“What Would You Do If You Were In My Situation?”

Dealing with other human beings is always a challenge, but knowing what to do, or not do, is very helpful. We have all experienced some type of a problem that we need to call a company in order to get the problem resolved. The most annoying aspect of the call is getting through the maze of phone buttons trying to reach a real human being. Once we get to a real person, how you proceed next will determine just how well your problem is resolved.

But in one recent survey I read in which people were asked their opinions about dealing with customer service, this one stood out:

“What would you do if you were in my situation?”

What is your favorite technique?

Comments welcome.

You can read all of the suggestions at the link below.

Source – N.Y. Times – Money –  The Haggler

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Buck Woody On IT Careers In The Downturn

Richard and I talk to Buck Woody in this week’s RunAsRadio.com podcast. We had planned on talking about sqlcms.codeplex.com but ended up instead digging into what it takes to be in an IT career in today’s economy. The discussion ranges from the advantages of generalists vs. specialists, consulting vs. employment and how technology is evolving to support these different styles.

Buck Woody has been working with Information Technology since 1981. He has worked for the U.S. Air Force, at an IBM reseller as technical support, and for NASA as well as U.S. Space Command as an IT contractor. He has worked in most all IT positions from computer repair technician to system and database administrator, and from network technician to IT Manager. But it is the database field he always returns to. He has been a DBA and Database Developer on everything from an Oracle system running on a VAX to SQL Server and DB2 installations. Buck has a business degree and several industry certifications, including MCSE, MCDBA and Brainbench DBA. He is the author of over 300 SQL Server articles and four published SQL Server books; he is the site personality on InformIT.com’s SQL web, and was the President of the Tampa SQL User’s Group for 5 years. He was awarded the Microsoft MVP Award in 2006 for SQL Server, and started work in the SQL Server Team at Microsoft a year later. He has over twenty years extensive professional and practical experience in computer networks and network design. Experienced in design and management of business and technical systems, as well as marketing and training those systems to the user community and corporate officers.

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Are You Keeping Up?

Found this today when I was doing some research and I must admit, I had to smile.

Accure-IT can build and install custom built workstations and servers for your home or office.

  • Our technicians will setup the systems and make sure they are running properly
  • Get you connected to the Internet
  • Your choice of operating system. Microsoft Windows or even Linux

I fully believe that this is how various PC repair techs out there will manage to survive and even thrive with the onslaught from the likes of companies like Best Buy’s GeekSquad. They just need to support something BESIDES Windows only. Obviously, the Windows operating system is the bread and butter of many IT consulting businesses, however I would again point out that to ignore OS X and Linux will mean your competition will indeed, have an opportunity to surpass you.

Speaking for myself, if I was still in the repair game, I would certainly want to make sure that I had something outside of Windows alone just to differentiate myself from everyone else. This being said, Linux is not a good match for everyone. Yet to the shock of most people, I have found it works great for those who simply want the basics.

Could such a thing work? Can you truly plug in Ma and Pa Kettle into a Linux box only to see the problems cut in half? In truth, yes you can. The key is to match up the right OS for the right user. Gamers and those needing specialized Windows-only products are generally not going to be happy with VMWare to run their Windows apps. They will want things native. Yet at the same time, for those who simply cannot keep their PCs free from malware, I have personally seen a locked-down installation of Ubuntu or PCLinuxOS do wonders for cutting down on unneeded service calls. Then again, this is just me.

The Right IT Stuff: Finding And Working With The Best IT Services Partner For Your Small Business

Do you often feel stuck in the computer abyss when it comes to managing your company’s needs for Web or information technology services? Businesses with fewer than 50 or 60 employees often find themselves struggling to keep pace with their basic Web and computer support services and miss out on effective small business IT solutions.

Without the guidance of an information technology services provider, small businesses can end up wasting time and money on computer support services because they aren’t in touch with the best technology tools and practices for small business IT solutions. Even zero-employee companies can benefit immensely from a computer support services partner who shows them how to standardize their practices, save money with the right hardware or software and develop effective Web sites.

Putting Out Fires – Who Needs Dedicated Computer Support Services Anyway?
The approach often taken by small organizations when it comes to information technology services is one of putting out fires. No one has time to update the Web site, the network is cobbled together with wiring strung across the floor, and you’re not sure when the last backup really ran. Then, a hard drive starts going click-click. You call that guy you occasionally use for computer support services, “Joe-I-Fix-Anything-PCs,” to get the computer booting. That’s when to your horror you discover that the tape in the drive since last Tuesday wasn’t really backing up and the click-click is the sickening sound of your QuickBooks data being eaten by the dying hard drive.

There is a Better Way: A Solutions Partner for Web and Information Technology Services
It isn’t that “Joe” can’t spot you some quick computer support services and get you up and running again. It’s the point that the “bargain” hard drive failed without warning, your data wasn’t backed up and you didn’t even have a centralized data management practice to begin with. Wouldn’t it have been great to avoid all the headaches by using best-practice guidelines for business management and making informed purchase decisions? That’s where a good small business IT solutions provider comes in, not only to avoid disaster but to save money. For example QuickBooks could be integrated with your shipping and credit card processing which saves three employees 30 hours a week in order fulfillment. Then you might implement a Web solution for online orders which integrates with QuickBooks. A good information technology services partner makes computer support services a value proposition.

Small Business IT Solutions – Hiring a Partner
So what’s the best way to find a great Web or information technology services partner to work with and then get the most out of that relationship?

  1. Look for a company that specializes in small business IT solutions
    Computer support services companies that specialize in small business will be more in tune to your particular needs and challenges. They will understand budgetary constraints for computer support services and the need to use resources very efficiently. Because technology developers and manufacturers are now seeing a large and relatively untapped market of small business customers, there are some terrific tools emerging for small organizations. A technology partner focused on small business IT solutions and information technology services will help your company grow and succeed.
  2. Do you need a local information technology services partner?
    Not necessarily. If the goal here is to find a provider of information technology services to help you manage your Web site, make purchase decisions and facilitate projects, it doesn’t have to be local. With sophisticated remote tools and Web-based collaboration, many problems and projects can be addressed remotely. The key is to find a good fit. For onsite service such as network installation or hardware swaps, a good solutions partner can identify and schedule local computer support services as needed or works with a nationwide network experts for repairs, rollouts or other onsite computer support service. If the company isn’t local, ask what provisions it has in place for onsite service.
  3. Personalized computer support services
    One of the stigmas attached to the tech industry and a common complaint about providers of computer support services is lack of personalization. A good provider of information technology services wants to get to know you, your processes and your employees. The staff should ask questions about what your company does and who the key contacts are to gain a feel for your organization’s culture. Likewise, access to the provider’s staff and resources is equally important. The relationship is going to be much more effective when that company has a mandate for personalized service and an open door to communications.
  4. Due diligence
    Think of hiring a solutions partner for information technology services like you would hiring someone for your staff. Look for a company that is seeking a long-term partnership. Ask for references. Then find out how long the company has been in business, who you will have access to for a problem or project and how the provider charges for its computer support services.
  5. Cohesive approach and good facilitation
    The partner that you select should want to take a cohesive approach to understanding your business or organization and help you come up with a customized plan for your technology and Web needs, be it a long-range strategy or a specific project. The difference between “Joe-I-Fix-Anything-PCs” and a provider of complete information technology services and solutions is someone who can do a good discovery about your organization and its goals, facilitate the project and help bring together providers for the components outside their expertise. Also, a one-stop shop can provide you with benefits. Keeping your hardware and software purchases, Web and computer support services together can provide you economies of scale combined with the convenience of single point of support and access to someone who knows your business.

    How to Get the Most Out of the Relationship

  6. Identify key problems, goals and areas to improve efficiency
    Once you partner with a provider of information technology services and solutions, the first and most important step is an analysis of problems. The more you can communicate about your company, current practices and areas to improve, the more effective your solutions partner can be in coming up with a computer support services plan designed to keep things running smoothly, maximize your assets and move your organization forward.
  7. Set up best practices
    Typically the biggest challenge small organizations face in being successful is getting out of their own way, seeing the big picture and making the changes necessary for improvements to happen. A good small business IT solutions partner can help you set up best practices to get most out of your investment in information technology services. However, making sure those practices are implemented and followed rests squarely on your shoulders, not on those of your computer support services provider.
  8. Avoid costly mistakes – Don’t make impulse purchases
    Whereas large companies tend to have a formal evaluation and approval process in place for making technology purchases, many smaller organizations make impulse purchases. Let the company you’ve hired for information technology services do its job and provide you its expertise on purchases. If the company resells hardware and software at competitive rates, purchasing from it can be worthwhile. You’ll have a single point of purchase for computer support services, and the company can recommend hardware and software from manufacturers it has partnerships with and expertise on as well. All of that translates to added benefit to you.
  9. Choose managed information technology services designed for business
    Small organizations have a tendency to operate off the cuff, looking for freebies or grabbing cheap services not really designed for business. This approach to information technology services can come back to bite you. If you want to grow your business, approach your needs for computer support services like a bigger organization would. If your IT partner makes recommendations on computer support services that you think you can find cheaper elsewhere, take a hard look at what you are getting and how it can really benefit your business. Once you weigh all the benefits, you may find the value to your business growth and offerings far outweighs the cost.
  10. Can I still do it myself?
    Working with a good provider of information technology services doesn’t mean you can’t do anything yourself. In fact, a reputable and innovative IT company should educate you on how to better manage your technology needs and investments. There are still a lot of day-to-day tasks you can and should do within your organization, depending on your skill level, time and desire. The point is to keep your computer support services partner in the loop and use their expertise and input on major technology decisions.

Conclusion
So, what’s in it for you? By partnering with a provider of information technology services, you’ll find a more thought out, comprehensive approach to small business IT solutions that can increase efficiency, save you money, generate revenue, and help your business succeed.

About the Author
Ilene Rosoff is the president and founder of The Launch Pad, a 15-year-old Florida-based technology services company specializing in cost-effective small business IT consulting and Web solutions for local and national clients with zero to sixty employees. The Launch Pad helps small businesses grow and succeed with technology and on the Web. Ilene is a published author and speaks throughout Florida to small businesses, schools and non-profits on best practices for using information technology solutions in their organizations. Visit launchpadonline.com to request a technology or Web assessment for your organization or for a proposal for Web or information technology services.

[tags]small business, IT services, consulting[/tags]

Consulting Jobs

We’ve got a Jobs category on Gada.be – like for consultants, for instance. I could just as easily track Seattle consulting gigs by adding a keyword to the query – as in “seattle consulting.” The possibilities are endless, and the feeds are simple enough to subscribe to and track as new offers scoot themselves across the virtual table. When Lockergnome first started, I found myself completely consumed with the tasks that needed to be done. I would often go out to lunch with the local businessfolk, but never really charged them for my advice. A decade later, and I’m starting to realize where I may have missed a few well-paying consulting opportunities.

On a related note, I’ve been very impressed with Lockergnome’s new HelpShare efforts – a true example of microconsulting, where one of you made $40 for doing 5 minutes worth of trival work. Gnomie joepestro created custom buttons you can use with the new Google Toolbar.
This will let you search and view the latest questions on Lockergnome Helpshare from your Internet Explorer toolbar. “Joepestro” answered the question in 31 minutes! If you are using the new Google toolbar beta, you can install the HelpShare button with ease. That’s something I did on my own for Gada.be, but it’s also something that was worth good money to “Joepestro!” Seriously, for those of you who want to make a few extra dollars every month – it’s a good place to start. Gotta have questions to ask before they can be answered, however. I’ve considered asking for independent developers to help us along with our Gada.be projects (specifically those who might be well versed in XML). This may be the best place for me to find ’em.
Continue reading “Consulting Jobs”