In his twenties, with a wife, a newborn, and a toddler depending on his income, Jordan Uytterhagen did what most consider unthinkable, he left a secure job with a government agency to start Cadence Solutions an IT consultant firm.
During his time working with the municipality, he witnessed the inefficiency of large vendors processes, broken promises of their sales teams, and the waste of resources pushing a project over budget. He believed there had to be a better way and he was going to provide it. What he didn’t foresee was how frustrating it would be to compete with global strong branded firms. He was working for a municipality in Alberta when the city hired one of the big-name, global consultant firms to provide a digital solution. The company’s salesperson promised their consultants would design what the city wanted, and they were the best in the field.
In the end the invoices added up to over three hundred thousand and there was still no solution to the problem. Leadership finally gave their inside talent, who had never attempted a project like it, a chance to create the solution.
Jordan and his team were up for the challenge to learn open text and design the solution for far less of a cost than the consultancy firm had charged.
Jordan realized that “As a bunch of internal people doing this for the first time, we exceeded the industry bar. If we can start an organization to do this professionally, to fill the gap in the market, especially in Western Canada where there were no companies using open text, we could be successful.” He left a secure position for a three-month contract in a different city, promising his wife it would work out.
Cadence Solutions grew by word of mouth because Jordon stayed true to his values, consistently solved his client’s problems with efficient, productivity, time management, and budget spending. One of the ways he helped clients keep costs down was to reduce the amount of time he and his team travelled to onsite locations.
It is regular practice for the big consultant firms to send their IT people to work onsite in client’s offices, the cost of this practice is then passed on to the client. At Cadence, they work remotely as much as possible to ensure their talent is home more and they are not wasting their client’s money by paying for unnecessary hotels and travel. When Covid hit, his company was able to provide seamless remote service while everyone else was still determining how to transition.
Jordan chooses not to waste a lot of time going head-to-head with the global firms on big government and corporate contracts where contracts are awarded based on the size of the brand more than on credibility, efficiency, or ability.
He witnessed the bait and switch tactics of the big sales teams who promised first string talent to close a high-ticket contract and then the company sent a different team who wasn’t prepared to do what was promised. Jordan refuses to play the bait and switch sales game. He knows he needs to raise the bar in the industry by delivering on their promises and exceeding expectations whenever possible.
Jordan personally presents the solution to his potential clients to ensure the client understands what is being offered and his team knows what is being promised. This way the transfer from sales to development is transparent.
Cadence’s company values are closely aligned with Jordon’s values of efficient productivity and prairie farm boy work ethic. He doesn’t waste the time or resources of Cadence Solutions or its clients and expects the same efficiency from both his clients and staff so, they look for potential clients who understand the cost-effective approach of remote work and efficient productivity. They work with clients whose teams work hard and get the job done because they are passionate about delivering results.
Jordan has walked away from projects, even though the money was excellent because the client didn’t align with their value system. He wants to be challenged and for his people to be constantly learning, instead of being a cookie cutter one-size-fits-all solution. He is building a lifestyle for himself and his people and he is not willing to compromise his values to obtain success.
There are always lessons to learn and that one thing we wish we’d done differently, for Jordan, that thing is hiring good people sooner. It took him a few years to learn how to hire the right people and as the company grew their needs in talent changed. At the beginning, projects needed someone with more experience because Jordon wasn’t able to train the new hire on the technical aspects of the projects. As the company grew, they were able to hire recent graduates who would learn on the job.
Jordan looks for two things when hiring, can he trust the person and do they have a strong work ethic. Trust is the number one thing he looks for during an interview and he sets the bar high. The interviewee needs to pass Jordan’s version of the puppy test; would he trust the person to take care of his pets?
His employees become like family and he needs to know they are the kind of people who will care about each other and the job they are doing.
Did the interviewee come prepared with a notebook, questions, and a printed resume?
He says that resumes tell him, “They’re all smart they graduated from the University of Alberta. You got to be smart to get in and you got to be smarter to get out.” As long as they have the education, they can do the job, but can they work at Cadence?
He wants employees who are going to be around for longer than a minute. During the interview he wants to learn what they do on the weekend, what they would do if a project is behind schedule, and how they react when a deadline is looming. To determine if they want what Cadence has to offer he asks, “Where do you want to work and what type of work do you want to do?” The answers help him identify if they want what global firms offer in terms of lifestyle and money or if they want to be home more and work hard because they are passionate about what they do.
He admits finding the right people is hard and time consuming, however, it is worth it because when you have the right team you can grow, duplicate, and delegate.
Like many business owners, Jordon initially found delegating difficult and risked overworking himself by taking responsibility for tasks outside his roles purview. The key to delegating he discovered was hiring people whom he could trust to get the job done when asked and didn’t need to be micromanaged. When he started delegating, every metric in his business doubled, enabling him to take on larger contracts.
Jordan’s favourite projects are the ones where he learns something new and solves a problem for the client to make their work more efficient. He looks to work with companies who have a willingness to change the way they do things.
Their ideal clients are open to new ideas, value efficient productivity, and have a hard-working team who cares about the outcome. They need a, “Just get it done” attitude over the, “We’ve always done it this way” mentality.
The bulk of his clients are from the private sector. It is tough to go head to head with global firms for government contracts because they’ve have the big brand name government managers like. Government agencies are not his ideal client because they are slower to change, waste resources, are inefficient, and rife with the, “We always done it this way” mentality.
These are all the reasons why Jordon made the right decision for his career and his family by leaving the safe government job. A career within the confines of the Public Sector does not align with his core values of hard work and efficient productivity. By staying true to his values and starting a company aligned to his own, he has built a successful IT Consultant Organization that gives new graduates a chance and provides a work / life balance for his employees.
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Jordan Uytterhagan is the President of Cadence Solutions.