Tag Archives: Requirements

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Yeah, we can do that…

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For a Consultant, there’s nothing better that to say “Yeah, we can do that” to a customer request. The problem is, what if you really can’t do that?

Consultants, Service Providers & even some resellers want to gain their customers trust and be the go-to person for their needs, however, that’s not always the best practice. You’re only going to have so many skills in house. Being a one-stop-shop for your clients is good in theory but it takes the right business model.

One of the more common practices is where a Consulting firm tries to be an “everything shop” by hiring staff that function in multiple disciplines. I had a vendor visit me once while I was an IT Director saying her company did “everything”. When I inquired more, she showed me a card that listed over 25 distinct business units. Everything from structured cabling to software development.

Having worked for companies like that before, I asked “How many people work for you here?”. She said “12”.

That means each person was working 2 or more business units. While that may work from time to time, it isn’t a sustainable business model.

Why? Because the companies cash flow comes from billable hours. These 12 people have to be busy 30-40 hrs a week for the company to sustain a profit. As a result, the service they provide is only going to be as good as the people available for that specific job.

Take it a step further. What if one person leaves the company? They lose a couple competencies in the process. Replacing that person that has core skills in a couple different (and sometimes unrelated) area is a hiring nightmare.

When a company does business that way, it’s hit or miss on every job depending on the available resources.

Fortunately there’s a better way.

There are firms out there who’s role is that of a Trusted Advisor. Trusted Advisors know the basics of the various business units, but more importantly, they have a large referral network to bring in experts who specialize in a certain area and are available at the time. No temps, but reputable firms who have narrowed down their core competencies.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “why would I hire someone to hire people? I can coordinate that myself”. And if you actually have the time to research companies, interview multiple providers, get quotes, compare service and pricing, sign contracts, deal with disputes and manage the whole project yourself, great! Chances are you don’t. Those tasks take a lot of skill and a lot of time. If you have someone with that kind of time on their hands, you’re probably overstaffed and would be better off outsourcing that when you need it.

Also, the cost isn’t as bad as you think. A Trusted Advisor who’s willing to line-item costs should be able to give you a pretty fair deal to take a lot of work off your hands. They’re not easy to find, but valuable to have. Most consultants who want to do everything in house and are not comfortable referring business out. Advisors love bringing in their partners to a job because they know the job will get done right.

Trusted Advisors are able to provide a very well rounded service and perform at 100% most of the time. It’s not easy. It takes a lot of research and time spent with the partners, but once that network is built and the effort is made to nurture those partner relationships, we’re able to take on almost everything without having to hire a lot of internal staff to do it.

Having the best of the best partners at our disposal, we’re able to truly say “Yeah, we can do that” and be true to our word.


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Cloud Computing

To Cloud or not To Cloud

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Don’t worry, this isn’t just another (OPx vs CAPx) discussion on Cloud Computing. The financial benefits of a scalable architecture as a service have been discussed before. If you want more on that, see my Keys to a healthy technology budget.

No, this discussion is about the other types of fears that hold people back from taking advantage of this technology and/or running into it blindly and making big mistakes.

I’m talking about the real and valid fears illustrated in this article published by Infoweek: http://www.informationweek.com/cloud/9-spectacular-cloud-computing-fails/d/d-id/1321305

Questions like “How secure it the cloud?” and “what if the cloud goes down?” or “what if I can’t get to the Internet?”. All of these are real and valid fears, but you shouldn’t let analysis lead to paralysis.

The Cloud is just like any other technology, it’s a platform that needs to be architected and designed just like any other infrastructure. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to cloud computing.

To adequately take advantage of this technology, lower costs, reduce risk and free up time for you IT department, careful planning needs to take place first.

To start with, real business needs must be defined from the process level. Security is as much a concern in the cloud as it is on your local network. If you’re connected to the Internet, you’re vulnerable, period. The question is how vulnerable and how are you mitigating those risks. More on that in the paragraphs to come, or see “5 Questions to ask your Cloud provider about security“.

Another great consideration is “what if the cloud goes down?” The answers to this comes down to the provider. Are you covered for emergencies? Do you and the cloud provider have a Disaster Recovery plan? Is it clear what the cloud providers responsibility is and what yours is? Do you have a direct support rep or do you call an 800 number and roll the dice?

Guess what, the same concern goes for your Internet carrier, local computer systems, even car insurance. Knowing the details of the contract is key.

In some cases, your cloud solution makes you more dependent on your Internet connection, but not in all cases. Think about what your business would do if all your local computers worked, but you were without Internet access for a day.

Most businesses would either grind to a screeching halt or at least, be severely impacted. Email can’t go out, credit card transactions won’t go through and a majority of your communication to the outside world is cut off. Put the servers in the cloud and the question is simply, how can I get connected while my office is down. A short walk to the nearest Starbucks be a viable solution.

Furthermore, network redundancy isn’t that hard to come by these days and a good network architect or consultant can design one for a lot less than you think. See Worry free connectivity on a small business budget.

Finally we come to security. What if you cloud provider was hacked and your data was stolen or your service was taken offline?

My question is, what if that happened to the servers in your office? Same answer, but the cloud provider is generally going to have more resources to throw at the problem.

Not always, but it’s a good question to ask them…

Getting the risk management plan from your Cloud Provider is not the easiest task. For best results, see a cloud consultant about the options out there the risk management plans for the various providers. There are many Cloud Brokers that can quote the “best deals” in cloud, but make sure they’re also consultants that understand the technology.

We’re here to help. CBC Solutions is a Consulting company with members that have over 25 years of experience performing risk management plans and a deep understanding about cloud and telecommunications. The best deals are waiting for you and at phenomenal rates. Give us a call, our initial consultations are free!

CBC Solutions
619-784-5211
info@cbcsolutions.biz


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How to cut telecommunications costs by 20-30%

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“If you haven’t completed a detailed analysis of your telephone bills in the past two years, there’s a 90% chance you are being overcharged—possibly as much as 20%.” — FCC

“Rather than getting better as a result of computerization, utility bills seem to be getting worse. They are indecipherable, lack itemization, contain inflated or phony charges, and cost customers billions of dollars a year.” — Ralph Nader

With the rise in Telecommunications costs, it becomes increasingly important to analyse your costs for errors, overages and omissions. Additionally, as the market gets more competitive, carriers are offering better and better deals. This, combined with changing business needs causes companies to have to re-analyze their current contracts on an ongoing basis.

CBC Solutions offers a 5 step process to help businesses find the best cost savings they can get while meeting the business needs of the organization.

  1. Assess business processes & determine voice and data needs
  2. Audit contracts and latest invoices
  3. Identify alternate vendors for service needs
  4. Provide a formal recommendation & assist with implementation
  5. Track invoicing and manage contract renewals

On average, CBC Solutions can find 20-30% or more savings on a telecommunication budget and drive down operating costs. With CBC Solutions at your side, you can be sure your getting the best possible rates. We cut through the loopholes and get the vendors competing for your business.

Our Commitment:

  • Absolute Neutrality – Our network of over 100 carriers contains no underlying commitments or quotas. We negotiate the best rates with your best interests at heart.
  • No Risk – CBC Solutions employ a risk-free auditing technique. We find the best rates for your organization so you can focus on your core business.
  • Lifetime Support – We want to earn your trust. As a result, we treat your account as if it is our own. Our vendor relationships allow us to get better support than the average person and we will support you as long as your contract lasts.

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Defining Requirements for Business Growth, without Technical Limitations

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Certainly there’s no shortage of technical solutions to enhance your business these days. But how do you know the “solution” is actually going to help business grow? It all starts with how you approach defining the needs.

 To create a great business solution using technology, you must first separate the requirements from the solution. Many people start with trying to solve the problem without adequately defining the requirements. Defining the requirements doesn’t take the technology into effect at all. In fact, the requirements are designed by the business needs. Here are some examples.

 Technical Needs

  • “I need Microsoft Exchange”

  • “We need a CRM system”

  • “My business needs a CMS solution”

 Business Needs

  • “I need a better way to collaborate with my colleges”

  • “We need to track sales, forecast revenue and follow up with customers”

  • “My business needs to manage documents”

By removing the technical need from the requirements, you effectively remove limitations that might be setting you back. Here’s what typically happens in business.

  • The business leaders and members define ways in which productivity, workflows & profits suffer; requirements are not defined in this stage; many times, employees in the organization keep the issues to themselves, but they know about it nevertheless

  • A technology leader learns about a specific product or solution from a trade show, sales call, conference, etc. and says “that might help solve a problem I heard a group talking about”; or maybe an organization leader even requests a solution from IT

  • Some requirements are defined such as “platform independent”, “Single sign-on”, “integrates with [name a product]”; for the most part, these requirements are defined around technology buzz words rather than business requirements

  • A product is chosen to meet the needs as defined; this could be a long vetting process or a rather quick decision

  • Product is installed and worked into the organization

  • As end-users are trained, 20-30% of the capabilities of the software are used

  • Business workflows and processes begin to change to take advantage of more features

  • Before long, the business processes are completely re-designed to support the solution

When this happens, the company is working to support its technology. In truth, it should be the other way around.

 To turn this around, the business process should be diagrammed out from sales to production without the technology solution. Requirements for each part of the business process should be defined, again forget about the technology for now.

 Once the processes are defined, technical solutions can be researched based on the actual business needs. At that point, the technology can support the business.


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