Soul searching for success

Indigo IT steps back and makes changes to fuel growth

In this difficult fiscal climate, it’s more important than ever to be dedicated to your client.

Indigo IT, a women-owned, small disadvantaged business that provides IT services to the federal government, learned this lesson firsthand.

The company was founded in 2001 by Rob Craig and Shane Van Wyngaardt, and began focusing solely on the federal sector when Denise Van Wyngaardt joined the company as managing member.

Now, the company offers a number of services including cloud consulting services, enterprise integration and information technology operations, information assurance and cybersecurity to its clients, including the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, DISA, the Homeland Security Department, the U.S. Air Force, and others.

The company employs around 50 people, and is poised to add 20 more by the end of fiscal 2013, and that’s thanks to some recent success with two contract awards from Customs and Border Protection; however, their success only came after a down period coupled with some soul searching.

“Doing a great job isn’t always enough,” said Indigo IT principal Shane Van Wyngaardt.

Sometimes, if you’re too close to the action, you can lose sight of the struggle that your customer is going through, and lately, that’s been the struggle to deliver the same results in a fiscally challenged environment, Van Wyngaardt said.

The company lost a few proposals, both as a prime contractor and as a subcontractor, and decided that it was time to ask some honest questions about who they were as an organization, what their goals were, and whether they could achieve those goals if they continued to operate the way that they were.

The answer was “no,” Van Wyngaardt said, “And that forced us to make a number of changes.” In order to get back on track, Indigo IT made three key changes that proved successful:

First off, the company decided to bring two of its three principals back into the daily management of the company, which was difficult because Van Wyngaardt and Rob Craig were engaged in projects that kept them out of the office.

“It was a difficult decision, but we have found that there is definitely a point of diminishing returns with regard to full-time billability of a company principal,” Van Wyngaardt said.

After this move, the company aligned each of its principals with whatever business function allowed them to capitalize on their strengths.

Another major change that the company made was a shift to focus on price competitiveness. “Once we knew where we needed to be, we aggressively made the changes necessary to reduce our corporate cost structure to allow us to be competitive,” Van Wyngaardt said.

Finally, Indigo IT adopted a less risk-adverse stance to the contracts that they would pursue.

“We will stick to opportunities that align with our core capabilities, but we are more willing to pursue opportunities where we have not completed exhaustive capture if we believe we understand the requirement, and can demonstrate a true value proposition at a competitive cost,” Van Wyngaardt said.

As they made these changes, there was still concern that Indigo IT might lose its corporate culture and their performance level. The company wondered how it might maintain its culture, even in the face of these key changes.

But that wasn’t all that hard, after all; employees want to be a part of a winning team, Van Wyngaardt said, and if you’re open and honest with them about the reasons why you want to make changes in the company, they’ll accept those changes, and they will deliver.

“With the right approach and the right attitude, you can be successful in this marketplace; it’s just about refocusing your efforts on how you go about it,” said Clayton Voss, Indigo IT capture manager.

“We’ve had a lot of success recently because we’ve been able to refocus our efforts on some core clients,” Voss added.

Indeed, the company just won two contracts with the Homeland Security Department’s Customs and Border Protection, one to provide patch and release management support services, and the other to provide automated export system mainframe support services.

The two contracts total $15 million, and it’s put the company back on a good track; in fact, the company is doing so well, that it expects to at least double its revenue this year, Van Wyngaardt said.

Going forward, the company is going to be focused on “not spreading ourselves too thin, not going after too many opportunities, and truly understanding the mission and culture of who we’re supporting.”

About the Author

Mark Hoover is a senior staff writer with Washington Technology. You can contact him at, or connect with him on Twitter at @mhooverWT.

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