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It's All About the Process

( February 26, 2003 )

by Karel Sovak
Minot Daily News

It is said that all great leaders focus on the challenge.

When Probix, Inc. was in need of a testing center for its application processes, Dan Albertson knew a solution. Since February 2001, when Albertson Consulting opened its doors for business, the solutions have been many and the challenges have been met with success.

Dan Albertson and Mike Blessum
Dan Albertson, president of Albertson Consulting, and Mike Blessum (foreground), senior project manager for Albertson Consulting, review a newly developed web site. Albertson has increased his product line offering to enhance the core value of their services, including web site development and hosting.
Albertson Consulting, Inc., is a Value Added Reseller, providing full service Software Engineering and consulting that utilize a number of partnerships to arrive at the solutions that businesses need to increase efficiency or enhance their bottom line.

The business is located at 13-1st Avenue SW. It can also be found at Albertson said each solution is as unique as the business AC serves.

When the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction was in need of bringing its nutrition program, which manages food services through the USDA, online, Albertson had the solution.

“There were five developers and project managers working on that for a year,” Albertson said. “The point of the project was to create an online commodity distribution system for all the schools and child care facilities throughout the state. Before this was implemented, there was faxing of the orders and it was more of a supply driven system. Now, it’s a demand driven service. The clients choose their products based on their allocation and order directly from the USDA, the commodities are delivered to a warehouse in Fargo and then delivered. It is so much more efficient and this is a prime example of the projects that we are good at doing.”

Mike Blessum, senior project manager for AC, said it was his prior contacts with the DPI, in particular Kathryn Grafsgaard, director at DPI, that helped pave the way. Grafsgaard was impressed with the way AC handled Phase II of the project, and that helped them secure the service contract with DPI.

“Once the contact was made, we built a prototype for them, which is really not done in the IT world,” Blessum said. “Most companies show you what will be done on paper and if there are changes, there is more cost. They (DPI) liked the fact that we were in Minot and wanted to keep the dollars in the state. We worked with numerous end users to ensure the program was what was needed. They (DPI) were willing to give us the opportunity and got an excellent value for the state of North Dakota. That’s what mattered to Kathy.”

Blessum said the partnerships are helping with the overall business processes of the clients they currently serve. He added that each element AC is able to add helps to increase the value the clients receive.

“We’re really rounding out the overall offering to our clients,” Blessum said. “Sometimes, clients need more than just off-the-shelf, especially during these times, where companies are price sensitive. We’re really into business consulting, helping our clients better understand what they need. Sometimes, that may simply be helping them in vendor selection. We like to help them down the right path.”

Albertson said the relationships his company have built with industry leaders such as Microsoft Great Plains, Probix, and TimeCentre, along with their recent acquisition of Premiere Pages for web site development, are the keys to the future success and growth of his company.

“Premiere Pages was acquired so we could start reaching local businesses,” Albertson said. “It has turned out to be a really good thing for us. We have some good sites we’ve been a part of in the past six months, and we are looking to expand with about another 70 sites.”

Premiere Pages offers complete web development and hosting and Albertson said client collaboration is a critical part of the process.

He noted the new sites of Clute Office Equipment, Investors Management & Marketing (IMM), Twin Oaks in Bottineau, and the First District Health Unit are examples of the product and service Albertson and each client has created.

Barry Clute, president of Clute Office Equipment, said it was Premiere Pages allowing his company to be involved in the process that helped give Clute a better sense of ownership to their site.

“Right from the beginning, we had full control,” Clute said. “We were confident they (Premiere Pages) could do a good job for us and they guided us through the process and were very helpful through it all. They stuck with us – if we didn’t like something they would change it and we have had very good, positive comments about the site. We’re very pleased in our choice.”

The site can be viewed at

Another new element added to the AC mix is TimeCentre, a time and attendance solution system for small to mid-sized businesses. Albertson said the system is being looked at by call centers and other businesses that need accurate tracking and employee management.

“We’re actually using this internally and it is being used by another North Dakota company,” Albertson said. “It’s a really good time and attendance package which can be used to include school lunch data, facility access control, and web-based services for small businesses as well.”

However, a gleam comes to his eye when Albertson talks about the latest addition to the AC portfolio of product and service lines. Image Armor, a joint venture between Probix and AC, will provide a “virtually transparent Digital Rights Management Solution for artists and photographers.”

“There were artists and others that were looking for a venue to protect their works from being stolen from the web and used on other sites,” Albertson said. “We are partnering with the United States Post Office to issue a digital stamp, which essentially copyrights and protects the works of art. We do the hosting and the security and now museums, artists, photographers, even those with valuable hunting and fishing maps, can protect their image on the Internet. There were a lot of people who were reluctant to show their works without this protection. It’s basically like sending a letter to yourself.”

Albertson sees a vast market for such technology and feels that this could lead to more showcasing of works by a wide variety of individuals and companies. Albertson feels the technology is a nice fit for the automotive, health care, and financial markets as well.

“We’re using this as a showcase for the products in and of itself,” Albertson said. “This is what can be done and is being developed and sold. Custom application is offered and in some cases is the best choice, but sometimes there are needs for quick implementation rather than development.”

Albertson said the core value of offering solutions to businesses will continue to be enhanced by future partnerships. He noted that each is an extension of their already existing quality line of services, such as warehouse management and inventory control and e-commerce and payment processing.

“Those services were the foundation of this company,” Albertson said. “In this industry, we experience the ups and downs of the economy like everyone else. That’s the nature of our business, but it’s how you work through those fluctuations.”

Albertson emphasized that the additional offerings are not a move away from their business consulting services by any means.

“We are still a technology solution company,” Albertson said. “Every one of our projects has the basis of business consulting – gathering the wants and the wishes and getting feedback from the client. It all starts with business consulting and that will always remain our core value. It’s all about establishing and maintaining a line of communication with our clients.”

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Albertson Consulting, Inc.