SNA Software Achieves 15 Years in Business
This week marks SNA Software’s 15th year from its incorporation. In noting this milestone, SNA’s CEO, Nicholas Pisano, released the following statement to the employees of the company and its customers.
Today marks the day from 15 years ago that we incorporated and conceived of SNA Software. Our origin story is much like those heralded by other technology companies: that we had a good deal of experience working in the project management discipline, but had a different vision than that pursued by a market that became dominated by one voracious company that bought—and continued to buy up—smaller companies. So, we struck out on our own in a market dominated not just by a dominant competitor but one with other market players—small niche software companies and consulting firms–aligned with them. Our first headquarters reflected this reality and has marked our approach since then. It was a small guest house in Albuquerque, New Mexico and our model was as a virtual geographically dispersed company.
Our goal was and is a deceptively simple one: to use technology to capture and harness data from the entire breadth and depth of the operational project lifecycle in a rapid manner, and to visualize and analyze that data to make it comprehensible and of practical utility to decision makers. Our creed, which remains to this day, was to achieve our goal through a cohesive and unitary solution under the concept of open systems that offered maximum flexibility, options, and control to the customer, the subject matter expert, and the daily user. It was to “Put the SME back into the driver’s seat” as we first said, and to allow our customers to “Own the Data.”
The ultimate goal was to introduce a more expansive definition of data integration as applied to business and government project management. Needless to say, this approach is against the business school dictum that one can sell a product or a new idea, but not both simultaneously. We decided to challenge that assumption and have succeeded in spite of it.
Our numbers began with two, and shortly thereafter expanded to three. We were approached by other firms—both international and domestic—that offered new types of middleware and new technologies that we could leverage to achieve our goals. From Day One we have been highly focused on research and development, and the exploration of new practical solutions that can be incorporated into our vision. This discipline has continued to this day. The mix of products and partners evolved over time, with some of these falling out, either through a mismatch of vision or inadequate commitment borne of greed and ego. But, despite the normal vicissitudes of business, we soon were four with a growing customer base.
Our company first found entry into oil and gas, where we applied rigorous real-time project management across multiple disciplines, and where performance was assessed in the most rigorous environments on a daily basis. This success was the proof of concept of our vision, made successful under fire. Other customers followed until SNA, encouraged by government and industry leaders, pivoted back to its core competency of project management in the public interest.
American business at its microeconomic level reflects the state of our societal processes and intercourse. Thus, everything in human nature is encountered there: both the best and the worst of us, everything learned from our crude evolution to our aspirations. Joseph Conrad wrote, in referring to the human mind, that it is “capable of anything because everything is in it, all the past as well as all the future.”
The few either lucky enough or ruthless enough to land at the top or near it cannot fathom a manner of behavior other than what they used to get there. They assume that all of human nature is the same as their own—or should be. Many feel—and I can confirm this from personal experience in dealing with them—that this entitles them to dictate the rules under the creed of the alternative Golden Rule: those who have the gold make the rules.
It is this idea that we seek to disrupt with a different one—the same disruptive idea that has animated people from the Sermon on the Mount to the Declaration of Independence to the Gettysburg Address and to the Declaration of Human Rights. From Huckleberry Finn to The Great Gatsby to The Grapes of Wrath to Invisible Man to American Pastoral. These were never just words. They are a call to action because all action, as Steinbeck reminded us in his Nobel speech, is presaged by words, which carry great responsibility and, if we get it right, wisdom. “In the end is the word and the word is man, and the word is with man.”
As CEO and founder of SNA, I have been influenced and animated by these words. It is what caused my enlistment in the U.S. Navy at a time when such an action was unpopular in American society, a career which I continued for almost 23 years, rising from an enlisted man to a senior commissioned officer. They have propelled my continued pursuit of these vocations that seem to have chosen me. Agency, autonomy, respect, human dignity, honesty, ethics, responsibility, dedication, accountability are what guide me and this company. SNA is an information company. Our focus is on information and knowledge, its ethical and effective use. As such, we are dedicated to the project of empiricism and American pragmatism.
Thus, this brings me to what are and continue to be of utmost importance in our commitment: to the entity of SNA Software, its employees, and its customers. Today, we are a somewhat larger and more successful company in terms of revenue and employees, with many large established customers but, still we are very small.
We—the leadership in SNA—aren’t made up of billionaires or multi-millionaires, but we do live comfortably American lives. Our commitment is to continue to make SNA relevant and vibrant—a good and rewarding place to work. We defend it and its mission fiercely like our homes, maintain it, and make it a point of pride.
As to our employees, Lincoln once wrote in an address to Congress, that “Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed.” I have witnessed this truism in action. SNA hires talented people who teach me every day. Our employees—their commitment and professionalism—are what define this company and I cannot thank you enough. In business, we show our appreciation through good and fair compensation—and our employees share in our good fortune. But it is also just as important to recognize their contributions and commitment to SNA and its customers, for which they have acquitted themselves honorably.
Finally, I would like to express my appreciation to our customers. Our commitment to your success remains our top priority. Though no longer in the Service, for our government customers my commitment to the public good through SNA remains as strong as when I wore a uniform. SNA employees embody that commitment in supporting both private industry and public agencies, and I thank you for your confidence in us.