Monday, April 30, 2012

Is Microsoft Better at Apple's Game Than Apple is at Microsoft's Game?

What really makes Microsoft and Apple different and, to some extent competitors? One of the big differences is that they took different approaches to making computers work. Apple's approach is fundamentally "closed" and Microsoft's is fundamentally "open" in nature. Before you attach judgemental interpretations to those terms, let me explain.

Apple is a hardware company. Of course they have an operating system, but the fact that they are a hardware company is critical to their success. They control every piece of the process. They have complete control over the way their hardware and operating system work together. If it's not perfect, at least they control all of it and can easily find the answer.

The long-held myth that Apple PCs are immune from viruses is a result of this tight control.
Another aspect of Apple's closed environment is their insistence that users register at the iTunes store in order to get maximum value from their hardware. In some cases, such as the iPad, you can't do anything until you register. The genius of this is that the iTunes store is a store. What do you do at stores? You buy things. So to use the system, you have to register with a way to spend money.

If you've developed apps for the iPhone, you know that Apple keeps a very tight rein on what is approved for use with their devices. This keeps the device safe from a lot of hacking and viruses. It also guarantees a certain level of customer satisfaction. Things just work, because they've gone through the vetting process.

Microsoft's "open" approach is really a collaborative approach. Old timers will remember the term Win-Tel, a description for the so-called monopoly of these two companies to control the hardware and software on the "PC" desktop. In reality, Microsoft participates in a huge collaborative community to determine what the hardware and the software of the future will look like. (For a great list of some of the companies who collaborate on the hardware front, see the links at http://www.intel.com/support/motherboards/desktop/sb/cs-026528.htm.)

The open nature of Microsoft's approach means that most hardware devices and software programs are like the wild west - anything goes. There is no process for determining whether something is well written or well constructed. So each vendor has to be responsible for supporting their piece of the puzzle.

The good thing about this openness is that there are a lot of great programs and hardware devices that work on a Windows platform. For many industries, a Mac environment gives you one or two (and most commonly zero) programs to choose from while the Windows environment might give you three to five major options and dozens of minor ones. For example, in manufacturing, there are zero options for the Mac. In the case of manufacturing, Mac doesn't even have the ports needed to interface with machinery.


But It's A New World . . .

Apple is making a play for the business market. They have a cloud offering of sorts. And they've broken 10% market share. And while they are fundamentally a consumer appliance manufacturer, they've enjoy huge success with the iPad tablet and the iPhone in business.

As we look ahead, can Apple compete in a true cloud offering? Would Apple ever offer up a cloud that wasn't connected to iTunes? Would they let you pay them to spin up a virtual Windows box and load a Microsoft operating system on it? No. I might be blind, but I don't see that ever happening.

First, it places the "store" (the purchasing tool) at a different place in the solution stack from what Apple is used to. By that I mean Apple would have to let you buy the virtual machine up front and then forget the back end purchases they've always had a piece of.

Second, allowing an open, do-what-you-want environment is an anathema to Apple's philosophy. Will they ever be in the business of supporting every application on earth, every virtual platform? Yeah, I know that most cloud vendors say they don't support at that level, but they at least least do enough troubleshooting to know that the problem is not on the piece they can control. Apple won't do this. They won't dabble in something they can't control. In part this is because they have no history of collaborative developments. They don't know how to play a game they didn't create.

In the meantime, Microsoft is slowly building a unified platform that takes a few key lessons from Apple and implements them into the collaborative environment. For several years, Microsoft has been moving toward the "Apps" environment. Their experience with phones has allowed them to be app-friendly while maintaining a focus on full fledged (profitable) programs. I'm under non-disclosure agreements regarding some of the product developments at Microsoft, so I can only say this: Microsoft is much further along in the process of building app-centric operating systems than they appear to be.

With the public preview of Windows 8, Microsoft has a full-fledged application development platform that Apple can't touch. See http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/apps/br229516. It has three features at that will make it successful. Two of them are learned from Apple. The third will leave Apple playing catch-up.

1) For the first time ever, Microsoft says they will have very rigorous requirements for "approved" hardware. This has become a weakness for Microsoft. For years they have insisted on a backward compatibility that is absurd. Why does any 32-bit operating system exist today? I don't think we've sold a computer with a 32-bit processor in five years. I don't think you CAN buy 32-bit hardware today on the desktop or servers.

Microsoft has been a little too collaborative on this front, allowing people who insist on upgrading old computers to continue installing newer operating systems and software that guarantee a bad experience! It makes no sense to me. Anyway, they've finally decided that they will have real requirements for the new operating system, and that they will reject hardware that cannot provide a positive user experience. This will serve them well.

2) Similarly, Microsoft will have an approval process for apps. It won't be as rigorous as Apple's approval process, but just enough to make sure that programs are well behaved. This is a huge step in the right direction. For the entire history of Windows, they've been criticized for problems they can't control. Poorly behaved programs don't release memory; they don't check to see that devices are in use; they insist on running at a higher priority than they need. In other words, they bust in and do whatever they want. Windows crashes, and Microsoft has to put up with the reputation of needing to be rebooted all the time.

In truth, every O.S. version has been better and better at forcing programs to behave. But now Microsoft promises to do some actual policing. And they say they'll actually reject programs that are poorly behaved.

And in a very clear message that Apple was right, Microsoft will require Windows 8 users to register with their store - so they have the ability to purchase things directly. Things like Windows Live and cloud services. Apps. And more.

3) The thing that Microsoft is doing different from Apple is to have the same operating system (or close enough that it will seem the same to users) on the desktop, tablet, phone, and even the Xbox. One unified interface. One experience. And most importantly: This means that EACH of those devices could be user's primary computing device.

Apple's iOS is a desktop environment. It is not a phone environment. Their phone environment is not a content-creation tool. It is a tool for consuming goods and services. You want to be creative? Get back to your desktop/laptop.


And Where's Google?

I don't really know. Droid is a fine phone O.S., but it is more wild west than Windows. My Droid phone (Motorola Droid 3) is disappointing. My daughter's older HTC is actually a better phone. Neither of them compares with the iPhone or a Blackberry.

I have a Google TV. Aside from the fact that programming has never materialized, this Droid O.S. leaves much to be desired. You really can't do anything with it.

Google has no desktop O.S. and won't have one any time soon. They do have a full-featured cloud service. Their Google Apps are nowhere near Microsoft's Office Apps. Their store works only on the phone: Right now you can't use it to buy anything for a tablet or desktop. So they're in catch-up mode on that.

And have the distinction of being the most-attacked mobile operating system doesn't help. http://www.networkworld.com/news/2011/082311-mcafee-threat-report-250002.html


Is Microsoft Better at Apple's Game Than Apple is at Microsoft's Game?

The players remain Apple and Microsoft. Apple has been a consumer focused company. They have the challenge of leadership change with the passing of Steve Jobs, but he has not been actively running the company for a long time. So their challenge is getting good enough to play a major (profitable) role in the markets they want.

Microsoft has bet their future on The Cloud, where Apple simply doesn't compete.
Microsoft is about to deploy a unified operating system for all connected devices, which Apple does not appear to be working toward.

Microsoft has learned to tighten the reins a bit on hardware and software developers. This will allow them to guarantee a better experience for their users.

I don't mean to suggest that any of this will be easy for Microsoft, but they've already laid the groundwork for dominating phones and tablets in the business world. They already dominate the desktop and will see very quick adoption of the O.S. as people finally replace those Windows XP machines as the recession fades. 2011 will be a year of press releases and telegraphing the future.
Windows 8 will probably have a late-fall release and absolutely dominate the computing world in 2012.
:-)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

All New Chapters for Network Migration Workbook Available Now!

More New Chapters Available - SBS Essentials and Checklists

Yesterday, we have uploaded the PDF versions of two more new chapters for The Network Documentation Workbook. This concludes the new chapters for the Network Migration Workbook. If you are not a book owner, you can get the original book and access to all updates by purchasing the Network Migration Workbook. See http://www.networkmigrationworkbook.com.

Here's the latest.

Chapter 12 is SBS Essentials: New Installations and Migrations. It gives an intro to SBS Essentials and where the product fits in with your solution stack and cloud migrations. We also cover the sales process for SBS Essentials and designing simple environments. Finally, we present a two-part Technology Roadmap Questionnaire for evaluating prospects who might be right for an SBS Essentials migration.

Chapter 13 is Checklists for SBS Essentials Environments.

Checklists include . . .

- Preparing the Network for the SBS Essentials Installation

- Installing SBS Essentials in a Non-Domain Environment

- Setting up SBS Essentials on a 1-10 Person Simple Domain

- Connecting a Computer to an SBS Essentials Server Network

- Connecting a Computer to SBS Essentials Using Profwiz

We conclude with some final thoughts on where SBS Essentials fits in your evolving business.

- - - - -

This concludes the new chapters for the 2nd Edition of The Network Migration Workbook! The Big Checklist is updated and has been online for download for a long time.

There will be a new Foreword and some additional minor changes to the original book chapters, and we will post all that when finished.

These chapters are in draft format, so the final version may be a bit different. But at least 99% of the final product is here.

Registered book owners can download these files for free in the member download area at Zerodowntimemigration.com.

- - - - -

Here's a recap of the new chapters.

Section Introduction VI: Cloud and Other Non-SBS Migrations
Chapter 9 is Cloud Strategies, Cloud Migrations, and Hybrid Solutions. It covers, very briefly, some cloud-based options, and then gets right into materials that's relevant in the SMB space. We introduce the "Server Lite" concept and discuss how we implement it in our business. We describe the process of combining on site storage and active directory with cloud-based services.

Chapter 10 is an Example Checklist for Migrating to Cloud Services. These include web services, Microsoft Exchange, spam filtering, and storage or backup. Of course our goal is to achieve this with zero downtime.

Chapter 11 is Migrating to Microsoft Foundation Server. It introduces the Windows Server 2008 R2 Foundation or "Foundation Server." We love to install Foundation server as a Server Lite at clients who need only a few services on site. The interesting thing about foundation server is that you can complete the migration much more easily than SBS, even though you need to run a few tools to expand the active directory schema and transfer the FSMO roles. We describe how to do all that in a detailed checklist.

Section Introduction VII. SBS 2011 Essentials

Chapter 12 and 13 descriptions above.

Members may download these files for free in the member download area  at http://www.zerodowntimemigration.com/members-area/member-files.html

To find out more, visit http://www.zerodowntimemigration.com

Note that the following files are available to registered book owners:


2011 and 2012 additions:

- 2011 Network Migration Project Binder Tabs in Word format

- SBS 2011 Network Migration Project Template 2011.09.01 in Word format

- Chapter 9 - Cloud Strategies, Cloud Migrations, and Hybrid Solutions

- Chapter 10 - an Example Checklist for Migrating to Cloud Services

- Chapter 11 - Migrating to Microsoft Foundation Server

- Chapter 12 - SBS Essentials

- Chapter 13 - Checklists for SBS Essentials Environments


Older files (2009-2010):

- The Network Migration Workbook in PDF format

- Cost of Labor Calculator in Excel format

- Request for Quote in Excel format

- Network Migration Project Binder Tabs in Word format

- Existing Network in Visio format

- Proposed Network in Visio format

- Network Map (Plain Vanilla Client) in Visio format

- SBS 2003 Network Migration Project Template in Word format

- SBS 2008 Network Migration Project Template in Word format

- SBS 2003 Post Install PowerPoint
- SBS 2003 Preview PowerPoint

In addition, several of these files are available in .zip format to save space.

Woo Hoo.

:-)

Friday, April 27, 2012

SOP Friday: Managing Internal Administrative Tasks

Our organizations are outward-facing. That is, we are designed to provide services to other companies. As a result, we focus heavily on service requests from clients. But there are plenty of things to be done internally for our own companies. There are four basic types of internal activities:

- Training

- Administrative work

- Internal tech support

- "Unbillable" work done in support of managed service contracts (including drive time if you don't charge for that)

We will refer to these internal activities as "Tasks" to keep them distinct from client-facing Service Requests. You may choose to create internal Service Requests or Tasks in your PSA system. In either case, we'll refer to these internal tasks as Tasks.

We create these Tasks because we need to track all time during business hours. Why? First, we use our PSA to track employee time and generate payroll. Even though we might not be able to bill a client, we still need to pay the employee. Second, when it's time to analyze where our time goes, we will only be able to generate meaningful reports if we put useful data into the system.
For example . . .

- It is very useful to know how many hours are spent supporting clients. This is much more than the number of "billable" hours. If you don't charge for drive time, then you need to know how much time was spent on this activity. When you have someone check the service board and verify that everything is right (see Massaging the Service Board), that's company-wide overhead that you don't bill to a specific client.
Note: This is not the same as labor that is included within a specific client's Managed Service Agreement. Those are Service Tickets or Service Requests and have hours allocated, but simply have a zero dollar amount.

- Internal tech support is simply the maintenance of your in-house computers and network. It's not zero. It shouldn't be too either. If you have some technician who claims to spend an hour a day on internal tech support, you have a problem.

As with Service Requests, internal Tasks have priorities. Here's a place to start defining these:

High Priority
- Should be completed today before anything else. Must be completed before close of business.
Example: Get your Supervisor Evaluation form from last week completed and turned in.

Medium Priority
- Needs to be done this week or the deadline is less than a week away.
Example: Get signed up for next week’s Exchange training before all spots close.

Low Priority
- Needs to be done but there is no specific deadline. Usually these items are more of a reminder.
Example: Research New remote access tool to see how it compares to our current solution.


Activity Work Flow

Activities in the PSA system are basically the "To Do" List for a technician. Activities do not violate the rule that all work is performed against a Service Request because the time will always be logged against some SR even if it is a Tech Admin SR.

An Activity with a properly assigned priority is a way for the Service Manager or a Technician to create a time slot to get a good deal of work done in a block. This avoids working an an "interrupt driven" mode. In other words, a tech can knock out six or eight little chores in a half hour block. This is far more efficient than doing each item individually between client-facing service requests. That almost always results in six or eight time entries at fifteen minutes each!

Activities are worked from highest priority to lowest and from oldest to newest.

As hard as this is to believe for some people, every task that needs to be done should be entered into your PSA system. It might be high, medium, or low priority. You have to believe in the system! If it's IN the system, it will get done. If it's not in the system, it might get done. There's a big difference between "will" and "might."

Note: You can avoid abuse by having all technicians work in real time, and by having the service manager receive emails or text messages whenever a task or service request is closed. "Real time" means that technicians enter their notes and close tickets as they complete them. There should be a steady flow of work throughout the day. If you have technicians who clock in and spend the first hour of every day on "administrative" tasks such as checking email, you give them guidance on how you would like them to work.


Implementation

This SOP requires three things. First, you need to define your priorities. Start with what we have here, but customize it for your business. Second, Write up your procedure so that you present them to technicians (and the whole staff). Third, you need to train all employees subject to this process. After that, everyone on the team should remind and support one another on this process.

There are no specific forms for implementing this SOP. You simply begin using your PSA system a bit more (or differently) than had before.

Your Comments Welcome.

- - - - -
:-)


Now Available:

Designing and Selling Cloud Services into the 1-20 Desktop Environment

Seminar on MP3 Download This is an audio program with the PowerPoint slides in pdf format. Includes one MP3 audio file, one PowerPoint slide deckand one client-facing advertising example. All delivered in one zip file. This seminar is intended for small computer consulting firms that want to learn how to develop profitable cloud service offerings for their smallest clients. Only $39.95 !

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Managing for Success 2012 - Live Online Conference only $299

Managing for Success 2012

An Online Conference for SMB Consultants and Managed Service Providers

Great Little Robot Register now

We have many options to make this conference as affordable as possible. Please consider the big e-bundle add-on to get the most for your investment.

Live Attendance Only - Starts at $99

  • Live audio access to all Keynote addresses and training
  • Access to Download all handouts, slides, and other materials presented to attendess
  • Participate in live Question and Answer Sessions

Best Deal Live Plus Recordings - Only $399
(early bird special only $299)

  • Live attendee access . . . plus
  • Access to all recorded sessions for 12 months
  • Download all the recordings in MP3 format
  • Price goes up May 31st

Live Plus Recordings Plus Transcripts - Only $599

  • "Live Plus Recordings" access . . . plus
  • Get a transcript copy of each presentation
  • Use them in trainings within your company

All Discount codes are applied at check-out.

All programs include three full days of training - All focused on making YOU more successful!
A Three-Day Teleseminar like you've never heard before!

Visit the Web Site For More Info

 

Register Now and Save!


Add to CartLive Audio Access$99

Add to CartLive Audio
+ Recordings
$399 Early: $299
(Best Deal)

Add to CartLive Audio
+ Recordings
+ Transcripts
$599

E-Bundle Add-On for $199
is an option you can choose at check-out!

Cloud Services Roundtable Members Attend for Free!

Cloud Services Roundtable is a member-based educational service. If you are a CSR member, you can register for this conference FREE.

CSR members please register here.


E-Bundle Add-On

Save $275 Instantly!

When you register, you will have the opportunity to add a bundle of electronically-delivered training products to make your investment more valuable. Here's what you'll get:
  • Managed Services in a Month audio book
  • The Super-Good Project Planner for Technical Consultants ebook
  • Service Agreements for SMB Consultants ebook
  • The Network Documentation Workbook ebook
  • An Introduction to Zero Downtime Migration Strategies - 2 hour audio training
  • Making Money in the Small Business Cloud - 4 hour audio program
  • Designing and Selling Cloud Services into the 1-20 Desketop Environment - 90 minute audio training
Right now, these items sell separately for more than $475 at SMB Books.

You can add them to your conference registration now for only $199! That's more than 50% off the already-reduced price of these items.

One program - Making Money in the Small Business Cloud - sells for that price right now.

You save $275 instantly with this add-on.

Summary: You get one audio book, three ebooks, and 8.5 hours of bonus training for only $199!
You already own some of these products? Well, thank you. But you're still guaranteed to save money with this package. So, no adjustments or replacements can be made.

Visit the Web Site For More Info


- - - - -
:-)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Keynote: Disorganized Businesses Die Fast

We put out a major press release early this morning.

At the big SMB Online Conference in June, we'll start each day with an overview of the theme of the day. Our line-up of speakers is unbelievable for the SMB Space.

Join us!

Sign up today before prices go up: www.smbonlineconference.com

Here's that press release:

- - - - -
Sacramento, CA, April 25, 2012 – Technology author Karl Palachuk will address the need for strategic organization in his June 26th keynote address at the first major Online Conference for Small Business IT Consultants, Managing for Success 2012. His topic is Organize or Die.

Managing for Success 2012 will be held “online” June 26-28, 2012 and features eighteen hours of training for IT professionals, computer consultants, and managed service providers who focus on the Small and Medium Business market.

“We have a great line-up of speakers,” said Palachuk, “Including several international super stars from the worlds of marketing and technical innovation.”

Palachuk will start each conference day with a presentation of the “theme of the day” and then provide a discussion of some standard operating procedures related to the theme of the day. Palachuk is a prolific blogger and is well known for his SOP Friday series at smallbizthoughts.com. The SOP Friday series picks one topic each week and explores the standard operating procedures that technology consultants might adopt.

The June 26th agenda includes Bob Godgart on Building Successful Partnerships in the Channel and other speakers on growth through acquisition, methods for measuring your success, strategic pricing models, and more.

The first day of the conference, Palachuk will introduce the theme for the entire conference and give a preview of the topics of the day. “We want to help computer consultants to be better business people, with a vision for the future and strategies for success,” said Palachuk. “That’s why we named the conference Managing for Success 2012,” he said. “Conference sessions will cover managing a business, marketing a business, creating standard operating procedures, building a strong team, and even buying up your competition.”

The overall theme for the first day is “Organize or Die.” Palachuk hopes to use that the stark message will motivate IT business owners to take an honest look about how they will succeed in the years ahead.

Godgart is the founder of several wildly successful businesses and current Chairman of the Board of CompTIA, the Computing Technology Industry Association. Other conference speakers include Dave Sobel and Arlin Sorensen.  

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. Sorensen is the founder and CEO of both Heartland Technology Solutions and the HTG Peer Groups. Heartland Technology Solutions has seven offices in five states (Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma) and more than 75 employees. HTG is now comprised of 270 member companies throughout the U.S., Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom.

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. Primary sponsors of the SMB Online Conference include ConnectWise and LabTech Software.

The online format is new for this kind of conference, says Palachuk. “We’re well into the fourth year of a recession and the large national I.T. conferences just haven’t had the turnout they used to. People have smaller budgets. Consulting companies are stretched thin. So an online conference saves time, travel, and money. It also means we don’t have to charge as much since we’re not paying for hotel meeting rooms and catering.”

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

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

:-)

Friday, April 20, 2012

New Chapters Available - Cloud Computing - Foundation Server

Dear Book Owners:

Today we have uploaded the PDF versions of three new chapters for The Network Documentation Workbook.

All are available at www.ZeroDowntimeMigration.com.

If you are not a book owner, you can get the original book and access to all updates by purchasing the Network Migration Workbook. See http://www.networkmigrationworkbook.com.

Section Introduction VI: Cloud and Other Non-SBS Migrations

Chapter 9 is Cloud Strategies, Cloud Migrations, and Hybrid Solutions. It covers, very briefly, some cloud-based options, and then gets right into materials that's relevant in the SMB space. We introduce the "Server Lite" concept and discuss how we implement it in our business. We describe the process of combining on site storage and active directory with cloud-based services.

Chapter 10 is an Example Checklist for Migrating to Cloud Services. These include web services, Microsoft Exchange, spam filtering, and storage or backup. Of course our goal is to achieve this with zero downtime.

Chapter 11 is Migrating to Microsoft Foundation Server. It introduces the Windows Server 2008 R2 Foundation or "Foundation Server." We love to install Foundation server as a Server Lite at clients who need only a few services on site. The interesting thing about foundation server is that you can complete the migration much more easily than SBS, even though you need to run a few tools to expand the active directory schema and transfer the FSMO roles. We describe how to do all that in a detailed checklist.

More chapters will be coming. They will be on SBS Essentials, including a checklist for SBS Essentials.

These chapters are in draft format, so the final version may be a bit different. But at least 99% of the final product is here.

Members may download these files for free in the member download area  at http://www.zerodowntimemigration.com/members-area/member-files.html

To find out more, visit http://www.zerodowntimemigration.com

Note that the following files are available to registered book owners:

2011 and 2012 additions:

- 2011 Network Migration Project Binder Tabs in Word format

- SBS 2011 Network Migration Project Template 2011.09.01 in Word format


Older files (2009-2010):

- The Network Migration Workbook in PDF format

- Cost of Labor Calculator in Excel format

- Request for Quote in Excel format

- Network Migration Project Binder Tabs in Word format

- Existing Network in Visio format

- Proposed Network in Visio format

- Network Map (Plain Vanilla Client) in Visio format

- SBS 2003 Network Migration Project Template in Word format

- SBS 2008 Network Migration Project Template in Word format

- SBS 2003 Post Install PowerPoint

- SBS 2003 Preview PowerPoint

In addition, several of these files are available in .zip format to save space.

:-)

SOP Friday: Setting Up Alerts in Your PSA and RMM

In the "old days" we got started in the monitoring business with the simple process I describe in Service Agreements for SMB Consultants. Basically, it consisted of a combination of server alerts emailed from Small Business Server and pages (text messages) sent from a product called Servers Alive. See http://www.woodstone.nu/salive. Not very full-featured, but it kept us informed of the most import things - like server reboots!

Today, we have a PSA (professional services administration) tool and an RMM (remote monitoring and management) tool and can do a great deal more for our business. If you own these tools and are not using their alert features, today is a great day to start!

Many Kinds of Alerts

Like anything else, you don't want to get carried away with alerts, spamming yourself with emails and text messages. The goal, after all, is to make your entire operation run more smoothly and to keep your clients' systems operating at peak efficiency. So be judicious.

There are several kinds of monitoring. The most obvious type is done by the RMM. When disc space usage exceeds X% then an alert can be triggered. If you set it up right, you can have alerts automatically create tickets in your RMM system or in your PSA system.

But perhaps the most important part of your alert system is still the human side. You need a filter with some common sense. You also need to consider how to respond to different kinds of alerts. They're not all equal, you know.

RMM Alerts are the most obvious. A server reboots unexpectedly. A critical service stops. CPU usage is too high. When you look at your RMM tool, you should see lots of green lights and not very many red lights. And there are some red lights that just aren't very important.

The first thing you should do is look at your Monitoring Sets to see what you can easily monitor AND you want to know about. With some systems, you can get an alert every time a problem happens, but you get no notice when the problem goes away. That can leave technicians looking at issues that aren't really issues anymore. Even if you get notices that an alert has been cleared, you have to match up the Service Start and Service Stop notices.

So pick your alerts very carefully. I remember one of the first complaints I heard about RMM systems was that they are overwhelming, and so people turned off all the alerts. Let's not go that far! This is a key feature. You do need to control the alerts, but don't eliminate them altogether.

I recommend you start slow. Pick a few key alerts and see how many emails or tickets you get. Obviously you want to monitor "Server Down" incidents. And probably Critical Impact issues.
But you probably do NOT want constant alerts if CPU usage is out of control on a server. You want that to show up on your board. You might even want it to create a ticket. But an issue like that can drag on a long time until it's fixed. You need to manage this kind of alert or you create a situation like the boy who cried wolf. Too many alerts will cause you and your techs to stop paying attention to alerts.

Go slow. But start monitoring the most important stuff as soon as you can.

PSA alerts are a bit different. Basically, these consist of notifications that you have new service tickets. Here, management consists of handling each ticket appropriately. If tickets are automatically created by the RMM system, you need to be aware that cranking up monitoring will also crank up the tickets. Please see the earlier articles on Service Ticket Updates  and Massaging the Service Board.

You need to have a human look at these regularly to make sure you don't have duplicate tickets, and that all tickets have the right priority. And whether you do it yourself or have a service coordinator, someone needs to make sure that all tickets are properly addressed and worked from highest priority to lowest priority, and from oldest to newest.

Just as with the RMM system, you have to decide: Do you want an email or text message every time a new ticket goes in the system? The answer is probably yes if you're very small OR you have your alerts under control. The longer machines are on managed service, the smoother they run and the fewer alerts they generate. So you may want to revisit this decision from time to time.

If you are just getting started with a PSA and RMM system, you will be overwhelmed. You'll be overwhelmed with how much you need to learn, with fine-tuning the system, and with alerts you've set up. At the beginning, crank the alerts way down. Don't panic. Your client systems are no worse off than before. You just know about all the little things you didn't know before!  :-)

Hours of operation

How you handle alerts should also vary based on time of day. You should have a written procedure for what happens when alerts come in after hours. We already talked about your Server Down Procedure. But you should also have a general after-hours procedure.

I'm assuming that your managed service contract says that all work after 5:00 PM is not covered. You still need to keep an eye on the boards and massage service requests so they are in the right categories when the sun comes up. But if you only have a few low-level alerts, you can just look at the emails on your phone and determine that you don't have to log on and massage the board every hour of every day.

Other than Server Down situations, there's no reason to hang out on your service board looking for things to do. Relax. Enjoy your family. Go to work when the sun comes up.

Forms

There are no specific forms for implementing this SOP. You might write up a brief description of the procedures for RMM and PSA monitoring and put them into your SOP or binder.

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 Small Biz Thoughts

- - - - -

Next week's topic: Managing Internal Administrative Tasks

:-)


Now Available: Introduction to Zero Downtime Migrations Seminar on MP3 Download Two hours of audio training - Plus two slide decks in .pdf format. Agenda: Project Management in a Managed Service Business and Zero Downtime Migration Strategies.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Windows 8 Versions Announced - And They Make Sense!

Do you remember when Windows 7 was released? Five primary versions: Windows 7 Starter; Windows 7 Home Basic; Windows 7 Home Premium; Windows 7 Professional; Windows 7 Enterprise.

This scheme was designed to confuse customers and partners alike. Windows 7 Starter was too limited to be useful. Windows Home Basic and Home Premium were different, but no one knows how so they only sold Home Premium.

Windows 7 Pro was the choice for business. Windows 7 Enterprise was the choice for really large businesses with enterprise licencing needs.

In the end, we all sold W7 Pro and begged our clients not to buy machines with Home editions and then ask us to use them in the work environment.

Yesterday, the Windows 8 versions were announced on the Official Windows Blog
http://windowsteamblog.com/windows/b/bloggingwindows/archive/2012/04/16/announcing-the-windows-8-editions.aspx

Happily, Microsoft has made the choices simple and obvious. One name, however, will be the focus of some discussion.


Windows 8 is for non-work environments. It can't join a domain. It can't boot from a VHD (virtual hard drive). That's a technology we'll be using very commonly in the years ahead, so it matters. It has no bitlocker or file encryption options.

Windows 8 Pro is for work environments. It has all the features you need. If, as in the past, the difference in price is under $100, then this should be the only version you sell for desktop machines. This is easy to justify to a client. For the price of one hour of labor, you get all the features you need, and will save a good deal of labor over the life of the computer.

For super-cheap clients who really don't want to spend the money, talk to them about price per year. You'll say $33/year for the life of the machine. The cheap client will try to get five years out of the machine, so that's really $20/year.

If they still want the home edition, happily charge them for every single "I told you so" service request that comes in. And sell them the version upgrade when you can.

Windows RT = is the new version being introduced for tablets and cell phones. It is only available as a pre-installed environment and runs only 32 bit software. The really good news is that mobile editions of Microsoft Office are included.

A few words on the name: RT? WTF? What is RT?

Runtime.

Windows Runtime.

This name can only be the result of a months-long argument that ended with a big fight, a late-night meeting, and a bunch of people going home saying "I don't care anymore. Call it what you want."

Runtime doesn't actually have any meaning for clients. I assume for techno-goobers it refers to the fact that some instructions are embedded and others are accessed when a program starts. Or, you know, whatever.

In previous discussions, RT was referred to was Windows WOA. So if you see that, it's the same thing. Ready for a quick trip down the rabbit hole?

Windows WOA stands for Windows on ARM. ARM stands for Advanced RISC Machine. RISC stands for Reduced Information Set Computing.

You can see that Windows on Advanced Reduced Information Set Computing Machine might be clunky. So "RT" it is!

A Few Comments on Features

First - thankfully - the Metro interface is not required and you will continue to use a keyboard, mouse, and monitor for the foreseeable future. It would be silly to do otherwise, but there was speculation.

Second, 32 bit is still around. Even on the desktop. Do they still make 32 bit desktop machines? I mean, can you buy a brand new machine that doesn't have a 64 bit processor? It's time to make the move and STOP letting people install brand new operating systems on 5- or 7-year-old computers!

Third, we can expect to see all kinds of juicy "other" editions as needed. These include licensing for kiosks, blade workstations, virtual desktops, and many kinds of mobile devices. I suspect kiosks, virtual machines, and mobile devices will be licensing options rather than actual code versions.

Fourth, since you can "use" Home edition on SBS 2011 environments, you might still have to argue with clients about bringing cheap machines into the environment. No remote access or backup for those home machines. And obviously not official members of the domain.

For all the juicy details as they develop, subscribe to the Windows Blog.

:-)



Now Shipping:

Friday, April 13, 2012

SOP Friday: Setting Up a New Managed Service Client (Checklist)

This week's SOP - Standard Operating Procedure - is one that I hope you get to use a lot. It covers a key piece of "on-boarding" a new managed service client. I go into this in much more detail in my book Managed Services in a Month - http://www.managedservicesinamonth.com/. But here's the key checklist part.

This checklist assumes that someone has already made the deal and achieved a signed contract. Now you need to move them into your "system" as full clients. That means they need to get into your billing system, your ticketing system, your monitoring system, etc.

I'll present the basic checklist first and then make some comments. This process assumes that you have several functions in place. If you don't, you should. If your shop is small, then you may play all the roads. But you need to build the company you wish to become.

When we were moving lots of clients over to the new contracts, we used this list a lot. All of these lists need to have a work flow that makes sense. Some work is done by the tech department, some by admin, etc. And someone has to keep track of these documents so they don't get stalled somewhere along the way. Ideally, everything on this list will be achieved in 1-2 days.

The Checklist for Setting Up a New Managed Service Client

Outline – New Managed Services Client Checklist

New Client / Signer: __________

Date: __________

Signed Deal (circle one) Silver     -     Gold     -     Platinum

First Month on Service will be: __________

Cover Sheet

# of Servers: __________

Cost for Servers: __________

# of Workstations: __________

Cost for Workstations: __________

Monthly total: __________

Setup Fees: __________

Setup to be paid by (circle one)   Check   Credit Card

Monthly to be paid by (choose one)

- Check (3 months)

- Credit Card each month

Correct Billing Information:

Company

Name

Address 1

Address 2

City / State / Zip

Contact Phone



For each of the following items, note the Person Responsible and the Date Completed.

Administration:
- Create Service Request (enter time estimate 1.5 hrs)

- - At this point, the Service Request will be worked by the Admin department until handed over to Tech Support.

- Check to see that the names match how they want to be billed for services:
 - in Autotask/ConnectWise
 - in QuickBooks
 - on the Company Mailing List

- Create Invoices for Setup / monthly (See amounts above)

- Calculate first month fees + setup Sales  

- Collect Money:

 - If Credit Card:
 - - Collect Credit Card form
 - - Charge Credit card: initial setup fees/first month
 - - Apply payments in QB
 - - Set up Autopay & Monthly recurring
 - - Remove old recurring charges from credit card

 - If Check:
 - - Collect check from client (3 months + setup)
 - - Apply payments in QB
 - - Put check with other checks to be deposited

- File all paperwork

- Create credits as needed for services that had been sold individually (spam filtering, monitoring, other)

- Expire old service agreements in Autotask/ConnectWise

- Create service agreements in Autotask/ConnectWise

- Create reports as needed in Continuum/Level Platforms (or whatever you use)

- Change SR to “Schedule This"

Tech Dept:
- - At this point, the Service Request will be worked by the Tech Support department until it's time for client training.

- Update Managed Services Grid

- Set up Monitoring, Schedule Patches, Fixes

- Set up hosted spam filter, if appropriate

- Set up hosted Exchange, if appropriate

- Set up hosted storage, if appropriate

- Train Client on hosted spam filter

- Install RMM agent on client PCs (create a separate SR)

- Install RMM agent on servers (create a separate SR)

- Add server to daily monitoring (or verify)

- Add server to patch management group (or verify)

- Set up back up job alerts (or verify)

- Update daily monitoring sheet to include new client requirements

- Create the Monthly Maintenance Checklist for client

- Create the monthly single for client

- Check existing clients for compliance with the monthly maintenance and monthly single process

Training:
Your client training might be provided by techs, Customer Service Reps, Sales Dept., or someone else.

- Tutor client contact re: PSA portal

- Tutor client contact re: Our company Service Request process, priorities, and response times

- Send intro letter to client

Last Action:

- When all complete, put this form in to filing in-box


So there's the form and the flow. Sales to admin to tech to training.

Just like on-boarding an employee, you need a checklist for on-boarding a client. After a month or so, you'll assume all these things are done. But if you get into a discussion about what a "Priority One" is, you'll feel a lot more comfortable if you can point back to the training you did.

And you know you did it because it's on the checklist!

Of course your process will be a little different. Change as needed. Above all else, you need a consistent process that can give you repeated success.

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: Setting Up Alerts in Your PSA and RMM - 50th post in the series !!!

:-)




Still the best Quick-Start Guide to Managed Services: Service Agreements for SMB Consultants: A Quick-Start Guide to Managed Services by Karl W. Palachuk Now only $39.95 at SMB Books!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

NEW: Automatic Discounts at SMB Books

Over at SMB Books, some of our most popular products are really "tools" rather than just books. For example, The Network Migration Workbook or the Sharepoint Operations Guide. Each of these costs 2-3 hours of labor, depending on what you charge. But both are great products that will save you hundreds of dollars the first time you use them!

There are also bundles that add up quickly. It's the nature of our business. Books cost $40-$100 each. And even though you get a discount for the bundle, any bundle is also going to cost a bit.
So, beginning immediately, you will receive discount immediately and automatically when you pass certain threshholds. We have alway ofference free standard shipping when you order $300 or more. Now we are adding additional discounts, starting at the $350 level.

Here are the new discounts:

- $300 or more: Free Standard Shipping

- $350 or more: 10% Discount

- $500 or more: 15% Discount

- $750 or more: 20% Discount

No codes to enter. Just add your favorite resources to your cart.
Begin saving right away. This includes registrations for the SMB Online Conference.

Check out the bargains - and the automatic savings - right now!

SMB Books - Resources for IT Professionals!
http://www.smbbooks.com

:-)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Len DiCostanzo to Present Strategic Pricing Models at First-Ever Online Conference for Small Business Consultants

We put out a major press release early this morning. Our old friend Len DiCostanzo from Autotask is addressing the Strategic Use of Pricing Plans at the SMB Online Conference in June.

Join us!

Sign up today before prices go up: www.smbonlineconference.com

Here's that press release:

- - - - -


Len DiCostanzo to Present Strategic Pricing Models at First-Ever Online Conference for Small Business Consultants

Sacramento, CA, April 11, 2012 – Small Business Technology author Karl Palachuk announced that Len DiCostanzo – Senior Vice President of Community and Business Development at Autotask – will present a keynote address entitled “Killer Pricing Models for IT, Cloud, and Managed Services” at the first major Online Conference for Small Business IT Consultants, Managing for Success 2012.

Managing for Success 2012 will be held “online” June 26-28, 2012 and features eighteen hours of training for IT professionals, computer consultants, and managed service providers who focus on the Small and Medium Business market.

“I am extremely pleased that we could get Len as a speaker for the SMB Online Conference,” said Palachuk. “He has a long history as a managed service provider and industry expert. Last year he was elevated to the position of Executive Vice President of one of the most important companies in the SMB space. And now he’s going to share his expertise with us!”

DiCostanzo’s keynote address will focus on the strategic use of pricing models to increase sales and improve customer relations. “Pricing is critically important today,” said DiCostanzo. “You can no longer simply multiply the cost of delivery times x and come out with a pricing model that makes sense.”

“Managed services and cloud services give us the opportunity to create pricing models that are strategic in nature. That means we actually use our selection of pricing options as a sales and client attraction tool,” said DiCostanzo.

As Senior Vice President of Community and Business Development for Autotask, DiCostanzo is responsible for ensuring the continued success of Autotask’s global client base and identifying, building, and nurturing their strategic industry alliances around the world. Client success programs include developing and delivering business building and product education content through Autotask Academy, facilitating peer partnerships and collaboration, and advising on sustainable revenue generating opportunities. Working with Autotask’s strategic alliance vendor partners, the goal is to build tight integrations across a range of cloud services and managed services tools that result in automated, scalable business and service delivery processes for their clients.

DiCostanzo joined Autotask in 2008.  He has been named a CRN Channel Chief for 2010 and 2011, and has been listed on the MSPmentor 250 since 2009, which identifies industry leaders shaping the global managed services market.  He was named to the SMB 150 in 2011, which lists major influencers in the SMB IT channel and currently sits on CompTIA’s MSP Partners Executive Council and the Vendor Advisory Council.

A widely-recognized figure in the IT industry with more than 25 years experience as a business technology solution provider in the channel, DiCostanzo's career began in 1986 when he founded his own software development firm which evolved into a full service solution provider.  His company became one of the first solution providers to develop a managed services practice, generating recurring revenue by delivering scheduled, consistent IT services to clients in support of business operations. 

Other conference speakers include Patrick Schwerdtfeger and Arlin Sorensen.  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). Sorensen is the founder and CEO of both Heartland Technology Solutions and the HTG Peer Groups. Heartland Technology Solutions has seven offices in five states (Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma) and more than 75 employees. HTG is now comprised of 270 member companies throughout the U.S., Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom.

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. 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.

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

Friday, April 06, 2012

SOP Friday: Third Party Tech Support - Documenting Calls

Last week we talked about calling third party tech support - the rules of engagement. We talked a bit about documentation. Today we'll cover documentation directly.

One of the key tools you need is the Troubleshooting and Repair Log. This is a paper log so you can keep it on your desk and add notes very easily as needed. At some point you might scan this into your PSA system (Autotask or ConnectWise), or transcribe some of the highlights. See the post just cited.

Documentation is Critical
There are several pieces to documenting an outbound tech support call. First, you need to get all the relevant information into your PSA system. This includes information on the vendor, their contact information, SR(x) numbers, service contract information, etc. You need all this in the PSA, within a specific ticket, so that all time can be logged to this ticket. Having everything in the PSA also allows you to have more than one technician on your staff work on the issue, and for you to put the project down and pick it up again.

Second, you need the paper TSR Log mentioned above. Please read that blog post! I can already hear people whining that everything should be electronic and not paper, blah, blah, blah. But it is just not practical to think that you will keep a service ticket open all the time, on a portable device, and keep that device in your hand at all times while working on this service call.

You need to be able to have instant random access to this document. This is true in large part because you have to coordinate with the other tech team. So you might need to add something to that document while you're between clients, at home, when the Internet is down, while the client's systems are offline, etc. Paper works anywhere, 100% of the time.

In a perfect world, everything is 100% electronic instantly. But many people are doing little or no documentation now, so the argument about waiting for an electronic option just doesn't float. Something is better than nothing.

Of course you will transfer some highlights from the TSR Log into the ticketing system when appropriate.

Third, you need to have some standard processes for describing how you deal with vendors. See last week's post. Also, you should have at least one ticket status specifically for vendors. Because there just aren't that many vendor calls, I would not create a whole series of statuses. One - "Waiting on Vendor" - should suffice. But you need to be very good about documenting WHY you're waiting.

Sometimes, with 3rd party support, you need to arrange a specific time when they can get into the client's system. You need to inform the client, arrange the time, and have one of your technicians available for the call.

Because you'll be shadowing the vendor (or they'll be shadowing you) most of the time, coordinating multiple connections can be hassle. Keep good notes and make sure time gets allocated to the right service ticket.

If you do this consistently, you'll be able to figure out how much time you spent on each vendor at the end of the year. For example, if all calls to Symantec go into service requests specific to their products, then you can just add up the hours.

Working with vendors can be very time-consuming. There is often a long wind-up to getting funnelled to someone who can actually help. You need to coordinate access to machines. If they end up sending a part for you to install - or a tech to install it - there's more coordination. Then, in the middle of your support cycle, someone needs a day off. Or you need to wait three days to see if the fix worked. It can be very time-consuming, and you need to document everything.

Reproducible Success

One of the most powerful elements of documenting your calls with tech support is the ability to get a free education! Once you are involved in solving an issue, you may very well be able to fix it by yourself next time. The odds of success go way up when you take excellent notes.

In all of the sample cases discussed last time, YOU need to keep great notes about what you did. You need time stamps for all activities, in 15 minute increments.

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.

If you can email your notes to the tech, that sometimes helps tremendously.  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.

When the third party takes over, you also need to keep notes on everything they do. Very often, these people write up their notes after the fact. In other words, they don't document in real time. That means you will be relying on their perfect recall, which they won't have.
You need to log emails and get them into the ticket notes.

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!

No matter which third party vendor you're dealing with, ask for their notes and put them into your service ticket or knowledgebase. This is critical for documenting what you did and might help with future problems.

There's one very frustrating category of problems you can't solve yourself: Secret patches. Nothing is more irritating than to have someone on a paid support call say "We only distribute this patch to people who ask for it." What? So after an hour of scouring your online database, you tell me I would never have found this without calling you? Grrrrr.

But even with this, you can download the patch, document how you used it, and have it available as needed.

As I mentioned, you probably don't have THAT many 3rd party support calls. If you have a high number for one product, you should consider alternative products! But because you don't have a lot, you'll need to have good processes in place so that you can deal with them as successfully and consistently as possible.

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: Setting Up a New Managed Service Client (Checklist)

:-)




Check Out the #1 ranked Managed Services book at Amazon: Managed Services in A Month by Karl W. Palachuk Buy it as a printed book, Audio book, or ebook!

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Arlin Sorensen to Discuss CEO Transition Planning at the SMB Online Conference

We're putting out a major press release in the morning. Mr. Arlin Sorensen - the most successful managed service provider in the world - is addressing CEO Transition Planning at the SMB Online Conference in June.

Join us!

Sign up today before prices go up: www.smbonlineconference.com

Here's that press release:

- - - - -

Arlin Sorensen to Present Keynote Address at First-Ever Online Conference for Small Business Consultants

Small Business Technology author Karl Palachuk announced that Arlin Sorensen – widely regarded for his passion in serving and educating small businesses and IT consultants around the world – will present a keynote address entitled “Your CEO Transition Plan” at the first major Online Conference for Small Business IT Consultants, Managing for Success 2012.

Sacramento, CA, April 4, 2012 – Small Business Technology author Karl Palachuk announced that Arlin Sorensen – widely regarded for his passion in serving and educating small businesses and IT consultants around the world – will present a keynote address entitled “Your CEO Transition Plan” at the first major Online Conference for Small Business IT Consultants, Managing for Success 2012.

“We are absolutely thrilled to have Arlin presenting at this conference,” said Palachuk. “He is one of the great thought leaders in the world of IT consulting, with influence that stretches from the heartland of America all around the world.”

Sorensen is the founder and CEO of both Heartland Technology Solutions and the HTG Peer Groups. Heartland Technology Solutions has seven offices in five states (Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma) and more than 75 employees. HTG is now comprised of 270 member companies throughout the U.S., Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom.

Sorensen sits on advisory panels and groups for many major IT companies and organizations. He has been influential in the evolution of the managed services model of IT support as well as licensing programs and product develop for many companies. Sorensen is always on the “short list” of influential people in small business IT consulting.

Sorensen’s topic is Your CEO Transition Plan. “This is a critical element of running a successful business,” says Sorensen. “So many IT companies have put off making transition plans. And as we’ve seen several times in the last year, such plans can be critical to the survival and value of your business.”

Other conference speakers include Bob Godgart and Dave Sobel. 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. 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. Conference Platinum sponsors include ConnectWise and LabTech.

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

About Heartland Technology Solutions

Founded in 1985 by Arlin Sorensen, HTS has been providing business technology solutions to clients throughout the Midwest for over 26 years. Their goal is to provide the right combination of IT consulting, procurement and technical services to support their clients' business objectives. With a regionally based staff, over 30 industry certified engineers and experienced business consultants, they are more than a technology provider . . . they are their clients' Trusted Advisors for "everything IT."  HTS has seven offices across five Midwestern states and serves small and medium sized business, education, and government clients across the Heartland.  Visit www.heartlandtechnologies.com or call 712-744-3619 for more information.

About HTG Peer Groups

Established in 2000 by Arlin Sorensen as a business and personal development community, today HTG Peer Groups is an international organization of leading IT solution providers. HTG has 270 member companies throughout North America, the United Kingdom and Australia/New Zealand. Each peer group consists of 10-12 IT company executives who work together and share resources and information to formulate and meet business goals such as strategic planning, process improvement and tools, and life-work excellence. HTG offers Leadership Forums, vendor peer groups and other educational events, quarterly meetings, and an annual summit that attracts hundreds of attendees, vendor exhibitors and strategic partners. Visit www.htgpeergroups.com or call 712-744-3619 for more information.

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

:-)



Two Great Managed Services Resources: 

by Karl W. Palachuk - Still the best Quick-Start Guide to Managed Services! 
Now only $39.95 at SMB Books! 


and


by Karl W. Palachuk - Check Out the #1 ranked Managed Services book at Amazon! 
Buy it as a printed book or ebook!