#264 DIGTECH - 2015 By the Numbers

Well, DIGTECH is dangerously close to celebrating three years since founding (January 8th). How have we done so far? Let's run down the numbers for this year:

  • Payroll - $167,114
  • Per Diem - $69,911
  • Employees - 10
  • Permanent Employees - 1 (No, not me)
  • Acres Surveyed - 45,000
  • Sites Recorded - About 250
  • Isolates - About 1200
  • iPads - 9
  • iPads given to employees - 7
  • Trimbles - 2
  • Trimbles destroyed - 1 ($550 repair cost)
  • Overall, we didn't do too bad.

In 2013 DIGTECH did about $13,000 in business. In 2014 we did about $40,000. This year we did about $407,000. Doing the simple math from above you'll see that there is about $170,000 left from the project budgets. A little lesson in business will tell you that much of that went to other expenses and payroll taxes. There will be about $50,000 left to pay me, finally, and to be prepared for more work. Also, I had to take out a $50,000 SBA loan to start the season and I had to buy a new field vehicle. So yeah...not too much of a profit, but, we don't do this for the money.

What do I get out of this?

What do I get? I get to hire my friends and see them pay their bills, enjoy themselves, and get one step closer to fulfilling their dreams. That's what I get and that's why I do this.

What's in store for 2016?

Well, we've got a few irons in the fire for DIGTECH.crm. I really think that this is the year that DIGTECH.media will be on fire, though. The Archaeology Podcast Network has over 16,000 monthly subscribers as of December 2015 and our numbers keep going up. We're poised to get some real money from advertising which will allow us to pursue more show opportunities. My focus has always been on education and outreach. The APN is my outlet for this.

I've also got plans for a new book, published in a new way. More details on that are to come soon.

New Chief of Operations

This blog post will stand as the official announcement of our new Chief of Operations: Deanna Dytchkowskyj! I've known Deanna for about five years now. She's a great person that is very organized and detail oriented. As the COO she'll eventually be in charge of making sure all the departments within DIGTECH are on track with their missions and that things are proceeding according to plan.

Hear's to 2016 and great things to come!

Thanks for reading and I'll see you in the field!!

#236 Uncontrollable Forces in CRMArch


I’m currently about to participate in a three week testing project where DIGTECH was hired basically as the excavation crew. For this project, I had to hire my first temporary employee. I’m going to present the challenges this entire operation presents. Keep in mind, I’m one person hiring one other person. The challenges I’m going to present are magnified many times with larger companies, but, they are still pretty much the same.


Since I’m not in total control of this project and was subcontracted by another CRM firm to do the fieldwork, I have very little control over the flow of information. The client for the project is actually a county in California. One challenge that presents is that they have a lot of bureaucracy to get through before they can approve the project.

First, the county asked for a proposal from my client. My client then asked for a proposal from me. Once they had the complete proposal the CRM firm sent it to the county. The county had some changes and sent it back. The firm signed it and sent it back up to the county. Now, the county has to send it to a “Consent Meeting” where it is voted on. When it’s accepted we have five days to get in the field.

The employee I wanted to hire is a long-time friend who was on a project in the upper midwest. He was looking to come back this direction so was a perfect fit. Of course, he had to give notice at that company and then make the drive back to Nevada. I got a start date of July 14 from my client. What I didn’t know was that was on the assumption that the consent meeting would have taken place by then. Well, it didn’t happen. 

So, I pushed the start date back one week. Luckily, the meeting happened the following week and we’re slated to start now.

A big complaint I often hear from field techs is that companies jerk them around on start times for projects. I’d say that most of the time the firm would like to start as soon as possible because they don’t get paid until many months after the start of the fieldwork, typically. Some projects invoice monthly and some are based on passing milestones (like finishing fieldwork, etc.). Either way, the company has to have a date in mind so people can make arrangements to get there on time. This doesn’t always work out and start dates have to move.

My advice to the field tech would be to understand this problem. Be flexible and responsible by having some money in the bank that you can live on for a few weeks without pay. If you don’t you’ll just end up getting frustrated and working at the Gap. Nobody wants that.


If you’re running a small business then you’re worried about payroll. Period. The tough thing about payroll in CRM is that the company might have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars before the contract’s client ever pays out. So, they either need to have a bunch of money in the bank, a line of credit, or a loan.

In my case, I haven’t done much work on the CRM side of the company lately because I’ve been focused on other projects. As a consequence I don’t currently have the money to cover payroll. What will this three-week project cost me?

The county set per diem at $165. I’ve set wages for myself at $25 and for my tech at $20. For 15 days thats a total of $2475 in per diem, EACH, in cash, and up front. For pay that will be, before taxes, $3000 for me and $2400 for my tech. The total payroll is up to $10,350. That’s just for two people for three weeks! So, assuming I don’t pay myself a dime right away, which is common, I’m now responsible for $4875. I have to get the per diem before we start. They pay can wait a couple weeks after the end of the project. That’s fairly typical.

Where is this money going to come from? I have a few sources that I’m going to tap. Either way, it’s stressful. I’d love to just have the money on hand, but, I don’t. I’d love it if my tech would take the pay portion when I get paid for the project, but, that’s not fair to ask and I wouldn’t want to put that financial burden on him anyway. So, a loan it is.

I haven’t even talked about the actual process of running payroll yet: taxes, W-2s, etc. That’s because I haven’t figured it out yet.


I have two logistical concerns: lodging and travel. For lodging we’re staying at a nice RV resort and campground on a lake. It’s reasonably priced, has Wifi, showers, and power at the sites, and is only a few miles from the project area. The problem is that they need seven days lead time for cancelations. Since it’s summertime camping I wanted to get a reservation in early to ensure a spot. Of course, I had to move the reservation a couple times and luckily they let me. It’s apparently only cancelations that they have a problem with.

My other concern is travel. My wife and I have one vehicle. We’re working on getting a second, but for now that’s off the table. So, I rent vehicles for projects. It doesn’t really matter since you bill the cost of a vehicle into the project anyway. I still have to deal with vehicle availability and canceling or changing reservations. All of these little details just pile on the stress.

Final Thoughts

So, the next time you’re criticizing a firm for playing with the start date and other logistics, keep in mind that there are factors at play that you are not privy to. There is always a strong chance that the person in charge is just a terrible manager, but, that doesn’t take away the challenges I’ve mentioned. It just changes the way they handle them.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you in the field; if this damn project ever starts!

#179 DIGTECH Benefits

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I've been writing and revising my employee handbook. Here's what I'm thinking for year-end bonuses, assuming I ever make any money. Ideally I'll be able to make enough to pay my bills and be happy. The rest goes to the employees and the company. I'll let you know how it goes. For now assume two things: that the company has lots of money, and that we have lots of employees! 

Also - I don't want to hear anything about how you can't make money in CRM. That's not the point of this exercise. Plenty of firms give bonuses. They might not be too generous but that's only because their business model is 30 years old.

I would appreciate any feedback or comments.

The DIGTECH Proposed Bonus Structure

We at DIGTECH think about bonuses as more of a reward than a right. Bonuses will be paid annually on November 1st and will be based on company profits for the calendar year ending September 30. Ideally, the bonuses will be handed out at a company party in November. This is in lieu of a “holiday” party held at other companies. We have no wish to slight people’s religions or faiths so we choose to have a company party in November. That way employees can spend their bonuses on holiday presents if they choose or they can do something else with it. It’s your choice.

Bonuses will be based on a 1,000 point system. Earning 1,000 points means that you’ll get 100% of the available bonus. This bonus is open to employees that have worked for DIGTECH for one day or ten years. It doesn’t matter. We feel that all employees should have the opportunity to earn a bonus based on hard work, dedication, and love of archaeology. 

The 1,000 points can be earned in a number of ways but is mostly based on performance and self-education. A general breakdown of the points available is detailed in the list below.

Bonus Points

Performance Evaluation.............................................................250

Annual Attendance (based on 2080 hrs/year).....................250

Contribute to Company Education and Social Media.........250

Educational Activities (Be creative!)........................................250

Performance Evaluation. For employees that have at least 1,040 hours by the time evaluations are performed (that’s half a year of employment) they will get a performance evaluation by the senior Principal Investigator or the company President. During this evaluation, observations from the employee’s peers will be taken into consideration and the employee’s work performance and efficiency will be evaluated. Also under consideration will be the employee’s contributions to the success of the company, contributions and ideas for the company’s education program, and contributions to social media projects. The reviewer will determine the amount of points awarded.

Annual Attendance. Calculated by multiplying 40 hours per week by 52 weeks per year, there are a minimum of 2,080 hours available to work throughout the year. Employees that work at least half of the year (1,040 hours) and are still employed at the time of evaluations will be eligible for the 250 points evaluation bonus.

Temporary employees are eligible for bonuses and for a portion of the attendance bonus via this policy. The attendance bonus will be calculated based on the total number of hours worked. For example, if an employee only works one 8-day session they will have accrued 80 hours. That 80 hours represents 3.85% of the year. That would result in 9.65 points. If the employee received 250 points in both the “Contribute” and “Education” categories they would have a total of 509.65 points. If there were, hypothetically, $1000 dollars available for a bonus then the employee would receive $509.65 at the end of the year, even if they only worked one session back in January. Read that again. It’s true.

Contribute to Company Education and Social Media. This category refers to anything stamped with the DIGTECH logo. DIGTECH publishes and produces a blog, a podcast, and a video series. The points awarded as a result of contributions to these projects will be at the discretion of the senior management. Teaching educational topics and providing training on relevant subjects to DIGTECH employees will also be considered.

Educational Activities. This is where you really have the freedom to do whatever you want to improve yourself. Activities include conference presentations, personal archaeology blog contributions, book and paper reviews, published papers, published books, participation in the Day of Archaeology project and any number of activities. Employees should document their activities for evaluation by the senior staff at the performance evaluation. Points will be awarded at that time.

Points and Bonus Money. Points to not roll over past October 31st. Every employee resets to zero points on November 1st. Bonuses will not be paid out prior to November 1st. Unclaimed bonus money (not everyone will earn 1,000 points) will be placed in a fund for employee health and welfare programs to be used at the discretion of the senior staff.

Again, this is a best case scenario for a bonus structure. I've blogged about this before but it was unformed and hypothetical. Now, it is going in to the official employee handbook. Feedback is appreciated.

Thanks for reading and I'll see you in the field!