BVSG's hardware includes IBM SP mainframes, RS/6000 AIX systems, Sun workstations and 400 servers from Sun, HP, and Compaq. Alan Richardson, VP, Client Services, emphasizes the company's focus on high availability database servers, "Several of our locations have dual processors and triple-mirrored hard drives." Programming is typically in C or C++, although most other languages are supported for both internal projects and client work, including Visual Basic, XML, Java, and web-based and e-commerce development tools.

Additional software used includes databases like Oracle, Informix, and Ingres, as well as systems software like IBM's Tivoli and Computer Associates' tools. Additional packages include vendor-specific applications software, such as Oracle Financials, Oracle Project, and PeopleSoft. Naturally, the company also uses engineering drawing and document management software, including AutoCAD, Documentum, and FileNet.

BVSG's communications infrastructure reveals its devotion to tight communications with its worldwide clientele. It has a dedicated circuit Wide Area Network (WAN) that is a frame relay, ISDN network and a Virtual Private Network (VPN) using TCP/IP. Communications equipment includes that from Cisco, as well as satellite communications for coordinating with remote project sites. Its Metro Area Network (MAN) combines wireless, infrared, RF, and satellite technologies. BVSG has 9,000 PCs, including 1,000 print and file servers. Five thousand of these are at corporate headquarters, the rest disbursed worldwide.

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BVSG offices are in a suburban setting. Dress is business casual. Core hours are from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM. A 40-hour workweek is standard. Overtime is rare, but is paid. Flextime, telecommuting, and part-time work are all options. Travel requirements vary, with most staff, including client services, traveling about five percent of the time and managers 20 percent.

Benefits include Preferred Provider (PPO) and Health Maintenance (HMO) options. The company pays for life insurance, business travel accident, and short-term disability. The company also contributes to a profit-sharing plan, in which contributions are used to purchase company stock and employees are fully vested after seven years. The company observes 8 1/2 holidays, including a floating holiday, and offers two weeks of vacation to start, increasing to four weeks after 14 years. There is a tuition reimbursement program; eligible employees receive a 100-percent tuition and books reimbursement for graduate courses. There has never been a layoff at BVSG.

Company-sponsored teams for softball, basketball, hockey, soccer, bowling, tennis, skeet shooting, and golf are available, as well as discounts on professional sports and performing arts events. Company-based teams participate in community activities for the United Way, Bloodmobile, Christmas in October, and other volunteer programs. Social activities include a winter holiday event and a summer picnic.

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BV Solutions Group was the Information Technology (IT) arm of Black & Veatch until it became an independent business unit in 1999. Since the 1980s, the organization has been providing IT support, and, in 1989, began soliciting work from outside the organization. Its staff grew to more than 200 by 1997, as it completed projects for General Electric and the Taiwan Power Company. The company's client list reflects the variety of industries it serves: Cablevision, Sprint, Time Warner, Williams Communications, Caterpillar, General Motors, Hallmark Cards, Merck, Southern Company, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and Child Health Corporation of America.

Black and Veatch is a private $2.15B engineering and construction firm with more than 8,000 professionals, based in Kansas City, Missouri. E.B. Black and N. T. Veatch founded the company in 1915. Management's adherence to the founders' standards of excellence continues to this day. Black & Veatch is one of the largest and most diversified engineering and construction firms in the world. It has completed more than 35,000 projects for some 6,500 clients in the areas of information technology, power, infrastructure, petrochemical, telecommunications, and high-tech facilities.

Its roots as an information technology provider can perhaps be traced to an engineer's love of detail and organization. Twenty years ago, Black & Veatch took a chance and allocated $30 million for the development of a computer automated power plant design and project management system. POWRTRAK redefined the approach to engineering, helping to reduce costs, shorten schedules, and improve quality by creating a set of common codes to identify categories of equipment such as pipes, valves, and fittings to replace the patchwork then in place in which suppliers each used their own codes and part numbers. Today, the POWRTRAK interdisciplinary system continues to ensure the integrity of data and documents through a single-entry database and structured document management approach.

BVSG, formed as a separate company in 1999, is the largest IT services provider in the Midwest, emphasizing its proprietary engineering approach as a competitive edge over competitors such as Andersen Consulting and EDS. In an industry where more than 85 percent of IT projects reportedly fail or are abandoned, a strict project methodology can be key in successful projects. Says Vaughan, "We follow a systematic, repeatable process to define the scope and establish the objectives for each project." This disciplined approach not only facilitates seamless execution, it scales with the exponential growth in the complexity of IT projects. As a result, BVSG's projects are completed on spec, on budget, and on schedule.

BVSG applies this disciplined engineering approach to projects ranging from communications to e-business and knowledge management. Communications solutions it implements include LAN/MAN/WAN networking and Wireless Application Protocol (WAP). BVSG builds networks that align technology, strategies, processes, and people with suppliers and customers in areas of fault management and root cause analysis, configuration management, performance management, asset management, and security. BVSG also integrates e-business systems into clients' existing infrastructure and develops new secure, scalable, extensible systems. BVSG projects have included development of a business strategy, business needs definition, site design, and technology selection and implementation for call centers, billing, outage management, messaging solutions, relocations, and disaster recovery applications. Knowledge management projects range from data warehousing to data mining, electronic document management, and decision support systems.

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Four hundred eighty of BVSG's staff is at corporate headquarters in Kansas City. Technical staff members have an average of six years of experience and a Bachelor's degree. Explains Vaughan, "We don't look for years of experience [in a critical skill] because it is changing so fast. We do look for functional experience, like workflow and document management, and domain experience in our target industries, including telecommunications, utilities, finance, and health care." Vaughn continues, "We look for utility players who can go into our specialized markets, like outsourcing, e-commerce, and telecommunications. We have 230 developers." Specific experience with client software, such as Oracle and PeopleSoft can be very helpful. Job titles follow the Mercer code standard: Programmer 1-3, Programmer Analyst, Business Analyst, and executive management. There are dual technical and management career paths.

BVSG does hire entry-level professionals. A four-year college degree is preferred, but a two-year technical degree is also accepted. Technical staff members are organized in a project matrix style. Teamwork, the ability to plan and organize, and collaboration skills are key traits.

The company hired 170 technical professionals in the last year, of which 50 to 60 were for entry-level positions. They expect to hire 230 in the next year. Entry-level candidates are found through local technical schools and universities. Experienced candidates are found through job fairs, online recruiting (, and employee referrals (there is a bonus). Turnover is 11 percent.

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Job Title





Software Analyst 5 BS+ CS 2-3 years Oracle, SQL Server, UNIX, NT, ETT/ ETL, OLAP, data mining Overland Park, Kansas
Software Analyst 4 BS CS 3-5 years EJB, J2EE, SCP, Java Servlets, Web Logic, Oracle, iAS, Websphere, Documentum, Lotus Notes, Domino.doc Overland Park, Kansas
Software Analyst 4 BS CS 3-5 years Data warehousing, storage, system performance, security, MS Project, Primavera3 Detroit, Michigan
Microcomputer Specialist 2 HS or equivalent, A+ certification 1-2 years Novell 4.3, NT server, Maestro NFS Raleigh, North Carolina
Applications Support Specialist 3 HDA certification   Cs, laptops, MS Office, NT Workstation, Win95 Overland Park, Kansas
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  • Computerworld, "Construction Firm Builds on 'Tech Prowess,'" January 31, 2000
  • Computerworld, "Cultivating the IT Staff," May 8, 2000
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