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A handy new device we should consider adding into our tech toolkit is the Actiontec ScreenBeam Mini2 Wireless Display Receiver. In a business setting this is a great wireless tool to connect our laptop to the conference room TV or

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Attentus loves to help people with technology and that is one of the core reasons why we all get out of bed every morning and come into the office.

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This month’s newsletter topic is probably not the most exciting by a long shot but everyone needs an affordable home office printer that will last a long time and has some basic bells and whistles.

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As a way for us to demonstrate how much we care about our customers we provide them with a custom first-aid kit that includes everything from batteries to a spare laptop.

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Are you interested in finding an inexpensive surveillance system for your home or business without having to spend a boat load of money on the equipment and installation? Netgear offers a solution known as Arlo that includes a 100% wire-free weatherproof HD security camera system that can be used indoor or outdoor and can even be purchased at your local Best Buy or online at Amazon.

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One of our goals this year is to roll out a whole slew of security detection and response technologies we have developed to improve the security posture for all of our customers.

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Business planning is arguably the most important exercise we tackle each year. This process enables us to innovate and help our customers succeed with their I.T. department.

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Windows 10 - Bill Gates

Microsoft has invested billions of dollars into the software industry since it was founded in 1975 delivering upon Bill Gate’s mission: to put a computer on every desk, and in every home, running Microsoft software.

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  In our March 2012 newsletter topic on Transitioning to the Cloud we broke down several important elements about the cloud for the small business owner to consider before making the transition. Even though this article was published almost 4 years ago the content is still relevant and should be evaluated when making a technology decision regarding cloud services. Transitioning to the Cloud is a great article to read if you are just starting to learn or evaluate your options. Take a moment and take this crash course before moving forward if you can. Fast forward to present time and the options for new cloud services to consumers have exploded even since 2012. Microsoft, Amazon and Google to name a few integrate technology into all of their devices to connect to the cloud and in addition offer services for the small business all the way up to the enterprise for a multitude of reasons to solve certain situational problems. There are literally thousands and thousands of articles and YouTube videos online to learn more about all this cloud technology. So to be respectful of everyone’s time, we are going to narrow our focus to the small business as this is who we are trying to reach and educate. We are also going to focus on Microsoft’s cloud services to discuss as the majority of our customers now use Windows and or Windows Server for their On-Premise technology and we continue to trust Microsoft’s vision and direction in this area of technology. We believe the war on On-Premise vs. Cloud is over. The idea for small businesses now is: how can we achieve success in our technology with a hybrid approach?  A hybrid approach is great for small businesses as a way to slowly transition services into the cloud while making sure the workforce who uses the technology is not impacted in a negative way reducing productivity – and to keep peace of mind around data ownership and security for the business owner. A hybrid approach also enables redundancies across your internal infrastructure and an enterprise.  That way if you decide to rapidly expand your business you can or if you decide to go all into the cloud, you can make the shift more easily without too much “change” shock for your employees. Microsoft has created a tool known as Azure AD Connect which is designed to bridge your identity between On-Premise and the Cloud. Small businesses can subscribe to Azure and link their existing systems into the cloud giving them the ability to utilize some new really awesome technology such as Intune to manage mobile platforms or Health for better insight/monitoring into existing systems to name a few. This new technology also allows small businesses to easily connect to 3rd party cloud services such as Box or Google apps using integrated sign-on. ADAzureSync Depending on your business goals, line of business applications, and company policies, or some other reason, these advancements may be excluded as an option for you. However, as time presses forward and technology advances it will be a choice worth considering to keep your business competitive in an ever changing and fast pace society. To request more information about building a hybrid approach please feel free to email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Thanks again for being a loyal reader of our Predictably Better newsletter. We’ll be back next month!
In our May 2015 newsletter topic on How We Improve Using Metrics we provided an overview explaining the nuts and bolts of an I.T. company’s operations team and how we calculate our numbers for each role focusing in on the support desk metrics. Today, we are going to take a look at the network administration (NA) metrics and how we are able to improve our company by looking at this role through a few different lenses. The 1st lens we want to look through to give us a better understanding of our NA role is our industry leverage guidelines. For example, the total amount of work our NA’s can commit to our customers without losing profitability, or overextending the NA’s by spreading them too thin across the customer base is a simple way to describe this guideline. We want to compare the industry leverage guidelines to the amount of active NA’s and monthly reoccurring revenue (MRR) we have in our business. In other words, MSP’s want to have at least 1 NA per 40k in MRR to run efficiently. Based on this simple math we can forecast how many resources we need in X years and also evaluate the current metrics in our business and where we should or shouldn’t be operating. Here is an example: How We Improve Using Metrics Part II (NA_Meterics1) The value of understanding how each role is performing and knowing all their different levers and how much each role costs in a per month per seat format is the way to gain command over your gross margins. Otherwise, we truly don’t understand the noise behind the numbers, the hole in the bucket, or any unrealized profitability. With that being said, the 2nd lens we want to look through is our cost per month per seat for our NA role. Here is an example: How We Improve using Metrics Part II (NA_Matrics2) We also create, manage and track all of our NA tickets in our main line of business application and we look at how many hours we spend in comparison to reactive support. We also track the overall health of our customers quarter to quarter based on NA and vCIO alignment so we can validate our I.T. investment is helping our customer’s business become more successful. Again, by having these granular metrics across the different divisions in our business, especially the 6 core delivery areas in operations -- network administration being one of them, we can forecast change, improve our best practices and processes, and ultimately provide better support to our customers. We strive to improve and become world class every day and knowing our numbers is a small part to that promise.
Every year www.TruMethods.com hosts an event at the Penn’s Landing Hilton in Philadelphia Pennsylvania called Schnizzfest (See www.Schnizzfest.com for more information). TruMethods is a company led by Gary Pica and Bob Penland who specializes in helping Managed Service Providers (MSP’s) become world class in business planning, command, sales focus, process, and packaging & pricing. MSP’s travel from across the world to attend this 3 day event seeking answers to overcome challenges, to improve their business, in addition to networking with other TruMethod's members and key vendors in our industry. This will be Digux’s 5th Schnizzfest event and the 6th year as a member with TruMethods which has resulted in a large reason why we are able to take care of our customers at such a high level. To learn more about our previous experiences at Schnizzfest please read our June 2014 newsletter: https://www.attentus.com/?p=585 Schnizzfest as always was jammed packed with awesome keynotes, workshops, sales role plays, vendor introductions, great idea contest, operational improvement ideas, a Schnizz party and much more. To sum it up in several words, the event was fun, informative, and absolutely necessary. Being able to get out of your business every year and spend a few days observing what the rest of your industry is doing successfully is therapeutic to say the least and gets you fired up for another year. This year Digux flew into Philadelphia a day early to attend their pre-day event on myITprocess. myITprocess is a software platform that allows I.T. companies to design, implement, and manage technology best practices and show the business impact of alignment with their standards and this is only exclusively offered to us through our membership with TruMethods – no other I.T. companies can just go out and buy this software. In short, MSP’s who are members get to institutionalize our knowledge to consistently deliver effective strategy to our customers. Digux has been gaining command over this software since it was released. To learn more about myITprocess please read our January 2014 newsletter: https://www.attentus.com/?p=440 Schnizzfest2015_5 Dustin Frost and Bob Penland showing off their the Schnizz at the myITprocess pre-day event. During the pre-day event we learned new valuable information on developing our super power, how to distinguish ourselves from the competition, how to deliver better end results by driving down noise, improving resolution time, increasing service delivery efficiency, and implementing world class processes with myITprocess. For example, our network administrator uses the tool and focuses on standards and technical alignment. The standards enable us to evaluate our clients. The technical alignment enables us to look at how the client’s current technology compares to our standards. Our virtual chief information officer (vCIO) uses the tool and focuses on business impact and client strategy. The business impact helps us understand how they misaligned with our standards and how that affects their business. The client strategy component is how our recommendations support our customer’s business activities, prevent potential issues, and maximize their investments in technology. Ultimately, the end result for us when using the software is having more command over providing our clients with a valuable I.T. strategy and business relationship. We also learned about myITprocess’s future. Not only are they using technology to create metrics for performance so they can dramatically improve the end users experience when using the app, they are building a strategy and budgeting module. The key features will enable us to structure our client’s strategy into topics, initiatives, recommendations (budget/client feedback), findings (supporting info that helps why to invest/fix an issue), use templates for topics across clients, and the ability to build customized topics for each client. From a 30,000ft perspective when looking at the new module, MSP’s can build a living business technology roadmap for their customers when they tie all the aforementioned key features together. Schnizzfest2015_1 Dustin reading his 'Bill of Schnizz Rights' at the event! Peter Briden also spoke at the pre-day event about the key functions and purpose of the vCIO role. Peter was known for his discipline and expertise in performing the virtual chief information officer (vCIO) role in his own MSP and is a veteran in the industry who successfully built, ran, and sold a wildly successful MSP. The conversation Peter had with everyone was very detailed and informative giving us insight into a variety of different key functions for a vCIO: The purpose, developing a business relationship, the technology review meeting, outcomes, and potential pitfalls. I think what hit home for us was his advice on the preparation process. Schnizzfest 6 ‘day one’ officially started in the Grand Ballroom of the Hilton. TruMethods had the place decked out in a colonial theme and opened up the event with a movie showing scenes from “The Patriot” starring Mel Gibson. The movie was inspiring as it showed us the Declaration of Schnizzdependence for the 1st time! Gary then came onto the stage and said “You are only guaranteed the right to pursue World Class results. You have to catch it yourself”. He then went on to talk to us about the core fundamentals of world class results in growth, value proposition, and efficiency. Having a world class company fulfills our potential, creates opportunity, impacts our customers in an amazing way, drives passion and purpose, and gives us financial independence. Gary explained how we need to be a true business partner to our customers and pointed out how most MSP’s look at their business the same way and we need to look at it differently with our MSP at the bottom and moving up the stack through alignment, impact, strategy, and budgeting. The MSP business model has a wide variety of variables to track making it extremely difficult to understand and gain command over all the levers. To simplify the process Gary outlined how becoming world class is a beautiful, simple math problem and we need to gain command over 3 metrics. If we haven’t already said it before TruMethods deeply understands the science of world class managed services: Our average all in seat price (AISP). We decide the price and value. Our average monthly reoccurring revenue (MRR). We decide our target clients. Reactive time per endpoint per month. We control the noise via our net admin and vCIO roles.

This year’s keynote speaker was author Nicholas Boothman, who is passionate about human potential, charged up to the stage in a swanky suit and RED shoes! He told everyone “There’s no such thing as failure, there is only feedback. Be brave, take risks, blame no-one, and amazing things happen”. Nicholas went on to tell us about his life as a fashion photographer, his journey as a father of five children, and how his career dramatically changed over the years by speaking up and taking risks. Our interpretation of Nicholas was that he had a very unique and powerful way of interpreting an outlook on life and interactions with other people. One interesting fact we learned during his segment was the Harvard School of Science says it takes 2 seconds to make an impression on other people. Nicholas coached us and said you need to make eye contact and smile.

Schnizzfest2015_8
Remember everyone’s eye color. Immediately find something in common with this other person and it will make your relationship start off in an amazing way. Nicholas spent a lot of time talking with us and having us go through exercises that were fun and informative. He made several great statements such as “Our horizons are obscured by our habits”. “Take the 5 people you hang out with the most that is who you are”. “We need new places because we are a product of our environment”. We highly recommend buying his latest book “Convince Them in 90 Seconds or Less” by Nicholas Boothman. For more information, go to his web-site www.NicholasBoothman.com

The 2nd part of the day was dedicated to sales. It started out with a presentation gut check. All MSP’s have a presentation they show their potential new customers to help give them a sense of what they are buying – the difference between their current results vs. the results they could get by investing more and making a change. TruMethods requested that we paint a picture of our network administration and vCIO roles in broad strokes rather than getting caught in the weeds showing them how we minimize reactive services because the MSP model is so complex everything can get blurred into one main block. Schnizzfest2015_7 The director of business development, Tim Fitzpatrick, and a TruMethods sales coach, Jim Mullen, hit the stage and talked to us about lead generation, setting the stage, pain, money, decision, re-framing the prospect, the balance, and dealing with red flags. The sales process has many moving parts all of which are important in how they relate to the overall decision. Tim and Jim went into detail on each of these topics essentially concluding the segment saying one of Gary’s favorite lines “You cannot put the tooth paste back into the tube” meaning the 1st meeting you have with your prospect is extremely important, and once you finish, you cannot go back so you want to do it right the 1st time. What stood out to us was the part on red flags and this is where sales people typically panic during the process. They taught us to always tie back the issue to the core business decision. Work to create separation. Never move on until you have a meeting of the minds (agree or agree that you don’t). Always recap where you are in the process! Turn those red flags into inflection points (positive things). For example, I couldn’t disagree with you more. Permission to speak freely. I understand why you would think that but. What if I told you? After Tim and Jim wrapped things up three existing members of TruMethods hit the stage to talk to us about the difference between now and before joining TruMethods. All of them jokingly said the biggest difference was less hair and about 20#’s, but in all seriousness they talked intimately about the challenges they faced over the years. They all had replaced their team over the years to align their company with their culture. They all talked about having patience and managing growth, getting rid of bad clients, investing in sales, forensically watching the ticket counts, and getting up the stack to take monetization out of the picture. These 3 members have about seen it all and it was extremely valuable for us to hear about their challenges especially because we could relate with them directly as we all are seeking the same answers and goals running an MSP for ourselves. We left the event with specific quarterly action plans and future action items that will help us improve our business ultimately helping our customers which is the reason we started Digux. The event had many more interesting aspects such as the sales role-play, great idea contest, and the Schnizz party and wish we could share them with you today, but unfortunately we will not be sharing them to be respectful of your time.

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