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042: Managed Services Roundtable with Allen Hancock, Luis Giraldo, and Kevin Ginger, Part 2

Recorded March 2, 2014

Sponsored by MoonClerk

This is part two of a special two-part Managed Services roundtable feature six members of the Apple Consultants Network, discussing the benefits of a Managed Services pricing model and how to transition a traditional hourly-billing consultancy into offering Managed Services.

Thanks to our brand new sponsor, MoonClerk – an easy and inexpensive way to collect recurring payments for your subscription services.

Thanks also to our special guests for this roundtable:

Allen Hancock, The Orchard Solutions and Watchman Monitoring
Luis Giraldo, Ook Enterprises and MonkeyBox
Kevin Ginger, kGinger Consulting

Topics:

- offering clients "self service" options through CasperSuite or RobotCloud

- building a "book of service" to work toward an exit plan for your consultancy; building something of value; getting acquired

- the benefits of talking about your service offerings to get comfortable pitching them to clients

- the fact is, servers should be managed proactively to ensure reliability, and Managed Services is a natural way to provide proactive services, billed automatically on a monthly basis consistent with the way services are rendered

- with Mission Critical services, the consultant takes on a psychological burden to ensure that the services keep working; Managed Services makes it equitable for the consultant

Resources:

https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/acn-alumni

http://watchmanmonitoring.com/acn-benefit

https://www.watchmanmonitoring.com/sample-agreement/

http://mhelpdesk.com/better-way-to-inform-customers-about-how-they-are-being-billed/

http://community.watchmanmonitoring.com

http://mac-msp.com

Value-Based Fees by Alan Weiss

Small Biz Thoughts by Karl W. Palachuk

Tools:

Watchman Monitoring

MonkeyBox

MoonClerk

ZenDesk

mHelpDesk

TeamViewer

Support menu by Forget Computers

RobotCloud

Casper Suite

Backup Minder

041: Managed Services Roundtable with Allen Hancock, Luis Giraldo, and Kevin Ginger, Part 1

Recorded March 2, 2014

Sponsored by MoonClerk

This is part one of a special two-part Managed Services roundtable feature six members of the Apple Consultants Network, discussing the benefits of a Managed Services pricing model and how to transition a traditional hourly-billing consultancy into offering Managed Services.

Thanks to our brand new sponsor, MoonClerk – an easy and inexpensive way to collect recurring payments for your subscription services.

Thanks also to our special guests for this roundtable:
Allen Hancock, The Orchard Solutions and Watchman Monitoring
Luis Giraldo, Ook Enterprises and MonkeyBox
Kevin Ginger, kGinger Consulting

Topics:

- using half-day and full-day rates to discourage "tire-kickers" and very infrequent break-fix clients, helping to position Managed Services as a better alternative

- should a Managed Services Provider include Help Desk services? end-user training? value-adds vs. just keeping the systems running

- transitioning from "one-man-show" to managed services consultancy; see also: CCP 013: Easing into Managed Services with Allen Hancock and 010: Managed Services discussion with Luis Giraldo

- developing systems for consistency, standardization to improve efficiency

Quantifying the Value of Managed Services blog post by Luis

- "first 15 minutes free for $_/mo" is a good first step; relieves burden bulk hours

- business clients are more efficient billing-wise, and from the perspective of delivering value

- residential clients are higher-maintenance, higher-touch, more-demanding, and less efficient

- yet, Allen points out that residential clients can be more satisfying to work with, and when charging hourly it doesn't matter because they all pay the same rate

- enforcing the use of a help desk ticketing system

- user training: why should users use your ticketing system?

- reminding clients to restart

Memorable lines:

- "Hourly billing breeds inefficiency." – Luis (see also: "how hourly billing is the scum of the Earth" in 010: Managed Services discussion with Luis Giraldo)

"All inclusive billing breeds efficiency." – Luis

"We hate spending time tracking time." – Luis

"Allen, is there any way to wire that support menu to a restart command?" – Joe
"And we don't need to save, right?" – Allen
"If they call, their call can be directed to voicemail if they haven't restarted." – Joe
"Spoken like a true 'break/fix man'." – Luis

035: Interview with Mike Kingsley, Kingsley MacConsulting

Interview recorded January 21, 2014; Intro recorded on January 28, 2014

Intro:

- testing Mavericks Server; being Client 0

- using Profile Manager to easily configure CalDAV, CardDAV, VPN services; Sam's trick to save a profile without a user name

- the trial and error of troubleshooting a server leads to uncertainty

using authrestart to bypass FileVault 2 on next restart; installing software updates that require a restart now does this automatically

- force quitting fsck to allow mounting a drive that was failing to mount, even read-only, after letting fsck complete

- using the "security" command to read the contents of the user's keychain

Interview:

- Mike started his consulting practice in 2004, a great year for Apple

- first computer was an Apple IIe in 1984

- Apple Store has been great source of referrals; helps to think of Apple as a partner, and promote their services like AppleCare and JointVenture

- JointVenture can be a great supplement to help from Apple consultants

- first job was working at Disneyland; customer service was ingrained in the culture and top quality; out of five day training for new hires, three days are purely customer service; helps with consulting: owning issues, taking responsibility; e.g., customer drops ice cream cone, and employee walks customer over to the ice cream stand to facilitate the resolution; how to deal with people who are upset, hearing both sides; if you can't help, who can? 

034: Interview with Ben Greiner, Inventor of Robot Cloud and President of Forget Computers

Interview Recorded on January 14, 2014Intro Recorded on January 21, 2014


Intro:

- Sam's friend's lost iPhone

- 1Password's great security audit feature

Mat Honan's epic hack

- solving the password problem

MonkeyBox

Apple's two-step verification


Topics:

Robot Cloud is built on JAMF Software Casper Suite, customized for multi-tenant use, designed for Mac/iOS management; working closely with JAMF since early 2007

- Robot Cloud has been available as a product since 2013 and is designed for 1-100 seats

Forget Computers employs 13 people, 10 full time, all but two are technical

- DeviceScout is offered as an add-on for consultants who already have a JSS (JAMF Software Server)

- Inventory & Alerts (JAMF "recon" + added alerting and ZenDesk integration via Support Menu app) @ $5/month/device

- Policies (automated patching, advanced troubleshooting) @ $10/month/device

- Ben's background in consulting: worked as a creative at an ad agency, de facto IT person there; started as a team of 1 in 1998 as Digital Logic, then rebranded as Forget Computers; ACN since 2001; merged with another company in 2005, and attempted to integrate the two companies without success; left with two other consultants at the end of 2005, rebirth of Forget Computers, based in Chicago

- more about Security, Certificates, Network Requirements, etc.

030: Interview with Ryan Powell of iLifestyle Consulting, plus Bonus Rants

Recorded live on December 10, 2013

Topics:

- special guest Ryan Powell of iLifestyle Consulting discusses some cloud-hosted apps he uses to help run his consulting practice

- looking at the per seat recurring/subscription pricing models of cloud software as a predictable cost of doing business

Work(etc)

Wufoo for forms

LiveChat for website live chat

RingCentral for phone system

Highrise for CRM

Basecamp for Project Management

Echosign for agreement signatures

Timely for scheduling and automatic appointment reminders

Xero for accounting

Zendesk for support

Mailchimp for email marketing

HootSuite for social media

Google Apps for email hosting

Robot Cloud for client monitoring and policy management

Plus:

- Joe's rant about Yahoo Small Business

- Joe's rant about Apple Store

026: Interview with Greg Brasher, Field Sales Executive for Rackspace

Recorded on November 5, 2013

Topics:

- RackSpace offers Exchange hosting, mail hosting, managed SharePoint hosting

- public cloud vs. private cloud vs. hybrid

- "Fanatical Support" and the Fanatical Straightjacket award ceremony

- O'Fixies, the internal support "bar" at RackSpace HQ

- OpenStack, partnership with NASA; open source, massively scaleable cloud operating system

- RackSpace Partner Network and how ACNs can benefit from it

- Cloud Sites

- Hybrid cloud

Plus:

- the challenges of hiring someone to grow your consulting practice: very important to find someone who's willing to follow through, who can keep a commitment, who has a good work ethic, and who works well as a team player

022: Interview with Thadd Weil, Public Relations Specialist for Synology

Recorded on October 15, 2013

 

Continuing our storage vendor interview series, Jerry and Sam are pleased to be joined by Thadd Weil, Public Relations Specialist for Synology America Corp. (Joe was out of town for this interview.)

Topics:

- Synology DiskStation entry-level "j" series with ARM processors for home

DiskStation "+" series with Atom processors for SMB

- RackStation for business

- "xs" series with Xeon processor for enterprise; xs+ with High Availability

- Synology's naming convention

- Synology DiskStation Manager software and the Live Demo

- Link Aggregation using a DiskStation DS1812+ connected to a Retina MacBook Pro with two Gigabit Ethernet adapters

 

- Other Synology resources include Getting StartedNAS Selector, and RAID Calculator

- Synology is on Twitter (@Synology) and FaceBook

019: Interview with Elaine Kwok, Product Marketing Manager for Promise Technology

Intro Recorded Live on October 1, 2013; Interview Recorded on September 24, 2013

Jerry, Sam, and Joe are pleased to be joined this week by Elaine Kwok, Product Marketing Manager for Promise Technology.

As with the original release of Thunderbolt in 2011, Promise will be first to market with Thunderbolt 2 peripherals to be released alongside the forthcoming Mac Pro redesign later this fall.

We would like to extend our sincere thanks to Elaine for taking the time to discuss the Promise product line with us, especially during this busy time as the company gears up for Thunderbolt 2.  Stay tuned for exciting updates from Promise!

But first, listen to Joe recount his recent data recovery success through his MacGyvering of a hard drive with a broken mini USB connector on the bridge board of a WD MyBook for Mac. The tools at his disposal were as follows: a USB connector salvaged from a non-working donor enclosure; a pair of needle nose pliers; a rubber band; a plastic dust cover from a mini-DVI to DVI adapter; a spare 3.5" hard drive; and a spool of kapton tape. Go!

Topics:

VTrak E-ClassVTrak A-Class SAN solutions

SANLink Thunderbolt to Fibre Channel adapter

Pegasus R6 RAID Storage

Pegasus J2 portable Thunderbolt SSD & Pegasus J4 2.5" Thunderbolt enclosure

 

Update – here's just the Elaine Kwok Interview.

013: Easing into Managed Services with Allen Hancock

Joe, Jerry, and Sam are joined by Allen Hancock of The Orchard Solutions and Watchman Monitoring to discuss Allen's "hybrid" Managed Services model.  Allen offers a "Personal Support" option including unlimited quick phone calls and emails for $25/month per person.

Topics:

- Sam discusses some of the stresses associated with Apple Professional Services (APS) projects; normally as consultants we have flexibility and can work directly with clients to address unforeseen issues; but in the case of APS, due to travel and other agreements, APS gigs must be completed in the allotted timeframe which adds pressure

- Sam updates us on his hiring process; interested consultants in the CT-NY-NJ area should contact @IAMSamValencia

- Jerry reports difficulty with Find My Mac on machines with a static IP address; to be continued

- Jerry brings up the pitfalls of full disk encryption using FileVault 2 on an unattended server; in case of an unexpected or soft restart, the system will boot to the FileVault 2 unlock screen, prompting for the encryption password before the system starts up or any services start; this prevents any kind of remote access via screen sharing or remote login; Apple provides a command line tool (fdesetup authrestart) to perform a one-time restart that bypasses the initial unlock; however, this doesn't help if the machine has lost power or become unresponsive; a KVM-over-IP device can solve that, but typically requires a Java app on the client machine to access the remote machine

- Allen identifies a common problem for consultants: how to track and bill for all those random emails and quick phone calls

- Allen's solution: "Personal Support" @ $25 per month, per person; includes unlimited quick emails or phone calls. He estimates this part of his Support Agreement earns him about $2500/month after 1.5 years, based 100 people who subscribed.

- Clients paying monthly for unlimited quick questions encourages them to call on a whim; this leads to billable work too, since anything over 15 minutes would be a billable consultation

- He also offers a Proactive Monitoring service: collecting $10/month per computer; ($15/month for all the computers in a house) results in more billable work as machines report issues to consultant and consultant notifies client with recommended resolution

- His monitoring service received much more uptake; 350 monitored computers bringing in an additional $3000 a month.

- Had two techs on staff at the time.

Mentions:

- ProSoft Data Rescue

Memorable Lines:

- "Death by a thousand 5-minute emails" – Joe

010: Managed Services discussion with Luis Giraldo

This week, Sam, Jerry, and Joe are joined by Luis Giraldo of Ook Enterprises Ltd., based in Vancouver.  Luis employs a business model based almost exclusively on offering Managed Services, as opposed to hourly billing.  In addition, services outside the scope of his Service-Level Agreement (SLA) tend to be billed on a project basis rather than hourly.

Topics:

- Managed Services requires a change of mindset: it's a value-based approach to billing, not time-based

- references: Value-Based Fees, The Consulting Bible, and Million Dollar Consulting Proposals by Alan Weiss

- strategies for migrating break/fix clients to managed services model

- importance of trust, educating the client, and setting expectations

Memorable Lines:

"This is the amount of money we charge per month and it includes these services" - Luis

007: App development with ACN Justin Esgar

This week, Joe, Sam, and Jerry are joined by fellow ACN, Justin Esgar of Virtua Computers and Autriv Software Development, maker of the SignMyPad app, the Magnetic Stylus, and more.

Topics

We discuss aspects of app development including working with contractors, outsourcing, and providing end user support, and explore some pitfalls including user confusion and bias toward negative reviews.

Naturally, we also manage to talk shop. Jerry shares his encounter with permissions issues after migrating from a Time Capsule backup to a new Mac that came home from the Apple Store with a new user account, and Joe describes similar permissions issues when migrating from a clone of a corrupted Time Capsule backup.

We also discuss the importance of protecting sensitive data with FileVault 2, and compare it to PGP Whole Disk Encryption and legacy FileVault.

Plus, a live calendar check with three consultants!

Mentions

guru.com
alibaba.com

Memorable Lines

Justin: "Don't make an App."

 

005: Consultants in the Field – Craig Cohen, Kok-Yong Tan, Brian Mortensen, and Jeff Satterwhite

Sam was kind enough to record these "man in the street" interviews with four of our colleagues,  including master trainer Craig Cohen of HCS Technology Group, who helped organize the technical content for the Apple Consultants Network Advanced Camp.

Features a pro tip for fixing broken network jacks from expert Network Wrangler and Delouser, Kok-Yong Tan of Reality Artisans, and the answer to the question on everyone's mind: "Tan, what's in the vest?

Also includes feedback about ACN Advanced Camp from Brian Mortensen of BFA Technologies, Inc. and Jeff Satterwhite of Post Mod Tech.

Thanks to Craig, Tan, Brian, and Jeff for participating. Enjoy the last day of camp!

Update: check out this great photo of Sam interviewing Tan at ACN Advanced Camp, taken by Arek Dreyer.

 

Sam&Tan.jpg