Please Welcome Our New Employee Andrew Bernard!

Andrew Bernard has joined the BIT Help Desk Team as a Computer Support Associate.  Andrew is a native South Dakotan, born in Yankton and raised in Jefferson. Although Andrew has recently moved to Pierre, Pierre is not an unfamiliar area for him. …

A New Scam You Need To Be Aware Of

A new scam is circulating in South Dakota that you need to be aware of.

Callers identifying themselves as court staff from the Clerk of Court office are telling individuals that there was a judgement against them and have been attempting to collect money from the individuals. In one instance, the victim contacted the clerk to confirm information and was informed the information was false.

If you encounter a similar situation please be aware that if there is a civil judgement against you, UJS does not contact people in this manner. If you provided the caller with any financial information, please contact the Division of Consumer Protection:

Division of Consumer Protection
1302 E Hwy 14, Suite 3, Pierre SD 57501-8503
Phone: (605) 773-4400
Consumer Help Line: 1-800-300-1986 (South Dakota only)


Remember, when in doubt… Do NOT give out your personal information!

Loyal BIT Employees Braving The Harsh Weather To Cheer On Their NFL Teams!

Lately, a couple of BIT employees have had the opportunity to catch a few football games!

Barry Higginbotham attended the Giants vs Vikings game in Minneapolis on December 27th with his wife, Jackie.

Barry explained, “As a 25th anniversary gift to Jackie, we went to our first NFL game. She is a huge Giants fan. Due to weather we left for Minneapolis on Christmas Day. We spent all day Saturday at the Mall of America, which was only six blocks from the hotel. The pregame opening introductions were probably the best part with all the fanfare and fireworks. The game started with a temperature of 13 degrees and dipped below 11 by halftime. I am still in shock at how expensive the concessions were. Overall, it was a good trip even though the Giants lost. Jackie was extremely excited to attend an NFL game!”

Meanwhile, Linda Plett and Dino Brooks traveled all the way to the land of beer and cheese to catch the Packer vs Vikings game on January 3rd.

 Linda, a loyal Packer Backer, went with a few girlfriends. She explained that the long standing rivalry between the Packers and the Vikings made the experience all the more exciting. She said, “Just the experience of Lambeau Field is amazing and the fans are diehard fans.”

Dino on the other hand was rooting for the Vikings. On Friday night before the game Dino was surfing the internet, saw some tickets for sale, and had the brilliant idea to road trip to Green Bay and catch the game with a buddy. He explained, “I like to attend sporting events at all different venues. I am trying to attend a different stadium each year. Last year I went to Kansas City to watch a game. This year I had planned on going to Denver for a game, but it just never seemed to work out.”

When asked what the highlight of the game was, Dino replied “The whole experience was great, the road trip, tailgating in enemy territory, seeing all the scenery at Lambeau Field. Of course the icing on the cake was the Vikings pulled out the win!”

Christmas with Kaitlyn!

Kaitlyn has been busy the past few weeks! A trip to the Alps, Christmas in Munich, and New Years in Barcelona!

A week before Christmas, Kaitlyn and Ozzy went to see the Alps in Austria. They thought about hitting the slopes, but with only 2 inches of snow, they decided to just visit the top of the mountain.

For Christmas, the two went to spend some time with some of Ozzy’s family members in Munich. Unlike the American Tradition of Santa Claus coming down the chimney on Christmas Eve night, in Munich (at least the people Kaitlyn was with) celebrate it a little differently.

Kaitlyn explained, “The people we were with celebrated the angel, Christkindl. Christkindl arrives Christmas Eve night. Right before the angel arrives, the children are ushered out of the room. When he is done delivering the presents, a bell is rung and the children are allowed to re-enter the room and find their presents. The concept of Santa is completely replaced with Christkindl.”

Kaitlyn also went on to note that Germans seemed to put a little more emphasis on Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day. For the Christmas Eve dinner they went all out with soup and a roast. Whereas on Christmas Day, they enjoyed a traditional pizza.

To celebrate New Year’s, Kaitlyn and Ozzy went to Barcelona! For those of you who haven’t had the privilege to travel to Barcelona, Kaitlyn explained that parts of it are a lot like Mexico, with shops on every corner.

For the actual New Year’s ceremony the couple hung out with a few friends and 70,000 others to ring in the New Year. Kaitlyn explained, “There is a tradition in Spain to eat 12 grapes before the stroke of Midnight for 12 months of good luck in the new year. A few years back Ozzy convinced me that I needed to eat all 12 grapes in 12 seconds otherwise I wouldn’t have good luck in the new year. Let’s just say that isn’t quite how it works. So this year I took my time eating the grapes.”

While in Barcelona, Kaitlyn and Ozzy also checked out La Sagrada Familia. The La Sagrada Familia is a cathedral that has been under construction since 1882. Although the original architect, Antoni Gaudi predicted it would take 200 years to complete, it may take even longer than that!

Microsoft Excel Shortcuts

Everyone wants to be more efficient, right? Why spend 10 minutes doing a task when it can be done in 5? Here are a few nifty short cuts that can help you as you navigate through Microsoft Excel!Ctrl + O = Opens a workbook. Ctrl + N = Creates a new work…

A Few Tips For Project Management

Tip 1: Nail Down Project Details. Before you ever start the project, make sure that it is based on a solid foundation and that you have the buy-in from all key stakeholders. Understand their interests and expectations and be aware of how they will determine whether the project is successful or not. You will also need to ensure that the project scope is distinctly identified, including the roles and responsibilities of the various project team members. Develop the project plan and verify that the goals of the key elements are clearly defined and closely aligned. You should also establish measurable and trackable success criteria, including accomplishing tasks on schedule, achieving budget targets, confirming product functionality is satisfactory to the customer, and ensuring government and/or industry regulations are met. Take care of all of the details to lay the groundwork for your project’s success.

Tip 2: Set expectations -and milestones – up front. “Set relatively (based on risk) frequent milestones and check in often to ensure projects stay on track,” advises Pat McGuinness, chief technology risk officer, GE Capital. “If you only set longer-term or high-level milestones, you won’t realize a project is in trouble until it’s too late. My team at GE Capital schedules multiple project benchmarks and iterative reviews to make sure the money being invested in an IT project is being used efficiently and that project goals are being addressed.”

“When [everyone] on the team clearly understands the [scope] from the beginning, you eliminate the ambiguity that can derail a project,” adds Juan Velasquez, marketing specialist, Do It Wiser, a provider of toner cartridges and green office supplies. A good way to do this,” he says, is to hold a kickoff meeting, where everyone involved attends. Kickoff meetings “help to set expectations,” where you can “discuss the project in detail,” create a workable roadmap and assign people roles and responsibilities.

Tip 3:
Identify Project and Team Requirements. Once you have a strong plan in place, you can start implementing it by assembling an effective project team. As noted in an article released by, “The project team is a working unit of individual parts, sharing a common goal, achieved through the structured application of combined skills.” The article also states that, “The first step to team success begins with initial organization: to assemble and organize available resources capable of working together as a whole through the integration of individual skills, talents, and personalities.” As a project manager, you’ll need to align those skills, talents and personalities with the appropriate project needs and tasks. Make sure that each individual working on the project is clear about their task and what they are providing for deliverables upon completion.

Tip 4: Keep the Communication Lines Open. One of the most critical steps in the project management process is to ensure that the communication lines are open. As the project manager, you will need to be the operator of this communications system. Keep a communications plan and stick with it. Throughout the entire project, communication should be consistent, open, honest and clear. Make sure you keep in touch with all key stakeholders and team members during the project process. Ensure that everyone has the information necessary to make decisions and proceed with the project. You can also keep everyone on the same page by creating status reports based upon the project information and updates. Not all projects are the same, some may require more frequent status reports (weekly) and some may only require less frequent status updates (monthly).

Tip 5: Reward your team for a job well done. If you’re working on a fast-paced project with changing requirements and ever-increasing scope, chances are you’ll be awash in relief when the project is finally complete. As a project manager, make sure you recognize the great effort it took to get from day one to the end. Celebrate the skills, problem-solving, and high energy your team exhibited during the project before moving on to the next. If your team knows you appreciate and recognize them, it will fight low morale and burnout, as well as motivate your team for the next challenge.

Tip 6: Stop Micro-Managing. Avoid delving into the detail of the work. With software development projects, it’s not necessary for the project manager to get involved at code level, leave this to the developers. You’ve selected the right team for the job. Let them get on with what they are best at, while you concentrate on steering the project to a successful conclusion.

Tip 7:
Record Lessons Learned. During the project, you may come across things that could have been done differently that would have affected the project in a positive way. Keep track of those lessons learned throughout the project and use that information to streamline the next project. Also, take time during a project close-out meeting to discuss lessons learned with the project team; there may be some additional items that you were not aware of that other project team members noted. As a side note, if you make note of something that could be changed in the middle of the project, don’t wait until the end of the project to fix that item, fix the problem and move forward.


Employees of the Quarter!

On a quarterly basis, BIT recognizes staff in honor of their outstanding performance and dedication to our agency, state government and the citizens of South Dakota. This time around, we gladly recognize:
Greg Sterk

Greg is a Technology Engineer III working in the Integration Team for the BIT Data Center. He joined the Integration team in 2013, transferring from Development where he worked as a software engineer for nearly 10 years.

With software coding under his belt and a degree in network technologies, Greg has brought valuable knowledge and skills with him to the Integration Team. Since arriving, he has assisted with scripting, reporting and monitoring of online systems, adding to the list of tools that help the team to track and respond to the status of systems and processes. Specifically, Greg works daily admin
istering SharePoint which is used by over a dozen agencies to document and coordinate internal business processes.

Recently, he has been a valued contributing teammate within BIT’s new Policies and Procedures site, producing proof of concept documentation of items that were not previously implemented on SharePoint in the State. He also supported his teammates in 2015 by tracking and maintaining progress reporting for the Microsoft Windows Server 2003 migration effort, as well as taking the lead to better report and track license compliance.

On his own time, he enjoys gaming and working on other computer projects. Greg and his wife April also have a passion for motorcycling—except when their bike breaks down at the Sturgis Rally. When congratulating Greg, you’ll want to be sure and ask about the excitement of trailering a dead cycle in the summer heat. Greg and April e
njoy life with their two sons, Lucas and Alex, and daughter Ashley.

James Pearson

James is a Software Engineer IV for the Development division of BIT. James’ primary day-to-day responsibilities include development and support of two critical DOT systems, the Roadway Information System (RIS) and the funding module of Concept To Contract (C2C).

Thus, James is the resident expert on Mileage Reference Markers (MRM) and electronic funding requests to and from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Recently, James has taken on the role of scrum master. The scrum master is the facilitator/coach of a team of developers that utilize the scrum development methodology for creating applications.

Originally hired in July, 1991 as a DOT employee to be an application developer, in March, 1996 he accepted a position in Sioux Falls with the Board of Regents writing applications for Dakota State University. He couldn’t stay away from Pierre, though, so he came back to work for BIT in May, 2004. He has been a valued member of Team 6 ever since.

James grew up in the Lennox area and is married to Joanne who is a librarian at Rawlins Municipal Library. They have a very active 8th grade daughter named Margo who plays in the band, runs cross-country and track, and likes to hit softballs around in the summer.

During his spare time, James enjoys doing home improvement projects, working on cars, and attending air shows.

Jeff Putzier

Jeff started his career with BIT in 1996 as a network technician. Since then, Jeff has been a specialist, analyst, and currently serves as a Technology Engineer IV.

Jeff has been and continues to be an outstanding asset in areas of design, integration, and continued maintenance of the DDN Video Network. His commitment to excellence with maintaining the existing design platforms in conjunction with his dedication to research, test, and implement new ideas and technology that are above and beyond his job requirements has earned him the spot of Employee of the Quarter. Jeff has “get it done” AND “get it right” attitudes that clients and co-workers admire.

Outside of work, Jeff demonstrates the same commitment of excellence cooking. Currently, Jeff owns and operates a popular small BBQ catering business known as “Burnt Offerin’s.” Aside from cooking, he also enjoys playing competitive pool and cheering on the Green Bay Packers!

Jeff, thank you for your commitment and service to BIT/DDN Video.

Ryan Ogan

Ryan Ogan has been recognized for his high standards of excellence in project management.

Ryan is a Project Manager on BIT’s Project Management Office (PMO) team. Ryan is able to provide his top notch customer service to state agencies due to his previous technology experience. Ryan came to BIT a year ago from the South Dakota Board of Regents, having provided over sixteen years of service to the State of South Dakota.

Ryan quickly established himself as a valued project manager at BIT. He is often requested by other BIT Managers to lead their technology projects since he skillfully organizes and facilitates projects ensuring staff assigned to tasks are held accountable, budgets are not exceeded, and deadlines are met. He adds value to the project teams he serves by addressing issues, establishing procedures, and keeping the project team informed with his excellent communication skills. He has met with every state agency on our statewide software licensing project. Other projects he has served as project manager include the Department of Environment and Natural Resources FoxPro rewrite, Department of Corrections COMS thin application installation, BIT’s Windows 10 planning, and other technology investigatory efforts.

Ryan has built upon his customer service skills through his history and technology background with the Board of Regents along with his BIT experiences. The Board of Regents have collaborated with BIT on several projects, which allowed Ryan to join BIT with relationships already established with key technical staff. He also has become an asset to the PMO team by contributing his past experience, easily translating technology jargon for agency clients, and by helping other staff see issues through an I/T engineering viewpoint. Ryan’s vast technical background in networking, support, and other technology infrastructure components have benefited the PMO team immensely.

A native of Pierre, Ryan and his wife, Nicole, have two sons, Jamie, 9 and Alex, 6. His family enjoys camping, hiking, and spending time outdoors. In his spare time, Ryan enjoys riding his Harley, cheering for his beloved Washington Redskins, and spending time with his family.

Again, congratulations and thank you all for your efforts and for all the years of dedication of service to the State—BIT looks forward to many more!