Saturday, March 31, 2012

Taking the SMB 150 Too Seriously?

I've been told that I'm taking the SMB 150 contest too seriously. If you're not familiar with it, check out www.smb150.com. Basically, the SMB 150 list is a joint venture of SMB Nation and SMBTN. They want to compile a list of influential people in the SMB space. It brings attention to both organizations and gives Harry some fodder for a magazine article.

Is this a "serious" contest? I'd have to say no. When you look at some of the votes, there are amazing and influential people who have almost none. Some people I find influential are not on the nominee list at all. Plus, you can vote as many times as you want for as many people as you want.
So the "voting" piece is just an opportunity for a fun-fest.

At some point, a panel of judges (mostly from SMBTN, I believe) will look at the list of nominees and come up with 150 winners. It's not scientific. It's not a reproducible experiment. It's not the definitive list. But it IS a list, and reflects some interesting aspects of the current SMB community.
I have been putting up "ads" for the SMB 150 because it's fun. You can see them on my Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/karlpalachuk. Obviously, I'm not taking this too seriously.

I also blogged about it a few times:

My Recommendations for the SMB 150

Support the Women of the SMB 150

And I put out a self-serving press release:
Small Business Author Karl Palachuk Nominated as "SMB 150" Influencer

Now to answer the question:

Why Put Effort Into Promoting the SMB 150 List
There are three reasons.

1st, it's fun. It's always okay to have fun in your job. Part of having success is enjoying what you do. I have lots of friends in the SMB Community, so this is a great excuse to spread some joy. And if my friends at SMB Nation and SMBTN get some extra attention, then that's fine with me.

2nd, it brings attention to our Community. Even if you think it's a hokey and unscientific poll, it's still a great excuse to open discussions, bring attention to our community, and highlight some people who really do contribute to the community. My first blog post was a list of about 80 people that I think you should vote for, with a few words on each. That took some effort. But it brings attention to the truly good, professional people we have in the community!

3rd, it's a great marketing opportunity. Any time you can talk about something that's important to you, and get others to talk about it as well, that's good. In my case, I've got three approaches. I have the fun approach on Facebook. I have written some serious blog posts. And I've generated a major press release. That means I paid to send it to 250,000 subscribers on PRWeb.

That press release looks like NEWS to people and web bots who aren't worried about whether it's scientific.

My press release has received more than 65,000 impressions. It's been read more than 800 times on the primary PRWeb site. And it's been picked up by at least 65 major media sites. To see a sampling of the coverage, see https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=%22Small%20Business%20Author%20Karl%20Palachuk%20Nominated%20as%20%E2%80%9CSMB%22

In other words, you can make marketing fodder out of whatever you want. All marketing has a compounding effect. So a few thousand extra links to me and and my company is always good.

Just like everything else in life, you can take something and interpret it to make good things happen!

One Final Word on Community
The SMB (SBS / MSP / IT Pro) community has been growing and evolving for years. What makes us a community is our willingness to get together and do things. For fun. For self-improvement. For the broader community. For each other.

As the IT Pro community has matured over the last ten years, some people have gone off to do their own thing.

I love the people at ConnectWise.
I love the people at Autotask.
I love the people at HTG.
I love the people at Technology Marketing Toolkit.

But as each of those groups has grown successful, their members are participating less and less with the larger community. The funny thing is that their leadership is NOT participating less. But the members are.

There are easily more than a million IT Pro consultants around the world. A few thousand participate in the "community."

Sometimes I go to a conference and joke that I know everyone there. But, really, I've never been to conference of any size where I knew everyone. Even in Sacramento, we'll hold an event with 40 people, and ten of them will be people I've never met before.

Many people don't see value in the community for whatever reason. Some people just see all of us as their competition. Some people are hunkered down in the bad economy and waiting to participate when things get better.

As for me, I have grown to truly love this community. I have so many friends all over the world because of it.

So when a community activity gives me a chance to 1) Have fun, 2) Promote the Community, and 3) Do Some Marketing, that's just perfect for me!

(Don't forget to vote today: http://smb150.com/story.php?title=karl-palachuk)

:-)

Friday, March 30, 2012

SOP Friday: Third Party Tech Support - Rules of Engagement

From time to time, you need to call third party tech support. That means HP, Dell, Microsoft, Symantec, etc. It also includes line of business vendors, ISPs, and other folks who are hired by your clients.

You need to have policies regarding third party support for a number of reasons. First, you need to have consistent communications with outside parties. Second, you need to log all time appropriately. Third, you need to manage the vendor relationship. And, fourth, you need to protect the client systems.

As with so many policies, these come from a series of experiences in the "real world."

I'm going to write a separate (non-SOP) blog post on vendor competence. But for now, let's assume that most of the vendors you're working with are 1) Large, 2) Have good processes, and 3) Have competent technicians. Again, everyone has stories about bad support, but I'm amazed at how rare that is.

Today, our focus is on how to maximize performance and documentation when it comes to third party tech support.

You will generally have three types of vendor interactions. One is a direct relationship with your company. For example, you call tech support for equipment you own internally. A second is contacting a company on behalf of your client regarding a very standardized installation such as an operating system or backup software. And a third type involves a company that makes customized software tuned to your client's environment, such as a Line of Business application (LOB).

1. Internal to Your Company
For the "internal" vendor relationship, you need to keep track of contact information, account numbers, telephone numbers, and the standard information you need with any vendor. This information is best kept in your PSA system (Autotask or ConnectWise).

Your policy for direct vendor relationships should state very clearly who may contact the vendor, and who may authorize contact with the vendor. This is particularly important if you are paying for support, such as with an escalated tech support provider such as Third Tier or Dove Help Desk. If it costs you money to use the service, then there needs to be a clear chain of command about who can make the decision to engage, and how you will proceed.

All time spent dealing directly with vendors for you company must be logged as administrative time or internal support time. You need to track for payroll purposes, but you also need to be able to run reports and determine how many hours it takes to work with a given vendor in a year. If a vendor costs you a significant amount of time in a year, it might be worth looking for another vendor.

You need to have an escalation policy. For example, if the third party tech works for an hour without making forward progress, then you request escalation. This requires excellent notes on your part. Many companies, including Microsoft and Zenith, resist escalation at all costs. Hold firm to your policies.

2. Standard-Install Software or Operating System
For standard-install software at a client site, you just need to keep all the information within that client's section of your PSA. With these standard install kinds of software, you can expect to get a different technician every time. The vendor will generally NOT have any kind of account on the client's computer system. You will probably be working on a ticket when you decide to escalate for support.

In such cases, you have to decide whether to continue logging time on the current service ticket or create a new one. This is mostly a matter of personal preference, but it can be very handy to create a separate ticket for the escalated support if you think it will take a significant amount of time. It's sometimes hard to distinguish how much time was spent on the escalated part of a ticket. But if you have a separate ticket, it's easy.

Whenever working with a third-party support team, we prefer to do the work ourselves and not let them work directly on client machines. But sometimes it's their policy to work directly, or it just makes sense. When that happens, we allow them to shadow us. We do not let them have access to client systems when we are not monitoring what they do. Our preference is for them to tell us what to do and have us make the changes.

They know their software, but we know our client machines.
When working with these vendors, remember that you'll often start out with someone who knows less than you. Unfortunately, no one knows that until you've spent some time going over familiar ground. See the comments on documentation and honesty below. If the tech knows less than you, then they're wasting time. Escalate as soon as possible. If you know less than them, sit back and take excellent notes.

Tracking time is critical. There are generally two types of time that can be used here. One is "covered" by managed services and therefore you are losing money. The other is billable to the client as part of a project or hourly job. In one case, you need to know exactly how long it took to fix a problem. In the other case, you need to be able to bill the client for exactly how long it took to fix the problem.

Same escalation policy as above: You need to have an escalation policy. For example, if the third party tech works for an hour without making forward progress, then you request escalation. This requires excellent notes on your part.

3. Customized Software or Line of Business
Unfortunately, this is the area where we run into the least "professional" tech support. Sometimes the Line of Business vendors are very much like standard-install software vendors. But just as often, it's a 1-5 person company and there's only one person who can really fix anything. He might be using old programming languages, and he might not know anything about newer protocols or operating systems.

You need to determine very quickly whether you know more than this person. Be honest (see below). And defend your client's systems.

Unlike the other types of third-party support, the customized programmer or LOB vendor will probably have an actual logon to the client's system. Here's how we handle this.

a) The vendor account is not an administrator unless it is absolutely necessary. Server Operator is probably good enough.

b) The vendor account is disabled at all times when you are not logged in and shadowing them.

c) The client must sign a release stating that your company is in charge of managing vendors. This reduces friction and makes it clear that you are in charge of the server.

d) If possible, the vendor will shadow you and you will do the work. But realistically, they will be much faster with their product than you, so you will probably end up shadowing them.

e) The vendor must walk you through what they're doing. You need to be attentive and make sure they don't make changes that will break something else.

f) All access to the server must be scheduled. You agree (normally by email) when the account will be activated. You coordinate a time when you can both access the server, and you keep great notes about what occurred. Some LOB vendors will send you their amazing notes. Most don't keep any notes.

Escalation may or may not be an option. If you got to the one guy who can actually fix stuff, you may need to just hang in there until he figures it out.

Documentation is Critical
Next week I'll go into detail about Documenting Calls. But here are some key notes:
In all of these cases, YOU need to keep great notes about what you did. You need time stamps for all activities, in 15 minute increments. See the SOP post on Troubleshooting and Repair Logs

It can save a lot of time if you can tell the escalated support what you've already done. This includes backtracking your steps (for example, when you change an IP, test something, change the IP back to what it was). Tell them everything.

Keeping excellent notes will help you escalate to the right level of support as quickly as possible. You always want to be working with someone who is more knowledgeable than you.

If the "fix" is related to a product that you have installed on more than one client, you need to make sure that notes get into the knowledgebase you keep for that product. If you're not doing this in your PSA system, learn how and do it!

Honesty is the Best Policy
When service companies reach a level of true professionalism, they adopt a policy of complete honesty in service calls. That means you admit if you or your client broke something. It doesn't mean you're incompetent. It means you're human. Expect the same from the vendor.

It's okay to say "I don't know about that." It's also okay to educate the vendor rep if you DO know something they don't. Be honest about what you did, the order in which you did it, and how you got where you are. Honesty is the fastest way to getting the system working again.
We all hate it when clients say "I didn't change anything," even when we can see that they installed a program. Don't be like that.

I've mentioned already, but let me say again: You always want to be working with someone who is more knowledgeable than you. That means you need to be honest about yourself. When you get to the limits of your knowledge, go into student mode and start soaking up new knowledge. When you get to the limits of the other technician's knowledge, ask to be escalated.

Again, excellent documentation is your friend.

Learn from Vendor Processes
Just as you have a service board, your vendors each have a service board. You need to document how you will contact them. For example, do you create a ticket online or by telephone? What information do they need?

One very common process that is used by tech support providers at all levels is to define the problem. You can't call a vendor and ask them to spend an hour poking around in your system and fine-tuning everything they find, unless you're paying them for it. No. In most cases, you have a specific problem. You called to fix that problem. They have a duty to define the problem, fix the problem, and close their service ticket.

If you also have another problem with the same software, expect it to be a separate service incident. In some cases, a tech will help you with both. But it is in everyone's interest to work on one problem at a time. So you are likely to have two different service tickets in their system.

Pay attention to processes like these and determine why they exist and how they serve you and the support company. Should you adopt similar policies? Very often, the answer is YES!

Implementing These Policies
Implementing these policies is a little different than other policies. You normally don't call a given tech support company very much. If you do, you might consider selling a different product! So you need to write up a policy that makes sense.

Only create as much policy as you need. When your staff need to escalate calls to outside vendors, go over these policies with them and use the incident to fine-tune your policies.

Especially with LOB vendors and customized software, you might have a specific policy for one vendor. Just make sure that there are clear notes about it in the system and that you have good communication internally, with the client, and with the vendor.

Always be updating documentation and processes.


Your 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 http://www.smallbizthoughts.com/events/SOPFriday.html

- - - - -

Next week's topic: Third Party Tech Support - Documenting Calls

:-)






Check Out Erick Simpson's Network Operations Center Operations Guide The Best NOC and Service Desk Operations Book Ever! by Erick Simpson Ships from stock right now!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Support the women in the SMB 150

The first professional, full-time computer programmers were all women, hired for their mad math skills. See http://www.topsecretrosies.com/Top_Secret_Rosies/Home.html.
Well, there goes one stereotype down the drain!

This is just a note about the women in the SMB 150 voting. I personally know about 60% of them. I am glad they are in our community. And to be honest, I'm glad to see so many nominated for the SMB 150, given their very small numbers in the I.T. community overall.

I know this is a long list, but click on a few names and read their quick paragraph-long statements. Cast a few votes. And in some small way, acknowledge their contributions to our community.

Support the women in the SMB 150
http://smb150.com

Amanda Harper http://smb150.com/story.php?title=amanda-harper
Amy Babichak http://smb150.com/story.php?title=amy-babinchak
Amy Luby http://smb150.com/story.php?title=amy-luby
Barbara Dove http://smb150.com/story.php?title=barbara-dove
Barbara Hizer http://smb150.com/story.php?title=barbara-hizer
Beatrice Mulzer http://smb150.com/story.php?title=beatrice-mulzer
Christy Sacco http://smb150.com/story.php?title=christy-sacco
Cindy Bates http://smb150.com/story.php?title=cindy-bates
Debi Bush http://smb150.com/story.php?title=debi-bush-cmit
Devita Saraf http://smb150.com/story.php?title=devita-saraf
Diana Hage http://smb150.com/story.php?title=diana-hage
Dina Moskowitz http://smb150.com/story.php?title=dina-moskowitz
Dona Keating http://smb150.com/story.php?title=dona-keating-1
Eileen Brown http://smb150.com/story.php?title=eileen-brown
Erin Arnold http://smb150.com/story.php?title=erin-arnold
Ilene Rosoff http://smb150.com/story.php?title=ilene-rosoff
Jan Spring http://smb150.com/story.php?title=jan-spring
Jane Cage http://smb150.com/story.php?title=jane-cage
Jeannine Edwards http://smb150.com/story.php?title=jeannine-edwards
Jennifer Anaya http://smb150.com/story.php?title=jennifer-anaya
Jessica Devita http://smb150.com/story.php?title=jessica-devita
Joy Belinda Beland http://smb150.com/story.php?title=joy-belinda-beland
Karen Christian http://smb150.com/story.php?title=karen-christian
Karen Guarino http://smb150.com/story.php?title=karen-guarino
Laurie McCabe http://smb150.com/story.php?title=laurie-mccabe
Linda Brotherton http://smb150.com/story.php?title=linda-brotherton
Lynette Bohanan http://smb150.com/story.php?title=lynette-bohanan
Marina Roos http://smb150.com/story.php?title=marina-roos-1
Mary Campbell http://smb150.com/story.php?title=mary-campbell
Meaghan Kelly http://smb150.com/story.php?title=meaghan-kelly
Melissa Staehle http://smb150.com/story.php?title=melissa-staehle
Michelle Ragusa http://smb150.com/story.php?title=michelle-ragusa-cisco-relationship-manager-1
Mona Abutaleb http://smb150.com/story.php?title=mona-abutaleb-
Nancy Williams http://smb150.com/story.php?title=nancy-williams
Patricia Hume http://smb150.com/story.php?title=pat-hume
Rayanne Buchianico http://smb150.com/story.php?title=rayanne-buchianico
Robin Robins http://smb150.com/story.php?title=robin-robins
Robyn Davis http://smb150.com/story.php?title=robyn-davis-1
Robyn Howes http://smb150.com/story.php?title=robyn-howes
Shari Godgart http://smb150.com/story.php?title=shari-godgart
Susan Bradley http://smb150.com/story.php?title=susan-bradley
Susanne Dansey http://smb150.com/story.php?title=susanne-dansey
Teresa Bell http://smb150.com/story.php?title=teresa-bell

Sorry if I missed anyone.

:-)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

ConnectWise and LabTech Software Sign as Platinum Sponsors of the SMB Online Conference!

We put out a major press release today. We are very pleased to announce that ConnectWise and LabTech Software have agreed to be Platinum sponsors of the SMB Online Conference, "Managing for Success 2012."
Sign up today before prices go up: www.smbonlineconference.com

Here's that press release:

- - - - -

Sacramento, CA, March 28, 2012 – Small Business Technology author Karl Palachuk announced that ConnectWise and LabTech Software have signed on as Platinum level sponsors of the Small Biz Thoughts online conference, "Managing for Success 2012." The conference being held June 26
th through the 28th will focus on building successful business processes and feature some of the best business and technology speakers in the U.S.

Managing for Success 2012 is the first event of its kind targeting technology providers and computer consultants. "We are very pleased to partner with ConnectWise and LabTech Software to make this conference possible," said Palachuk. "Their consistent support of the SMB community makes unique educational programs like this possible."

ConnectWise President and CEO Arnie Bellini echoed that sentiment. "ConnectWise was built on the premise that educating partners on business processes builds more profitable partners. This is a great opportunity to help MSPs and other IT consultants build more profitable businesses. Karl has been educating the IT channel for years and we are proud to sponsor this event."

Conference speakers include Stephanie Chandler and Dave Sobel. Chandler is the author of seven books, including
Own Your Niche on the Internet and Beyond (Authority Publishing, 2012). Her Business Info Guide web site – www.BusinessInfoGuide.com – is an extremely popular destination for small business owners. Sobel is the author of Virtualization: Defined, one of the first books ever written on virtualization strategies for small business. He is also one of the first Microsoft MVPs (Most Valuable Partners) for Hyper-V, Microsoft’s platform for virtual environments.

The conference is "virtual" (online only) and will run 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM each day on June 26-28, 2012. Attendees can choose to listen live or also have access to the recorded sessions. In all, the conference will broadcast eighteen hours of programming in three days.

To learn more about Managing for Success 2012, visit www.smbonlineconference.com.



Follow ConnectWise
www.connectwise.com/twitter

www.connectwise.com/facebook
www.connectwise.com/youtube
www.connectwise.com/linkedin
www.connectwise.com/flickr

Follow LabTech Software
www.Facebook.com/LabTechSoftware
www.Twitter.com/LabTechSoftware
www.YouTube.com/user/LabTechSoftware


About ConnectWise

Designed exclusively for the IT Channel, ConnectWise is the leading business management solution for service providers, MSPs, technology consultants, integrators, and developers. Today more than 62,000 IT professionals rely on ConnectWise to achieve greater accountability, operational efficiency and profitability. ConnectWise fully integrates CRM, sales, help desk ticket and tracking, project tracking, IT service management, SLAs, dispatch scheduling, mobile IT services, time and expenses into a singular IT management software to dramatically streamline IT companies. Over the last 29 years, ConnectWise has become the premier business operating system for IT solution providers. ConnectWise APIs are accessed by over 300 organizations, including ConnectWise partners and industry leaders of the IT Nation. For more information visit www.ConnectWise.com or call 800-671-6898.

About LabTech Software

LabTech is the only Managed Service tool for remote monitoring, management, (RMM) and automation developed by a Managed Service Provider (MSP) for MSPs. Our affordable, agent-based solution so closely emulates what technicians do in the field that techs can provide the same support remotely. Because we understand how to manage a growing MSP business, we make it easier to procure their software and allow partners to add agents as they grow. For more information please visit www.LabTechSoftware.com or call 877-522-8323.

About Small Biz Thoughts

Small Biz Thoughts is the training and content division of Great Little Book Publishing Co., Inc. Their programs are geared specifically for the Managed Service Provider and SMB Consultant communities. Their focus on future trends has helped them to build a reputation as a trusted advisor to fans and friends around the world. For more information, visit www.smallbizthoughts.com.


Media Contact:
Karl W. Palachuk
916-248-4301
sales@smallbizthoughts.com

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Join me for “Making Money in The Small Business Cloud” – April 14th in Portland, OR

I'm going to be presenting an all-day seminar on how IT consulting businesses can make money selling cloud services, April 14th in Portland, OR. The seminar is sponsored by the Technology Wizards of Portland.

The April 14th seminar – Making Money in the Small Business Cloud – is an intense training for computer consultants who want to learn about the mindset as well as the tool set needed to be effective cloud service integrators. This is an updated version of the material I presented on cloud training for IT consultants in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, Atlanta, and dozens of other cities over the last two years.

The world of IT consulting has changed dramatically with the growth of cloud services in the last few years. Many consultants have not participated in the change because they haven’t been forced to. But the changes are out there. The world is migrating to the Cloud. And technicians who don’t learn how to move forward will be left behind.

Ken Shafer, President of Technology Wizards agrees: “This is not the typical cloud presentation we’ve seen from some of the vendors. This is not a sales presentation. Karl is bringing us a business-focused workshop on how to actually make real money providing cloud-based services, without having to give up what you are currently doing, and without having to sell thousands or even hundreds of seats.”

Lunch and snacks are included in the program. Further details, including agenda and registration information, can be found at www.smbbooks.com/categories/seminars.htm.
Companies who register two or more attendees will receive a 20% discount. And members of the Technology Wizards are eligible for an even bigger discount.

About Technology Wizards
Technology Wizards is an organization of independent professional IT consultants who support Microsoft’s Small Business Server and related products. They meet in Portland, Oregon. Members have offices throughout the Northwest in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho.
Technology Wizards exists to promote Information Technology by sharing ideas and experience. They specialize in, but are not limited to Microsoft Small Business Server Products. Their mission includes educating their members and the public about technology relevant to small businesses. For more information on Technology Wizards, visit www.technologywizards.com.

:-)

Friday, March 23, 2012

SOP Friday: How Much Interruption is Okay? (Phone Procedures, part 2)

In the last SOP Friday installment, we talked about Telephone Procedures. In that post, and in the comments that followed, there was some discussion about the Good Habit of not being totally controlled by your telephone.
It's okay to call people back. Just make sure you do it in a timely manner!

Now, what do you do to deal with the interruption? It is a fact that at one time or another you will find yourself on the phone with a client who needs attention but you cannot give it to them for one reason or another. The acceptable phrases to memorize and use are:

- "I’m going to help you get a Service Request put into the system so that the service manager can get it prioritized and get someone on it as soon as possible."

- "Even though you have reached me directly I am currently on another task (or working with another client) and can’t change my focus. I’m going to help you . . . [see text above] . . ."


You can limit interruptions by having a well thought-out phone tree. That means:

1) DO NOT give out personal cell phone numbers. Period.

2) Clients should always call the main phone number. Press "1" for tech support. That might go to your cell phone, but the client needs to call the main number!

3) After hours, the phone tree automatically rolls to an after-hours message. If the client has an urgent matter, they can leave a message. You'll be a page/text and you can call them back.

You never need to answer the phone after hours. If your clients consistently call you during evenings and weekends, it's because you have trained them to do so. Stop it. You'll be amazed at how easily they comply. Why? Because you are one of only two vendors that DON'T have a policy about this.

Note:
If you're reading this article without the context of the entire SOP Friday Series, then you should know that I assume you have a process for handling service calls, getting service requests into your system, etc.


Interruptions Kill Business

I harp on this because we live in a society that believes you can do multiple things at once. You can't. Period. I know people will post links to articles debating this philosophically. But empirically, human beings cannot multi-task. Human beings can switch between tasks. Sometimes they can do it very fast. But you can't do two things at once.

So . . . you're working and you get interrupted. What effect does that have on your performance?

I've addressed this before (see http://blog.smallbizthoughts.com/2011/02/interruptions-cost-you-money.html). The research is pretty amazing, but not very widely publicized. I guess we don't want to hear that our constant interruptions are bad. We enjoy them!

In many cases, we are happy to be interrupted. That's fine. But accept to yourself that that's what you're doing. If you DON'T want to be interrupted, then you need to put in systems to reduce interruptions.

Here's an interesting bit of research:

"We found about 82 percent of all interrupted work is resumed on the same day. But here's the bad news -- it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task." See Worker, Interrupted: The Cost of Task Switching (http://www.fastcompany.com/articles/2008/07/interview-gloria-mark.html).

Other research found the interruption to be more like 15 minutes. But still, that's huge.

One estimate is that the average knowledge worker loses more than $10,000/year in productive labor due to interruptions. See http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/hey_wait_a_minute/2006/03/workus_interruptus.html.

Try this and see for yourself how often you are affected by interruptions: Keep a Log. Just like a food log for dieters. Log the date, time, and a quick note about the interruption. Then, at the end of the day, evaluate whether the interruption was Hi, Medium, or Low priority. Then estimate how long the interruption affected your work.

Keep a total every day for one week. I'll bet you have more than ten interruptions per day. At six minutes (interruption + time to get back on task), that's one hour per day. When I did this, many years ago, the total was more than 20/day. Now I'm pretty brutal about not being interrupt-driven.

You should always work from highest to lowest priority. Working on something just because you are interrupted means that you totally ignore the priority system! That's being interrupt-driven.


- Implementation -

To implement this policy, start by writing up a general policy (1-2 paragraphs). Then begin building systems (like using your PSA properly and creating a working phone tree).

This kind of policy requires that everyone on the team

1) Be aware of the policy

2) Practice the policy

3) Correct one another's errors

4) Support one another with reminders


Your 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 http://www.smallbizthoughts.com/events/SOPFriday.html.

- - - - -

Next week's topic: Phone Procedures 2 - How Much Interruption is Okay?


:-)





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- Processes and Procedures - Target Markets - Customer satisfaction and Loyalty -

and More!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Third Tier Brings "Brain Explosion" to New Orleans!

Does your brain itch for information on IPv6, Active Directory, Exchange Compliance, and Managing Data Encryption?
Of course it does!

Well, Third Tier has the answer for you: Brain Explosion 2012 - a Preday Event for the IT Pro Conference hosted by SBSMigration.

The big Brain Explosion in New Orleans takes place June 7th. You and can save 50% by registering this week. The details on how to register are at: http://www.thirdtier.net/2012/03/brain-explosion-50-discount-and-content-revealed/.

Hey - It's already a GREAT price at $120. But if you can register now for only $60, that gives you more money to spend on gifts from Bourbon Street!

Here's the note I got from my friend Amy B:

- - - - -
Brain Explosion 2012 content revealed! 50% off registration until March 25th too.
http://www.thirdtier.net/2012/03/brain-explosion-50-discount-and-content-revealed/

Third Tier staff are known for the depth of knowledge they bring to your business. At Brain Explosion 2012 they’ve developed some very practical sessions that will leave you empowered to deploy.

IPv6 Right Now Presented by Cliff Galiher
In this session, we will cut through the theory and dig in to how IPv6 impacts today’s business networks. Cliff will give you practical tools to understand IPv6, deploy and transition your network, and support an IPv6 infrastructure including DNS, DHCP, and coexisting with IPv4. This session will leave with a better understanding and a few “next steps” to help bring your networks forward with this exciting advancement in technology.

Active Directory Management Presented by Brian Higgins
Active Directory is a complex and powerful system, and combined with the power and complexity of Group Policy it can be downright difficult to manage sometimes. Proper setup and configuration upfront can make management and troubleshooting of complex system like Active Directory (almost) simple. We will start this session by exploring some of the common topology mistakes when setting up Active Directory, and how proper topology layouts can make managing Group Policy much easier. Next we will dive deeper into some strategies behind planning your Group Policy deployments, and discuss some performance considerations when you create new policies. Finally you’ll learn how to create your own custom schema extensions to store custom information in Active Directory. I’ll show you how to use that schema extension knowledge to effortlessly, and automatically deploy and manage network printers to users in a completely new way.

Exchange 2010 Compliance and Archiving Presented by David Shackelford
Few small and midsized businesses that have clients in the medical, financial and legal professions are actually prepared to provide data to the courts in the event of a lawsuit or investigation. Those who have some measures in place still find e-discovery to be a very tedious process. In this session we’ll look at ways the Exchange 2010 feature set has made storing and retrieving archived emails easier and will also discuss some third-party solutions that have made compliance processes even easier.

Managing Data Encryption Presented by Jeremy Anderson
Jeremy Brings forth the Encryption as he discusses BitLocker. Addressing the physical security of your network, including laptops and tablets Jeremy will discuss Bitlocker and how to Implement and deploy it in your Active Directory Domain. How to back up the recovery keys into AD DS using the BitLocker Active Directory Recovery Password Viewer tool, and how to recover data from a drive will be discussed and demonstrated. New features, including Network Unlock and Partial Drive Encryption that is available in Windows Server 8 and Windows 8 will be discussed. Learn how easy full disk encryption is to deploy and use in your networks, and the security that it brings to your clients knowing that if they have a device lost or stolen, that the data is secure from theft.

- - - - -
WHAT?

All that for $120 . . . I mean $60 ???

You gotta be there.

Register today and I'll see you in New Orleans!

:-)

Microsoft West Region to Hold SMB Licensing Boot Camps

What's the most common joke told by Microsoft presenters in the U.S.? That's easy:

"Everyone knows you'd have to be a fool to talk about Microsoft licensing. Next we're going to talk about Microsoft licensing."

I don't know why, but I've never been very perplexed about licensing. 99% of my frustration comes from getting the right SKUs at Ingram and Synnex. For awhile I was a "Microsoft Licensing Expert." Maybe on the books I still am. But new programs come out all the time, so my knowledge is certainly out of date.

And - more importantly - how you make money in a shifting environment changes over time.
So I was delighted to get this missive from my friend Suzanne Lavine at Microsoft. It's a series of Licensing bootcamps focused on the sales process. I attended a two-day "Solution Sales" training from Microsoft a few years ago. It is excellent.

Suzanne's email:

- - - - -

Are you leaving money on the table?
Are you stumped by the complexity of Microsoft licensing?
Do you want to refresh your Solution Sales Skills?

Join Microsoft for a focused discussion on Solution Selling & Licensing Microsoft Solutions for partners selling into Small & Medium Businesses.

Microsoft Partners:

This power-packed three-hour boot camp is great for client-facing sales managers, account executives, and technical resources who are new in their role or who need a refresher on Microsoft's licensing programs. And, if you're already a Microsoft licensing expert, attend this boot camp and test your knowledge! We will review trends, tools, scenarios and tips to help you and your customers.

In just three hours, you'll learn how to:
- Refresh your Solution Sales Skills
- Grow your business with the right licensing programs for your customers
- Discover techniques to position Annuity with Microsoft Software Assurance
- Enhance your profit margin with best practices
- Understand Microsoft Cloud licensing options for your customers
- Leverage incentives, rebates, financing and promotions to save money
- Connect with local resources and knowledgeable experts
- Gain invaluable insight on how to get more revenue from every sale

Register Today in a City Near You!

Sacramento, CA
Monday, 4/16
1:30pm – 4:30pm PT
Register: https://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032508697&Culture=en-US

Mountain View, CA
Wednesday, 4/18
9:00am – 12:00pm PT
Register: https://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032508752&Culture=en-US

Mountain View, CA
Wednesday, 5/16
9:00am – 12:00pm PT
Register: https://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032508700&Culture=en-US

San Francisco, CA
Thursday, 5/17
9:00am – 12:00pm PT
Register: https://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032508702&Culture=en-US

This event is designed to give you the knowledge you need to advise your customers, save money and build a Microsoft roadmap. Register today!

- - - - -

:-)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Microsoft MVP Dave Sobel to Keynote Major Online Conference for Small Business Consultants

I am very pleased to announce that my friend Dave Sobel will be a major speaker at the SMB Online Conference in June. Dave will talk about the metrics of running your business: Key things to watch, and how they help you monitor the health of your managed service business.
Here's the official press release that went out today:

- - - - -

Microsoft MVP Dave Sobel to Keynote Major Online Conference for Small Business Consultants

Sacramento, CA, March 21, 2012 – Technology author Karl Palachuk announced that Dave Sobel, Microsoft MVP, Level Platforms Director of Partner Community, and highly experienced international business consultant, will be a keynote speaker at the first major Online Conference for Small Business IT Consultants, “Managing for Success 2012.” The June conference focuses on building successful IT business processes and will feature some of the best business and technology speakers in the U.S.

Sobel is the author of Virtualization: Defined, one of the first books ever written on virtualization strategies for small business. Sobel is also one of the first Microsoft MVPs (Most Valuable Partners) for Hyper-V, Microsoft’s platform for virtual environments.

Over the last few years, Sobel has made dozens of trips to England and Europe, developing an IT Partner Community and providing peer consulting to other managed service providers. Sobel sold his very success managed services IT business in 2011 and is now Director of Partner Community with Level Platforms.

Sobel frequently speaks on cloud computing, virtualization and a variety of other topics at industry events including the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, CompTIA and SMB Nation. As one of the nation's leading experts on cloud computing and virtualization, he is frequently quoted in business and technology publications. He is also the author of two blogs -- Evolutionary Business Thoughts and SMB Virtualization, and has been a regular blog contributor to both Channel Insider and Channelnomics. He was named to SMB Technology Network (SMBTN) and SMB PC magazine’s SMB 150 Influencer list in 2010, and has been part of the MSPmentor 250 all three years it has been published.

“We are so proud to have Dave join us for this conference,” said Palachuk. “He is quite honestly an international super-star when it comes to technology and good business practices. We’re not going to have him speak about virtualization, however. We want to draw on his experience with building a successful business and keeping that business successful in a changing global economy.”

Sobel holds a bachelor's degree in Computer Science from the College of William and Mary. He is a dynamic voice within the IT community, a former member and facilitator for Heartland Technology Groups, and passionate about collaborating with clients and peers on utilizing technology to advance organizations.

Other conference speakers include Bob Godgart and Patrick Schwerdtfeger. Bob Godgart is the Chairman of the Board of CompTIA, the Computing Technology Industry Association. He is the founder of ChannelEyes, and the past founder, CEO, and Chairman at Autotask. Godgart describes himself as a “serial entrepreneur” and has started four technology companies that grew into market leaders over the last 25 years. Patrick Schwerdtfeger is an internationally recognized authority on social media marketing and the author of several books, including Marketing Shortcuts for the Self-Employed (Wiley, 2011).

The conference is “virtual” (online only) and will run 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM on June 26-28, 2012. Attendees can choose to listen live or also have access to the recorded sessions. In all, the conference will broadcast eighteen hours of programming in three days.

Primary sponsors of the SMB Online Conference include Autotask Corporation, the world's leading hosted IT business management software to streamline and optimize business processes for technology solution providers. Len DiCostanzo, Senior Vice President, Community and Business Development at Autotask will also speak at the conference.

To learn more about Managing for Success 2012, visit www.smbonlineconference.com.

About Autotask
Autotask Corporation provides the world's leading hosted IT business management software to streamline and optimize business processes for technology solution providers. Autotask is accessible from virtually any computing or mobile device connected to the Internet and features a world-class API that seamlessly integrates with the other systems and tools that providers rely on to run their businesses. For more information on Autotask Corporation, visit www.autotask.com.

About Small Biz Thoughts
Small Biz Thoughts is the training and content division of Great Little Book Publishing Co., Inc. Their programs are geared specifically for the Managed Service Provider and SMB Consultant communities. Their focus on future trends has helped them to build a reputation as a trusted advisor to fans and friends around the world. For more information, visit www.smallbizthoughts.com.

Media Contact:
Karl W. Palachuk
916-248-4301
sales@smallbizthoughts.com

:-)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

IT Pro Appreciation Day - Carolina IT Professionals Group Hold Benefit for the Homeless

Some people are just designed from the start to help others. My friend Dave Sanders is one of those folks. Along with a host of Usual Suspects in the world of giving unto others, he is putting together an Amazing all-day training for I.T. pros - for only $10 per person!

The event is March 23rd in Charlotte, NC. It's literally all day: 8:00 AM - 6:30 PM.

Educational programs will be presented by an amazing collection of Microsoft MVPs and others.

Topics include Hyper-V, Business Intelligence, Microsoft Backup Technologies, Lync, Microsoft Deployment Tools, Cloud Computing for IT Professionals, and more!

If you're anywhere near Charlotte, check it out. If nothing else, give them your $10 and feel good about that.

Here's the note from Dave:

- - - - -

Meeting Name: IT Pro Appreciation Day
Meeting Date: Friday, March 23 2012
Meeting Time: 8:00am - 6:30pm
Registration Link: CLICK HERE TO REGISTER - http://www.carolinait.org/MeetingRSVPPublic.aspx?mid=147

I'd like to share with you the reasons why I started CITPG over 12 years ago and why I have dedicated my life to it ever since.

Most of us live in nice homes, have good jobs and give little thought to the world around us. We are comfortable and safe for the most part having what we need when we need it.

There are those around us, much closer than you think who don't.

Over 3000 men women and children in the Charlotte area don't know where there next meal may come from today. They have no home, no job and for some, seemingly no future. "Oh" you may say, "There are agencies to help them, shelters etc., they'll be ok."

Maybe not.

What if you found yourself in that position? Many of them were once like us, with homes, jobs etc. In many cases circumstances have occurred that have placed them in this fearful situation in spite of their best efforts.

It is for these people, their children and to give hope that..I founded and have dedicated my life to CITPG.

We have made a difference and we continue to do so but it is small and could be so much more.

I put forward the idea of the March 23rd IT PRO Appreciation Day with the hope that we could make a significant impact on many lives through the participation of you and your peers, the companies you work for, the church you attend and your friends. I am still hopeful but the numbers are not there yet. We need MANY more to register, come to the event and bring their $10.

ALL proceeds go to help the homeless and the children..

I am appealing to you, please, register for the event, encourage 10 people around you to do so and to come to the event and bring their $10.

For a fee of only $10, you get an entire day of the very best training and presentations given by the very best presenters. We even supply your lunch and give you a chance to win big screen  TVs, Xboxes, Kindle Fires and other wonderful gifts.

I am only asking that you participate and help me to fill the venue with people this Friday.
In spite of providing the links to the presentation, bios and attendee material to you in an email, few of you have downloaded them. In an effort to show you how profound and impacting the presentations are, I am listing the presentations and bios of the presenters here:

Presentation Overviews

Hyper-V for Small Business
Presented by Amy Babinchak (7 time Microsoft MVP)
As a small business specialist, I was not convinced to use Hyper-V for our clients until recently. Now we’re using Hyper-V to bring the promise of cloud technology to our clients. I’ll share some of my case studies. But before you deploy your first Hyper-V box you need to understand how different the parent operates from the children. I’ll cover memory, disk utilization, raid controllers, partitioning, NICS and host configuration to optimize performance.

Business Intelligence: What can SharePoint 2010 do for your organization?
Presented by Charles Traywick (Principle – Infotronics)
Often mislabeled and misunderstood, SharePoint is arguably one of the most successful server level software products in recent decades.  Now in its fourth major release, SharePoint 2010 offers significant features for business intelligence, collaboration and centralization of work processes (portal) and hosting of standard applications.
This session will provide an overview of the integration of business intelligence features and how to use them to make analysis easier and more fluid for decision makers.  Will we explore how to connect to back end databases and expose the “intelligence” buried in standard transactional data and show how easy it is to make this data accessible for users.
What’s New in SharePoint 2010?
New features like: Ease Of Use; Wiki pages; Digital Libraries; Centralized Metadata ; Extended Enterprise Features (Visio Services, Access Services, Excel Services, Word Conversion Services); PowerShell Integration; SharePoint Workspace; Business Intelligence; Scalability; Better Visual Studio 2010 Integration; Business  Connectivity Services; Silverlight;  Granular Control of Services and a host of other new features make this the easiest and most powerful SharePoint yet.

Microsoft Backup Technologies
Presented by Grey Lancaster (13 time Microsoft MVP)
Discussion/demo DPM, Server 08 R2, and a focus on client backup in the Colorado products.  (Small Business Server 2011 Essentials, Windows Storage Server 2011 Essentials, Windows Home Server 2011)

Understanding Lync: A Primer
Presented by Cliff Galiher (3 time Microsoft MVP)
Microsoft Lync has recently been in the spotlight with its inclusion in Office 365. But for many IT professionals, there is a lot of confusion, misunderstanding, and unanswered questions about Lync and how it can fit in a business environment. This session is going to take a look at Microsoft Lync, answer some of those questions, and look at how it can fit into a business, as both a service offering or as an on-premise solution. We will dive into the possibilities this product unlocks and help showcase some of the power features that differentiates Lync from other “unified communications” solutions.

Leave with the knowledge of another powerful tool that IT professionals can use to empower businesses to communicate in exciting new and powerful ways.

Microsoft Deployment Tools
Presented by Rhonda Layfield (5 time Microsoft MVP)
If you haven’t rolled out Windows 7 yet – it’s time! Microsoft offers a few options for their FREE deployment tools – but which one is right for you? The Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2012 (MDT) is about to ship and it’s full of new features. In this session you’ll learn everything MDT 2012 can do for you including XP migrations, network deployments, multiple deployment shares, deploying from a USB stick, customizing and automating it all. But wait is MDT 2012 the right tool for you? Maybe Windows Deployment Service (WDS) meets your needs. Rhonda will show you how to configure and set up WDS. ConfigMgr may not be free but version 2012 is the best yet – check it out here. Best of all this session will show you the pros and cons of each tool so you can make the best choice for your environment. Get ready for tons of demos and real world scenarios.

What’s in Cloud Computing for IT Professionals
Presented by Yung Chou (Microsoft Senior IT Pro Evangelist)
Recently cloud computing has been emerging as a promising delivery vehicle for IT services. Among IT professionals, there is however much confusion on what it is and how it works. This session is to bring clarity by presenting a concise and easy-to-understand view of cloud computing. We will step through business scenarios and operations, while cloud computing can make a noticeable difference and help IT better delivers services. Come confused and leave with a clear vision of what’s in it for IT professionals and how IT professionals can take a productive path, play an enabling role in cloud computing era.

Hyper-V, A Key Enabling Technology of Private Cloud
Presented by Yung Chou (Microsoft Senior IT Pro Evangelist)
This is an exciting opportunity to learn Hyper-V, gain technical depth and insights of Microsoft virtualization, and realize how it is relevant to cloud computing in a relative short period of time. We will start with the essentials and advance to real-world topics on architecture, networking, and Hyper-V manager. Attendees will learn the key processes and operations to deliver services in a cloud environment.

Becoming the Next Private Cloud Expert in Your Organization
Presented by Yung Chou (Microsoft Senior IT Pro Evangelist)
While enterprise IT organizations are transitioning into cloud computing, private cloud has been perplexing IT professionals. The confusions between virtualization and private cloud, the complexities of transforming a traditional infrastructure-centric deployment model into a cloud-enable environment, the ambiguities and uncertainties among IT’s roles and responsibilities in cloud computing are all discouraging IT professionals from playing an active role and contributing to cloud computing initiatives. This presentation is to offer clarity by demonstrating a private cloud deployment process in an enterprise environment. Attendees can gain technical insights, connect with individual’s background and experiences, and get started in becoming the next private cloud expert in your organization.

Windows Multipoint Server 2011
Presented by Kevin Royalty (7 time Microsoft MVP)
Come see the latest hidden gem from Microsoft – Windows Multipoint Server 2011!  Originally designed for the education market, this solution is now available for the SMB market as well.  Come see how easy it is to set up, deploy and manage this solution for your clients.

Why IT Pro’s must learn Windows PowerShell Now
Presented by Ed (The Scripting Guy) Wilson (Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT)(MCSE)(CISSP)
“IT Pro’s don’t script.” I have heard this mantra for more than a decade – ever since I wrote my best selling Windows Scripting Self-Paced Learning Guide for Microsoft Press. But Windows PowerShell is more than just new scripting language – in fact, some PowerShell MVP’s have stated that Windows PowerShell is not a scripting language at all. Also, and more to the point, Windows PowerShell is not even all that new, with Windows 8, Windows PowerShell enters the 3rd version – it is therefore established technology. Simply put, Windows PowerShell is the future automation story in the Microsoft world, but it is also the present, and the IT Pro who learns how to use this tool will immediately become a more productive, and consequently more valuable employee.  In this session I will discuss the extent to which Windows PowerShell permeates the Microsoft eco system, and offer real world scenarios that illustrate both the power, and the simplicity of this management tool.

Keynote Address – A Celebration of Communities, IT professionals, and Windows
Join Scott Davidson, General Manager of Microsoft Developer and Platform Evangelism, US East Region for a celebration of communities, IT professionals, and Windows. Let's rejoin our friends, renew our partnership, and together re-imagine Windows again while welcoming the era of cloud computing and the arrival of the “consumerization” of IT.

Speaker BiographiesAmy Babinchak - 9 Time Microsoft MVP Awardee
Amy owns Harbor Computer Services, a consulting firm specializing in providing IT services to small businesses. She is also Managing Partner of Third Tier, which provides advanced support services to other consultants and vendors.  She has written articles, contributed to the SBS Unleashed books, is the technical editor for others, has been a speaker to many user groups, and conferences. Amy founded the EBS Users group in 2009. Also organizes and speaks in two webinars a month held by Third Tier.  She can be founded on her blogs at smalltechnotes.blogspot.com and www.thirdtier.net/blog, various Yahoo SBS mailing lists, 50 LinkedIn groups as well as @thirdtier, @harborcomputer and @ababinchak on twitter

Cliff Galiher - 3 Time Microsoft MVP Awardee
Nestled in the north Rockies, Cliff has passed up big city life to help small businesses in western Montana. He has carved out a reputation for helping the local business community and non-profit sector stay competitive in today's more connected world using technology while working within the smaller budget that these local organizations have. He is also a member of Third Tier, an advanced support company dedicated to helping IT Professionals on complicated support service calls.
He takes pride in always walking the balance of providing the best technology at a great value to a business, improving their infrastructure, and loves that he can have his outdoors and tech-geek too.

Rhonda Layfield -  5 Time Microsoft MVP Awardee
For over 30 years, Rhonda has helped people securely deploy, protect, and streamline their IT resources.  She began her career in the US Navy where she spent 7 years as a communications specialist with a top secret clearance. Now she is a five time Setup and Deployment MVP and enjoys training and consulting for small, medium and large sized customers showing how to quickly and inexpensively  roll out 50, 500 or even 50,000 Windows 7 desktops.  Rhonda travels the globe sharing her real-world knowledge at Microsoft conferences such as Tech Ed US, Tech Ed Europe, Dubai, Slovenia, Belgium, Holland, Australia and New Zealand.

Kevin Royalty – 8 Time Microsoft MVP Awardee
Since 1986, Kevin has been satisfying the needs of clients as an IT professional.  He is a Computer Science graduate, Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer, and is certified by Microsoft for support of their Small Business Server products. Kevin is the Managing Partner of Total Care Computer Consulting, a leading Cincinnati-based consulting firm that serves the IT needs of small and medium businesses in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. Since 1986, he’s held programming and network engineering positions in large companies including but not limited to Chiquita Brands, Computer Sciences Corp, Kroger, Anthem, Nationwide, and Great American Insurance.  He currently serves as President of the International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners – Cincinnati Chapter (www.iamcp-us.org), President Emeritus of Cincinnati Network Professional Association (www.cinpa.org); President of the Cincinnati Small Business Server Users Group; Member Emeritus of Microsoft’s Small Business Specialist Advisory Board; Board Member Emeritus of the Information Technology Advisory Team for the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and CincyTechUSA. Eight year member of Business Network International.

Andy Goodman  - 9 time Microsoft MVP Awardee
Andy has been involved with the computer industry since the mid 1970's. He recently took a position with SBSmigration.com to help build and manage their partner program. He still owns and operates DownHome Computers a small computer consulting shop in Winston Salem, NC, USA focused on Small Business IT solutions and of course SBS. He is an MS System Builder and an Intel IPD and the first SBSC in NC. He has been involved with SBS since the early days of 4.0 in 1997. Along with running the SBS Forum on SBS for MCP Magazine & Redmond Magazine he leads the Triad SBS Group (www.tSBSg.org). In his spare time he writes “how-to” articles on SBS for a number of e-zines as well as his own site www.SBS-Rocks.com. He also works as an advisor to ISVs helping them tune their products, services and programs to the SMB Market space. Last but not least he has been instrumental in bringing SMBTN (www.smbtn.org) to the east coast. Andy's blog can be reached at blog.sbs-rocks.com

Dave Sanders – 9 Time Microsoft MVP Awardee
With a passion for service, Dave began his career as a teacher working with economically disadvantaged young adults in the Federal Job Corps. He also volunteered as a Big Brother with the United Way.
In the IT field, Dave worked for Microsoft supporting Windows NT as a Mentor. In the user group community, Dave built and has served as President of one of the largest and most active groups in the US (Carolina IT Pro Group) for over 10 years. He also founded and built Culminis to a membership base of more than three million. Dave has worked as a Developer, DBA, Network Admin and IT Project Manager during his career and was recognized as one of the top 14 IT world-wide community leaders receiving an outstanding achievement award from Mr. Bill Gates, personally. He was featured in Redmond magazine for work in IT communities and honored by the University of Virginia in 2008 for his contributions to the IT community and the university. An author in his spare time, his latest novel, SPIRIT WIND is available on Amazon and in major bookstores.

Chuck Traywick - principal at Infotronics
Chuck Traywick is the founder and principal at Infotronics.   Chuck has been working in various capacities in the technology industry for a number of years.  He is a frequent speaker at industry events and often teaches seminars at Microsoft and other venues on SharePoint, Business Intelligence and associated topics.  As the principal at Infotronics he supports development, consulting and installation services for a variety of clients throughout the Carolinas on these and other platforms.

Ed (The Scripting Guy) Wilson – Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT)(MCSE)(CISSP)
Ed is the Microsoft Scripting Guy and a well-known scripting expert. He writes the daily “Hey Scripting Guy!” BLOG. He has also spoken multiple times at TechEd as well as at the Microsoft internal Tech Ready and Geek Ready conferences. He is a Microsoft-certified trainer who has delivered a popular Windows PowerShell workshop to Microsoft Premier Customers worldwide. He has written 9 books including 6 on Windows scripting that were published by Microsoft Press. He has also contributed to nearly a dozen other books. His Windows PowerShell 2.0 Best Practices book for Microsoft Press is currently a best seller. Ed holds more than 20 industry certifications, including Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) and Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). Prior to coming to work for Microsoft, he was a senior consultant for a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner where he specialized in Active Directory design and Exchange implementation. In his spare time, he enjoys woodworking, underwater photography, and scuba diving.

Yung Chou – Sr. IT Pro Evangelist in Microsoft US Developer and Platform Evangelism team
Within Microsoft he has had opportunities serving customers in the areas of support account management, technical support, technical sales, and evangelism. Prior to Microsoft, he had established capacities in system programming, application development, consulting services, and IT management. His recent technical focuses have been in virtualization and cloud computing with strong interests in private cloud with service-based deployment and emerging enterprise computing architecture. He is a frequent speaker in Microsoft conferences, road shows, and TechNet events.

Scott Davidson – General Manager, US DPE - East Region
Scott Davidson is a seasoned IT veteran who brings extensive experience in the delivery of large scale development and infrastructure projects.  Scott brings more than 20 years of experience in the technology industry having served successfully in corporate IT for a Fortune 500 transportation company, as a sales and services leader in the technology reseller channel, and across several roles spanning Sales, Services, Evangelism and Marketing within Microsoft.
Scott joined Microsoft 12 years ago and has held a variety of positions across Enterprise Sales & Marketing, Microsoft Consulting Services, and the Small Mid-Market Solutions & Partner organization before becoming the leader for the US Developer and Platform Evangelism team in East Region. In his current role he is responsible for helping to lead Microsoft’s Developer Tools sales efforts in the US, driving Microsoft’s engagement with key technical audiences such as IT Professionals, Developers and Students along with working to build a strong ecosystem of ISVs that support our strategic priorities related to Cloud Computing, Windows Phone and the Microsoft Client platform.
Originally from Chicago, IL, Scott graduated from Towson State University in Maryland with a BS in Psychology. He is an avid supporter of the Arts and enjoys classical ballet when he is not at home spending time with his wife Amy and their eight children. All enjoy cooking together, singing together and spending time with a good book.

I challenge you to find ANYWHERE the amount and quality of the presentations and training we are making available to you for just $10.

Please, help me to make this event a success and through that success, lift up those people who are not as fortunate as you and I.

Thank you.

Sincerely,
David Sanders, MVP 
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:-)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Making Money in the Small Business Cloud - Portland April 14th

Making Money in the Small Business Cloud

Cloud ComputerLearn about the best tools and services to combine in your cloud service offering.
Technology Wizards
Portland, OR
April 14, 2012
9:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Only $249 per person
On sale now: Only $199!
(Includes Lunch and all-day training.)
Register two or more attendees and receive a 20% discount!

Please buy a copy for someone on your Christmas list.

With Karl W. Palachuk
Small Business Consultant, Trainer, Host of the Cloud Services Roundtable

This all-day program includes four sessions with slide decks and related handouts. We focus entirely on moving into cloud services AND making money while doing it.

Among other things, we talk about . . .
- Specific offerings you can use to make money
- Marketing and promotion
- The effect on your personnel and operations
- The practical side of building your own, reselling others' solutions, and simply being an agent for another product
- How to restructure what you do for greater success in the cloud
- and more!

Many of us have made a living selling, installing, and maintaining Microsoft's Small Business Server. But now as we begin to integrate cloud services we need to figure out how to make that transition in an order - and profitable manner.

What They Say:
“Karl’s seminar on making money in the cloud was by far the best seminar I’ve ever been to. This seminar was very inspirational and useful as I know he’s designed, tested, and actually sold the stuff he talks about. It’s a huge help for my business as there’s so much hype and non-useful information flying around, particularly with regard to the cloud.”
-- Chris Cote, Tempe, AZ

Cloud Training Agenda:

8:30 AM - Register / Networking
9:00 AM - Session One: The State of the Small Business Cloud
10:30 AM - Session Two: Clients and Configurations
12:00 Noon - Lunch
1:00 PM - Session Three: Business Model Considerations
2:30 PM - Session Four: Marketing and Forward Thinking
4:00 PM - Networking

This is a totally practical seminar, intended to get you up to speed and selling cloud services right now.

Money Back Guarantee: If you are not totally satisified that this seminar is worthwhile and provides the training you need to make money as a cloud service provider, we'll refund the total cost of your registration.

See fine print.

- - - - -
About Karl:
Karl W. Palachuk is the founder and CEO of KPEnterprises, a technology consulting firm focused on the SMB market in Sacramento, CA. He has experience running support services for companies from one person to some of the largest companies in the world. As a leader in the development of network documentation and managed services, Karl is a very popular speaker in the SMB Consulting Space.
Karl is also the host of The Cloud Services Roundtable, a broadcast/podcast dedicated to spreading information about cloud services to the SMB Community.

:-)

Fine print in bullshit. We don't do fine print. Your satisfaction is guaranteed.

SOP Friday: Phone Procedures 1 - Philosophy and General Rules

Phones are a tough topic. When you're really small (1-2 person shop), you probably forward everything to your cell phone and probably answer it all the time. When you get an voice mail you call someone back immediately.
That's a very natural thing to do. It's very personal and gives clients a strong sense of being served.

BUT . . . This behavior can also lead to too much interruption and habits that do not serve you well in the long run. In general, you should not have any processes that allow people to simply interrupt what you're doing and reset your productivity. Today we'll talk about some general rules for success with the phones. Next time we'll discuss "How Much Interruption is Okay?"



Phones and Phone Etiquette

Here are the proposed guidelines

Philosophy
It has been set out that this company will not be interrupt driven by phones of any type. It is considered rude to turn away from someone while in a conversation only to give all your attention to another. Many people today do this when their phone rings, but we will not.

It is also recognized that anyone working on a task is distracted from that task the second they change their focus to the phone. This can be an almost addictive, compulsive behavior.

Personal phone calls should be attended to during break times and if necessary in between service calls in such a manner that they do not interrupt the flow of work.

It is assumed you prioritize your personal and work life in some organized fashion so that higher priority items and addressed before lower priority items, and that there is a process for putting on your "to do" list.


General Rules
- Technicians do not answer any phones at any time unless it is one of your co-workers or it is identifiable as being directly related to the Service Request or Activity you are working on at the time.
- Always set phones to lowest audible setting (or vibrate) when in any office including our own.
- Do not answer your desk or cell phone when you are in a meeting or giving someone else your attention.
- Try to check voice mail every other hour on the hour for best response time. A simple rule is every odd hour of the day. This allows for a check after lunch and as one of the last things in the day.
- No personal phone calls while on client sites ever!


Voice Mail
- Desk Phones have programmed voice mail greetings and menus.
- Desk phone voice mail passwords are set to the norm defined in the company policy.
- All voice mail greetings must closely resemble the following statement and must contain the same information:

“Hello you have reached the voice mail for Joe Technician. Please leave me a detailed message and I will return your call as soon as possible. If this is of an urgent nature, please call the 916-928-0888 extension 1 for the Service Manager."


Implications

Phones are an interesting thing. Somehow, our society has come to believe that you should answer the phone as soon as it rings. I've been in sales meetings when a cell phone rings. Invariable, the prospect will say "Do you want to get that?" No. In fact, the person with the phone should have put it on silent or left it in the car.

When you are talking to someone on the phone, they deserve your full attention. When you're talking to someone in person (even a fellow employee), they deserve your full attention. But more than that: Your company is less productive and more stressful when it's filled with interruptions.

Here's a little snippet from some scientific research:
  • "When people are constantly interrupted, they develop a mode of working faster (and writing less) to compensate for the time they know they will lose by being interrupted. Yet working faster with interruptions has its cost: people in the interrupted conditions experienced a higher workload, more stress, higher frustration, more time pressure, and effort. So interrupted work may be done faster, but at a price."

    The Cost of Interrupted Work: More Speed and Stress by Gloria Mark, Department of Informatics, University of California, Irvine and Daniela Gudith and Ulrich Klocke, Institute of Psychology, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.

    See http://www.ics.uci.edu/~gmark/chi08-mark.pdf

With phones, our big fear is that we'll give a bad customer service response. But, really, we find that 99% of clients are perfectly happy if they get a reasonable response. In our modern world, voice mail and call-backs are common. If you have ways for clients to enter service tickets by phone, email, and web portal, then it's up to you to respond in a timely fashion. In general, if you get back within an hour, they're happy.

If a client has a true emergency, then you need to simply follow the processes we've outlined already. Interrupting your business does not automatically mean better service for the client.


Implementation

Implementing this policy is pretty simple. You should write up a brief description of the procedure and put it into your SOP binder. Distribute it to your staff. Maybe hold a meeting to discuss this policy and commit to it.

This kind of policy requires that everyone on the team

1) Be aware of the policy

2) Practice the policy

3) Correct one another's errors

4) Support one another with reminders

Your Comments Welcome.

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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 http://www.smallbizthoughts.com/events/SOPFriday.html.

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Next week's topic: Phone Procedures 2 - How Much Interruption is Okay?

:-)




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Thursday, March 15, 2012

It's Freeday Friday!

It's already Friday, March 16th on the other side of the International Date Line. Starting in a few hours, my friends from Australia, New Zeland, The Philippines, and other places "west" will join me for Freeday Friday.

North American and European partners will join me tomorrow morning.

Freeday Friday ™ is . . . Your opportunity to: Tap my brain and set the agenda; Focus on your business; Get top-dollar advice about your consulting business . . . For Free.

See my original Freeday Friday announcement post here: http://blog.smallbizthoughts.com/2012/03/freeday-friday-i-answer-your-questions.html
Here's how it works.

1) We have one live teleconference for Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Island partners. It goes live at 9:00 AM Friday in Sydney.

2) We have another live teleconference for North America, the UK, and Europe. It goes live at 8:00 AM Pacific, which is 11:00 AM Eastern, and 3:00 PM GMT.


Please email your questions to me. I'll start with a good, juicy lead-off question, then go to the phone lines.

I only have 100 phone lines and a limit of 50 in the chat room. Not sure what the deal is with that, it's just the limits of the tool.
The show ends at 50-55 minutes after the hour. That gives you some time to finish up and get to your next appointment.

Join me for my best advice about YOUR problems. We all face similar challenges and opportunities. As always, I believe that we all benefit from a level of community interaction. I think we can help each other get to the next level.

If this goes well, and people are interested, we'll repeat it on the 3rd Friday of the month. So the next Freeday Friday will be Friday, April 20th.


Register for Aussie / Oceanic Program
Sign Up Now
Free
March 16th 9:00 AM Sydney Time
(GMT March 15, 22:00)
Register for North America / UK Program
Sign Up Now
Free
March 16th 8:00 AM Pacific / 11:00 AM Eastern
GMT March 16, 15:00



The Freeday Friday Page

For information and coordination, we're going to use the Freeday Friday Page at http://www.smallbizthoughts.com/events/FreedayFriday.html. That's where you'll register for the next teleseminar.

Please tell your friends, neighbors, partners, and folks in your user group.

Talk to you soon!

:-)