Office365 Small Business

Installed and started to configure Office365 Small Business Premium yesterday.  A little buggy and limited on guidance.  Still have a lot to cleanup on configuring; Issues with ID or Email Address, etc.  Guess that means there’s a market for someone to write a “how-to” book on install, configuration and operation.  Of course this has been one of the major deficiencies in Microsoft’s Business Model.  They can tell you how to flip switches on the product, but not how and why for your business.  The entire ITSM concept for Microsoft is still primitive which is why I keep getting questions from friends & family on how-to manage their IT environment.  Additionally that last several engagements I supported behind the scenes, customers where asking for the Microsoft equivalent of an IBM Redbook.  Unfortunately my old group was not chartered to fulfill such a request despite the growing need.  This suggests that when I’m finished my first book project, I start on a IT Operations Methodology and Guidebook similar to the Strategy and Market Planning methodology IP I developed for other Global 100 corps.

Today’s agenda is more physical office clean-up, troubleshooting structured wiring system, and Structure in Threes book layout wireframe design and if time permits back to configuring Office365 Small Business (wireframe layout for external site)

Moving Day#2 and my test bed Data Center: Part2

Taking a break from moving Dana’s office.  Got her desk & printer stand in place, computer, phone and printers setup and working.  Wireless connection fine, will have to troubleshoot hardline later.  Filing Cabinets & corkboards next.  Move going much faster than I expected.  Guess I’m getting use to moving offices of late.  Relaxing my back to the sounds of John DenverCountry Roads ), then lunch.  Later tonight I’ll update her Desktop with new Office via Office365 Small Business subscription I bought for her yesterday.   Should be interesting to see how she uses all the new capability and adjust to new Office; she’s still on Office 2007.  Though I got here a new laptop with Windows 8 and Office 2013, se really hasn’t touch it.


Revisting CRM for Independent Consultants

Business Development for Independent Consultants

Spent last night re-reading C.J. Hayden’s book Get Clients Now!  Awesome book for professionals and consultants that dread business development and marketing.  Ms. Hayden has put together a simple to use system to guide those of us in the mystical arts of business development and customer acquisition.  While it doesn’t guarantee you hundreds of clients banging at your door or millions from your first sale, it does provide some oft-times forgotten common knowledge and wisdom.  To get business you need to get known, to get known your have to get out there.  Ms. Hayden’s system guides you through identifying artifacts and activities you can do in a hour or so each day as part of her 28-day Marketing Program.  I remember the first time I read the book thinking I can do that, and I did.  This blog was one of the ideas she suggests in her book.  I work for a large corporation at present, however, I can see the core concepts being adapted for use here also.  In point most of the big CRM systems wish they had a imbedded process like this or Solution Selling, Keith Eades.  That said, the only drawback was its paper based, so I took to building a template to the Get Clients Now! approach last night.  Almost finished with the tracking spreadsheet.  I’m fairly happy with how its working out.  May upsize it to work on Office365 Small Business later:

Get Clients Now

Small successes don’t always translate into big wins

Had a discussion this morning with one of my peers; she asked a rather interesting question: “can an organization be successful focusing on lot of small product deliveries? “   The answer like most questions these days is “it depends”. 

Over the course of the past three decades I’ve watched various business and development models come and go.   What I’ve observed from a systems perspective is that you cannot grow a business by savings.  Viscerally this sounds wrong, however, to grow a business takes investment.  No investment no growth. 

Observing nature you find the same phenomena.  All systems that grow take additional resources to grow.  Without allocating resources to growth it remains locked in a near status quo state.  I say near because typically without enough resources to repair and renew components the system will decompose also.  However, that assumes that the system is isolated in a stable environment; a huge and dangerous assumption.  When was the last time you experience any environment being stable.  Certainly today’s economy looks anything but stable.  A series of systems dynamics and little decisions has placed the world economy into a Mobius Loop pitching it back and forth between chaos and stagnation.

With that context in mind, I see too many organizations and managers using the small wins strategy towards business success.  Typically this approach is used to limit losses by timid management, using the excuse of building momentum.  The problem becomes that the next step has not been defined.  There is no there, there in the mind of these managers. 

The strategy is for them not to screw up enough to get fired.  If the project fails, well it was a small lost.  If the project succeeds, it gives the backer rights to try building something else.  The only problem is that the something else then becomes another unsure step because you were not invested enough in the first project.  Thus the next project is often driven by social pressures off from its original trajectory. 

Eventually you have hundreds of small unrelated small wins that in many cases are out of alignment.  Think of a group a small kids, all running after the ball, playing some older kids that have learned how to play as a team.  Sure the older ones have more physical abilities, but, it’s the alignment and coordination that wins the day.    

Many people decry strategies, vision and architecture these days.  However, I contend why this is so is that many strategies, visions and architectures are not or if they are they’re poorly conceived.  Recent books and research on the market are indicating that most management is not up to the task of strategy or architecture.  Small wonder, the jobs they performed and were rewarded for were on operational excellence not strategy and vision.  Maybe that’s why other corporations and nations are winning markets away and not in a temporary manner.        

If you focus on best practices which improve operation effectiveness, you’ll eventually compete on a price level as others will be doing the same.  There is only a limited competitive advantage in best practices as others eventually adopt the same. Strategy and architecture seeks to do things better and different than the crowd.   This small wins without a long term strategy result in either chaos or mediocrity.  .

Markets, Market Planning, Marketing, Business Development and Sales

I’m in the process of considering going out on my own again, after almost two years with a small “boutique” firm. The exercise in trying to help them grow had its pluses and minuses. One of the insights I already knew, but this experience provided a more current data point: Without an ongoing effort every day to identify opportunities, move those through a sales pipeline to eventual close your destiny is bleak. A lot like sitting on the wrong end of a tree branch and sawing away. You may feel you’re making progress but you’re actually undercutting your future.

With that said, I wonder why the message at the executive level didn’t take on a sense of urgency until it became a crisis. In the past when I consulted to Senior Executives they were well aware of this insight, they just didn’t know how to go about it, so it was easy to lay out a simple structure each could grow with. I happen to like Keith Eades book, The New Solution Selling. He refined Bosworth’s principles down to a implementable process for large organizations. Corporations such as IBM and Microsoft have created and deployed customized versions of such, I had assisted in those efforts.

However, for small businesses the approach was not scalable down. Over the past few years I’ve taken the core concepts and reengineer these into a family of tools which I’ve posted onto Microsoft Office Templates Online under my corporate logo Intellectual Arbitrage Group. These are available for free for a limited time, as I’ve been informed the site will be taken down in October. While distribution for free from Microsoft will not be available I will still freely distribute in the future.

But with the advent of the Cloud; Azure, Office365, etc. I am in the process of designing a service that will integrate these core functions into a system that will enable small businesses to manage the Marketing and Sales function at or beyond the level that corporations struggle to attain or maintain. While it will not be as sophisticated as systems I’ve done for these larger corporations effectiveness should raise for these firms an order of magnitude. Originally I had planned to release a SharePoint version, and I still might, but a Cloud Service makes more sense to address the small businesses I’m so fond of