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The new year means it’s time for a look back, even as we’re moving forward. We’ve had more than a few people ask us about the breakthrough thinking behind solutions like ExAM (which we introduced in our last blog post).

Like a lot of comparable consultancies, our roots are in management consulting — but with a heavy technical slant. When I say technical, I don’t necessarily mean inundating clients with IT for its own sake. Rather, our mindset was how to use those tools to get a better understanding of organizational operations — and therefore optimize those operations.

Sure, that’s an objective many in our field share, and we learned how effective that kind of thinking can be once consultants and clients share the same goal. For us, that was improved operations thanks to reliable, real-time data collection and command. Our emphasis, from the start, has always been on helping any organization best discover, access and take advantage of its information. It’s the goal that helped us get client leaders and employees see us — the consultant — as an ally.

Tension between consultants and employees is pretty traditional, but our success came from putting that higher goal of building an extensive, effective data management solution as the top priority. We wanted clients to realize that they were very likely sitting on an internal goldmine of information. It was just tough to access, and even, at times, unknown. Find a way to get all that data gathered and routed through the organization and companies would become, in a sense, enlightened — being able to make much better informed business decisions that would have a direct impact on the bottom line.

This is how we got so intensely involved in Salesforce to the point that it went from being something we recommended to a the platform on which we built our business, the products we sell and services we provide our clients. Today we do less broad based management consulting and almost all hands on Salesforce implementation, app development and of course supporting our own Salesforce AppExchange products like ExAM4Inspections.com.

Today, we don’t come into organizations telling them we are bringing in some paradigm shifting approach to IT. We just concentrate on helping clients get the most out of information they were already gathering, we help them operationalize it and most of all we help them embrace the flexibility that comes with the Salesforce platform.The success we’ve had working with HUD’s HVC program is a perfect example.

Critical to its mission, HUD was already well-versed in gathering information. Their challenge was helping a widespread team of inspectors unify inspection criteria and get consistent in their evaluation process. Working with us didn’t change the reasons why they performed housing inspections — it made those inspections easier to execute, and it streamlined and universalized evaluation of results. Our impact was very concrete because it had a positive effect on standing procedures and protocols.

That’s a guiding philosophy at MBA. We’re not trying to find unknown problems as a result of some kind of in-depth IT performance audit. Our solutions address known needs for operational improvement. Clients come to us ready for answers to specific challenges. We’re helping meet known data management requirements.

What’s more, because our solutions are not built on a stiff, inflexible framework, we can customize the data collection and management process with a near-infinite combination of inquiry designs. We can map back to existing databases, preserving the value of any existing data, and we can get it all to play nice with the new information that’s coming in.

Coming up, we’re going to talk about how this capability can work for organizations as large as a major Federal government agency, or as small as a city school district. Regardless, the value is — as we hope to demonstrate — indisputable.