Setting the record straight on the Crewing Solutions / SmartPref story.

After 16 years of development and having served ExpressJet airlines as the PBS for Phase 2 bidding for over 6 years, we have decided to cease operations.

We want to send out a HUGE thank you to the great, smart, fun, hard working people at ExpressJet with whom we had the pleasure of working with. You know who you are.

SmartPref still stands today as the finest PBS/line builder/crew scheduling application available, for all the reasons we have offered for the last 10 years.  Let me know when you find a better one..

Respect

Chris Boegner  knows more about crew scheduling and scheduling operations than anyone. He can code and solve any scheduling requirement you can throw at him. It is an honor to have worked with him.

Steve Jaros still understands crewmember bidding better than anyone alive. And gave his all to the get bidders the best PBS they will ever use.

Alyssa Retodo is still the best Web Engineer a PBS ever saw.

Clarifications

  • Crewing Solutions did not go Bankrupt.

We had steady income. We closed shop with money in the bank.

  • We were not owned by a video company

Yes, we were a very small bootstrapped development team.  Yes a “Video Production Company” was a minority member of the LLC. But this one has revenues in the millions annually, and has four highly skilled developers that built that Video Company’s product; one of the leading Live Webcasting applications out there. (Read complex, high level coding). So that programming support relationship was a perfect one.

No matter who had a minority interest, we were built on the shoulders of Christian Boegner. The man that knows more about crew bidding and all sides of that equation and its requirements than any person alive. Oh, and he invented PBS, or what they used to call in the 1970’s, the computerized crew scheduling concept.

We did lots of damned hard work by some completely committed people. We put out the absolute finest PBS ever devised. And none out there today matches it.

A PBS story

Imagine, dream even…that you were a small enthusiastic company that was willing to work as hard as necessary to get what we’ll call your “application” accepted by customers in one of the industries that is the absolute slowest to adopt change. Adversarial relationships between management and workforce are the norm. Carrots are dangled and pulled away and promises made then forgotten daily.

But hey, you truly cared that your customers liked using your program and would benefit from using it, both personally and financially. So you were willing to show it to everyone involved and train on it for free so they could understand,

Now, you also accept the fact that you had to deal with long term labor contracts that preclude potential customers from using your product until the terms expire, or until 1000’s of cats were herded in order to vote en masse on something that they were often not allowed to see or fully understand. And that your product had to be valuable and useful to both  opposing sides of a war room. Yet your product was so unique that it straddled that line successfully. Something no other PBS can do

Imagine also if you will, that you were fully up to that challenge. And that because you built your application to be the simplest to implement, and yet the most powerful, flexible and fair program of its kind,  you were willing to spend the next three years working closely with a certain interested company to develop the features needed to suit their particular work rules and contract requirements. You see that these rules are so unusual and difficult to solve that no other vendor responded to requests to provide the solution. These rules are so illogical that the current process the group created themselves, fails every month to meet their own requirements.

Yet with Chris’s  programming and operation knowledge, Steve’s understanding of how bidding and rules and regs work, and Alyssa’s coding skills, you do in fact solve these problems.

Proudly, you release the updated application, demo it and solve every rule and requirement. Again rules and requirements nobody else has solved. A deal seems in the offing and you propose the methodology for an implementation that you have scoped and scheduled.

Ahh… but wait..new roadblocks are invented. New “requirements”. There are the failures to provide the specific data and parameters needed to complete the tasks. But you charge on! You work your tails off to develop what you need yourself, from info you find in the company’s data.

You iterate, meet goals and specs. You host it, install it in their system and run full-blown 3-month company wide tests which meets ALL specified criteria, even the new ones. You get validation in writing, The tests demonstrate that the application creates better results for both sides of that war room table than what is in place, in 1/3rd the time. Using fewer people and less internal IT resources. With total awareness of results for the users.

The bidders see superior results and enjoy the process and the schedules they receive. Everything about the test proves your app is better than any other options that were considered.

You feel like everything has been proven.

Your daydream slowly evolves into a nightmare as you spend 3 years creating this custom version, modifying the logic and interfaces.

All that’s left is for your customer to create the operational parameters that both sides agree to in order to get a buy-in to implement your application. This never happens.

Wait, wait, wait.

Finally your phone calls go unanswered. Emails don’t get a reply. No contact…Hmm.. Could it be that someone doesn’t want this application implemented? Because it let’s the bidders get what they want?. Even if it makes the company more profitable too?

Now you are deep into what can be called a nightmare. You have provided more good will (FREE) work than any other vendor would or did.

You finally acknowledge what you felt was the real situation. That your application and the disruption it would cause to the company’s culture, is being used as a fulcrum (or was it a carrot) between the two parties involved in the final decision.

The Dream Ends

You lose respect for certain parties. You decide you don’t want to be used as a pawn in a corporate chess game. You have done all you could, and as a small company you’ve let other opportunities slip by while you focused on one potentially rewarding and actually challenging carrot. You really thought you could improve some peoples work/lives.

Unfortunately you have one super customer that you love working for.  One that was with you from the beginning. They will suffer from the decision, but as a team, you decide you will move on in life and you hang up the CLOSED sign.

Know this. The money didn’t run out. The ## got too deep.

If you are interested in making a run at it with SmartPref PBS, lemme know.