For 20 years, Seattle-based Redapt has provided clients with data center infrastructure, advanced cloud engineering, and application development services. Today, the company is growing rapidly and has $200 million in revenue.

To satisfy its customers, Redapt has numerous, highly complex projects in progress simultaneously.

In this video, COO David Cantu describes the company's project management process and how they deliver on-time and within budget.

Managing Complex Data Center Projects at Redapt

Michael:

(01:37) Hello, I am Michael Krigsman and I am speaking with Dave Cantu, who is the co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of Redapt which is a system integrator. Dave how are you?

Dave:

(01:53) I’m doing great thanks for having me.

Michael:

(01:55) So Dave tell us about Redapt.

Dave:

(01:58) Well Redapt is a we’re founded in 1996 as a reseller of data center infrastructure. So you know, if you can imagine since 1996 the pace of innovation, and change, and technology has been pretty astounding and we’ve managed to keep pace with that. And so today our offerings include cloud engineering services and then the bulk of our business is actually systems integration services.

(02:23) I kind of describe us as the company behind the company. There’s a number of cloud providers, software service providers and people that are doing mobile apps at a global scale, and we’re the company that’s putting all of the infrastructure together and putting it in data centers across the world.

Michael:

(02:42) So these are complex projects aren’t they?          

Dave:

(02:46) Yes, they are extremely complex projects. There’s a number of moving parts. Our team handles the project management, keeps our customer up to date on the overall status. They have to continually work with vendors on lead times which impacts our ability to go into production. And then we also manage obviously the facility. They have unique power requirements and when you’re deploying at scale those facilities get pretty large.

(03:17) In addition we have to manage kind of on-demand labor to do the physical work, the cabling. And then we have built our own automation platform, which configures each system very rapidly and obviously more accurately than humans can do.

(03:36) And then you know, aside from that we’re actually replacing failed parts at our facility so again we’re dealing with the OEMs and processing RMAs. And finally we handle the global delivery logistics.

(03:49) So if you can imagine you know, a single customer you know purchasing.

(03:54) You know this year we’re going to do about $500 million in business and about $450 million of that is infrastructure. So it’s a lot of things to swallow, you can’t have it all land at the same time or we’d be buried in infrastructure so it takes a lot of planning.

Michael:

(04:09) So you have multiple work streams and multiple chains of activities going on simultaneously.            

Dave:

(04:19) Yeah at any point in time we’re probably, you know right now we have you know, over $100 million of projects that we’re executing against, so there’s a number of projects in that integration center services, and it’s actually engineering services, where we’re doing application development or migration. So on one side of the house its very process and manufacturing orientated. And then on the other side of the house it’s actually very consultative in nature.

Michael:         

(04:50) So it’s really two different business models in a sense as well under one roof.

Dave:

(04:54) Absolutely.

Michael:         

(04:56) All right so how do you manage these projects?

Dave:

(05:01) So we manage all of these projects with you know your typical - your project management kind of PMO, right a Project Management Office, and this group of managers, we leverage a product called Liquid Planner, which we put all of our projects into that can be integration center projects, engineering services projects, our internal projects, right we have internal initiatives and things and we like to manage through the same process.

(05:30) So the project manager is essentially the quarterback, and then for larger you know, for kind of our largest and more critical projects we actually assign a team and each one of those team members has a role within the project.

Michael:         

(05:44) And what are some of the complexities or challenges that you face when you’re managing this type of complicated environment?

Dave:

(05:53) Well you know I think the complexities really arises from what our primary goal is. And our primary goal is you know really exceeding our customers you know expectations of delivery times and quality, and then making sure things are done right.

(06:11) So you know starting from that, that means we have to manage our vendors that we’ve got to do, you know we’ve got to have very tight control of you know, our change orders an all of the things that happen throughout a project. And then making sure that we’re communicating that good news, and sometimes you know not great news back to our clients and being transparent about blocking issues and things that are impacting our ability to deliver.

Michael:         

(06:38) Let’s close out with advice that you might have for other people who are trying to manage in complex environments. What do you do to make it work right in the end?

Dave:

(06:53) Well you know in the end it’s really about the team and the people that you have in place and establishing you know, very very good and tight communication. You know, Liquid Planner is a great tool for us and we use a few other communication tools. But you know it really all boils down to the people. You can have the greatest tool on earth but if you don’t have people that are proficient in project management, good in communication skills it really doesn’t matter what’s underneath.

Michael:         

(07:23) So communication across the team and the various participants in the project is a key factor?

Dave:

(07:30) I would absolutely say that and you know, I our case it’s communication within our team. It’s communication with our clients, and communication with our partners and we’re kind of in the middle of all that. So it just takes very very strong communication skills and common sense.

Michael:

(07:48) Fantastic. Dave thank you for spending the time with us.          

Dave:

(07:52) Yeah, thank you for having me, appreciate it.

Michael:         

(07:54) So we’ve been talking with Dave Cantu, who is the co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of Redapt, and he has shared some lessons on managing very complex projects and environments. thanks so much Dave have a great day.