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Engineering 
Mindset for 
Corporate 
Management 
with Dr. Alan 
Harbitter
XBOSoft Info 
Founded in 2006 
Dedicated to software quality 
Software QA Consulting 
Software Testing 
Offices in San Francisco, Beijing, Oslo, and Amsterdam
Housekeeping 
● Everyone except the speakers are muted 
● Questions via the gotowebinar control on the right side of 
your screen or through Twitter @XBOSoft 
● Questions can be asked throughout the webinar, we’ll try 
to fit them in when appropriate 
● General Q & A at the end of the webinar 
● You will receive info on recording after the webinar
Speakers 
Alan Harbitter 
Board Member of XBOSoft 
Jan Princen 
Director at XBOsoft 
Founder of GripQA 
Sabrina Gasson 
XBOSoft Marketing
Engineering Mindset for Corporate 
Management 
Dr. Alan Harbitter 
alan@harbitterconsulting.com 
October 30, 2014
What I’ll Talk About 
• My hypothesis: Engineering is a better starting 
point for corporate management than 
business training 
• The story of the company I co-founded (in 
1985) and how an engineer came to be a COO 
• A couple of examples of how analytical skills 
adapt to business problems
The Secret to Business is Technical Analysis 
• B-school is too easy after technology training 
• 90% of all important business decisions can be 
made by understanding terminology (e.g., 
EBITDA, …) and a spreadsheet 
• Examples 
– Balance sheet and income statement tell all 
– Revenue/earnings forecasts (following example 
will be somewhat tongue-in-cheek) 
– Intentionally leaving out personnel management
Timeline - Millennium 1 
• 1978: BSEE, Cornell 
• 1978-85: Met partners at CSC (NoVA) 
• 1982: MSCS at UMD (research in computer 
performance) 
• 1985: Co-founded Performance Engineering 
Corporation (3 guys, $50K) 
• 1997: PEC CTO
Timeline - Millennium 2 
• 2001: Took PEC public (NASDAQ/NM: PECS) 
• 2002: PhD CS at GMU (research in computer 
security) 
• 2004: PEC COO 
• 2005: 1,700 employees, 
$250M annual revenue, 
sold for $472M
A Little More Detail 
• 1985 (go-go Reagan economy): founded as 
Performance Engineering Corporation—high-end IT 
services for Government 
• 1999: $50MM in revenue; entering 15th year of solid 
bottom line (north of 10% net) and top line growth 
(30 to 35%) 
• 2000: Public as PEC Solutions, 3M shares at $9.50 
• 2001: Follow-on offering, 5M shares at $17.00 
(~$85M) 
• 2001 through 2004: Buying spree
Acquisitions 
• 2000: Viking Technology, <$3M, state & local 
focus 
• 2001: Troy Systems, $18M, 300 employees, 
Navy focus 
• 2003: IITC, $33M, 270 employees, Air 
Force/satellite focus 
• 2004: AC Technologies, $46.7M, 360 
employees, USPS, CMMI rating
Example 1: How Might the Engineer 
Evaluate an Acquisition Target? 
• There’s the qualitative stuff 
– Alignment of goals and culture 
– The addition of value that can’t be grown in-house 
– Are the two cultures merge-able? 
• Then there’s the quantitative stuff 
– Will the purchase be “accretive”? 
– Income statement & balance sheet
What if we wanted to buy Facebook? 
Significant 
increase in sales 
and R&D costs in 
CY12 (they IPOed 
May 2012) 
CY13 profit is 
19% of revenue, 
up from 1% in 
CY12, up from 
18% in CY11 
Low interest 
expense… 
probably not 
much debt 
37% revenue 
growth in CY12, 
55% in CY13… 
excellent
Balance Sheet Reveals More! 
With $1.875B in 
annual costs, 
plenty of cash on 
hand to fund 
operations 
There’s our low 
debt
Some Other Important Quantitative 
Info on Our Acquisition Target 
Conclusion: Performance is excellent; P/E doesn’t seem bad compared 
to other market comparables such as Linked-In and Twitter. Deal 
breaker: coming up with > $200B (AOL-Time Warner was $186B)
Example 2: Revenue and Income 
Forecasting 
(Wall Street expects crazy predictive accuracy) 
February 2, 2010. MicroStrategy (MSTR) shares are down sharply this 
morning on investor disappointment with the company’s fourth quarter results. 
This morning, the business intelligence software provider reported Q4 revenue 
of $105.8 million, short of the Street consensus at $107.3 million. EPS, though, 
came in at $1.66 a share, a nickel ahead of the Street. 
On Feb 2: 79.03 17.61 (18.22%) 
1.3% miss 
(but up 11% 
YOY) 
3% miss (up 
42% YOY)
How Might An Engineer Look at 
Earnings Forecast 
• Accurately predicting revenue and earnings is 
a big deal 
• If you throw in enough independent variables, 
and/or pick a high enough order fit, you don’t 
even need a CFO
Quarterly Revenue & Price 
70 
65 
60 
55 
50 
45 
40 
35 
30 
25 
20 
15 
10 
5 
0 
Apr-00 
Jul-00 
Oct-00 
Jan-01 
Apr-01 
Jul-01 
Oct-01 
Jul-02 
Oct-02 
Jan-02 
Apr-02 
Jan-03 
Apr-03 
Jul-03 
Oct-03 
Jan-04 
Apr-04 
Jul-04 
Oct-04 
Jan-05 
Apr-05 
Reporting Quarter 
Mdollars 
normalized 
share price 
quarterly 
revenue 
guidance 
revision 
the “terror stock”
Quarterly Earnings & Price 
0.28 
0.26 
0.24 
0.22 
0.20 
0.18 
0.16 
0.14 
0.12 
0.10 
0.08 
0.06 
0.04 
0.02 
- 
Jul-00 
Oct-00 
Jan-01 
Apr-00 
Jul-01 
Oct-01 
Jan-02 
Apr-01 
Jul-02 
Oct-02 
Jan-03 
Apr-02 
Jul-03 
Oct-03 
Jan-04 
Apr-03 
Jul-04 
Oct-04 
Jan-05 
Apr-04 
Apr-05 
Reporting Quarter 
Dollars 
normalized 
share price 
eps 
guidance
70 
65 
60 
55 
50 
45 
40 
35 
30 
25 
20 
15 
10 
5 
0 
Revenue & Earnings & Price 
Apr-00 
Oct-00 
Jul-00 
Jan-01 
Apr-01 
Oct-01 
Jul-01 
Jan-02 
Apr-02 
Oct-02 
Jul-02 
Jan-03 
Apr-03 
Oct-03 
Jul-03 
Jan-04 
Apr-04 
Oct-04 
Jul-04 
Jan-05 
Apr-05 
Reporting Quarter 
Mdollars 
normalized 
share price 
quarterly 
revenue 
guidance 
revision 
0.28 
0.26 
0.24 
0.22 
0.20 
0.18 
0.16 
0.14 
0.12 
0.10 
0.08 
0.06 
0.04 
0.02 
- 
Jul-00 
Oct-00 
Jan-01 
Apr-00 
Jul-01 
Oct-01 
Jan-02 
Apr-01 
Jul-02 
Oct-02 
Jan-03 
Apr-02 
Jul-03 
Oct-03 
Jan-04 
Apr-03 
Jul-04 
Oct-04 
Jan-05 
Apr-04 
Apr-05 
Reporting Quarter 
Dollars 
normalized 
share price 
eps 
guidance 
Revenue 
Earnings
Other Areas Where Engineering Analysis 
Can Answer Business Questions 
• How can we grow? 
• How do we control costs? 
• Should we invest in infrastructure? 
• How efficient are our new business 
development processes? 
• Are our clients satisfied? 
• Are our goals realistic?
PEC Solutions, 
Inc. 
The Final 
Chapter 
(June 2005)
PEC Redux 
• June 2005: Nortel Networks buys all shares of PEC at $15 per 
(all cash, $472M) 
• Nortel Government Systems (NGS) is formed as a wholly 
owned subsidiary 
• The 3 PEC founders had a 2 year employment agreement 
• Jan 2009: Nortel files for Chapter 11 
• Dec 2009: Avaya ($5B revenue, spun off from Lucent, bought 
private) acquires Nortel’s “enterprise” business ($2.4B 
revenue in 2008) and NGS for $900M 
• Feb 2014: Camber Corporation purchases Avaya Government 
Solutions for $100M
What My Engineering Education Did 
For Me 
• Taught me broadly applicable analytical skills 
• Got me past a lot of conceptual hurtles I never 
would have figured out on my own 
• Taught me how to research a topic I didn’t 
know anything about 
• Taught me how to deal with people from 
diverse backgrounds 
• Made me an expert in selected technological 
fields and gave me something to sell
What My Education Didn’t Do 
• It didn’t teach me how to write & 
communicate 
• It didn’t teach me anything about business 
• It didn’t teach me anything about management 
• It didn’t teach me to be ambitious, aggressive, 
and continually unsatisfied
See, see? 
Undergrad Degree 
Percent of S&P 500 CEOs 
2008 2007 2006 2005 
Engineering 22% 21% 23% 20% 
Economics 16% 15% 13% 11% 
Business Administration 13% 13% 12% 15% 
Accounting 9% 8% 8% 7% 
Liberal Arts 6% 6% 8% 9% 
http://content.spencerstuart.com/sswebsite/pdf/lib/2008_RTTT_Final_summary.pdf
How Can an Engineer be Successful in 
Business? 
• The subject matter has to intrigue you 
• It will be one of your easiest research 
projects 
• Use analytical thought processes and tools 
to evaluate options and make decisions 
• Know your weaknesses, surround yourself 
with people with compensating strengths 
• Pick options that give you more options
Q+A 
Post your questions on Twitter and we'll answer them @XBOSoft 
We post regularly on our blog – check us out! 
http://xbosoft.com/software-quality-blog/ 
Join us to keep updated on all our webinars, reports and whitepapers: 
facebook.com/xbosoft 
+xbosoft 
Why not download our free Whitepapers, available here: 
http://xbosoft.com/knowledge-center/software-testing-white-paper/ 
You will receive an email with information on slides and recording. Any 
further queries regarding our services or ideas for future webinars 
please email us! Services@xbosoft.com

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Engineering mindset fort corporate management

  • 1. Engineering Mindset for Corporate Management with Dr. Alan Harbitter
  • 2. XBOSoft Info Founded in 2006 Dedicated to software quality Software QA Consulting Software Testing Offices in San Francisco, Beijing, Oslo, and Amsterdam
  • 3. Housekeeping ● Everyone except the speakers are muted ● Questions via the gotowebinar control on the right side of your screen or through Twitter @XBOSoft ● Questions can be asked throughout the webinar, we’ll try to fit them in when appropriate ● General Q & A at the end of the webinar ● You will receive info on recording after the webinar
  • 4. Speakers Alan Harbitter Board Member of XBOSoft Jan Princen Director at XBOsoft Founder of GripQA Sabrina Gasson XBOSoft Marketing
  • 5. Engineering Mindset for Corporate Management Dr. Alan Harbitter alan@harbitterconsulting.com October 30, 2014
  • 6. What I’ll Talk About • My hypothesis: Engineering is a better starting point for corporate management than business training • The story of the company I co-founded (in 1985) and how an engineer came to be a COO • A couple of examples of how analytical skills adapt to business problems
  • 7. The Secret to Business is Technical Analysis • B-school is too easy after technology training • 90% of all important business decisions can be made by understanding terminology (e.g., EBITDA, …) and a spreadsheet • Examples – Balance sheet and income statement tell all – Revenue/earnings forecasts (following example will be somewhat tongue-in-cheek) – Intentionally leaving out personnel management
  • 8. Timeline - Millennium 1 • 1978: BSEE, Cornell • 1978-85: Met partners at CSC (NoVA) • 1982: MSCS at UMD (research in computer performance) • 1985: Co-founded Performance Engineering Corporation (3 guys, $50K) • 1997: PEC CTO
  • 9. Timeline - Millennium 2 • 2001: Took PEC public (NASDAQ/NM: PECS) • 2002: PhD CS at GMU (research in computer security) • 2004: PEC COO • 2005: 1,700 employees, $250M annual revenue, sold for $472M
  • 10. A Little More Detail • 1985 (go-go Reagan economy): founded as Performance Engineering Corporation—high-end IT services for Government • 1999: $50MM in revenue; entering 15th year of solid bottom line (north of 10% net) and top line growth (30 to 35%) • 2000: Public as PEC Solutions, 3M shares at $9.50 • 2001: Follow-on offering, 5M shares at $17.00 (~$85M) • 2001 through 2004: Buying spree
  • 11. Acquisitions • 2000: Viking Technology, <$3M, state & local focus • 2001: Troy Systems, $18M, 300 employees, Navy focus • 2003: IITC, $33M, 270 employees, Air Force/satellite focus • 2004: AC Technologies, $46.7M, 360 employees, USPS, CMMI rating
  • 12. Example 1: How Might the Engineer Evaluate an Acquisition Target? • There’s the qualitative stuff – Alignment of goals and culture – The addition of value that can’t be grown in-house – Are the two cultures merge-able? • Then there’s the quantitative stuff – Will the purchase be “accretive”? – Income statement & balance sheet
  • 13. What if we wanted to buy Facebook? Significant increase in sales and R&D costs in CY12 (they IPOed May 2012) CY13 profit is 19% of revenue, up from 1% in CY12, up from 18% in CY11 Low interest expense… probably not much debt 37% revenue growth in CY12, 55% in CY13… excellent
  • 14. Balance Sheet Reveals More! With $1.875B in annual costs, plenty of cash on hand to fund operations There’s our low debt
  • 15. Some Other Important Quantitative Info on Our Acquisition Target Conclusion: Performance is excellent; P/E doesn’t seem bad compared to other market comparables such as Linked-In and Twitter. Deal breaker: coming up with > $200B (AOL-Time Warner was $186B)
  • 16. Example 2: Revenue and Income Forecasting (Wall Street expects crazy predictive accuracy) February 2, 2010. MicroStrategy (MSTR) shares are down sharply this morning on investor disappointment with the company’s fourth quarter results. This morning, the business intelligence software provider reported Q4 revenue of $105.8 million, short of the Street consensus at $107.3 million. EPS, though, came in at $1.66 a share, a nickel ahead of the Street. On Feb 2: 79.03 17.61 (18.22%) 1.3% miss (but up 11% YOY) 3% miss (up 42% YOY)
  • 17. How Might An Engineer Look at Earnings Forecast • Accurately predicting revenue and earnings is a big deal • If you throw in enough independent variables, and/or pick a high enough order fit, you don’t even need a CFO
  • 18. Quarterly Revenue & Price 70 65 60 55 50 45 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 Apr-00 Jul-00 Oct-00 Jan-01 Apr-01 Jul-01 Oct-01 Jul-02 Oct-02 Jan-02 Apr-02 Jan-03 Apr-03 Jul-03 Oct-03 Jan-04 Apr-04 Jul-04 Oct-04 Jan-05 Apr-05 Reporting Quarter Mdollars normalized share price quarterly revenue guidance revision the “terror stock”
  • 19. Quarterly Earnings & Price 0.28 0.26 0.24 0.22 0.20 0.18 0.16 0.14 0.12 0.10 0.08 0.06 0.04 0.02 - Jul-00 Oct-00 Jan-01 Apr-00 Jul-01 Oct-01 Jan-02 Apr-01 Jul-02 Oct-02 Jan-03 Apr-02 Jul-03 Oct-03 Jan-04 Apr-03 Jul-04 Oct-04 Jan-05 Apr-04 Apr-05 Reporting Quarter Dollars normalized share price eps guidance
  • 20. 70 65 60 55 50 45 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 Revenue & Earnings & Price Apr-00 Oct-00 Jul-00 Jan-01 Apr-01 Oct-01 Jul-01 Jan-02 Apr-02 Oct-02 Jul-02 Jan-03 Apr-03 Oct-03 Jul-03 Jan-04 Apr-04 Oct-04 Jul-04 Jan-05 Apr-05 Reporting Quarter Mdollars normalized share price quarterly revenue guidance revision 0.28 0.26 0.24 0.22 0.20 0.18 0.16 0.14 0.12 0.10 0.08 0.06 0.04 0.02 - Jul-00 Oct-00 Jan-01 Apr-00 Jul-01 Oct-01 Jan-02 Apr-01 Jul-02 Oct-02 Jan-03 Apr-02 Jul-03 Oct-03 Jan-04 Apr-03 Jul-04 Oct-04 Jan-05 Apr-04 Apr-05 Reporting Quarter Dollars normalized share price eps guidance Revenue Earnings
  • 21. Other Areas Where Engineering Analysis Can Answer Business Questions • How can we grow? • How do we control costs? • Should we invest in infrastructure? • How efficient are our new business development processes? • Are our clients satisfied? • Are our goals realistic?
  • 22. PEC Solutions, Inc. The Final Chapter (June 2005)
  • 23. PEC Redux • June 2005: Nortel Networks buys all shares of PEC at $15 per (all cash, $472M) • Nortel Government Systems (NGS) is formed as a wholly owned subsidiary • The 3 PEC founders had a 2 year employment agreement • Jan 2009: Nortel files for Chapter 11 • Dec 2009: Avaya ($5B revenue, spun off from Lucent, bought private) acquires Nortel’s “enterprise” business ($2.4B revenue in 2008) and NGS for $900M • Feb 2014: Camber Corporation purchases Avaya Government Solutions for $100M
  • 24. What My Engineering Education Did For Me • Taught me broadly applicable analytical skills • Got me past a lot of conceptual hurtles I never would have figured out on my own • Taught me how to research a topic I didn’t know anything about • Taught me how to deal with people from diverse backgrounds • Made me an expert in selected technological fields and gave me something to sell
  • 25. What My Education Didn’t Do • It didn’t teach me how to write & communicate • It didn’t teach me anything about business • It didn’t teach me anything about management • It didn’t teach me to be ambitious, aggressive, and continually unsatisfied
  • 26. See, see? Undergrad Degree Percent of S&P 500 CEOs 2008 2007 2006 2005 Engineering 22% 21% 23% 20% Economics 16% 15% 13% 11% Business Administration 13% 13% 12% 15% Accounting 9% 8% 8% 7% Liberal Arts 6% 6% 8% 9% http://content.spencerstuart.com/sswebsite/pdf/lib/2008_RTTT_Final_summary.pdf
  • 27. How Can an Engineer be Successful in Business? • The subject matter has to intrigue you • It will be one of your easiest research projects • Use analytical thought processes and tools to evaluate options and make decisions • Know your weaknesses, surround yourself with people with compensating strengths • Pick options that give you more options
  • 28. Q+A Post your questions on Twitter and we'll answer them @XBOSoft We post regularly on our blog – check us out! http://xbosoft.com/software-quality-blog/ Join us to keep updated on all our webinars, reports and whitepapers: facebook.com/xbosoft +xbosoft Why not download our free Whitepapers, available here: http://xbosoft.com/knowledge-center/software-testing-white-paper/ You will receive an email with information on slides and recording. Any further queries regarding our services or ideas for future webinars please email us! Services@xbosoft.com