Shop Talk

SAP Peer Group

Today, Taleo hosted its ongoing another successful SAP peer roundtable discussion group.  Lead SAP Managers from various companies in Calgary met to discuss their current challenges and exchange insights.  It is always a great opportunity for such managers to meet with each other and candidly share and explore issues, concerns and opportunities within the SAP space.

Today’s conversations focused on:

·         Integration with SAP

·         Mobility

·         Usability/user experience

·         Upgrading – enhancement packs/support packs and S4

·         Cloud

·         Costs

We enjoy hosting and facilitating these and other peer discussion groups, which include PMO, BA best practices and Cyber Security. If you would ever like to join us for breakfast contact me at

Taleo places 20th on PROFIT 500

Taleo has placed 20th on PROFIT 500 Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies. We want to thank our clients, our business team and our team of over 500 amazing practitioners who made this success story happen!

We ranked #1 in the category of professional services!

PMI Golf Tournament – Antics

We had a great time sponsoring this year’s event, maybe too good a time.  Through skill and practice no animals were harmed during this sequence of fun.  Only do this with a professional, money winning golfer!  Click on link below:

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Such tough times in our province right now:

·       70,000 jobs lost in last 14 months

·       Unemployment close to 8%

·       Significant increase in availability of professional consultants/contractors

·       Contractor hourly rates continue to decline under immense pressure from Calgary companies

·       The amount of resumes being submitted on opportunities to hiring managers has increased approximately 300%

We are all aware of these and other sad statistics.  It is a challenge to land work if you are a contractor “sitting on the bench”. I have also been noticing a strange trend in the contracting market – the inclination to hire based on the lowest hourly rate.

Lets face it; there is an immense supply of available contractors now compared to 18 months ago.  As a result, many contractors are willing to significantly drop their rates in order to get work and “beat out the other guy” chasing the same opportunity.  While this may be helpful for companies it does trigger a new and perhaps undesirable behaviour working against the companies ultimate objectives.  Companies still want quality; in fact when it comes to contractors they want even higher quality than in the past.  Companies and their hiring managers are being asked to stretch their capital dollars (which they now have less of) even further – get more done with less. Looking to bring on great contractors who can do great things with less capital money.  It’s a fair request and reasonable given the times.

BUT here is the undesirable part, hiring managers are extremely tempted by low priced contractors and when there are so many low priced contractors available it is tempting to start excluding higher cost contractors from being assessed or interviewed.  So what can happen is that managers may hire cheap, while maintaining rich expectations in terms of contractor performance and end up disappointed.

What’s to be done?

Please understand I am not encouraging higher contractor rates in this market.  Far be it, I believe in the laws of supply and demand. I just do not want them to blur our eyesight while we seek quality people.

As a hiring manager all I am suggesting is that you are aware that the lowest cost may or may not provide the best result.  Managers must 1) understand what they need to be successful, 2) they must ensure they are being understood by the talent firm and the potential candidates on what they need, and 3) they must comprehensively assess if this person (whether low cost or not) can accomplish what they want.



Performance Pay – A Slippery Slope or a Silver Bullet

A question for you – how can a firm that charges time and materials incorporate a performance/risk pay element into their fee structure? There has been some discussion about this recently in the industry.


Typically, firms provide contractor services to customers on a time and material basis. If the firm’s contractor missed delivery, the firm still got paid and the customer assumed all the risk.


Now what about a scenario where the customer paid only a portion of the regular time and material fee and the remainder would be held back until the agreed to metrics were achieved. In this scenario, if a firm’s contractor missed delivery they would not get paid the hold back therefore both firm and customer assume the risk.


Is this a good idea? Will it lead to better outcomes? What are the pros and cons?


My biggest concern with a performance pay scenario is the potential for unintended perverse behaviour. I have studied the literature on incentives and there is a great new book, which my colleague shared with me called “Drive” that is relevant to this topic. Influencing motivation in a strategic, targeted manner isn’t easily done. Here is an overly simplified example of how it can go wrong. A firm arranges a 30% rate hold back with the customer and agrees that it will be paid if the project schedule is achieved. With this incentive in place the firm’s contractor will be motivated to achieve the schedule in ways that may not be in the customer’s best interest. Imagine if during the assignment new benefits emerge that are in the best interest of the customer to deviate from the original emphasis on the schedule. This could be adding scope to the project, stopping the project, delaying the project, moving the contractor to a more important project, etc., yet they choose not to examine these factors due to the binding schedule.


I argue we should give up on a performance pay scenario; it’s too complicated, has heighten risks and defining perfect metrics is almost impossible. It will not yield the right behaviour on a project and could even trigger the wrong behaviour. If a customer is seeking out ways to improve the probability of success and reducing risk on an assignment here is a different solution. Select a better firm and forget the body shops. Make use of a firm like Taleo, which has a proven methodology that leads to better outcomes. Taleo’s approach involves constant communication and support to our contractors by seasoned, senior project advisors. We have developed this practice through years of experience delivering on thousands of assignments. Best of all, these practices are part of how we do our work everyday; you don’t have to pay extra or offer a hold back structure to receive this service.  In this way you get the benefit of a proven methodology, reduced risk, and better outcomes without the need for a complicated performance pay structure.


Have some ideas on performance based pay structures between firms and customers? Please share with me at

Growth in a Downturn

Sadly, our local economy continues to struggle and recently a number of companies have reported more downsizing. In Calgary this month, City’s housing starts are down 53% and our unemployment rate is up to 6.6%. The worst rates we had seen in recent years, was a peak at 7.7% unemployment in June 2010.

I am happy to report despite the prevailing circumstances, that Taleo has grown 21% since March 2015.

This is due to new clients joining our portfolio and an increase in demand from our existing client base. The right marketing pitch at this point could say “how we are the best and do it better than our competition”. However to be specific I know the majority of this growth is due to the amazing team of consultants and business staff, who continue to take the absolute best care of our existing and new customers. During a period when there is even greater scrutiny of consultants, their quality, and the tangible value they bring to a client, Taleo has expanded. Through commitment, diligence and service focus, our team continues to succeed, we are being asked to provide more services and the value add success is triggering new word of mouth referrals.

A big thank you to the Taleo team for making this happen!

Golf Tournament 2015


Golf 2015

Alberta’s Uncertain Times

With the price of oil hitting a 6 year low the economic health of Calgary in 2015 is in question. From our perspective, it seems that upstream oil and oil services market are being hit harder than other areas.  The midstream business remains quite busy with new projects kicking off and existing projects ramping up.
What does this mean for the Taleo team? Fortunately we have a diverse clientele outside of our oil and gas business. The utility business is going strong, Government has a number new initiatives for 2015 and we are continuing to foster new relationships in various industries outside of Oil and Gas.  As result of this focus, our business has been growing in the last 8 weeks.
There are many analysts stating that oil prices will remain low for the entire year and others suggest the price will rebound this spring.  All speculative of course.  Based on our experience during the last economic slow down in Calgary, and suppressed oil prices, we expect to see a “flight to quality” scenario repeat itself.  In this scenario where companies do reduce the volume of capital expenditures there is an increased expectation to accomplish more with less.  In these times, hiring managers become even more selective regarding consultants.  They seek out quality, they shun mediocre, they want results.  Taleo has always been associated with these values and our team of consultants represents these values to the highest degree. We have the best people in the industry and our clients know this.  It is is our belief that our consultants are well positioned to move successfully through this down turn.
In our well attended PMO town hall this week, my closing words were: “Given our uncertain times at the start of 2015 I suggest you consider three goals this year, 1) focus on your health 2) make sure the ones you love know that you love them and 3) don’t spend too much.

Who’s the owner of your PMO?

On January 26th at 1145am, PMI SAC continues its lunch hour event called the IT PMO Townhall. The meeting will encourage structured, open discussion on topics relating to IT PMOs. A panel of local IT PMO leaders and senior project managers will engage with the audience to address questions, exchange ideas and debate opinions on specific topics. The meeting is open to anyone to attend and is intended to encourage idea exchange and professional networking.

PMO Townhall – Project Portfolio Management

Anyone who works in or with a Project Management Office will have heard of or experienced PPM. The processes, governance and tools associated with PPM practices are commonplace in the majority of mature organizations and their PMOs. In this session we will be exploring the drivers for PPM and the expected benefits of investing time and money into the practice. We will also discuss approaches used to define selection criteria for a PPM tool and practice, what a PPM solution looks like, tactics and challenges in implementing and adopting PPM and expected ROI of these investments.

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