Friday, April 18, 2014

How to Stand Up After Working on a Computer

Here's a quick but simple formula that can save you a lot of tech support headaches.

What happens when you leave a client's office and the printers don't print?
What happens when you leave a client's office and the Internet goes down?
What happens when you leave a client's office and the email doesn't work?
What happens when you leave a client's office and the user can't see the server?

It's your fault.

Okay, it's not really your fault. But you've seen it a thousand times. You leave the client's office and some random thing that can't possibly be related to you happens. But you (or your people) were there.

The client doesn't understand technology. It's not their job to understand. So you sit down. And when you leave, you get blamed for every single thing that went wrong.

In our experience, 95% of what can go wrong falls into these four categories:
- Accessing the Internet
- Printers
- Email
- Accessing files on the Server

So here's a very simple checklist to make your life easier. Make sure that every single person who works for you checks those four things before they stand up from any client computer. It doesn't matter whether any problems are related to you or your staff. Even if the ISP randomly changed DNS servers while you are onsite, there's no point in in leaving until you find and fix the problem.

Remember, you're going to get the fallout from any problems that happen while your staff are onsite - whether you cause them or not. So you might as well take stock of what's going on and then address it. If your people caused the problem, they need to be honest and create a new service request. If your people did not cause the problem, they still need to create a service request.

The end result is the same. The problem is identified as early as possible and you begin working to address it.

I rarely do anything that's motivated by "CYA" or Cover Your Butt. In this case, however, it makes sense to create a very simple 4-point checklist. Ask your staff to verify the four items above. 99.9% of the time, any problems will not be related to the actions of your team. But if you find and fix things before the client knows there's a problem, that's good for you.

- - - - -

Your checklist might be different from this. But no matter what it it, you should have a very simple three- or four-point checklist. Cover your bases. Make your team look like heros.

Your Comments Welcome.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Is There a Need for a Unified Interface?

Over on my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/karlpalachuk) some folks are discussing the Windows 8/8.1 interface and Microsoft's initiative to use the same OS on tablets, phones, laptops, desktops, and even servers. Well, at least the same UI if not the same OS.

Michael made the point that Microsoft tried to do something innovative and forward thinking.

I think that's misplaced.

I don't think there's a need for the same interface on my phone, my tablet, my TV, and my laptop. In fact, I think the world is a much better place when all of these are different.

I'm (mostly) taking time off in Las Vegas for a few days. But I went to a small digital signage show yesterday. The coolest product I saw was the Bright Sign hardware. They are part of the Roku family so they care more about pushing hardware units than they do about what you run on their hardware.

Their basic interface is simply HTML 5 objects. See www.brightsign.biz. With that, you can create interactive menus, games, etc. There are dozens of examples of interactive interfaces created with their product.

On a similar vein, the iPad is flexible in a million places because of the simple and obvious usability of it's interface. The Kindle is popular and addictive because of it's excellent interface. The Android phone has taken over the world because of a very usable interface. Whatever Android hasn't take over is taken over by iPhone and Samsung - because of the interfaces.

And Windows desktop (Windows 7. Windows XP) completely dominates the world of business because it is easy and usable.

My point is: There is not ONE perfect interface for everything. I don't think there ever will be. I don't think that it's really even a good idea or a noble goal. There should be many different interfaces. Let each interface find success in the right product.

The only real argument for having a single unified interface is world domination. If you could create an interface so amazing and spectacular that it was the ONE right interface for tablets and phones and TVs and laptops and desktops, then everyone would love you and everyone would buy all of your stuff and no one would ever buy anything else.

... And you could never change it. Revving from one version to the next would have to be rolled out over years.

I think it is far more creative and innovative to have a different interface for each product. When a component (e.g., swiping with your finger) is clearly a better way of doing things, then everyone will integrate that.

And as new devices come into existence, new interfaces will come into existence. And maybe many common elements will be reused. But there will always be much great innovation and creativity without a unified interface than there would be with a unified interface.

So Microsoft needs a new plan.

"What do you want to do tonight, Satya?"

"Same thing we do every night: Plan to take over the world."

:-)

Friday, March 28, 2014

Help with Book Titles - Take Two

Thank You to everyone who helped with the first round of voting on book titles for the four-volume set on Standard Operating Procedures.

Now it's time to narrow it down a little more. Here are the top four titles for the set:

- Managed Services Operations Manual
- Standard Operating Procedures for I.T. Consultants
- Standard Operating Procedures for Managed Services
- Standard Operating Procedures for Managed Service Providers

Please vote below.

Tell your friends.

Post this in forums, chat rooms, and all the places where technical folks hang out.

Thank you for your feedback!!!
- karlp


Friday, March 21, 2014

SOP Friday: Do Not Exclude Yourself from the Rules

We all know that SOPs - Standard Operating Procedures - make your business run better. We all know that we need to train out employees to document procedures, learn procedures, and follow procedures. But all too often, the bosses and owners don't follow the rules we set for our companies.

When we start a new business, we have to do everything ourselves. There aren't many procedures. Procedures evolve over time. And even then, we shortcut the procedures whenever we're in a hurry. It's a natural evolution.

Once employees come along, three important things change for the business owner. First, "I" becomes "We." Second, the owner becomes a team leader. Third, the owner spends a good deal of time getting in the way of her employees.

It can take a long time to build a business up from one person to several. The owner has a tendency to thing of the company as himself. After all:

- I built this company

- I decided when to cut left or right

- I got us here

- It's my company

But when you start hiring employees, "I" not longer does all the work: We do the work. Eventually, the owner hands off some tasks and knows that he'll never do them again. At first, you have to consciously try to remember to use the Royal We. But this becomes easier over time.

Part of the process of being "We" is that you get in the habit of describing your company and your services in those terms. For example, "We like to get full backup before we start a server migration." That's not just one person's good habit. That's what the company does and that's what the client can expect. Many of your best practices can be projected to the clients in this manner.

The owner becomes a team leader automatically with the first employee. But once you have solid SOPs in place, it's the owner's constant responsibility to build up the SOPs as part of the company brand. This is the way we do things. This is what makes us different. This is what makes us who we are.

If team leader isn't blunt enough for you, let me put it another way: The owner becomes the enforcer. Assuming you have good processes, the more consistently you enforce your processes, the stronger your brand becomes.

When everyone does whatever they want, you don't really have a business. You have a bunch of people working together to try to make money. And that's fine. But if you want a business, you need to have consistently reproducible results. To make that happen the owner must become the enforcer of SOPs.

The first real job I had was in a hardware store. I remember both the owner and the store manager used to tell me: "When you have your own store you can do whatever you want. When you work here, you do things our way." And so it is in your business.

Eventually, the business is mature enough to have several employees and several SOPs that are employed consistently. One of the very natural pieces of evolution is that the owner becomes the choke point. Marketing decisions have to be approved by the owner. Office supply purchases have to be approved by the owner. Time cards have to be approved by the owner.

The owner has started to delegate but is still the ultimate decision maker for all important decisions.

Only when you break past this barrier can you business move to the next level. Either you stagnate, or break the limit. It could go either way. With luck, you learn the next level of delegation and learn to delegate authority and not just tasks. When you delegate authority there's no limit to how large your business can grow.

At this point it is very clear why the owner (and now the managers) must obey the SOPs of the organization. That means that you use the ticketing system just as you expect your technicians to do. That means you follow the process for turning in mileage reports, just like everyone else. That means you follow the rules just like everyone else.

When you have a mature operation that runs smoothly, you can really muck things up when you exclude yourself from the rules. First, you can actually make a mess. For example, if you just grab the phone and start answering client questions, you've short-circuited the service delivery process. The service manager and service coordinator don't know what you're up to and you don't know about the other problems or the context of the issue you're working on. Whether they tell you or not, they're mumbling that you should stay out of the service department.

Second, this can lead to bad moral within your company. Watching the boss is a favorite past time. When the boss doesn't follow the rules, everyone notices. Employees will mumble, "Notice that we have to track time in real time but he doesn't." (and many similar complaint) And they will be justified to notice this.

You are building these SOPs for good reasons. Please follow them. Take them as seriously as you want your employees to take them. And more importantly, just get in the habit of doing this as your company evolves. That will make it easier.

It is a very natural tendency to say "I own this place, I'm the boss, and I can do whatever I want." But that attitude will cost your company money and keep you from reaching its greatest potential.


Comments welcome.

- - - - -



About this Series

SOP Friday - or Standard Operating System Friday - is a series dedicated to helping small computer consulting firms develop the right processes and procedures to create a successful and profitable consulting business.

Find out more about the series, and view the complete "table of contents" for SOP Friday at SmallBizThoughts.com.

- - - - -

Next week's topic: Dealing with Unfaithful Employees

:-)
- - - - -

Michael Gerber to Keynote the 2014 SMB Online Conference


I am so very honored that 
Michael E. Gerber - author of the awesome book The E-Myth Revisited -
will be the keynote speaker for this year's 
SMB Online Conference: Systematic Success 2014




Michael Gerber to Speak at the
SMB Online Conference: Systematic Success 2014
The third annual online event is a business focused conference for I.T. professionals, with 12 amazing experts - including Michael Gerber. 

The inclusion of Michael Gerber is a special treat because of his reputation in helping thousands of small business owners successfully transform their businesses into world-class operations
, a goal at the heart of this year’s conference.

Gerber has been called “The World’s #1 Small Business Guru” by INC. Magazine. He has spent over 40 years targeting a niche in the small business market. He addresses through books and speaking tours the specific issues small business owners with technical skills encounter, a lack of direction on the small business skills required to run highly successful businesses.

“Conference sessions will cover processes, procedures, and products small business operators require to be successful. We will primarily teach attendees how to systematically document all of their processes” Palachuk says. He adds that “Documentation is extremely important to build a business model that can operate without the business owner doing all of the work, thus allowing for smooth internal growth, potential business sale, and even franchising.”

The online conference runs June 24-26, 2014. Registrations are being accepted now. Attendees can choose to listen live or obtain access to the recorded sessions. In all, the conference will broadcast fifteen hours of programming over the three days.

To learn more about Systematic Success 2014, visit www.smbonlineconference.com.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Update: How to Run a Successful Managed Service Business

I have a couple of updates for you on the 4-volume series about Standard Operating Procedures.

First, I would love to have a LOT more votes on the preferred title. voting is on my blog at http://blog.smallbizthoughts.com/2014/03/help-what-should-i-call-my-book-on-sops.html. Right now the front runners are (in order):

- How to Run a Successful Managed Service Business

- How to Run a Successful Computer Consulting Practice

- How to Run a Successful I.T. Consulting Business

- Standard Operating Procedures for I.T. Consultants

- Standard Operating Procedures for Managed Service Providers

Think about what you'd put into Google or Amazon if you were looking for something like this. What would you search for?

Thanks!

Second - I have a Table of Contents. Well, a draft table of contents anyway. You can find that at http://sop4smb.com.

I've also put this table of contents on the SOPFriday.com site so that you can see articles related to the sections of the book. Of course some pieces of the book have not been covered on the blog.

When you scroll down the page there, you'll also see the blog posts in the order they were published. I think that "resource" will go away soon. After all, searching by topic makes more sense. And of course you can just hit CTRL-F to find a term on the page.

The bottom line is . . . I'm making progress on the 4-book set.

If you have feedback on the table of contents - or if I missed something really important - please email me and I promised I'll read your feedback.

Thank you all for your support!


Friday, March 07, 2014

SOP Friday: How to Track Credit Card Auto-Payments

One of the great benefits - and curses - of the 21st century is the "Auto-Payment" for goods and services. We use them to pay for all kinds of things. And we ask our clients to do the same.

The great advantage of auto-payments, of course, is that you don't forget a payment. And some services are only available with credit card or other auto-payment. The great disadvantage of auto-payments is that you can lose track of the total amount.

And the real major pain-in-the-neck disadvantage comes when your credit card expires. Or in these days of credit theft, we're seeing banks suspend credit cards for almost any suspicious activity. That's great for protecting your credit - unless it leads to missed payments for one or more auto-payments!

Here are a few tips to make your life easier.


Tracking Auto-Payments


The first thing you need to do is to create a spreadsheet of auto-payments for your business. See the example. It's also a good idea to track cards that are stored with online sites that allow you to make occasional payments. This is less important since you can change these on a whim. But if someone in your company makes payments for you, you need to make sure the correct card is stored online.

Assuming you've already got a number of auto-payments scheduled, the first chore is to log these. The best place to find a complete list of payments you've already approved is your bank statement. Here's what you do:

1) Dig out bank statements and credit card statements for the last four months.

2) Open Excel and create a new spreadsheet with columns for the day of the month, the name of the service, the amount, and the credit/debit card used.

3) Look through your statements and mark each item that is a recurring payment.

4) Enter the recurring payments on your Excel spreadsheet. Enter the day of week on the appropriate column. Then look ahead for the same payment for the next month, and the next, and the next. Because of weekends, some payments will move around a bit. On the spreadsheet, keep the date that occurs the earliest for each item. This will come in handy some day if you want to use this information to assist in tracking your cash flow.

5) Keep an eye out for payments that recur once every two or three months. There will be fewer of these, so you need to be careful not to miss one. Of course there might also be one or two that recur once every six or twelve months. It's probably not worth looking through a year's worth of statements to find them all. See #6.

6) Make it a habit to verify auto-payments as they occur. That way, you can add the once-per-year and twice-per-year items to your tracking sheet.

7) Note that some items vary from month to month. Be sure to note these. If you enter the highest occurrence over the four month period, you'll have a safe budget.

8) Total the entries at the bottom. It never hurts to know what you've committed yourself to every month!


Minimizing Hassles with Auto-Payments


As I alluded to above, there are certain hassles with relying on credit cards for auto-payments. The same is true with debit cards (ATM cards). You need to decide whether you'll use credit cards, debit cards, direct ACH payments, or a combination of these. (ACH stands for Automated Clearing House - a system that enables you to make payments directly from your bank account.) You are most likely using a combination of these.

Credit cards are a good choice if you don't want to keep track of whether or not you have enough cash in the account at a given time. Debit cards are a good choice if you want to work on a "cash" basis. When a debit card is charged, the money goes straight out of your account. ACH is a good choice if you like to work on a cash basis like a debit card but don't want to worry about expiration dates.

Here's a quick summary of the hassles you should account for:

1) The biggest hassle you have to deal with is the expiration date for each card. If you don't keep on top of this, you'll have a spate of rejected payments. You can avoid this by moving to ACH payments, which don't have an expiration date. You can also avoid this by changing the card online as soon as you receive a new card.

2) The other big hassle you'll have is when a card you're using is canceled or suspended due to suspicious activity. I've been a victim of this myself. Two summers ago, the card I carry when I travel was canceled twice within a month. My travel isn't unusual at all for me, but the bank wanted to protect me. In addition to being a hassle on the road, I had to go put a number of payments onto a new card before the next charge hit.

This is becoming more and more common as banks get more and more skittish about fraud.

If you want to use a credit or debit card and avoid having it canceled due to travel or other activities, you should get a card you only use for online recurring payments. This could be a credit card with just enough of a credit line to cover the recurring payments. Or it could be a debit card that is never used for anything else. That's what I use.


Maintenance

Once you have a spreadsheet, it should be maintained by whoever manages your finances regularly. That might be you, the office manager, the bookkeeper, etc. Make sure new recurring payments are added to the list and old ones are removed.

The true benefit of keeping this tracking sheet will come when you change cards, change banks, or need to take a look at your budget for planning purposes. So, of course, whenever you make such changes, you need to make sure to update the Excel spreadsheet.

I recommend you keep the spreadsheet in your public folder under the \operations\finance folder.


Comments welcome.

- - - - -

About this Series

SOP Friday - or Standard Operating System Friday - is a series dedicated to helping small computer consulting firms develop the right processes and procedures to create a successful and profitable consulting business.

Find out more about the series, and view the complete "table of contents" for SOP Friday at SmallBizThoughts.com.

- - - - -

Next topic: Do Not Exclude Yourself from the Rules

:-)

Monday, March 03, 2014

Help! What Should I Call My Book on SOPs?

[Note: The second round of feedback on these book titles is here: http://blog.smallbizthoughts.com/2014/03/help-with-book-titles-take-two.html. Please go there and give me your feedback. Thanks!]

As most readers of this blog know, I'm writing a series of four books on Standard Operating Procedures for Small Technology Consultants.

I'm writing a series of four books on Standard Operating Procedures for managed service providers.

I'm writing an operations manual for managed service providers.

I'm writing a series of four books on Standard Operating Procedures for I.T. Consultants.

I'm writing a series of four books on Standard Operating Procedures for computer consultants.

I'm writing a series of four books on Standard Operating Procedures for computer consultants.


Aaaaaagh!!!


I Don't Know What to Call It

Please help me figure out what to call this 4-book series. Don't worry about SEO and all that. SEO will take care of itself. Between the contents and the sub-title, I can cover all the bases.

There are two primary considerations here, as far as I am concerned.

1) I want a title that actually sounds good. It shouldn't be awkward. For whatever reason, the titles I've come up with don't slide off the tongue. Managed Services in a Month is nice and smooth. Service Agreements for SMB Consultants is very clear. I want something nice like that.

2) I want to appeal to all those people who could really use these books and have never heard of the term "managed services." I know that seems odd if you've been reading my blog for years, but I think MOST people who could - and should - be managed service providers have never heard that term.

So what do they call themselves? VARs? LARs? IT Pros? Computer consultants?


That's where you come in. Please take 60 seconds and give me some feedback. It's okay if you rate these suggestions high or low, as long as it's honest. If you have other recommendations, please enter them on the form or in the comments below.

At least temporarily, the site for these books is called www.sop4smb.com.

But if you were searching for such a book, what would you call it? And what would you call yourself?

No name or other information required!

If you fill in contact info, we'll make sure to keep you informed as things develop.

Thank you for your feedback!!!




Friday, February 28, 2014

SOP Friday: Making Exceptions to SOPs

We Get Mail

Andrew dropped me a note to suggest that I cover exceptions to the rules. In other words, when is it okay to not follow the Standard Operating Procedures you've laid out?

You might be surprised to hear me say this, but there are lots of exceptions to the rules. Well, to some rules. There are built-in exceptions, emergency exceptions, bad habit exceptions, and common sense exceptions. There are also different kinds of SOPs. Some SOPs must be followed exactly and perfectly each time and some are much more flexible.

First, let's talk about these internal to your company. Then we'll look at how you manage exceptions with clients.

In the big picture, common sense is the most important piece of all of this. SOPs exist to make life easier. Well, life and work. When SOPs get in the way of smooth and efficient operations, then need to be set aside. We'll come back to this.


Built-In Exceptions to SOPs

Some SOPs work best if you can build in the exceptions. For example, we have a very strong policy of working from highest to lowest priority. We don't want people wasting time working on Low-Pri activities when High-Pri activities can be moved forward. Further, we have a well-defined process that says that all service tickets are worked from higest to lowest priority. BUT . . .

We also have a built-in exception to this rule.

When I go to a client's office, I start by looking at all the open tickets they have. If I'm going to go onsite, I will try to knock out all the tickets I can in the time allotted. I'm not going to take care of one high priority item, bill them for an hour, and then leave. In addition to being less efficient in the long run, that would be pretty bad customer service.

So I try to get as many tickets completed as possible. In particular, I make sure that the tasks that require an on-site technician are completed.

This built-in exception makes sure that I give good service. It also makes sure that we address all those medium and low priority service tickets that might not otherwise get any attention.

When you create built-in exceptions, make sure they actually add value to what you're doing. I think the example here is perhaps the most important built-in exception we have. It truly improves our process in several ways.


Emergency Exceptions and Bad Habit Exceptions

Emergency exceptions to SOPs should be rare (of course). Sometimes you just need to cut through the red tape - even if you created the red tape. The problem is that this decision is so subjective. You get to decide what's an emergency. If you're the owner, you don't really have to justify it to anyone.

It is a bad habit to start making exceptions and excuses. Once you go down that road, every day is a series of exceptions to the rules. Pretty soon there's no point in having SOPs at all.

The most common "excuse" given for breaking SOPs is that it's faster to "just do it" rather than follow the established process. It's very much like hiring an employee and then doing all the work yourself because it's faster than training them how to do it. You know intellectually that it's better in the long run to follow the SOP (or train the employee). But right now, today, with this one little task, it's faster to just do it.

The bottom line here is discipline.

I will say: Having employees helps. The favorite employee past time is watching the boss. So if the boss cuts corners, the employees know it's okay to cut corners. Employees will keep you in line. And they will support each other.

Once you have established SOPs and everyone is trained, then you should have the discussion about exceptions. Think of it this way: Once you know all the rules, you can make good decisions about when to break them. But that doesn't change the fact that the rules still need to be followed.
https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/security/pc-security/password-checker.aspx


Letting Clients Make Exceptions

Andrew's original question was largely focused on client-related policies and procedures. For example, it's easy to say that you have change your password every 30 days, but many clients simply refuse to follow this. So where do you stand firm and where do you let the client make the rules?

You probably have very few technology-related rules that you impose on your clients. You ask them to switch the backup discs or tapes; you ask them to change their passwords; you ask them to log off and night but leave the machines on; etc. A few very reasonable suggestions.

In fact, every "policy" you give them is either 1) For their own good, or 2) Related to doing business with you.

When it comes to doing things that are in their own interest, you have very little control. You can educate them, remind them, and warn them. But at the end of the day, you can't care more about their network than they do. So if they don't tend to the backup drives, there's very little you can do.

You should protect yourself when clients make certain bad decisions. For example, if a client will not take steps to make sure that they change passwords or backup their data, you need to let them know - in writing - that you can't be responsible for these things.

At the end of the day, the best you can do is to make good recommendations and encourage the client to take your advice. But if they don't want to follow your advice, there's not much you can do.


Comments welcome.

- - - - -



About this Series

SOP Friday - or Standard Operating System Friday - is a series dedicated to helping small computer consulting firms develop the right processes and procedures to create a successful and profitable consulting business.

Find out more about the series, and view the complete "table of contents" for SOP Friday at SmallBizThoughts.com.

- - - - -

Next week's topic: How to Track Credit Card AutoPayments

:-)
:-)
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Friday, February 21, 2014

SOP Friday: Team Management of SOPs

One of the most challenging elements of managing documentation with a team is to keep everyone on the same page - so to speak. This is particularly true with processes and procedures. After all, when you create Your Way for setting up a machine, you want to make sure that everyone does it Your Way!

In terms of "managing" SOPs for your team, there are four primary activities you need to address:

1) Creation of SOPs
2) Changing SOPs
3) Sharing active SOPs (This includes training.)
4) Archiving SOPs


1 and 2: Creating and Changing SOPs

The flow chart for all of this is pretty straight forward. Let's say you are going to perform a procedure. First, determine whether there a written procedure already. If yes, execute it. If no, open a template and begin creating the procedure as you execute it. This becomes the first draft of your procedure.

Of course that needs to be stored in an appropriate place so that others can find it, use it, and update it. Thus the procedure becomes a living document. It evolves over time to remain accurate. If it is useful to duplicate this procedure for several clients, then you can create copies that are customized per client. Those are probably stored in individual client folders and not the primary procedure folder.

From time to time procedures become obsolete and are removed from the folders. They should be placed in an archive folder so you can find them if needed, but they are not mixed in with the "live" procedures.

So, from this little narrative, here are the elements you need to create a policy about managing your SOPs. This checklist should be repeated for each team (e.g., finances, sales, tech support):

- Where will the team's SOPs be stored?

- Who is authorized to make changes to procedures (hint: You should justify any answer other than "everyone").

- The last item in every checklist or procedure should be "Update this document"


3 and 4: Sharing and Archiving SOPs

Sharing includes putting things where you can find them AND training employees to use the SOPs. These are both much easier if you have regular employee meetings - such as a regular Monday morning huddle. Sharing includes making sure everyone knows whether they'll find what they're looking for on the Sharefile site, the company's public folder, inside ever note, etc.

Training is Cristal important. With every process, every procedure, and every checklist, you should  make sure that everyone on the team is executing well. That means that they watch someone execute the procedure, then someone watches them execute. Only then are they allowed to execute on their own.

If a procedure is new to the team, the team should go through it together to make sure all questions are answered. This is particularly important if a task used to be reserved for one or two high-level technicians and now everyone on the team is going to perform that task.

Training is also important as your team grows. From time to time it is useful to go through even mundane procedures and make sure everyone knows Your Way of doing things.

Finally, someone on each team needs to be responsible for weeding out old procedures. These might be obsolete (such as testing the backup tapes) or something that is now performed per-client so a universal procedure is no longer relevant. In some cases, you might have a folder for templates that personalized for each client.

Never simply delete old procedures. Move them to the archive folder. You never know what you're going to need some day!

- - - - -

The SOP Mentality

This seems like a lot of activity around SOPs. Just keep it in perspective: This is a lot of activity around standardization of your company. It's a lot of activity around doing things the right way. It's a culture of focuses a little bit every day on the things that will make your company systematically successful!

Related articles:

- The !Tech Directory

- Organizing Company Files and Folders

- Naming Your Processes and Procedures

- Information Sharing

- When Processes and Procedures Become Obsolete


Comments welcome.

- - - - -


About this Series

SOP Friday - or Standard Operating System Friday - is a series dedicated to helping small computer consulting firms develop the right processes and procedures to create a successful and profitable consulting business.

Find out more about the series, and view the complete "table of contents" for SOP Friday at SmallBizThoughts.com.

- - - - -

Next topic: Making Exceptions to SOPs

:-)

- - - - -

Michael Gerber to Keynote the 2014 SMB Online Conference


I am so very honored that 
Michael E. Gerber - author of the awesome book The E-Myth Revisited -
will be the keynote speaker for this year's 
SMB Online Conference: Systematic Success 2014




Michael Gerber to Speak at the
SMB Online Conference: Systematic Success 2014
The third annual online event is a business focused conference for I.T. professionals, with 12 amazing experts - including Michael Gerber. 

The inclusion of Michael Gerber is a special treat because of his reputation in helping thousands of small business owners successfully transform their businesses into world-class operations
, a goal at the heart of this year’s conference.

Gerber has been called “The World’s #1 Small Business Guru” by INC. Magazine. He has spent over 40 years targeting a niche in the small business market. He addresses through books and speaking tours the specific issues small business owners with technical skills encounter, a lack of direction on the small business skills required to run highly successful businesses.

“Conference sessions will cover processes, procedures, and products small business operators require to be successful. We will primarily teach attendees how to systematically document all of their processes” Palachuk says. He adds that “Documentation is extremely important to build a business model that can operate without the business owner doing all of the work, thus allowing for smooth internal growth, potential business sale, and even franchising.”

The online conference runs June 24-26, 2014. Registrations are being accepted now. Attendees can choose to listen live or obtain access to the recorded sessions. In all, the conference will broadcast fifteen hours of programming over the three days.

To learn more about Systematic Success 2014, visit www.smbonlineconference.com.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Can I Use All Eight Addresses in my 248 Subnet, or Just Five?

This is an interesting question.

Internet Service Providers have long handed out subnets of 255.255.255.248, which mathematically calculates to eight IP addresses. At the recent SMB TechFest in Orange County I was making a presentation on TCP/IP and I got asked this question:


How Come I Can Only Use Five of the Eight IP Addresses Assigned to Me?

Well . . . for the most part, you CAN use all eight IP addresses. There was a time, a long time ago, when it was discouraged. But you've always been able to do it.

Having said that, it used to be the case that routers needed to be configured to allow the use of all-zeros and all-ones subnets. But ever since Cisco IOS 12, the default is that you can use these address.

I updated my slide deck to explain what's going on here. This is a quick video with the new slides added:

Direct Link to video: http://youtu.be/G6Nbr56L4a8

Give it a gander and let me know if you have comment.

:-)