by getting in touch with what makes [your company] unique and special, you can unleash your superpower and with it a virtually unlimited amount of untapped opportunity.”[1] In this case, your company’s superpower is your company’s competitive advantage and this shouldn’t change due to your company size. Although IBC may no longer be a “specialized” small business, focusing solely on a small number of solution areas, our main strengths remain. We still employ experienced Agile and Scrum experts. We still are one of the leading firms in providing SAP solutions to the Federal Government. These are two of IBC’s strengths, regardless of what our size is. The fact that our company has grown does not mean we should immediately start jumping into untouched waters, or focusing on areas where our stories are less compelling. Kevin Daum writes “a great opportunity can provide me growth, but it should not require me to change who I am at the core.”[2] Just because you are no longer a small business, don’t forget what enabled you to grow that small business into what it is today.

    Create Solicitation Response Criteria and Stick to it

    Does your company have specific solicitation criteria that must be met before you respond to a request? And if so, does your company make exceptions when RFPs are released that, while not meeting your set criteria, just seem like they would be a good fit for your company? If you are guilty of doing this from time-to-time (and we know we are), you are either spending time, hours, and money on a bid that likely has a lower win probability than other opportunities out there, or you need to rethink your criteria.

    Don’t only judge a request based on the solution you know you can provide. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and think about what they are looking for when they read through the deluge of responses that are sure to come in. At IBC, we look at the following criteria when deciding to bid or not:

    • Do we know the customer?
    • Do we have past performance to support our story?
    • Do we have the expertise to support our story?
    • Can we price to win and live with those financial impacts?

    Closing Thoughts

    Consistently identifying winning opportunities is difficult, but that by no means has deterred us from trying to increase our win-rate. By focusing on our competitive advantage and strengths, and sticking to our RFP response criteria, we at IBC hope to be able to do just that.

    These are some of our strategies on #HowToCompete through Opportunity Identification, what are yours?

    Join the #HowToCompete discussion:

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    [1] http://www.inc.com/bill-carmody/what-s-your-superpower.html

    [2] http://www.inc.com/kevin-daum/5-ways-to-recognize-a-great-opportunity.html

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  • IBC Launches #HowToCompete Social Media Discussion Campaign

    As part of your company’s growth planning, have you ever thought about what it means to no longer be small?  Within the Federal and DoD arenas, graduating from small business, no matter what your company’s demographic, can be strategically challenging and growth limiting if you have not developed a well thought out small business exit strategy and plan.

    IBC, a DBS company faces this very challenge: fully integrating two small businesses in October 2013; streamlining two organizations operations in 2014; graduating from small business in early 2015.  As an organization, we continue to analyze, assess, and focus our growth strategy each month as we decide what markets to continue to support, and what markets to target as we grow.

    Over the coming weeks, we will be starting a series of discussions for other small and emerging businesses to consider. We will focus on areas such as: Business Development and Capture Planning; Operations Efficiencies: Business and Software Partnering Objectives; Social Networking and Marketing; Staff Alignment; Market Focuses.  Each week we will be analyzing various articles, providing our thoughts and insight, and opening the lines of communication to all those interested. We encourage you to participate in each topic discussion by using the hashtag #HowToCompete on Social Media.

    We recognize that we do not have all the right answers, so believe that in facilitating this discussion, we will help other emerging small businesses and ourselves as we continuously refine our growth strategy in 2015 and beyond.

    Join the #HowToCompete discussion:

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  • Learn About SAP HANA Accelerators (Video)

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  • Making the HANA Side Car your Main Car

    Let’s face it. If you work in the SAP world and haven’t heard about HANA, you’re living under a rock (or maybe still on R2?). In the past three years, every SAPPHIRE, ASUG and TechEd (sorry, d-Code) event has focused primarily on HANA and its benefits. SAP is now even rewriting and pushing down their ABAP code to HANA to take advantage of its capabilities. S4HANA and Simple Finance have the capability of drastically simplifying an organizations data models. However, a number of customers have purchased HANA as their BI solution, but are not quite ready to take the leap to these solutions. That’s where the HANA Accelerators come in. The HANA Accelerators (aka, HANA Side Car) allows customers to leverage their HANA investment like never before. By redirecting the selects from their standard database to HANA, significant performance improvements can be gained with this technology. And the beauty of this solution is that the implementation time is very fast, saving you money and improving your ROI.

    The Why

    If you are like most of my customers, your system performance was probably great when you first went live – especially if you did a phased rollout. However, as time has passed, you’ve likely added additional organizations, new processes and more data to the system. While the old saying ‘Disk is cheap’ may be true, getting to the data on the disk becomes more expensive the larger the dataset. At least, that’s the way it’s been with traditional databases. With the introduction of HANA, SAP has revolutionized the way that data is stored and accessed. Through the use of the column store database, the data within the database is compressed significantly – in most cases by a factor of 7 or more (by that I mean, 7 terabytes of row store data becomes 1 terabyte of column store data). Once the data is compressed, the amount of RAM needed to put the data into memory is much less. Accessing data in RAM is an incredibly more efficient method than having to access it via disk – even with Solid State Drives. But to me, this isn’t even the greatest benefit – at least not from a business perspective. Since the data is stored in columns, every column essentially becomes an index. This has two incredible benefits. First, there is no need to have secondary indexes on your tables. This alone can save a huge amount of disk space. Second, it means I can now access my data using any combination of fields I want. From an end user perspective, this is huge. I am no longer limited to the indexes someone else chose for me. And what that really means is that not only can I analyze my data in ways which meet my exact business needs, but I can even design the system in ways that were never possible.

    The What

    While Suite on HANA is starting to gain traction, many customers would like to see a better return from their HANA investment today. In order to do this, SAP has delivered two Accelerator products. The most commonly known product is the ERP Accelerators. The ERP Accelerators are a collection of specific points in SAP’s standard code, whereby a redirect to HANA is performed. The ERP Accelerators were delivered as part of the standard system with SAP Note 1620213 (and subsequent additional notes). Below is a list of just a few of the delivered accelerators.

    Table 1 – SAP Delivered ERP Accelerators

    SAP Delivered ERP Accelerators

    In addition to these, there are a number of other accelerators and SAP continues to add to this list. The accelerators can be categorized into one of the three areas:

    • Reporting – These accelerators are used to select data quickly from the standard line item tables like BSEG, GLFLEXA, PSMGLFLEXA, ANEP, COEP, etc.
    • Transactional – These accelerators are used within the processing of transactions like posting an FI document or running CO Allocations
    • Interface – These are primarily BW related where a Virtual Infoprovider can be setup from BW

    The second Accelerator product is the Business Application Accelerators. This product allows you to redirect any of your own custom programs. The product is an add-on to the standard system and must be requested via information in SAP Note 1694697.

    One additional transaction of note is the General Table Display. If you’ve been using SAP long enough, you’ve probably used transaction SE16. SAP has delivered a new transaction – SE16H. This new transaction allows you to select your secondary database connection and query data directly within the ERP system. Additionally, this transaction allows you to do a left outer join with another table from your standard database or from HANA.

    The How

    ERP Accelerators

    While most customers are unaware, SAP has provided the ability to connect to a secondary database from within the ERP system since the days of R/3 4.0B. The transaction DBCO allows user to create a connection to another database by providing the IP address of the database server and login credentials. The HANA Accelerators utilize this secondary connection to redirect the selection of data from the standard installed database to HANA.

    Figure 1 – DBCO Secondary Connection

    ERP_DBCO

    Of course, the data first needs to reside in HANA in order to utilize this redirection. This is where the System Landscape Transformation (SLT) product is essential. By using the SLT, data can be replicated from the ERP system in near real time. This provides for the use of the functionality with not only reports, but with transaction processing. The SLT is a product that creates triggers at the database level which are executed anytime an Insert, Update or Delete occurs on a specified table. The trigger then populates a shadow table with the key of the table to keep a record of which entries need to be transferred. The SLT system then copies the record from the ERP system to HANA using RFC connections. This entire process usually takes less than a second to go from the update in ECC to the update in HANA. SLT does allow for more advanced ETL capabilities, but this is the basic concept. One thing to note – in order to use the accelerators for a specific table, the structure of the table must be the same in both systems. I’ll even take this one step further – I believe the data should be a mirror of each other (e.g. no transformations). My reasoning here is simple – If I run a report that is not accelerated and compare it against one that is, there should be no difference in the results.

    Once the basic setup is complete for connecting and replicating to HANA, it’s time to view each accelerator. In transaction HDBC (or HDBS), you can view each accelerator to determine the functionality and requirements to activate. Each accelerator can be activated across your whole system or by user id. Further, the accelerator can be activated and deactivated very quickly in case you run into issues.

    Figure 2 – ERP Accelerator – General Settings

    HDBC_GL_LIB_General

    The key to being able to activate an accelerator is the existence of the necessary tables in HANA with the structures identical. Some accelerators have as few as one table required, while others have a large number. In figure 3 below, the General Ledger Line Item Browser with its new transaction FBL3H requires five tables from the ERP system as well as a new generated view that can be created from this screen. The generated views are created in the ERP system as well as the HANA system – both without data.

    Figure 3 – ERP Accelerator – Replication Tables

    HDBC_GL_LIB

    Business Application Accelerators

    The BAA is an add-on product that must be applied via transaction SAINT. The component name is SWT2DB. To use this product, an XML file is created which defines the program and table which will be redirected. Once the XML is uploaded, a database connection (from transaction DBCO or DBACOCKPIT) is assigned to the scenario. The scenario is then activated and all future selects are redirected.

    In our experience, the BAA is just as important (if not more so) than the ERP accelerators. With this component, we have enabled numerous reports and interfaces to run significantly faster than before. Let’s face it – SAP developers do a pretty good job of writing efficient code, while other developers do not have the quality assurance and performance mindset of those in Waldorf or Palo Alto. At most of my clients, the long running programs are typically the ones that start with a Z. As such, some of the largest gains we’ve seen is through the acceleration of reports, extracts and interfaces via the BAA.

    The Results

    Now if you’ve made it this far, you must be wondering about the results. These products have truly transformed some of my client’s experiences. The end users no longer have to wait minutes and hours for reports, the O&M team does not have to stay up all night monitoring jobs, the database administrators are happy that the primary database is not dragging, and the functional team is free to organize the data any way they want. Some specific examples of what we’ve seen are:

    1. One interface was running for over 15 hours. After acceleration via the BAA, it ran for 9 minutes.
    2. The Cost Allocation program was running for over 24 hours at the end of the month – it now runs in 20 minutes.
    3. The Vendor Line Item Browser would timeout and never return the data for some vendors – now it runs in less than 1 minute.
    4. Depending on how some users ran reports, the system would either timeout (if in foreground) or run for days (in background). Now the users can select their data however they want and the data is returned in seconds.

    The additional speed is nice, but it really comes down to what happens when you attain this level of performance. If a report takes 5 minutes to return the data, the user will hopefully do some other work – but they may just take a short break. If it takes 3 hours, they’ll definitely do other things, but they’ll also rarely rerun that report based on their findings. If the report returns the data in 30 seconds, the user can do something actionable with that information (like post a correcting entry, etc.) and rerun the report to analyze the data again. Providing a system that works for your users, improves their performance, improves the overall system performance and ensures increased satisfaction and acceptance of the system are all possible with the HANA Accelerators.

    To learn more about how to make the Side Car your Main Car, contact us at www.ibcdbs.com/contact/.

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  • IBC, a DBS Company, Honored by SmartCEO as a Top “Fast-Growth” Company at its 2015 Future 50 Awards Ceremony

    Washington, DC (January 28, 2015) – IBC, a DBS Company (IBC) was honored by Washington SmartCEO as a “Future 50” award winner, Tuesday, January 27, 2015 at the Sheraton Premiere at Tysons Corner. IBC was one of fifty “Future 50” Washington DC based mid-sized companies honored at the ceremony, who collectively generate over $3.5 billion in annual revenue and employ over 13,000 individuals.

    “IBC is honored and humbled to be honored amongst our peers as a Future 50 award winner,” said IBC CEO Dan Maguire. “As a fast growth company, IBC can continually reinvest in our people, our environment and our culture, which allows us to build on the successes that we have accomplished throughout our history.”

    The Future 50 Awards program is the largest and most highly anticipated SmartCEO awards program of the year. This program recognizes 50 fast-growth, mid-sized companies in the region, five large Blue Chip companies and five small Emerging Growth companies. These companies represent the future of the region’s economy and embody the entrepreneurial spirit critical for leadership and success.

    (more…)

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  • IBC, a DBS Company Named One of 2015’s Best Places to Work in Virginia by Virginia Business

    IBC, a DBS Company was recently named as one of the 2015 Best Places to Work in Virginia. The annual list of the Best Places to Work in Virginia was created by Virginia Business and Best Companies Group.

    This statewide survey and awards program is designed to identify, recognize and honor the best places of employment in Virginia, benefiting the state’s economy, workforce and businesses. The 2015 Best Places to Work in Virginia list is made up of 100 companies.

    Companies from across the state entered the two-part survey process to determine the Best Places to Work in Virginia. The first part consisted of evaluating each nominated company’s workplace policies, practices, philosophy, systems and demographics. This part of the process was worth approximately 25% of the total evaluation. The second part consisted of an employee survey to measure the employee experience. This part of the process was worth approximately 75% of the total evaluation. The combined scores determined the top companies and the final ranking. Best Companies Group managed the overall registration and survey process in Virginia and also analyzed the data and used their expertise to determine the final ranking.

    (more…)

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  • IBC Awarded Subcontract To Provide SAP Technical Management Support Services To ARMY ERP Systems

    Washington, DC (October 1st, 2014) – IBC, a DBS Company is proud to be part of Team LOGC2 (LOGC2 Inc. DBA Connected Logistics), that has been awarded a GSA Schedule contract to provide Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) SAP Technical and Management Support Services (TMSS) for General Fund Enterprise Business System (GFEBS), Army Enterprise System Integration Program (AESIP), and associated Army ERP programs, together comprising one of the world’s largest and most complex ERP systems.

    The scope of this contract covers a broad mix of IT Professional Services, including ERP Business Process Management, Solution Implementation, and Integration; Enterprise Architecture Modeling and Development; Information Assurance; Task Order and Risk Management; UNIX Architecture and Backup; and Windows and Network Engineering. Under the TMSS contract, the Connected Logistics team will make recommendations on the technical architecture and software design of the Army’s ERP systems; monitor system integrator compliance with ERP and SAP best practices; and ensure the technical functionality of GFEBS, AESIP, and associated ERP systems matches the expected outcomes of those systems, among other key tasks and focus areas.

    The Army’s ERP programs are critical to the Army and DoD’s efforts to modernize, centralize, and streamline Army logistics, financial management, and contract management by transitioning away from legacy systems to meet critical audit readiness and financial management reform directives. The Connected Logistics team brings both an unparalleled breadth and depth of experience to PM GFEBS and PM AESIP and uniquely qualified and skilled personnel, including corporate experience stretching back to 2005, and many consultants and subject matter experts with more than a decade of experience supporting Army ERP systems.

    About IBC, a DBS Company
    IBC, a DBS Company (IBC), is headquartered in the Washington, DC area and is an innovative and entrepreneurial professional services firm providing the right solutions and qualified, talented people when you need them. IBC has a principal goal of empowering the enterprise by providing experienced IT functional and technical consultants who are driven by sharing knowledge with the customer.

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  • Washington SmartCEO Names IBC as 2014 GovStar Award Finalists

    Washington, DC (Sept. 14, 2014) — IBC, a DBS Company is honored to be named one of 2014’s GovStar award finalists by Washington SmartCEO and Title Sponsor Chase and J.P. Morgan. The GovStar awards celebrate companies that have demonstrated excellence in the complex and competitive government-contracting sector. IBC is one of three finalists in the Star Performer category for medium sized companies, having experienced incredible growth and nearly doubling our revenue over the past three years.

    This is a tremendous achievement for IBC as it honors our technology innovation, workplace environment, veteran support, growth, and contributions to the industry and marketplace. IBC is proud to be part of such an elite group of government-contracting finalists whom collectively generate more than $3.2 billion in annual revenue and employ over 9,900 individuals in Greater Washington. Additionally, IBC and the other finalists will be profiled in the November/December issue of Washington SmartCEO magazine.

    [testimonial author=”Dan Maguire, President, IBC”]”We are honored to be recognized as a finalist in the 2014 SmartCEO GovStar award. Achieving the corporate growth that put us in a position for this award is truly a testament to the dedication and hard work of our entire team at IBC. We very much appreciate being selected as a finalist in this prestigious award.”[/testimonial]

    Click HERE for a complete list of finalists and for program details. For more information on the GovStar finalists and winners, visit www.smartceo.com to view the digital edition of the November/December 2014 issue.

    About IBC, a DBS Company
    IBC, a DBS Company (IBC), is headquartered in the Washington, DC area and is an innovative and entrepreneurial professional services firm providing the right solutions and qualified, talented people when you need them. IBC has a principal goal of empowering the enterprise by providing experienced IT functional and technical consultants who are driven by sharing knowledge with the customer.

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