Clinton — It’s an early morning on a school day and Dave Bufkin stirs awake his children, Michael, a junior at Clinton High School, and Merrilee, a fifth grader at Eastside Elementary. After breakfast with his wife of 22 years, Judy, Bufkin heads to the office for another whirlwind workday.
As information technology director of Jackson-based Horne, LLP, Bufkin is charged with setting the direction the accounting firm will go using technology as a tool and leading a 12-person team to accomplish those goals throughout the nine-office system, which is high-speed connected to a centralized network operations center (NOG) consisting of more than 50 servers.
He is also responsible for overseeing Horne Technology Group, a separate technology-consulting group that has a large base of clients accessing the network. He also manages a programming team that develops custom applications unavailable in the software marketplace. The firm’s franchise group is a very narrow niche market that has developed a number of applications that improve and enhance their ability to service clients.
Daily balancing act
“The mornings are a balancing act,” admitted Bufkin. “I leave home early enough to get to work to plan my day, but late enough that I get to wake my children up and talk to them about what’s going on in their world. The great thing about my position is that there is no routine once I get to the office.
The one daily consistency is meetings. I have a daily ‘stand up’ staff meeting with my team leaders and one with the firm administration management group. Other meetings consist of projects planning, working on a project or reviewing a completed project looking for improvements. With offices in four states and 350-plus employees, we put a lot of emphasis on communicating. I’m on the phone throughout the day talking with our offices discussing technology needs or updating them on the progress of their projects. On most days, the last thing I do before leaving the office is walk around the tech area and talk with the team members about what’s going on with them and any challenges they may need help with.”
Every month, Bufkin visits each of Horne’s offices, providing CPAs and office staff with direct access to the technology team. “Our internal clients appreciate us taking the time to work with them at their office rather than trying to do everything over the phone or through e-mail,” he said. “They also have a tendency to talk more openly about their needs when you are sitting across the table from them.”
Worst day ever?
Bufkin said his worst day as an IT person was August 30, 2005, the day after Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Mississippi Gulf Coast. That day seemed to “last three weeks,” he admitted. “I came into the office that Tuesday morning and found that our data and voice communications were down. With four offices south of Jackson and one in New Orleans, we found ourselves in the same boat as most others affected by the storm.
“Fortunately, we had backup systems that kicked in and as the power was restored in each office, we were able to get our communications back on line. While it was a true disaster, there were some good things to come out of it. We reaffirmed that our backup systems worked. We also reaffirmed the dedication of Horne’s employees. The morning after the storm, we had employees from our southern offices calling and showing up at their office, asking if they could work.”
A native of Jackson, Bufkin earned degrees at Hinds Community College and Delta State University before joining the technology division of Flowood-based Valley Innovative Services for a dozen years. In 2004, he did consulting work, mostly with Hinds Community College. In January 2005, he began his career with Horne, managing the technical support area, which includes the HelpDesk, network operations and application licensing. He was promoted to his current post in August.
Bufkin’s smartest move after his promotion was “to keep in place the people who were here when I took the position of IT director. I have a sharp, dedicated staff that understands where we are going in technology.”
In his spare time, Bufkin, a member of the Jackson Metro Cyclists, a local cycling club, participates in a group ride one or two times a week, when he can work them in. Most of the time, Bufkin faces another whirlwind schedule: keeping up with his children’s activities.
“Both of them are at the age where they can fill up your calendar weeks in advance with sports, school activities and church programs,” he said, with a chuckle.
Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne W. Jeter at firstname.lastname@example.org.