The end of the year arrives quickly, making it all too easy to forge ahead from one year to the next without a pause to reflect on the accomplishments of the prior year. Looking back, the end of 2017 was a blur for me as we quickly grew to 22 people here at Foster Made and leapfrogged from 3 to 5 kids at home with the addition of twins in late September.
At Foster Made, we've already hit the ground running into the new year, but we still want to take a moment to express our gratitude and bid a proper farewell to the year two thousand seventeen. So, for our own collective remembrance and anyone who missed anything, here’s what went down.
If there’s anything we’ve learned from 12 years of business, it’s that you can't be complacent and wallow in your successes, change is coming whether you prepare for it or not. This seems particularly true when working within the field of technology. Growth and evolution are par for the course, industry pace is blistering, and the pursuit of lasting success is not for the faint of heart.
That said, we spend quite a bit of time thinking and planning for how we grow and evolve, and last year was no exception. Finding ourselves at a critical juncture, we realized we needed to do some organizational restructuring to reinforce and strengthen our growing services. The demands of our work require varying and sometimes unique ways of thinking, so in an effort to embrace those differences we reorganized the company internally to reflect our core offerings.
We now have distinct teams focused on application development, CMS development, and user experience research and design. This separation into teams allows us to create nuanced processes that are unique to each discipline while still aligning with company-wide processes. Our real aim is to provide more of a support structure for each team, develop and advance specific skill sets, and establish more efficient channels of communication internally. We're now 6 months into the transition and the new team-based structure is paying dividends across the board.
2017 was a great year for our team and our clients. A few of the highlights include:
We partnered with VSA Partners and the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), a client of 6 years, to plan, develop, and launch a major website redesign for their ~80,000 members. The project was a great opportunity for our internal teams to pool their talents, delivering a major overhaul to the main website, a Progressive Web Application, an Enterprise Search Solution on ElasticSearch, and quite a bit more.
We partnered with the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) to design and develop a custom database application for tracking death row data and led the organization through a research-based information architecture and design overhaul for their website. The new website and application are set to launch in spring of 2018.
We partnered with the American Galvanizers Association, another long-term client, to refresh and re-platform their website. The project includes a marketing automation implementation using Delivra and a deep CRM integration with Salesforce. Like DPIC, the new website and application are set to launch in spring of 2018.
We believe that our work is a reflection of the combined talents and experiences of our individual team members, so it’s always exciting to welcome new people to the team. Last year was no exception as Adrian, Yannick, and Leo all joined the team. At the end of last year we also made plans to roll Jill, Senior Project Manager, and Garrett, acting Director of Technology, onto the team, and both have started within the past month.
Another thing I’m particularly excited about is that more folks are taking on leadership roles as we introduced new Director positions and designated “Team Leads” towards the end of last year. The influx of amazing talent and the elevation of team leads and directors has me feeling a bit like Mario with a Super Leaf. We're better positioned than ever to deliver excellent results to our clients. That is a win in my book.
Amidst the projects, company changes, and new faces, it’s always been important that we take some time to have fun together and bond. After polling the team, here are some of the 2017 favorites:
If you've followed us for any amount of time or have stopped by our office, then you know the importance of food around here. Food is so core to our identity that we built a full kitchen in our office and provide free food as a perk. We come together weekly to have a meal together and talk about our work and lives. Special shout-out of gratitude to Listwella for always keeping us well-fed.
Team movie outings are always a highlight and with the insane 2018 movie release lineup I'm already scheming to figure out what we'll see next.
We picked the best day of the year to take a whitewater rafting trip on the James River. The river was at its peak, so the water was moving with some serious pace. Getting of out of the office and clinging to rafts for dear life is a great way to bond with your office mates.
Every Thanksgiving we gather around the big table to share Roast & Toast notes with one another. I have the pleasure of reading the notes to the team each year. We've had some good times and laughs. To continue the holiday cheer, we had our annual holiday dinner party and gift exchange. A good time was had by all, and it even snowed for a few minutes.
Whatever it is that we do together, we always approach our team outings with our team member's families in mind and have maintained a policy of allowing our team members a +1 at company events. We spend so much of our lives at work, bringing our loved ones onto the team for a day when we're taking time to come up for air from work is critical to how we care for our employees.
I've never been more excited about the future of Foster Made. I'm grateful for all of the folks that have supported us for the last 12 years, and I'm looking forward to sharing the successes of 2018 with all of you at the end of the year. It will be here before we know it.