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SMB Partner Community - October 2006

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SMB Partner Community

EDITORIAL Harry Brelsford and Beatrice Mulzer

Life Learners Fall has arrived, the kids are back in school and professionals are back at work. It’s also the “learning season,” which means night courses for some, workshops for others and for a few, attending the conference of their choice. These are all good “life learner” behaviors that help define you as a professional. We recently held our fourth annual conference dedicated to SMB channel Partners and, most recently, Small Business Specialists. We’ve grown up with you, cheered at the victories and toasted to the future. This year was different, and we’re using this issue to review the “annual conference” from several different perspectives. First – the cover story tells the story beyond sessions and speakers. We found Partners making connections with fellow Partners as a major “undercurrent” to the event. Put on your matchmaking hat and learn how six Partners found synergy at SMB Nation 2006.

OCTOBER 2006

| Vol. 1  Issue 4

PUBLISHED BY

SMB Nation, Inc. Bainbridge Island, Washington Harry Brelsford, Publisher Editorial Staff EXECUTIVE EDITOR Beatrice Mulzer EDITOR Barbara Wallace CONTRIBUTING EDITORS

Robin Robins, USA LAYOUT Al Alarakhia - PrintPelican.com COVER ART DIRECTOR Michael Young CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

Life Givers! Something started with the first SMB Nation conference and the first issue of this magazine is about community giving. Giving means different things to different people. For some, it’s the giving of time on the popular SBS newsgroup sites. For others, it’s engaging in a living theology, dutifully helping others as a form of community service. And then there is the approach adapted by leading busy technology executives with big hearts – donating cash to the cause of their choice. Here are three specific examples. • Sunday Speed Dating. Microsoft asked the ever loyal Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs) to host the speed dating tables at the end of SMB Nation 2006. The MVPs graciously gave of themselves and their technical know-how to help fellow community members. The event received high marks. • Living Theology. Be sure to thumb over to the main story to learn how Arlin Sorensen, a long-time successful SBSer, is silently helping to make the community a better place to play. • Coffee Cash. We selected Pura Vida as our SMB Nation 2006 charity for the great work its doing as a Seattle-based coffee company donating from its profits to assist in improving the livelihoods of impoverished emerging economy residents in Central America and Africa. So what is the connection to small business and the community? The founders of Pura Vida are retired Microsoft executives now running a small business to “create good” in the world. Its CEO, John Sage, was the small business product manager for Microsoft Works “back in the day” when he worked closely with Steve Ballmer. Sage recalled and reiterated Balmer’s long-standing small business commitment as part of his donation acceptance speech. Pictured top left on Page 3 is John Sage, CEO of Pura Vida, receiving a $1,000 check from Harry Brelsford, CEO of SMB Nation, on behalf of Intel (Ryan Olson, Intel Channel Solution Account Manager. Darlene Johnson from HP donated an HPML-110 server and Dean Paron (Microsoft) donated a fully-licensed copy of Windows Small Business Server 2003 R2. That should keep the coffee roasting at Pura Vida!

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Mark Mulvany, Ireland Diego Salato, Italy Nick Pieters, Belgium Leen Kleijwegt, Netherlands Andy Wendel, Germany Dean Calvert, Australia Steven Teiger, Israel Suresh Ramani, India Andrew Watson, UK Stuart Raj, Indonesia Mikael Nystroem, Sweden Shelagh Harrop, South Africa Dana Epp, Canada Ken Thoreson, USA Anne Stanton, USA BUSINESS STAFF Harry Brelsford, CEO Beatrice Mulzer, Vice President Alicia Christen, Office Manager Kristal Sagdahl, Circulation Andrew Watson, Sales Manager EMEA SMB Nation, Inc. PO Box 10179 Bainbridge Island, WA 98110 USA Telephone: 360-779-1140 Fax: 360-779-1140 E-mail: sbs@smbnation.com © Copyright 2006 SMB Nation Inc. All Rights Reserved Please contact us for reprints and reproduction of content. SMB Partner Community - October 2006


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Left to Right: Dean Paron (MS), John Sage (Pura Vida), Harry Brelsford (SMB Nation), Ryan Olson (Intel), Darlene Johnson (HP) RIP – Jaeger, English Springer Spaniel As many long-time readers know, the SMB Nation brand in the small business and SBS space was built around a pair of English springer spaniels (Brisker and Jaeger) who have been the “storyline” for many books. We regret to report the sad demise of Jaeger, who died at the age of 13 in early September. Jaeger was there from the beginning and truly a success factor for SMB Nation. God save the Queen and Godspeed to you, Jaeger!

A thank you from the SMB Nation Conference Team to all attendees and vendors, helping make SMB Nation 2006 a success for all involved! Left to Right: Beatrice Mulzer, Van AuBuchon, Rosanna Giuliani, Harry Brelsford, Alyssa Johnson-Oro Azul, Brenda Luper and Joel Prescod.

Cover Shot Were you part of the cover shot and don’t remember standing in front of the Microsoft Redmond Conference Center? For this month’s cover we combined two photos, one shot taken of the attendees Sunday at noon inside the McKinley room, and a second shot taken later of the conference center outside. Given that 70% of attendees are Small Business Specialists, we will claim that this picture documents the largest concentration of Small Business Specialists ever photographed together!

Harry Brelsford CEO, SMB Nation Publisher, SMB Partner Community magazine

Jaeger Matthew Brelsford, 1993-2006 SMB Partner Community - October 2006

Beatrice Mulzer VP, SMB Nation Executive Editor, SMB Partner Community magazine www.smbnation.com

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COVER STORY

The 3 C’s of Successful Conferencing B

usiness lesson of the month. In finance, there is a lending methodology called the “three Cs” that relate to character, capacity and credit. In the world of professional conferences for Small Business Specialists, the three Cs are connections, content and community. All three elements will be reviewed here as part of the recap of the recently completed SMB Nation 2006 conference, held in early September at the Microsoft Conference Center in Redmond. Connections Arguably the reason any attendee will participate in a professional conference is a positive return on investment (ROI). Long-time conference goers know that the real value in attending a conference is the folks you meet and the resulting business you create together. Such was the case with a few “partner-to-partner” introductions and consultant\customer leads. Big Business in Little Rock. Try this one on for size. You’re attending SMB Nation 2006 and unbeknownst to you at the time, a capable peer from your geographic region is also present. You need to team with a fellow partner to serve an existing customer in Little Rock, Arkansas. Voilá, two such partners met this way via SMB Nation 2006. Kevin Watkins (Watkins Solutions), tapping into a long-held belief in the events industry that the top ten percent of a professional peer group attends professional conferences (attendees are leaders), asked the following: Page 4

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I have a customer with a satellite office in Little Rock, Arkansas who is looking for personal attention from a SBSer like they receive from me here in NEA. The MS Partner website shows a lot of Certified and Gold Partners in Little Rock but I am really looking for someone who might be connected with SMB Nation because I feel like that particular company would take care of their needs on a more personal nature. Can you tell me if there are any SBSers in Little Rock who have attended or contacted SMB Nation in the past? Delightfully, Kevin connected with “Little Rocker” Angie Bates (The Computer Hut), who has since collaborated with Kevin about his customer. Good luck to the both of you.

Making connections in the hallways, flyways and byways of SMB Nation 2006! Bob Paulson (L) of RB Paulson Consulting (Seattle), Michael Eden (Allarus Technology Management, New York) and Blake Ressmeyer (CIO-CTO for Hire, Denver) SMB Partner Community - October 2006


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Walk Up Referral (Madison, WI). Reaching out is the first step to establishing a Partner-to-Partner connection. That is exactly the extroverted behavior exhibited by Andrew Harper (GaelTek) when he approached me on the show floor, asking if anyone was attending from Madison WI USA. He wanted to team with a fellow Partner on a customer opportunity. Fortunately, one of the strong Partners in the SMB space today, Kurt Sippel, Applied Technology Solutions (Microsoft Gold Partner, Small Business Specialist) was present. Kurt reports that he and Andrew have laid the foundation for future teaming efforts. More importantly by attending SMB Nation over the past few years, Kurt has made some amazing connections that have really benefited his business. “More important than the content are the connections we’ve made over the years. At SMB Nation 2004, I met Arlin Sorsenson and today I’m actively involved in his Heartland Technology mentoring peer group,” said Sippel. [see the Editorial and the sidebar Arlin article that accompanies this feature story] Customer Connection (Seattle, Washington). Don’t tell Phil Briscoe, a Seattle-based small business technology consultant that SMB Nation 2006 was just about making Partner-to-Partner connections. At the Friday night event, Phil was introduced to John Sage, CEO of Pura Vida Coffee at the Friday night donation ceremony (see the Editorial this issue for more information). Sage reports that PuraVida Coffee is in the process of upgrading its technology infrastructure and is interviewing consultants. Briscoe brings a strong background of not-for-profit consulting with his tenure at nPower, a not-for-proft consultancy started by ex-Microsoft executives that exclusively serves other notfor-profit entities. Good luck Phil as you have further conversations with Pura Vida! Content “You’ve got a real mixed crowd at SMB Nation,” Sippel observed. “On the one hand, you’ve got business owners like me who are interested in growing our businesses. On the other hand, you’ve got technicians seeking deep technical content. And all at one conference.” Sippel’s insights are spot on. Whereas Microsoft sends the techies to TechNet and the Partners to the Worldwide Partner Conference, SMB Nation has historically strived for a balance between business and technical content. Here is a quick recap of top presentations this past year. Technical • Jeff Middleton and his disaster recovery lectures. As always, SBS-MVP Jeff Middleton draws a large, enthusiastic crowd and this year was no different. He SMB Partner Community - October 2006

presented updated content and was voted the most popular session in an on-line “repeat session” survey. • Wayne Small and his Friday night world record. Just when you thought it was time to party, attendees were treated to a masterful technical lecture on the SBS 2003 R2 release in the context of the shortened OEM setup routine. Imagine people wildly cheering exception code references and you got it. • Dana Epp, eh? Canadian Dana Epp displayed his technical expertise in the security realm with new insights into further securing Remote Web Workplace.

Jeff Middleton delivers his popular technical speech on disaster recovery. Business • Arlin’s M&A. Attendees with the “inner owner” drive (thinking beyond the techie) really appreciated Arlin’s sophisticated investor business lecture on growing via mergers and acquisitions. • One-to-Many Panel. No, it wasn’t a baron of industry people wanted to hear pontificate about hypergrowth. Rather, it was Sam from Vancouver BC who told a heartfelt story of how he had grown from one to several employees since attending his first SMB Nation conference in 2005. That is because the attendees could relate to Sam’s story. He perfectly fits the majority of attendees’ “demographic” as a sole proprietor adding his first, second and third employee. Good show Sam! • Chip’s franchise speech. When designing the content for a conference, there is always a push\pull dynamic on setting the schedule with topics attendees want to hear and topics attendees should here. Chip Reaves from ComputerTroubleshooters was brave enough to stand before an audience of independent operators and educate them on the value of belonging to some www.smbnation.com

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type of affinity group (in his case, a franchise organization). His panel, at the end of the session, ensured that competing franchise groups, user groups and other associations got equal time, so the content was balanced. Community Vendors are a critical factor in the success of any event. SMB Nation enjoyed the support of over 40 vendors who were keenly interested in having conversations with the SBS community about their wares. Bill Hersh of D&H shared that this conference connects him with his prized SMB demographic. Naseem Saab (Results Software) spent hours outside the conference hall with several attendees seeking a deep dive into his SMB CRM solution. Microsoft product managers manned an entire wall of the MarketPlace Expo hall to have attendee conversations. As part of the MarketPlace Expo, a Crested Butte, Colorado ski vacation was the grand prize drawing. The lucky winner was Maureen Sapp from Redwood Group LLC (Prospect Heights, IL) who has indicated that they want to go skiing in February! Interestingly, Maureen found the conversation with fellow attendees to be even more valuable than the content.

newsgroups and eventually ended up at the conference…” [Learn more about TS2 in the TS2nami column]. Ever mindful that a conference isn’t just contained within the four walls of the convention center, the spouses and significant others tour visited Bainbridge Island, Queen Anne Hill, Paul Allen’s Experience Project Mueseum and Snoqualmie Pass (Cascade Mountains).

Posing at Kerry Park above Seattle, the spouses and significant others trotted around Puget Sound. And what about those underground parties? SBS MVP Jeff Middleton hosted a popular Saturday night gathering at a local pool hall while numerous vendors hosted hospitality suites. The wildest rumor at SMB Nation 2006? Someone wagered $40,000 at a poker gathering! Note that these after hours events were the scene of some of the best conversations at the entire conference, reinforcing a wellknown business trend that some of the best business occurs outside work!

Small Business Specialist Maureen Sapp completed her tradeshow hall passport and won the grand prize. Maureen’s story of becoming a Small Business Specialist and participating in the community is equally interesting. “We were reflecting on how we got where we are at the other day and it’s kind of serendipitous. We decided to start an IT consulting business and left our steady paychecks in August 2004. One of the first things we did was go to a Microsoft TS2 event to see what it was all about and we won your Small Business Server 2003 Best Practices book. We learned how to set up a Small Business Server, joined the Page 6

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This hearty group gathered after SMB Nation 2006 to complete the infamous Chilly Hilly route on Bainbridge Island. Who needs 18-holes of golf when you can bike 35 miles? SMB Partner Community - October 2006


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Living Theology Arlin Sorensen – SBSer of the Year “Arlin is making a major contribution to the community - but is flying UNDER the radar,” says Bob Hood (SBSer of the Year in 2005). “The SBSer of the Year award went to Arlin Sorensen for his self-less dedication to helping others grow through his mentoring directly to them.” Arlin has been making major contributions to the community by “putting together peer mentoring groups around the country to assist each other in growing their business,” says Bob. Years ago Arlin started the Heartland Technology Group (HTG), which will have grown to 36 independent companies by November. “We share ideas, resources and cross-sell services from one another,” says Arlin, but he doesn’t mention that he also mentors many consultants, giving his time and free advice to help their businesses succeed. About the selection process of the SBSer of the Year award, Bob says, “The primary driving force behind the selection, which eliminated some very solid contributors, was that others are already being recognized as MVPs or had branched out into commercial ventures by selling to the community.” Arlin started as a one-man band and grew his business to 75 employees. As busy as he is, he still finds time to freely share his experiences with other businesses. SBSer of the Year, Congratulations Arlin, and a big thank Arlin Sorensen, Heartland you for your unselfish devotion. Technology Solutions

Magic Final takeways? How about some magic?

Small Business Specialist Jay Weiss, an accomplished amateur cyclist from Southern California, provided comic relief at the Friday night event. Here he is, completing a trick with speaker Anne Stanton. Resources • Read the November issue of Redmond Channel Partner Magazine (www.rcpmag.com) for Rich Freeman’s excellent conference recap. • Visit www.smbnation.tv for video blogs of conference attendees being interviewed.  SMB Partner Community - October 2006


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One Disc Closer to $uccess

S

MB Consultancy on a Disc! Did you know that you are one Disc away from greater success as a Small Business Specialist? Developed with input from far-flung international Microsoft subsidiaries and leading Gold partners, the Small Business Technology Assessment Toolkit for Windows Small Business Server 2003 R2 was released at the Small Business Symposium Day at the Worldwide Partner Conference in Boston (July 10th). Since that day, as you will discover, Small Business Specialists have been moving their practices forward with some terrific results. But note that these partners took the first step and actually put the Disc in the drive of their computers (at which point an autorun.inf splash screen appears as the “home page”).

by Harry Brelsford

Educational Sales So exactly what is the Small Business Technology Assessment Toolkit? This Disc-based resource is several things, but in my opinion, it all amounts to educational sales, true “white collar” consulting and taking better care of your customers. It is divided into two small business customer segments (1-24 PCs, 24-75 PCs) allowing you to have an appropriate conversation with different customer types. The figures and the table on the following page summarize the nuts and bolts of the Small Business Technology Assessment Toolkit.

This Flash-driven software allows you to interview prospective and existing customers in several topical areas with inputs all accumulating in a Word-based report. SMB Partner Community - October 2006

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Table 1 – Small Business Technology Assessment Toolkit Details Features

Description

Business Assessment

Management consulting methodology delivered in a turn-key format for the Small Business Specialist to apply to client engagements. Interviews conducted in the following areas: • Contact Information: Name, address, Web, telephone, etc. • Business Demographics: Annual sales, years in business, core business functions, etc. • Key Personnel: Includes a section on Vision and Strategy that many Small Business Specialists might not “think” of asking about. • Current IT Landscape: Includes compelling conversation starter on whether IT should be viewed as an asset, expense or simply necessary. Note this maps very closely to the testing paradigm used in the Small Business Sales and Marketing Assessment required of all Small Business Specialists. • IT Experience\Staff Resources\Support: Asks basic questions on who already provides IT support, identification of key on-site personnel such as the proverbial power user. • Major Company Projects: Forward-looking business pipeline questions plus questions on regulatory issues such as HIPPA. • Lifecycle Management: Allows both the Small Business Specialist and the customer to think strategically about IT. Also includes annual budgeting questions. • Company Purchasing Process: Steps used to purchase IT-related products and services and identify the decision-maker. Also fosters discussion of primary pain points. • Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT): Three screens dedicated to sophisticated strategic planning model (SWOT). • Communication Methodology: Questions are presented that facilitate further discussions about CM (e.g. contact management). • Marketing and Public Relations: Marketing approaches are discussed. A section on policies and procedures discusses disaster recovery. • Internet Presence: Web site? Web site goals?

Technology Assessment

Essentially this section allows an “inventory” of existing hardware and software IT assets. • Hardware: Over two screens, you complete an inventory of servers, clients, thin clients, printers, fax machines. • Software: You will use two screens to answer questions about the operating system, licensing and applications (including line of business applications). • Network infrastructure: answer questions about network type, topology, and ports. • Connectivity, Internet, E-mail: Detailed questions on Internet usage including “how critical” the Internet is to core business operations. • Wireless: Assesses the use of Wi-Fi and mobility features. • Network Storage: A series of questions that allows the small business to think about current and future storage needs. • Power: Power protection related questions. • Telephony: Allows the small business technology consultant to think about

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integrating IP telephony at the customer site. Note that there are only two questions here and you might want to expand this area (see the Customization section later). • Review Technology Processes and Policies: Includes questions in the following areas: - Technology management - Security - Internet use - Spam\malware\anti-virus - Backup - Proactive maintenance and monitoring - Patch and service pack management - Data storage (user limits, etc.) - Mail Storage (limits, etc.) - Remote Access (company policy regarding) - Training (great section to encourage formal training policy) Marketing and Sales Tools

Points to additional Microsoft Partner sales and marketing tools for the Small Business Specialist.

Post Sales and Beyond

Points to “tactile” tools for implementing Windows Small Business Server 2003 R2.

Ongoing Customer Relationships

A very strong section introducing the Small Business Specialist to value-adds, including maintenance agreements, value-added services such as introducing mobility and hosting customer-facing quarterly seminars (this aligns perfectly with the educational sales message), importance of regular customer visits and proving bona fide training sessions at customer sites. This is shown below.

Beyond completing the customer business and technology interview, the Technology Assessment Toolkit launches the

Small Business Specialist into the world of additional services and recurring revenues for “sustainability.”

Why recreate the wheel? The TAK offers the tools to build a long-term relationship SMB Partner Community - October 2006

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Leverage, Normalization and Customization Close your eyes and visualize the following. You are a successful Small Business Specialist (of course) and you start to grow your own small business and hire technicians. It’s all good but now that you’re running a true consultancy, you start to look for “leverage points” to grow profitability. Forget about multi-level marketing schemes. I am talking about having junior technicians (who are, of course, Small Business Specialists) interview prospects (small businesses) using the Technology Assessment Toolkit. This is entirely possible because the Technology Assessment Toolkit is a highlyreplicable consulting methodology wherein a series of business and technology questions is asked at each site. Imagine training “Junior” with one customer (where you lead the engagement and complete the Technology Assessment Toolkit) and then you dispatch Junior to repeat this process again and again. Another methodology leverage point is that the data samples you accumulate and compile adhere to the laws of normalization. The same questions are being asked via the structured interview approach imposed by the Technology Assessment Toolkit. This allows you to detect trends in the small business customer base and better anticipate future needs. It also allows you to reject nonsense responses that some wise guy might have slipped in! Did you know that the Technology Assessment Toolkit is customizable when you complete the Flash-based interview and work with the Word-based output? This is an essential take-away from this article. The Technology Assessment Toolkit provides a consulting template that is incredibly valuable right off the Disc! But you’ll want to add your own questions as you use it in the real world. For example, I am extremely interested in the convergence of voice and data and I’d personally expand the telephony section.

Immediate ROI So how well-received is the Technology Assessment Toolkit in the real world? We interviewed three partners to get the “net-net.”

Larry Allen, Netcom, Inc. (www.netcom-inc.com), Atlanta, Georgia USA We found a busy Larry after hours exactly where you’d expect him: working at his desk! Larry is a prizewinning Microsoft Partner and an early adopter of the Technology Assessment Toolkit. “It’s completely changed the customer conversation. We’re not viewed as the breakfix repair guys but as technical professionals capable and competent in a business conversation setting.” Allen started off. He proceeded to share his game plan. The first visit, a traditional sales call, is complimentary for the customer. The next visit is to complete the business assessment. “Our customers are amazed we’re asking business questions!” exclaimed Allen. A third visit to the customer is made to complete the technical assessment component. So we asked the allimportant question: is Larry making money doing this? “Yes we are making money. We charge our customers for the second and third visits to complete the Technology Assessment Toolkit. This money is refunded if the customer engages our firm for a technology project and ongoing relationship.” Allen concluded by adding, “We’ve increased our sales using the Technology Assessment Toolkit.”

SBS Surprise Now for the best news of all. How would you like a free copy of Windows Small Business Server 2003 Premium Edition – FOR RESALE COPY?!?!?! Just complete five bona fide technology assessments subject to contest conditions and you’re styling with a copy of SBS you can sell to one of your customers. That’s an ROI booster that effectively allows you to recoup some of your costs associated with the customer interviews. See sidebar for links to resources and the contest site.

Resources (Microsoft Partner login required) Download the toolkit (77MB) https://www.mssboffers.com/download.aspx (Note: this is a new toolkit version as of July 2006) Assess and Win Contest: https://www.mssboffers.com/Default.aspx

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Visit the TAK Readiness Center for Toolkit Best Practices, Webcasts and Live Meetings SMB Partner Community - October 2006


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The future looks bright: Currently there are over 8 million small businesses (1-99 employees) in the United States, over 17 million in China, 18 million in Western Europe, 18 million in India, and 720,000 in Australia. According to a forecast by IDC, approximately 100,000 new small businesses will be created in the United States each year through 2008 alone, and more worldwide. This is driven in part by increasingly inexpensive information technology and the need of small business to stay in contact with their trading partners and customers.

Mark Valles, The Fulcrum Group (www.fulcrumgroup.net) Keller, Texas, USA. Mark niches in the SMB space with expertise in servers, IP Telephony, Networking, Wireless, and other hardware and software products. Q: What do you think about the Technology Assessment Toolkit (TAK)? A: I have been in sales for 10 years and the toolkit has allowed me to stick to the discipline of solutions sales by asking both business and technical questions and tying them in to the customer’s issues or missed opportunities. It is as much a part of my sales process as our CRM. Q: How are you using it in your consulting practice? Sales tool? Methodology tool? A: We are using it as a sales tool. We have adopted the solution sales methodology from SPI and we use the toolkit to construct a repeatable selling model that allows us to go back and use the answers and pre-built templates to market to the customer in a more efficient, more productive manner.

Q: Are you charging customers to complete the assessments in the TAK? A: We charge three out of every five customers $500 for the assessment. It is a deliverable that consists of the answers and recommendations to our findings. We also use it as a selling tool for competitive positioning. The close ratio goes up about 80% by the customer,“throwing skin in the game.” Q Will the TAK increase your sales and improve the quality of your service delivery? A: Every sales rep one year into the business or ten years in the business will get off track. This puts a discipline into the process as well as increases sales by asking questions I might not have asked without the TAK. For example, one of the questions was about their five-year plan. The customer was not really looking out that far. He could not answer it. There, I saw an opening and began helping him create a vision for five years out. We started talking about his business in a way that I am not selling but helping. We got the order and contract at the end of the meeting for our “Premium” offering which added a $4,500 monthly recurring charge to our business. Q: Are your customers “happier” with your use of the TAK or were you already using some type of engagement methodology? A: We have always used the SPI “Solution Sales” or “Customer Centric”selling methodology. This works hand in hand with it. It puts the discipline in the model and takes the guesswork out. Before, I would spend hours trying to draft the correct questions for the customer. Then, send the follow up material and spending time there. With the toolkit, I simply print off the questionnaire and skip over only a few questions. It saves me hours of the day which allows me to spend more time prospecting and in front of customers. It takes you from the initial meeting to close and gives you all the sales tools that ultimately increase your closing ratios. That’s what makes it fun. I see more and bigger commission checks from it. I not only get to sell SBS 2003 but custom work with SharePoint. Also, we currently work with another Microsoft partner that sells line of business applications such as CRM, Dynamics, etc. We will get them involved to add more value to our offering and manage the whole process and receive a fee based on the generated revenue. This has created a revenue stream that we were turning away before. So what was the “net-net” from Mark? The TAK is a great tool that partners can benefit from by integrating it into your sales process. It is a MUST if you’re in front of customers. It is simple to use

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and takes you through every step. The questions are even modified based upon the customer’s size to ensure the right questions are drafted. I am going to use the toolkit with every Microsoft product we sell.

after you’ve discussed something with the customer and they like it then that’s it they want it yesterday.

Mike Bryett, Bryett Enterprise LTD (www.computergeekz.co.uk) in Windsor Berkshire, UK Q: What do you think about the Technology Assessment Toolkit? A: I think it’s a great tool as my background is more in the geeky/technical arena and find anything to do with sales and marketing a bit stressful to be honest. For a while now I have been after something just like this as not only does it provide a decent framework for the customer to think about and understand things, but it also helps me think more about the fuller picture when it comes to providing the best solution for the customer as it enables us both to tackle the problems from completely different but complimentary business and technical angles. I started my business nearly two years ago I guess from as Gerber said a “entrepreneurial seizure” so [I] work hard to keep the momentum going on the side that I am most useless at in order to make myself a more rounded SBS Specialist. This tool helps me do that in the meetings and presentations when in front of customers that I find the hardest work, then the technical stuff comes along and I can do that with a smile on my face. Q: What are the “mechanics” for using this tool at the customer site? For example – do you complete the assessments with a single visit? A: Yes – the customer doesn’t want multiple visits to sort out one proposal as most of my customers are very busy. In general we have been recommended to them so already with a foot in the door largely they are just happy to go along with our recommendations. It can be difficult for them to agree to this type of presentation/meeting in the first place, they would much rather go along with what we recommend. I want to make sure we get it right though so almost make it a condition that we have this sort of chat as it helps set down ground rules and really explain the “solution”to them rather than just sell another bit of software. I guess in the long term they get much more out of it and can ask much more meaningful questions during the installation and commissioning which means they will use more of the technology available to them. A lot of the assessment is optional in any case so you can just pick and choose what’s relevant or not at runtime if time is limited - in that sense it is very flexible. I might tidy things up a bit when I get back to the office or a few days later after we have both thought about things but generally I think it can ONLY be done in a single visit otherwise it gives the impression of dragging one’s feet. Usually Page 14

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Mike decided to start his own business while backpacking with 40kg on his back! Q: Do you charge for the completion of the assessments or do you perform this work complimentary? A: I’ve heard some people do charge for these assessments but I have difficulty enough as it is to actually do the assessments with customers for free so can’t imagine how people get away with that. It doesn’t sit right with me anyway – charging for something that you may/may not end up providing. The local supermarket doesn’t charge me to look at their food before I buy anything. I pay for the food and that’s it. I cook and eat it myself or pay a chef to cook it for me (only joking as I don’t earn that much yet but I’m sure you get the idea).You get what you put into it I reckon so the more enthusiastic I can be before the sale the more likely we are to get the business, it actually empowers myself as I feel like I’m learning and getting better at the sales malarkey!! Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to work properly with Vista yet so have to do it on a customer’s computer or take an XP box with me but then I do like to live on the cutting edge of technology and get a bit ahead of myself at times. Free or Fee? I have delivered four workshops as of this writing featuring the Technology Assessment Toolkit. One question that has arisen at each location concerns consulting styles. Should the Small Business Specialist complete the business and technology interviews for free or fee? To be honest, the classroom attendees have been evenly divided on this matter. If you flip over to the Perceptions column in the magazine, you can answer the monthly poll on this topic. Should you use the Technology Assessment Toolkit under the guise of educational sales for business development purposes? Or are you adding such value with this form of systems analysis that you should bill like a high priced white collar management consultant with an MBA degree?  SMB Partner Community - October 2006


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Tech Corner

by Mikael Nyström

Start using the Companyweb, please…

T

he Companyweb, which is a part of Small Business Server and preinstalled from the beginning, is an excellent replacement for ordinary shared folders. But I have found that there is something very, very wrong here, because not enough companies are using it.

Picture 1 - The Companyweb Back in the old days, people started using shared folders for the purpose of having a central place to put documents to be shared by all employees. That solved the problem of having multiple copies of different documents, like proposals and other important documents. It actually worked well, as long as there were a small number of documents, of course. The only thing you had to do was to create a folder, share it, create a folder structure, fill it with all the documents, and start working. But after a while there were new problems.

Anarchy in the Hierarchy There were a few small problems that needed to be solved. Document naming convention The rule for naming a document is very important in an ordinary folder structure because it is the only piece of information that actually describes the content and people are very creative when it comes to that. I have seen a lot of different naming conventions in the past. Here are some examples: • New Microsoft Word Document.doc = A new document created by mistake, could contain important information but we don’t know. • CUPRO-3356-1.doc is a customer proposal with customer number 3356 and it is the first proposal. Page 16

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The problem is that people try to fit every possible piece of important information into the document name because there is no other place to put it. If you want to know what is in the document then you need to open every document to find the information. If you try to abbreviate the information in the document name you have to be a professor to find out what it means. Folder structure The folder structure is another problem that the “shared folder” struggles with. The first choice often seems logical. Let’s build it based on customer account number or customer name. We create \Public\Customerx and in that folder we put all documents regarding that customer. That should solve the problem. But I am sorry to say it does not, because not everyone in the company needs to view all documents. Different job responsibilities require different views. For example, the sales manager may want to see all proposals that are sent and waiting for a reply (that way he can see if the sales staff is doing its job). The problem is that whatever your need is, you can only create one folder structure. If you create multiple folder structures, there will be multiple copies of the document and you definitely do not want that. A file structure is simply a sorry excuse for storing files, when the files are really documents and someone actually needs to find and use them. This problem shows up when I talk to customers. When we talk about file and folder structure, the people in the room don’t really understand why there is a problem, because they don’t have a problem finding the document or the information they need. This is because they are the “information producers” and they know where to save the document. The information producers normally don’t need the information, but “information consumers” do. And the information consumers are the ones who are unable to find the information. When you go out onto the “floor” and start asking employees, their answer will be something like, “We normally don’t find anything, but we try to help each other out as best as we can.” The information producers and the information consumers don’t have the same view of the problem scope. When I explain the problem, all information consumers just start nodding their heads. Why? For me it’s obvious that everyone should use Companyweb or SharePoint. But when I ask around, talk to customers or present seminars, I find that only a few companies are using the Companyweb and that is something that puzzles me. Why? When I ask other consultants if they recommend the use of SharePoint or the Companyweb to their clients, I find out SMB Partner Community - October 2006


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that only few recommend these solutions. Wondering why, and digging a little deeper, I find out that the most common reason cited is that the consultants themselves do not use SharePoint. A lot of consultants don’t recommend using Companyweb because they don’t use it themselves. So my recommendation is to start using it yourself. The refrigerator problem Another problem unrelated to shared folders is the fact that every company, big or small, has certain ways of handling internal housekeeping. You need to schedule vacation, order stationery, handle reporting and perform multiple other tasks. In Sweden, most people take their vacations during the summer. One of the most common ways to plan ahead for this is to place an Excel spreadsheet on the refrigerator in the lunch room. Everyone gets to fill in their request and one designated person gets to manage the summer vacation planning. When a sales manager for a small company wants to know how many proposals are “in the wild,” he asks every sales person to send in a report once a week on the status of “the hunt for new customers.” The sales manager then combines all information into one nice pie diagram on Sunday evening to able to present that information at the Monday morning meeting. The Companyweb Solution This and other problems can be solved in just a couple of minutes by using the Companyweb. So let’s dig in and see how. There are two parts. Documents and Internal Functions. Companyweb is actually SharePoint Services 2.0 but the content of Companyweb is extended to fit the needs of Small Business Server owners. There is no technical difference from the downloadable version other than pre-populated content. Documents in Companyweb So let’s start using the Companyweb to replace the shared folder structure today. First we have to select the level of implementation. The Simple Solution You could copy the files from the existing folder structure to the Companyweb, thereby retaining the original structure. Don’t add any metadata to the files, don’t organize them. Just make a move from the shared folder technique to SharePoint. The benefits of the simple solution • You can search for a sentence or a word inside the files. That means that even if your folder structure is a mess you can still find files as long as you know something about them. • Check-in / check-out - With this feature you can “lock” public documents when you are about to work with them. That solves the problem of two people taking a copy of the same document and making SMB Partner Community - October 2006

different changes to it. If the document is checked-out, nobody can make change it except the user who checked it out. • Versioning - Instead of saving the same document with a different name, you can just save it over and over again with the same name. With versioning, you can always pull back an old version of the document in no time at all. One argument many use against using SharePoint is that it is a big step moving from an ordinary “letter.” in other words a P: drive, to an Internet Explorer solution. What some don’t know is that you can actually map a SharePoint folder just like an ordinary folder using the command “net use P: \\companyweb\sharedfolder.” This way it will continue to look exactly the same to the end user. (Thanks, Brjann, for showing me that some years ago.) The simple solution, step-by-step For the simple solution to work, just follow these steps: • Create more document libraries if you need different permissions, • Copy the files from the file system to Companyweb, • Prohibit any changes in the old file system (remove the mapped drive), • Start using the Companyweb through the web interface and/or UNC paths. (If you want, you could use the “net use” function if you really need to have a drive letter,) • If you have SBS Premium, make sure you Configure full-text search. It is not on by default (Central Administration/Component Configuration). • Enable versioning (disabled by default). In the list on the left link bar, click Modify settings and columns and then click Change general settings and go to the Document Versions section. Now that the Companyweb is up and running, you can use the Import Files Wizard (see picture 2). There are other ways to copy individual files directly from within the Companyweb. Just remember that there are some file types that are blocked, like .EXE and .ASP. This is for security reasons. You can change the settings for blocked file types. (Central Administration/Security Configuration/ Manage Blocked File Types.) When all the files are in place it looks like this (see picture 3): Simple Solutions Customer Case A small customer of mine had the “We can’t find anything in the file system” syndrome. I copied all the documents, including folders, kept the file structure and remapped the “G:” drive to \\companyweb\public. The customer started using Companyweb immediately and gained the benefit of being able to search for files and content. We then added some simple mandatory metadata www.smbnation.com

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applications can be seen and edited. It will show up in the task pane on the right side. Now you can check in/out, change document attributes, set alerts and perform other tasks.

Picture 2 – Import Files Wizard – Getting there: In the Server Management Console left pane, click on Internal Web Site and then click on Import Files in the right pane. The Welcome Import Files Wizard will launch and walk you through the rest of the process.

Picture 3 - (the upper part shows the “file-view” and the lower part shows the “web-view”) fields, like customer name and document status, and the customer started using an active file server. The Simple and Smart Solution In this case we have more work to do but the benefits are greater, we have to sort and add metadata to all the documents, which means that the amount of work is directly related to the benefits of the solution. We will need to create multiple document libraries for separating permissions and the different needs of libraries and metadata. The benefits of the smart solution (in addition to the benefits you already know from the simple solution): • Views - by using metadata to expose important information about the document, you can, for example, view all documents related to a specific customer, you can view proposals for all customers, or limit your view to ones from whom you’re waiting for replies. • All metadata information accessible in Office 2003 Page 18

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The simple and smart solution, step-by-step • Create document libraries based on: - Document types (they may need different metadata), - Permissions (permissions are assigned by library, not by document). • Create lists and other functions you need for storing metadata. • Copy files from the file system to SharePoint - but do this function by function, not all files at one time. For example, first copy all project documents, then human resources documents, etc. • Add metadata to the document. • Prohibit any changes in the old file system. • Start using the Companyweb through the web interface and/or UNC paths. (If you want, you could use the “net use” function if you really need to have a drive letter.) • If you have SBS Premium, make sure you Configure full-text search. It is not on by default (Central Administration/Component Configuration). • Enable versioning (disabled by default). In the list on the left link bar, click Modify settings and columns and then click Change general settings and go to the Document Versions section. As you can see, this is almost the same as the Simple Solution, except for one difference. You have to prepare the Companyweb first. So let’s take a customer case and build the solution. The case is a company with 10 consultants wanting to organize their customer information so everyone can quickly find pertinent customer data. We found out that the metadata should be Customer, Document Status, Document Type, and Document Class. 1. Customer name should not be filled out, it should be fetched from a list 2. Document Status may be Final or Draft. 3. Document Type may be System, Network or Maintenance. 4. Document Class may be Internal Only, Customer Only or Public. So let’s get to work. ☺ 1. Create a contact list and import customer data from Outlook to SharePoint. You can call the list “Customers.” 2. Create a document library called “Customer Documentation,” and set the right permissions. 3. Create a column by using “Modify Settings and Columns,” call the Column “Customer,” and let this be mandatory and a “Lookup” to the Customer list. 4. Create three more columns using the same method SMB Partner Community - October 2006


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but let these be “Choices,” and put in the choices. 5. Copy the file and start working. This is how it looks when someone uploads a file to this library.

to create views that we thought they would need and like. Then we showed them how to work with the new system. All this took less than a day. Using Companyweb for internal functions The Companyweb is great for internal functions, like todo lists, helpdesk, sales proposals systems, or the vacation calendar. Why not start with the vacation calendar? ☺ The vacation calendar is already created and all you have to do is start using it. Everyone can add his or her vacation request. The smart way to go about this is by using the “Approve” function. With the Approve function, employees can submit their vacation plans and the vacation administrator can approve or deny the request. There is a really simple workflow here: When employee number one submits vacation plans, an e-mail is sent to the vacation administrator. The link to the approve/deny function is also contained within the e-mail.

Picture 4 – Upload Document The next step is to create “Views.” Do this in the same place. One of my favorite views is the TreeView. This is how this could look.

Picture 6 – The already existing vacation calendar Picture 5 – TreeView in the Customer Document Solution In the TreeView you can create filters - for example, a view showing only the draft document for all customers, so you know what to work on, or a filter not showing Internal Only documents in any view except the “Secret TreeView.” Customer Case: Simple and Smart Solution We created a solution by following the steps outlined above for a customer of mine. They had an ordinary folder structure based on customer names, with each folder containing all customer information. The problem that arose was that every technician created his or her “own” solution inside that folder. Different standards, different naming conventions and different meanings. If a technician had to help colleagues, there were problems finding information to do the job, and updating customer information after the job was done. We discussed which info was needed, work flow, and their goals. After that we created a customer list, populated it through Outlook, created the document library, and added the metadata columns. The last thing we did was SMB Partner Community - October 2006

Now the really good part begins. The administrator can view the calendar in Outlook, export the information as Excel, or start working with this information in Access. Compare that to the old refrigerator technique. Using a webpage, the administrator can decide for her/himself which tool to use (see picture 7). The To-Do List The To-Do is a simple function that almost every company can benefit from and it’s easy to create. Say Company X has an IT department with eight technicians and we need to organize the work in a simple way. We can either create a custom list or a task list. In this case a task list should work (see picture 8). But for this to work we need to add some metadata, like customer name. • Customer: We should pick this from a another list Continued of page 38 (see Companyweb) www.smbnation.com

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Centerpiece

Biking Boosts Business!

I

f you were to meet the guys from Netforce (www.netforce.ie) in person, you would really wonder if a suit and tie is really necessary to run a successful business. Recently selected as a Small Business Specialist Partner of the Year Finalist at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Awards 2006 at WPC (World Partner Conference) held in Boston, USA, Larry Doyle from Netforce trekked over and we actually got to see him wear a suit!

Andy, John and Chris from NCI Technologies (Infrastructure Solutions Finalist) and Larry (right) from Netforce (Small Business Specialist Finalist) pose as ‘Men in Black’

with an extremely fault-tolerant SAN solution at the concert hall? It all started when Larry Doyle and Darren Lawlor started their IT consulting business in 2000. Larry started riding a motorcycle in 1999 because as Larry describes the traffic in Dublin, “A bike was the only way to get around. It was a necessity; traffic congestion is so bad and getting worse”

Darren, Larry and Ronan visiting the Grand Canyon in true biker fashion

Netforce is becoming the 2nd Sonicwall Gold Certified Larry then noticed that, “I always got around quicker Partner in Ireland this October 2006, after already and [would] be places before Darren would get there.” being a Microsoft Certified Hence, the idea of the Small Business Specialist, motorcycling IT crew was Microsoft Certified Partner born, in order to expedite (Infrastructure Solutions) customer service delivery and Microsoft Certified and response times. Larry Licensing Specialist! One of says, “This has worked out their clients recently well for us for the past five benefitted in a big way years and we have even from the Netforce managed to gain a couple expertise, the National of new customers based Concert Hall of Ireland (a solely on our initial rapid true small business with response time!” about 40 users on a SBS Installing SBS is the core network). Can you imagine business of Netforce, and a band of bikers showing the crew of motorcycling IT up to implement a fiveguys currently has about 90 year technology roadmap to 100 clients with networks Larry at the Awards banquet Page 20

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Larry’s wisdom:

“I’ve found as well that a lot of people are ‘into’ bikes even if they don’t have one and it makes for a great talking point with clients.” Ronan from Netforce likes living on the edge

The Netforce server room – hmmm, nice wiring job guys ☺

Ronan about to race on the Netforce bike at Mondello in the Club Championship races

ranging from five users all the way up to 120 user networks. But don’t clients get turned off when they see the chaps in chaps? “I found that most people don’t mind us turning up in bike gear - we try to keep it neat as much as possible, but basically we’re t-shirt and jeans people, although we have just commissioned some branded work-wear in order to create a more professional image. We point out that people in expensive suits are just trying to justify their high fees, distract from their lack of ability and are usually afraid to get dirty - also they’re still stuck in traffic while we’ve finished the job!” beams Larry. “Usually with a new client we either explain that we will be there quickly but without the suit, or if that’s a problem Darren goes to them in a suit and we then outline our service delivery strategy. After a while, they know we can get the job done and they don’t care how we dress.” Then he adds, “I was told once I could turn up in a dress as long as I got there!” 

Larry stealing the Small Business Awards Finalist sign at WPC

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Perceptions

by Harry Brelsford

Fee or Free?

I

n the first chapter of the first book I ever wrote (“Microsoft Windows NT Secrets – Option Pack Edition” IDG, 1998), I started the Performance Monitor chapter with the following quote:

“Why Buy the Cow When You Can Get the Milk For Free” This month, I want to survey you on the notion of giving away the milk for free as a Small Business Specialist to land the cash cow – the honorable and beloved small business customer! It all relates to the Windows Small Business Server 2003 Technology Assessment Toolkit (covered as a feature story in this issue). Essentially, there is spirited debate in the community that centers on the age old paradox – is planning time billable in the SMB space? I’ve often referred to this as the gray zone where your mileage may vary (YMMV). Some small businesses will pay for planning, others consider it play time. So the question is – should your completion of the assessments in the Small Business Technology Assessment Toolkit be for fee or free? Click over to http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=157432664545 and let us know! Last Month’s Results: Reinvent Yourself! Truly the only thing constant in technology is CHANGE. Just when you thought you had it made and is was safe to kick back and stroll around the SMB neighborhood, the world around you changed again, forcing you to rethink how you do business. So here’s what you told us last month: In order to establish the experience-base we are dealing with, I asked, “How long have you been a bona fide SMB channel partner \ consultant?” and you replied:

15+ years

7.7%

10 to 15 years

19.2%

5 to 10 years

23.1%

3 to 5 years

23.1%

1 to 3 years

15.4%

Less than 1 year

11.5%

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Harry’s Take: We’re talking significant experience here in our readership. Fewer newbies than I would have anticipated. Bea’s Take: I think this would give cause to dig deeper. Should we be concerned at the low rates of newbies? Ten years ago you had to be sort of a geek to be interested in this business. What personality trait does it take today? When asked, “How often do you professionally “reinvent” yourself? That is - find a new niche or specialization?” you replied:

Every decade (10 years)

7.7%

Every 5 years

7.7%

Every 3 to 5 years

50%

Every 1 to 3 years

23.1%

Every year!

11.5%

Harry’s Take: Do you realize this aligns with Microsoft’s real world product life cycles for the desktop and server operating systems (as well as the beloved SBS product)? This would suggest that half of the small business IT community is reinventing itself each product release. Redmond – now hear this! Bea’s Take: This obviously aligns with the saying that the only constant is change (in this industry for sure). To stay on top you go with the flow or you will simply spiral to the bottom. ‘Nuff said.

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When asked, “What is your present specialization?” you replied:

Windows Small Business Server 2003\small IT infrastructure CRM Accounting technology

88.5%

3.8% 0%

Managed Services

7.7%

Database Management (DBA) including SQL

0%

Narrow vertical market application \LOB

0%

Harry’s take: This isn’t surprising TODAY as the focus of the Small Business Specialist Community is on SBS. Tomorrow the storyline will change for two reasons. Some of the respondents will have in fact selected new career niches and the Small Business Specialist Community will be expanded to include other technical professional disciplines. Bea’s take: Wow, I think I will go right now and become proficient in Small Business Accounting. No wonder these vertical market niches make a lot of dough – nobody appears to be specifically servicing them! Finally – when we asked exactly what new area you would “reinvent” yourself into, your responses included CRM, managed services, Web development and even “Wouldn’t be in IT!” You can read the complete September survey results, including more choice replies, at h t t p : / / w w w. s u r v e y m o n k e y. c o m / R e p o r t . a s p ? U = 249447138201.

Heard On the Street As usual, we validated and supplemented our online polling with on-the-street interviews. Our commitment to having worldwide responses was again achieved with these geographically diverse attendees found at SMB Nation 2006 and on a recent trip to India.

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Looking back, I don’t think I reinvented myself. My interest and bent have always been towards working in IT despite being a Math major, CPA, and MBA. I trained and worked with Macs and Novell NetWare, but Small Business Server (4.0, 4.5, 2000, and 2003), was simply a “natural” for me. As SBS matured, so did I, as an IT professional. Having a “little of everything,” SBS gave me the opportunity to substantially increase my knowledge of operating Exchange, SQL, and ISA. Furthermore, it created value for my services. It’s a robust base for many accounting systems. My clients are very happy (their words) and so am I. Cynthia N. Habaluyas-Moraza at SMB Nation 2006 Manila, Philippines*

When I started a decade back as a self made entrepreneur, I was the “one man shop,” building the PC, installing the OS system and application software, and training the user. I was supremely confident that I could take everything apart and set things right if it did not work. Well now my company manages the technology infrastructure of SMB enterprises, which typically consists of multiple servers >100 nodes extending to several locations. We manage the security of network, connectivity within and across the enterprise, provide help desk support. The skill set of the team includes non-stop business support. Mohan R. (Cache Technologies & Communications, Pvt. Ltd.) at an SMB Nation Summit workshop in September 2006 Bangalore, India

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Having been in the tech industry for 9 years, I have seen it change many times. Part of staying profitable is to embrace the change and stay in tune with what customers are expecting. When we started we didn’t really know when things were changing in the industry… Now we can tell when things are changing and prepare for the “next big thing” before everyone else is too. Coming to SMB Nation and other international events allows us to get a good idea of what will happen in Australia in the next 6-12 months. Ryan “Fuzzy” Spillane, Correct Solutions Pty Ltd., at SMB Nation 2006 Sydney, Australia

SMB Nation, 2006 So how did we do at the big annual conference? The attendee survey results are in and we scored an overall rating of 7 out of 9 positive (thank you!) and over threefourths of attendees (76.5%) would\will recommend this conference to others. ☺ Interestingly, last year 40% of the attendees were Small Business Specialists. This year the number jumped to 70% - proof positive we’re headed in the right direction! *PS – Cynthia sent us this update from Manila shortly before our press deadline: The Philippines was recently hit by a very horrible super typhoon (hurricane in the US). Metro Manila, specifically the business district and the area where I live, were the center of it all and the devastation is of Katrina proportions. There has been no power and many businesses and my home have been operating on genset power. These all happened on September 28 and to date, October 3, power still has not been restored. I’ve had few hours of sleep as I have to ensure that the SBS installations are up and running on genset power. So far so good. They’re all stable. I’m almost a basket case. 

I started off in 1996-97 as an Engineering Dropout, out to develop software for the wholesale vegetable and grain vendors who did business out of major marketplaces in my state. The business has evolved, and today Askari Infotech is a Gold Certified Microsoft® Partner, engaged in providing total IT Solutions including customized software, hardware, networking, services, deployment, maintenance and facilities management. I really do think that to a market like India, Software As A Service (SAAS) will really be THE NEXT BIG THING. It will definitely help organizations in incubating ideas before rolling out solutions in a very costeffective and timely manner. As for Askari Infotech, I do firmly believe that SAAS will lead to substantial increase in our licensing and services revenues as technology and solutions become more broad-based and widely adapted across verticals, after being incubated and developed in the SAAS mode. Ashutosh S. Karkhanis, Director, Askari Infotech Pvt. Ltd., Mumbai, India

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Technology Watch November 5-7, 2006 ITA Fall Collaborative, San Antonio, TX The Information Technology Alliance brings IT professionals and SMB vendors together where everyone can network and learn from each other. Find out more at www.italliance.com/UpcomingEvents.aspx

November 9-10, Tampa, FL ConnectWise Partner Summit

coaching from respective leaders in both the fields of marketing and profitability. Leading companies will share their sure-fire strategies on how-to: Sell their solutions to the SMB market, utilize incentives and programs to close business, and leverage inside and outside pre and post sales support. Learn more by going to www.ascii.com 



Intel / Microsoft Ready 2 Rock Roadshow Are you ready to rock? Be ready to compete and win in today’s rapidly changing marketplace!

Free to one attendee per company, ConnectWise is offering an agenda of strategic ConnectWise and industry training, best practices, industry recognized speakers, and plenty of opportunity for networking with vendors and peers. www.connectwise.com

Find out how Intel and Microsoft plan to help you meet customer needs with solutions for productivity and entertainment. www.intelmicrosoftr2r.com Atlanta, GA

11/02

Boston, MA

11/28

Chicago, IL

11/06

Cleveland, OH

11/09

Dallas, TX

11/09

Denver, CO

11/13

Have you ever looked that the variety of PocketPC and SmartPhone technologies and thought: “I wish I could offer my customers an integrated mobile email solution too” Well, you can! And the best part is that you don’t need to sell anything more than Small Business Server 2003. Every copy of SBS includes Exchange Server 2003 and has the necessary technologies to support mobile access to email, contact, calendar, and task information. Join us for this technical dive into what software components are necessary, how to configure proper access, and how to incorporate secure certificates. We will also show you how to use device emulators to deliver a compelling customer demo and discuss other benefits of the partner program. http://www.msreadiness.com/WS_abstract.asp?eid=15004728

Houston, TX

11/07

Industry Hills, CA

11/30

Irvine, CA

11/28

Long Island, NY

11/30

Miami, FL

10/24

Minneapolis, MN

11/02

Montreal, Canada

11/16

Newark, NY

12/07

Orlando, FL

10/26

Philadelphia, PA

12/04

Phoenix, AZ

11/16

November 16, 2006 Orlando ASCII Tech Boot Camp Event

Portland, WA

12/12

San Jose, CA

12/05

Seattle, WA

12/14

Toronto, Canada

11/14

Washington, D.C.

12/13

November 15, 2006 90 Minute Live Web Seminar by Fred Pullen and Suzanne Lavine Mobile Email Access to Small Business Server and Partner Opportunities 9:00 AM PST

ASCII Tech Boot Camps provide more opportunity for ASCII members to see technology and to receive business SMB Partner Community - October 2006

www.smbnation.com

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Microsoft Insider by Beatrice Mulzer

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he Small Business Specialist program has come full circle around the globe. In one country it is really opening new opportunities for Microsoft Partners. India launched the program in July 2006 and Nandakumar Moni, the Microsoft Partner Development Manager for India, is very excited about the changes the SBSC program will bring for Partners and small business customers alike. Nandakumar is in charge of localizing the program in India. He says, “Besides getting the global benefit of the SBSC logo and branding, and access to the resource directory, we are also

Meet Nandakumar Moni!

moving a step ahead [by] giving local customized training which … includes hands-on-labs on SBS server. This is very critical to enable partners from a technology perspective.” Microsoft India is actively engaged in connecting customers and Partners. “This is where the business is going to ignite and there is a need to network,” says Nandakumar. “We have a website at www.merabusiness.com which is like an advisory portal to businesses and helps connect customers with Partners.” “India is quite diverse in terms of culture and the way people work and live. If you look at a cross-section of about 15 cities, we have a lot of partners who are planning to exclusively focus on acquiring the Small Business Specialist designation and drive the small business market segment.”

Title: Partner Development Manager – Marketing and Programs Location: Gurgaon, India (near Delhi) Responsibilities: Manage the Microsoft Partner Program for Indian Partners, strategize and drive the Small Business Specialist Channel Program with the Partner ecosystem end to end, launch and manage the Gold Certified and Certified Reseller Partner Rewards Program to drive channel behavior leading to a positive customer and partner experience, and manage the online marketing programs for Partners within the Microsoft Partner Program framework!!! Education: MBA – Marketing and Bachelors in Engineering (Electronics) from Mumbai University, India. Age: 18 till I die….. (34 actually, 3+4 = 7, my lucky number so hope this is gonna be a lucky year for meJ) Currently reading: The Dilbert Future: Thriving on Stupidity in the 21st century – Scott Adams. What Do You Do In Your Free Time: I try to catch up on my reading, listen to my favorite music, watch movies from my ever growing collection and spend quality time with my wife (not all in the same order thoughJ). Motivation: 2 cups of innocence + 1 spoon of kindness + 2 mugs of hugs + generous toppings of love = Voila! That’s my favorite dish that my wife cooks. Philosophy: My philosophy in life – “If you are not living on the edge, then you are wasting space!”

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www.smbnation.com

www.merabusiness.com, a business advisory

One challenge is to connect the right set of Partners with the right set of customers. “We ensure that our Partners have the right set of skills and competencies, which will help address customer requirements; not only from a licensing perspective but also from the quality of deployment of the Microsoft products and solutions.” Biggest challenge: “The biggest challenge is to build up a healthy Partner ecosystem, which is competent enough to address the small business customer segment. We want the Partners to be trusted advisors for the customers and earn money from a healthy business relationship. One of the challenges is that ‘Services’ is a different ball game altogether when it comes to software. Not many Partners and customers are skilled enough to deploy the products and SMB Partner Community - October 2006


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solutions in the right manner. So it is a big challenge for us to communicate the value of Partner services to customers and Partners themselves, but therein lies the bigger opportunity for us as well,” says Nandakumar, “In a way it’s as big a problem as it is an opportunity.” Lessons learned: “Every day is a new challenge. This business is not about selling licenses and products but it is about establishing a healthy relationship with a new set of people whom you meet every day. At the end of the day it is about meeting the expectations of Partners and helping them win in the market in the best possible manner that benefits Microsoft as well. The products and processes will evolve constantly but the people will remain at the core of any business and if you have a good relationship with the partner ecosystem, no matter what you do, they will be there to grow with you.”

Nandakumar presenting the Partner Business Forum

Small Business Specialists in India better get ready, set, TO GROW! 

Most recent Bollywood Movie Seen: Dor (means - String) - A story of two women, one who has lost everything and is learning to live and the other who is living on the verge of losing everything, and the delicate string that binds them together. But for how long?

portal connecting customers with partners

Next steps: “FY07 is going to be pretty exciting. I would say it is going to be a roller coaster ride for all of us. We are focusing a lot on the recruitment, enablement and activation of the small business partner community (SBSC) because that opportunity is really coming of age in India. Getting the act together and getting the right set of Partners into the SBSC community is a top priority for us. There are a lot of challenges we are facing today and have put in elaborate plans to address the ever-growing small business market. This is going to be one of the best years at Microsoft.” Conclusion: India currently has about 1.9 million organizations that have 25 PCs or fewer. According to Nandakumar, the number of small businesses will reach a staggering three million within the next couple of years! SMB Partner Community - October 2006

Nandakumar and his wife Runika enjoying the sunset on Langkawi Island, Malaysia www.smbnation.com

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Money Shaker

by Robin Robins

The Best Kept “Secret” Of the Rich

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he longer I’m in business the more convinced I become that strategic time management is one of the single most critical factors in achieving wealth and dramatically increasing the success, profitability, and growth of a business. Over the last few months I’ve made a determined effort to not only eliminate time-wasting activities, but also to improve the choices I make in where I’m investing my time. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I thought I would share with you some of the things I’ve experienced since becoming positively militant about managing my time. First, I’ve managed to really tick a few people off by refusing them access to me or the opportunity to waste my time. However, I see this as a result of my own sloppiness in letting them abuse my time in the past, not due to the correct action I’m taking today in refusing them access to me whenever they want. Just like a spoiled child, once you’ve “trained” a client, vendor, or employee that you are available to them 24-7, they will abuse that right, and taking it away from them is going to be a painful process for everyone involved. Second, I’ve noticed that the number of opportunities to make money has also increased. I believe this is a direct result of investing my time more wisely into planning and marketing. This is an important lesson for you to take note of: if you manage to “save” an hour of time through better planning, delegation, or choices, don’t turn around and then waste it doing some other mindless activity. In his book, Multiple Streams of Income, Robert Allen talks about the two ways of saving money; this is directly applicable to saving time as well, so I’ll share it with you here. The first way to save money (and this is the most common) is to look for and negotiate discounts by buying in bulk, shopping around, buying off-season, better planning, etc. However, once a person manages to save money in some way, the key to attaining wealth is to make sure you invest that “saved” money into something that will continue to go up in value like a retirement account or a piece of property instead of blowing it on something else. Time needs to be saved and invested the same way. If you are going to hire an employee to free up your time, you’d better make sure you take that “saved” time and invest it into activities that will further increase your income or quality of life; otherwise, you’ve only added to the pile of complexities and projects you have to manage. SMB Partner Community - October 2006

Over and over again I see improper time management as the single biggest detriment to success in marketing. Most business owners spend their day acting like employees rather than entrepreneurs. Most people are too busy doing “stuff” to make any real money. They come into their office in the morning and then let people, events, e-mail, and other interruptions take control of their day. They are running around like crazed rabbits, majoring in minor things, tolerating constant interruptions, and operating completely devoid of any type of system for prioritizing their activities or a plan of action. Unless you put the world on hold to plan where you are going to spend your time, you will never have control over it. These business owners stay trapped in this neverending cycle of stress and non-accomplishment for one simple reason – a complete and utter lack of commitment to do something about it. As I said earlier, disciplining yourself to manage your time more effectively is not easy, and it’s certainly not something you’ll master overnight. After all, old habits die hard. But buying a fancy planner is not the answer either, unless you have an intense desire to truly make progress in this area. If you did nothing else, I highly recommend you take this month to simply monitor the activities you do and write down what you invest your time doing. Then, at the end of a day or a week, look back and ask yourself: 1. What percentage of my time was spent on unimportant, trivial things? 2. What percentage of my time was spent on lowpaying activities that I could hire a secretary to do? 3. How much time was actually invested into strategic work, planning, and revenue producing activities? This simple exercise alone will most certainly improve your personal income because it will make you painfully aware of how much time you are wasting on trivial, unimportant matters that could be invested into revenue producing activities. Yet, very few people will do this because they “have no time to spend on learning how to have more time.” Ironic, isn’t it?  Robin Robins has over 14 years’ experience in direct sales and marketing. Robin is an independent marketing consultant, sales trainer, and author who specializes in low risk, low-cost marketing strategies for small computer resellers, solution providers, and IT consulting firms. To learn more about Robin, visit her online at www.technologymarketingtoolkit.com www.smbnation.com

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Global Perspective

- an interview with Osama El-Enany

Doing business in Egypt by Beatrice Mulzer

S

tarting a business in Egypt requires performing about 10 steps over an average 19-day period before being able to launch officially. In most cases, the cost up front before even being able to launch the business is equivalent to US $859.50 (see textbox). This seems a pretty easy way to start out compared to countries like Brazil (152 days) or the Democratic Republic of Congo (215 days) or Sierra Leone (only 26 days) with at a start up price tag of US $2,627.90. But then again, there are different rules in Egypt depending on what type of business you are opening. Apart from establishing the company, you still have to go to the specific authorities to get approval. For example if you open a cyber café, you will first need to check with the ministry of national security. If you do import/export, you must see the ministry of trade.

Nature of Procedure (2006)

Egypt is becoming a modern knowledge-based society, pushed by Ahmed Nazif, the new prime minister elected in 2004, who is an information technology and software engineering expert. The Egyptian government has since undertaken a major initiative to get a computer into every household. Wanting to find out what business is like being a SMB (small-medium business) IT consultant in Eqypt, I call Osama El-Enany (in Cairo around 11:30 p.m. his time). Thinking that this may be a bit late, Osama assures me “We don’t sleep before 4:30 a.m. in the morning over here.” Is that for everybody I ask? “Well almost, yes” Osama responds laughing. Relationships rule “About doing business in Egypt, especially SMBs, it’s a little bit different because in the Egyptian culture usually Proc #

Duration (days)

US$ Cost

Obtain a certificate from the Commercial Registry that the name of the company is not similar to any existing company

1

2

0.2

Obtain a certificate from an authorized bank indicating the depositing of the full amount of companyís cap ital

2

1

0.0

Visit the Companies Department to dictate the amendments to computerized model of statutes to the Incorporation Unit (IU) at the Legal Department of the Companies Department

3

1

0.0

Submit documents to the Incorporation Follow-up Unit (IFU) at the Department of Companies and receive the invoice

4

1

770.0

Pay invoice issued by IFU at the bank

5

1

83.3

Notarize company’s contract at the Public Notary Office affiliated to the Department of Companies

6

1

1.7

Obtain the “Notification of Incorporation” and Chamber of Commerce permit

7

1

0.0

Open a tax file - get a tax card (Tax Authority)

8

7

4.3

Register for sales tax at the Sales Tax Department

9

1

0.0

Register employees with the National Authority of Social Insurance

10

3

0.0

Totals:

10

19

$859.5

Source: IFC study Page 30

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everything is about connections rather than efficiency”. I ask Osama to explain how much this affects doing business with one company that is requesting proposals for a project. He continues: “In Egypt it is not so much about the proposal, but more about the connection you have to the inside of the company. Everything is about trust. If I know you and I [have] dealt with you before, and I know I can trust you, than I [would] rather deal with you than any other person. Even if your proposal is more expensive than anyone else’s.” Group picture of technicians and management (Osama second from right) How does one go about getting new customers? Osama is the right person to ask. He is the General Manager of a newly launched Computer over this culture challenge, especially the trusting part, Troubleshooters franchise in Cairo, which is a subsidiary of particularly with new customers, is to try to propose something a larger, diversified company called Premier Business for free, and it has to be something that presents us. It can’t just Services (PBS). PBS specializes in providing services only be a gift; it has to be a service or a product of ours to try. Then we within Egypt and Osama was put in charge of building the get to know them and start to build the relationship. Egyptian IT service side of the business in the SMB space. “It is very people are very friendly and once you have gained the trust it hard to get new customers,” says Osama, “What we try to is easy to build the relationship.” do is to present new ideas for free. This way the customer can try it, get to know us, we get to know each other and Service as a market then we propose for the customer to pay for it.” That makes It is not easy starting a service business in Egypt. The sense to me, but then I wonder, how do you get in front of a challenge lies in that you don’t make much money selling business decision-maker if you don’t know anybody in the services. On top of that, labor is very cheap in Egypt. Osama business? Osama goes on, “If I don’t know anyone, then I points out additional differences in the Egyptian economy. will probably give a call and try to arrange for an “A fresh graduated computer engineer will work for less appointment which will take forever to reach the right than US $200 a month. Compared to the US it is very easy person and then make the appointment. People will be for us to hire someone. A smart business owner will hire suspicious [of] why you are calling them and wonder where five, ten or twenty technicians and then just manage the you got their information from in the first place. If they agree technicians and the business.” to meet you, which is a fifty/fifty chance, they will listen to In Egypt, service is not valued like a product. “Service you but not buy into you. As far as they are concerned, you awareness is still maturing in our market. Even if you give are a sales person coming to sell something and they will someone bad service, as long as they know you and it always be suspecting a trick because there is no trust or doesn’t cost them much, it is accepted. Things are not very relationship. The business decision maker is not looking at it formal in Egypt. If someone has a computer problem, even as you are providing a service or if it is a business, he will check solution for them,” explains with his friends until he finds Osama. “But if I know someone someone and say hey I have a at the business, I just call him up, computer problem can you come and he will arrange the meeting. over and have a look at it. You This way I will be there the next then have to go over and even if day conducting the meeting at it takes you a half a day to fix it, the place of business and within you cannot charge them. It is all two or three visits everything about the relationship.” will be on track.” How does Osama overcome Certifications these hurdles with new customers What about certifications? not trusting him? “Everybody likes “That is very important. We have Family Day gathering anything free, so what we do to get a complex here in Egypt. SMB Partner Community - October 2006

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Especially if it is a new customer, if you estimate one hour and it takes you two hours, to ask to get paid for the second hour would break the trust relationship. So we would only charge one hour.”

Graduation party for technicians

Hiring How does Osama handle hiring and promoting staff? “When we promote, we promote from within the company itself. Trust and connection is most important. If I am the business owner and I need someone to run the company for me, I would find someone that I know even if they have less qualifications than someone from the outside. All management positions are filled from the inside. We hire 70% of our positions from within, almost only entry level is when we get people from the outside. We will spend the time to train people and help them advance at our cost even if they are not qualified. This is on an ongoing basis, because we hope and know that once this person becomes a loyal employee he will do the best for the company. As new positions come open they will be the best people to choose from. My technical support manager used to be a trainer, and six months ago we promoted him to a manager position”.

Translated, it means that we always trust an expert more than the Egyptians. If you are holding a logo in your letterhead and company profile, it will give you status.” What about Microsoft’s certifications like the MCP or Small Business Specialist? “Yes, many people pursue these certifications. This is a very valued asset to our profile and the technicians themselves are proud to wear the logo. We look forward to achieving the Small Business Specialist status.” Osama continues, “But again, if you have the connection it doesn’t matter if you have a logo or Training and retaining certification. The connection and relationship is 80% of the With all the weight on relationships, perhaps a company deal.” Is this changing? “It is changing because customers should have no worries about spending time and money on are becoming more mature and getting educated and training a new hire who then suddenly leaves the company. understand what service means. Our field is very hard. We “Of course you have to worry about that,” says Osama, “It provide service and not a product that can be tested and happens a lot with fresh graduates because they do not tried. The way the Egyptian customers evaluate service is understand business in general yet. But when you have definitely improving but it doesn’t mean that it is in good them working with you for one or two years, they become shape, because it is nothing physical in their hand. For yours. They become very loyal to you and it will be very example, if we charge them by the hour, we are told that we difficult for them to go to another job even if it is a higher are wasting time to charge more money. The concept of the salary. It’s the comfort, the relationship; they would have to hourly rate does not exist in Egypt. ‘What? Only if you are a start over building the relationship unless they are really not big company like Microsoft and send an engineer to fix the happy in their position.” Osama considers his employees as computer, they can charge an hourly rate.’ That works for part of his family. He knows his employees’ wives and their big companies only and big Technicians in the training room companies are willing to pay that. In our case to go to a small business or home user and try to charge them an hourly rate, they will not want our service. We do have a standard hourly rate and standard prices, but we don’t charge that, we only charge per visit. We have to give an estimate on what the price is going to be before we do the job. And if we spend more time than expected we lose a lot of money and it will be very difficult to ask for the additional money. Page 32

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children. Still, companies are slowly experiencing a trend of higher turnover with young graduates. Osama mentions that besides being immature, fresh graduates are also more determined to find the best job for themselves. The old values of relationships and connection are not necessarily the most important influence during their starting-out years. Financial penalties Because of this increasing turnover, Osama explains about a new development in Egyptian companies. He starts talking about financial penalties for new hires. Financial penalties? “For example, if you are an employee joining my company I would say you can’t leave me for one year or you have to pay this amount of penalty.” And they really pay? “Yes, because I invest in you, I spend money on training you, I spend money on your mistakes. When you graduate from the faculty, you may be educated but you are not experienced or qualified enough to do the job so I will do the training for you from A to Z. And that costs me money. I do not want to make money off of them,” reassures Osama, “ I just want them to stay in the job. Usually having this condition lets the candidate know that we are serious, and don’t give away free training. Then as management, it is my job to keep them interested in the company and make sure they are happy

SMB Partner Community - October 2006

with the job, this way they will stay a lifetime.” Just business Osama’s company (PBS) has a policy that prohibits hiring from the same family. The reason being is that if he were to hire unqualified staff, they would go out of business soon. “But for small companies, you will first look for people you know that will come work with you and then try to qualify them. We are trying to get away from that in our company. We need qualified staff and cannot risk that,” Osama emphasizes. There are some things that most likely will not change anytime soon, and one of them is Egyptian time. Initial business meetings are a formal affair. Meetings start with coffee and small talk, even if time is limited. And since it is Ramadan until the end of October, Osama tells me, “Things slow down a lot during Ramadan.” The average time it takes to enforce a contract in Egypt? According to an IFC study, about 1,101 days after following a 55 step-procedure (from filing to judgment to enforcement). My conclusion – Hats off to Osama for pursuing the IT service business in a country where East meets West and business practices resemble Arabic and European customs and all that comes in between. 

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TS2Nami

by Charles Van Heusen

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hanks to everyone who stopped by to visit the Microsoft Across America (MSAM) Truck at the SMB Nation conference in September. We had close to 200 Partners venture onto the bus in the two days of the conference in which it was set up. There was a lot of excitement and interest by Partners throughout the country regarding the new opportunities the use of the truck could bring their businesses. So I thought it would be appropriate to provide the resources for taking the next steps. For those of you who are hearing about the MSAM Trucks, here’s a little background on it. In FY07, the fleet of seven MSAM trucks will make more than 1500 event days in major metropolitan cities such as Los Angeles, Dallas and Miami and in smaller cities such as Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Little Rock, Arkansas, and Ithaca, New York — offering hands-on demonstrations of the tools on board. MSAM trucks are equipped with five to ten workstations, each loaded with software specifically designed for small and midsize businesses, such as Microsoft® Office Small Business Edition 2003, Prerelease versions of Microsoft 2007 Office and Microsoft Vista, Microsoft Windows Small Business Server, Microsoft Small Business Accounting 2006 and the Microsoft Dynamics suite of products Microsoft Business Solutions CRM that business representatives can preview in person. Interested Microsoft Registered and Certified Partners can easily sign-up for use of a MSAM truck for free via a simple tool on the Microsoft Partner Events site (www.microsoftpartnerevents.com). From this location, you’ll be able to see when a truck is coming to your area and plan accordingly with a Microsoft representative via scheduling and marketing tools. The Microsoft Partner Events site (www.microsoftpartnerevents.com) is an online resource for Microsoft Partners to help them plan and execute customer events locally. The website is a robust event management tool, offering a significant opportunity for Partners to help drive customer engagement and sales. The site recently expanded its capabilities to assist Partner community events with the Partner Readiness Center, designed to help Partners plan and execute successful events. Using proven event methodologies and tools, the Readiness Center provides pre-event, day of event and post-event training and resources, improving the quality of event planning leads, increasing the partner pipeline and ultimately improving the customer experience. Hopefully, the addition of these new tools will help those of you who’ve been putting off that first event, and help you get the ball rolling. We’re looking forward to working with you at your next event. 

SMB Partner Community - October 2006

For more information and to sign up, go to http://www.ts2seminars.com/tourdates.htm AL

12/12/2006 12/14/2006

Montgomery Huntsville

AR

11/28/2006

Little Rock

CA

11/14/2006 11/16/2006 11/28/2006 11/30/2006 12/05/2006

Modesto Fresno Ontario Long Beach Santa Clara

CO

11/02/2006 11/16/2006 12/12/2006

Fort Collins Grand Junction Boulder

DE

12/07/2006

Wilmington

FL

11/02/2006

Tallahssee

HI

11/08/2006

Honolulu

IL

12/05/2006 12/07/2006

Washington Downers Grove

KY

11/14/2006

Lexington

LA

11/07/2006 11/09/2006

Baton Rouge New Orleans

MA

11/09/2006

Burlington

MD

12/05/2006

Rockville

ME

12/12/2006 12/14/2006

Portland Bangor

MO

11/14/2006 11/16/2006

Columbia Springfield

MS

11/30/2006

Jackson

NC

11/09/2006

Charlotte

NH

11/07/2006 11/30/2006

Bedford Nashua

NJ

11/28/2006

Princeton

NV

12/07/2006

Reno

NY

12/05/2006 12/07/2006

Syracuse Buffalo

OH

11/02/2006 11/16/2006

Toledo Dayton

SC

11/28/2006 11/30/2006

Columbia Charleston

TN

12/12/2006 12/14/2006

Memphis Nashville

UT

11/14/2006

Provo

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Partnering

by Tim R. Loney

Partnering Texas Style

D

efine Partnering: The synergistic effect of pooling resources to work together toward a common goal. This reduces duplication of effort and helps ensure that the appropriate levels of resources are available. The savings in time, money and expertise can then be reinvested into other projects. I love this definition of partnering. It sums up the whole reason to build relationships with trusted partners. Many years ago we began working with the TS2 team and the Sales Seminar Team (SST) on quarterly presentations at local events. We were assigned a table outside the presentation room to showcase our services. There we discovered that we were not alone but seated beside 2-3 other partners offering complementary services. Looking back, I remember each Microsoft partner checking out the other partners and their services. By the end of the seminar we were exchanging business cards and looking at ways to bring each other additional business. During one of these events we were approached by Mark Leary of Serenity Systems, Inc. In a very short time, we discovered that we had a common work ethic: client retention and high quality of service. We continued conversations back and forth and began to meet regularly to discuss our best practices. We built a strong relationship of trust over a period of six months. That became the foundation for teamwork on future projects. It was just a matter of time before our meetings and sharing would pay off. One morning I received a call from Mark, asking about our skills on migrating from Novell to Microsoft. Serenity was pursuing a client who was on Novell and was interested in moving to an all Microsoft platform. It was clear to me that we could combine our resources to work together toward this common goal. We had the Novell migration expertise and Serenity had the client relationship and Microsoft skills to engineer and deploy the Microsoft Platform. This project delivered our common goal of high quality services and high customer satisfaction. Both our companies carried the risk of such a complex conversion together, along with benefiting from the rewards of the successful implementation. Both companies, SOLUTIONS Information Systems and Serenity Systems, Inc., were awarded the Microsoft US Central Region Partner award for Teamwork for that quarter. It is trust within an inner circle of partners that makes partnering successful for our business. I will warn you to be careful. Not all people are as trustworthy as you would like Page 36

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or expect. We have been successful in developing our trusted relationships with strong, solid and honest people. Only once, while testing the waters with a new partner, did we discover that they were “dating another solution provider.” Yes, we lost a client in the process but it was a client that we could afford to lose. The message here is to proceed with caution and test the waters before you jump in with your top client on a partnering engagement. Once you have the trust built with your inner circle of partners you can go to market with confidence that if you win that big project, you have the resources to back up your proposal. We recently engaged with a client who was internally staffed to keep the network running. I think we have all been in the position where the client has a staff member who likes to “play” with computers so they got elected to take on the job of system administration and network management. We began the engagement with our standard practice of doing a network discovery, turning over as many rocks as we could to find all the bugs hiding in the wires. I recall daily calls from the technical staff laughing on my voicemail at what they had found that day. This client was in such poor shape that we needed to restack the network immediately, before it just fell over. We were up against replacement of several white box clone servers that were literally stacked on top of each other in a closet. The room temperature was in excess of over 90 degrees most of the day and the client’s staff wondered why the e-mail server (Exchange 2000) would just stop working. Our challenge was that we were stretched thin on network engineers and we needed to do a deep discovery and design that would carry this client for years to come. Our internal resource pool on the network engineering side was running several other projects and this one would have to wait until we could close on one of the others. The client was more than ready to begin work as soon as possible to get on the right track. At this time we began to call out to our partners within our trusted inner circle looking for a good block of hours that could be dedicated to the engineering work necessary. We worked with our partner Paul Neyman at WayPoint Business Solutions to secure a resource. This enabled us to begin the project within the expectations of the client. We pooled our resources and it worked seamlessly. We began the discovery and engineering with engineers from WayPoint and from SOLUTIONS Information Systems working closely together. We kept the WayPoint engineer busy designing and scoping the replacement hardware and software platform as SMB Partner Community - October 2006


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our internal staff worked at the client site gathering all the necessary information and keeping the network running. Our teams worked together on the new server rollouts and active directory migrations, sharing the common goal of customer satisfaction. As we put closure to the other projects, we began the knowledge transfer from WayPoint back to our engineering team. During our post-project meeting, we focused on a smooth transition for the client, aligning our internal network management resources with their site. We have now completed this project and it was successful in several ways - from a customer satisfaction level and from the level of team work with partners toward a common goal.

when you can sit across the table at a meeting with your competitor and say, “What can we do to gain more of the market together?” The IAMCP organization can be found at www.iamcp.org. Locate a chapter close to you or contact the IAMCP if you would like to create a chapter in your area. It has been proven over and over that partnering pays off. We have been able to provide a more complete solution to our clients and increase our capacity to meet client demands. We strive to provide our partners with the highest quality of service and dedication, as if they were one of our clients. And therefore I really believe, “… our customers have made us who we are today.”  Tim Loney is the President and CEO of SOLUTIONS Information Systems in Houston, Texas USA, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner and Small Business Specialist organization. SOLUTIONS is a member of the IAMCP and a sponsor of boysandgirlsharbor.org. Tim can be reached at tloney@solutionsis.com.

Proof of Negotiation Skill: The Mustang in the picture was traded for a server and 6 laptops. “They were in my closet collecting dust, the car was in Eric’s (a client) garage for 9 years. I did some major work to get it to look like this” says Tim. Recently a lead came in to our organization for a migration from Goldmine mail to Microsoft Exchange. We contacted the client and set up the preliminary discovery meeting to ensure we understood the client’s needs. We discovered that a total CRM solution would provide the client with the needed solution. Since we do not provide services around Microsoft CRM, we validated the need before we engaged our CRM partner. SOLUTIONS Information Systems will provide the design work and deploy the infrastructure along with the Exchange implementation. Then our partner will install the CRM platform. In this case, we set up a follow-up meeting with the client and our CRM partner to qualify the need for CRM and ensure that it was a good fit for the client and the partner. We are currently working together to close the deal which will provide the total solution for the client. We have found the IAMCP to be a great organization that brings trusted partners together to build relationships. The IAMCP has helped create a common meeting location and time once a month. In the past few years we have developed friendships and partnerships that enable us to deliver a complete solution to each client. It feels really good SMB Partner Community - October 2006

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Companyweb (Continued from page 19) c. Time Spent – Make this a text field to fill in. 5. Have all technicians logon, go to the list and configure the “Alert Me” function. 6. Create the following views: a. Customer View – Open. So that you can see a tree of customer cases which are NOT finished. b.Customer View – Closed. So that you can see a tree of customer cases which are finished. c. Customer View – Prioritized. With this view you can see open and prioritized customer cases. 7. Done. And now you have a working system.

Picture 7 – The export capabilities at the right side

Picture 9 – The To-Do list and a new item

Picture 8 – Create a Task List • Customer Cost: How much should the customer pay • Time spent on case: How much time did we spend The list from which we fetch the information has already been created. If we use the “Lookup Feature,” we will not need to add all the technicians because they are already in the system as users. Step-By-Step – creating a To-do list for a small consulting company 1. Create the Customer list, using the template called Contacts. Name the list “Customers.” 2. Import Customer information from Outlook into the Customer list. 3. Create the To-do list, using the template called Tasks. Name the list Customer-Jobs. 4. Add the following columns to the list: a. Customer - Make this a Lookup to the list of Customers. Use the e-mail address as the connector. b.Customer Cost – Make this a cost in your country’s currency. Page 38

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Next Step – Adding value! Besides having a structured workflow for personnel, you’ve also created business value. Now you can create reports for each customer, customer cases, technician performance and other information just by creating views, or link/export the information into Excel or Access. But just for the fun of it we have a value to play with - the customer “cost.” So what could we do? Well we could add a column called “Invoice sent to customer,” with yes/no value. In that case we could have the default value of “no” put in to every case and then create a view called “Send Invoice,” sort by Customer, and calculate the sum of all invoices. This way we suddenly have a solution that allows the manager to see how much money should be invoiced every day and a solution that makes the job easy (see picture 10). Tracking proposals – the hard way Another customer of mine was looking for a simple way to track proposals. The sales manger was sick and tired of requesting all this info by e-mail and having to wait for the Excel spreadsheet to be submitted by each staff member every Friday. Over the weekend, the sales manager would cut and paste, combining all disparate data into a new Excel spreadsheet for presentation on Monday morning. Tracking proposals – the solution Proposals can be tracked either as a list or as a SMB Partner Community - October 2006


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Picture 10 – Customer View to show the To-Do list based on customer

Picture 11 – Customer Cases and the value. On the top, the sum of $290.000.00 totaling the Customer Cases in real-time.

document library. You can decide whether to handle the proposal itself or just the case, with an option to add documents. In this customer’s case we decided that handling the proposals was enough. First we want to link the information without having to retype the customer information like name, the sales person, status and value.

and others are waiting be replaced by a “real” program. The only problem is that the customer has not yet found a “real” program that is good enough in comparison with the existing Companyweb solution. The only tool I’ve been using during this article is Internet Explorer. Imagine what you could do if you start using FrontPage (the next release will be named SharePoint Designer 2007) or Visual Studio. There are many support sites on the web if you want to find more information. For me, SharePoint is a very important part of the Small Business Server Solution. It is the most important part when you want to create a customer solution that fulfills the demand and needs of the customer. Customers want something more than just Infrastructure Solutions. They want a little bit more than just “surf on the Internet.” They want something that improves their business. With SharePoint and the Companyweb you can create solutions that really help customers to realize their potential. 

Sales Proposals Solution Step-By-Step 1. Create a list using the Contact template. Call it “Customers.” 2. Create a list using the Custom List template. Call it “Customer Cases.” 3. Add the following columns to the “Customer Cases” list: a. Customer as a Lookup against the Customers List. Use Company Name or E-mail address. b.Sales Person as a Lookup against the Users List. c. Use the User Name. d.Sales Value as a currency. e. Status as a Choice with the following choices: i. Not yet sent to customer ii. Waiting for customer reply iii. Converted to order iv. No deal 4. Out of the Standard View, create a “Sales Person” View: a. Deselect Sales Person from columns b.Sort by Sales Person c. Group by Sales Person (use collapsed) d.Configure Totals “Sales Value = Sum” e. Use filter where “Status is equal to Not yet sent to customer or Waiting for Customer reply Of course you could add more views to this solution; you could also create reports and links to make the solution more attractive. Almost every example that I have described here is in action at customer sites. Some of them have been modified SMB Partner Community - October 2006

Mikael Nyström is a Microsoft MVP in Windows Server – Setup/Deployment. He is active in the Swedish SBS community and newsgroups. Mikael is a trainer and seminar speaker. He works on large network solutions involving Virtual Server, MOM, SMS, BDD, Exchange, and collaboration solutions. But in his heart there is a Small Business Server. You can reach Mikael at mikael.nystrom@truesec.se

URLs and stuff http://www.sbsgeeks.com – Mikael Nyström’s site. http://www.wssdemo.com – Ian Morrish WSS Demo Site. http://www.microsoft.com/sharepoint - Microsoft Official Sharepoint Site. http://www.microsoft.com/technet/windowsserver/ sharepoint/v2/default.mspx http://www.microsoft.com/technet/windowsserver/ sharepoint/community.mspx www.smbnation.com

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