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Creating Local Government Software

An insider's look from an outsider's perspective

Changing careers in your 40’s is risky, especially when you work at a job that you enjoy, with people who have become like family to you. But, that is exactly what I did a few weeks ago, when I transitioned from a customer to an employee of Cartegraph Systems.

I have learned over the years, that the things we most regret in life are not those things we DID (though we all have a few of those), but rather the things we COULD have done, but did not. Opportunity lost is a sickening feeling that takes a lifetime — or longer — to go away. I was not going to take that chance, so when the opportunity presented itself to work for a company I had admired as a customer, I just had to say “yes.”

However, as the old saying goes, “after every wedding, there is a marriage”. I knew that there would be a few things that I saw as an outsider that would look differently as an insider, and there are.   

I am still very much in the customer mindset. In a way, I hope I always stay that way. I never want to lose the view that I had as a municipal Utilities Resources Coordinator who had to make Cartegraph technology work in the real world, where the situations and people that surrounded me were not always ideal.

I am writing this from as honest of a perspective as possible. I believe that you, as the customer, deserve the same “transparency and accountability,” that the government sector strives to pass on to its constituents. So, join me as we get the electronic access badges out and allow our credentials to escort us deep into the heart of a software company that sits at the southern edge of Dubuque, Iowa; a city on the banks of the Mississippi River.

“So, Todd, tell me; what was your biggest shock since you started at Cartegraph?”

This was the question posed to me by our President and CEO, Jake Schneider, as we sat at dinner just two days after I arrived in Dubuque to start my new position. I knew Jake wanted me to be perfectly honest with him, so I told him my truthful assessment. 

“Well, to be honest, two things stood out and spoke to me the loudest,” I said. “First, is the level of contact Cartegraph has with its customers. I have never heard so many conversations with, about, and advocating for customers as I have here. Second, I was shocked by the number of projects that involve assisting customers with services they need after implementing the software.”

In other words, I discovered that Cartegraph really is all about us...or I mean YOU (See? I still think I am a customer sometimes).  

When I was a customer, I used to call technical support all the time, especially when we were first trying to implement the software. Every time I called, I was confident that a helpful voice on the other end that would resolve my issue. I became very accustomed to the attention and excellent service provided. As a matter of fact, I became good friends with the Cartegraph Tech Support staff and, whether they knew it or not, they literally trained me into becoming the newest Cartegraph Subject Matter Expert.

Settling into my cubicle the first day, I quickly learned that customer contact is constant. New business prospects and existing customers from all over the country are contacted at a frenetic pace. Implementation Specialists, Account Executives, Sales Associates, Project Managers, and just about every person in the company is singularly focused on helping customers and meeting their organizational needs.

Particularly revealing are the conversations happening off the phone lines. Efforts are made to organize meetings, ask other staff members with expertise in a certain area to assist a customer, etc. I went out the door at the end of the first day impressed and excited. Why? Because what I had suspected as a customer was confirmed to me as an employee — they really do care about the people who use Cartegraph as their software of choice.

My first day was no anomaly. This exceptional level of communication continued during the next three days, as I overheard multiple conversations of the staff at Cartegraph doing their best to assist every customer and provide a very high level of customer service. It was constant, consistent, and clear. Cartegraph, and the individuals that make-up its incredible culture, sincerely strives to provide great customer experiences. They take the time to understand the challenges you face and they work hard to create technology that makes your job easier.

As I boarded the plane back to Tucson on Friday morning, my morale was at an all-time high, buoyed by what I experienced during my first few days as an official Cartegraph employee. I was thankful — thankful that I did, indeed, make the right choice in joining the Cartegraph team. I arrived home confident in the knowledge that, culturally and philosophically, this company and I were in lock-step.

So, the risk that I mentioned in the first paragraph of this article was worth it. The safety and security I left as a Utilities Resources Coordinator, at a public sector job where risk was minimal and everything was familiar, was replaced by a new passion and enthusiasm. I am now a part of a company that affords me the freedom to: focus on my strengths (speaking, writing and working with people at all levels of an organization), find my limits, and work with customers in such a way that I can help them bring their organizations to a new level.

That is what motivates me and fills me with energy every day. Now, back in my home office in Tucson a week later, I realize just how happy I am to have this unique view; an insider’s look from an outsider’s perspective. So, customers, you have an ally here at Cartegraph.  Actually, you have quite a few of us. We have been there and we’ve made Cartegraph software work in the real world. We feel your pain and know the joy of your success, because we lived it ourselves every day.

Take heart and know that you are the singular focus of the Cartegraph organization. As we work together, I believe you will discover what I did; Cartegraph is not just superior software, it is a group of gifted and talented people who want you to succeed. Everyone here is ready to help you take your organization to the next level. We are looking forward to assisting you in doing that. May your best days be ahead of you!

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