Planning [Advanced Windows Small Business Server 2003 Best Practices book excerpt]

Hi folks – I am just posting up a passage from the Advanced SBS 2003 Best Practices book as my virtual book reading. I hope u like!

Planning

Planning is important in any technology implementation, and SBS 2003 is no exception. In my research for this section, I scoured the earth for updated planning topics so as to not simply repeat the material in my other SBS 2003 books.

Re-visiting the Basics

Every Olympic athlete or weekend warrior knows that proper planning prevents poor performance (these are “the five Ps”). Like so much of SBS 2003 discussion, you can evaluate planning for SBS 2003 in the context of two different dimensions, the business and the technical.

Business

From the business side, the ongoing challenge in the planning arena is to get customers either to plan out their own implementations or else to hire an SBS consultant to do so. This challenge continues even as I pen this advanced text a full year into the life of SBS 2003!

Marketplace

Microsoft has come a long way in a very short time in learning about the small business marketplace. The Yankee Group study I mentioned earlier provides an excellent summary of the small business marketplace and Microsoft’s current awareness. Data released in mid-2004 from another research house, AMI, summarized succinctly that small businesses are thrifty (okay, cheap) and most fall into a minimalist or pragmatic category when it comes to adopting technology. Read into this what you may, but the AMI research had the average USA small business spending somewhere around $1,000 per year on technology. And while this might seem depressing to the SBS consultant who is seeking a leg up financially and is hoping to make heaps of money installing SBS, let me keep your hope alive by continuing this discussion!

 

 

 

Notes:


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The beacon for SBS optimism is the TS2 event series put on by Microsoft in over 600 USA cities each year, for SBS consultants and other small business technology service providers and aficionados (details at www.msts2.com). The August 2004 TS2 content had a slide asserting a contra-cost argument that suggests a small business could suffer losses by not having an efficient and stable SBS 2003 network installed (Figure 1-6).

Figure 1-6

When small businesses balk at technology spending, introduce the “cost of doing nothing” argument as shown here.

 

 

Let’s Get Coffee!

Delving deeper into advanced SBS 2003 planning topics, I again had to look no further than the excellent Fall 2004 TS2 presentation (which you can download from the TS2 site link in the previous section). The context is refreshingly casual and really conveys the typical way that many SBSers initially plan an SBS network with a customer—over a cup of joe at the local espresso café!

A little background is in order before I present a couple of critical coffee house
slides. The TS2 mission in the PowerPoint deck was to encourage SBS
consultants to elevate themselves to become trusted technology advisors (a


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subject that is the crux of my SMB Consulting Best Practices book). That’s followed by some introductory sales discussion about initial cold calls, first introductions, and so on. Then we get into the good stuff, as shown in Figure 1- 7, that establishes early SBS-related consulting boundaries. If not set early with a customer, these boundaries will end up shifting, resulting in scope creep.

Figure 1-7

Of special note is the competency establishment point. Your technical expertise, such as that gained from this advanced SBS 2003 book, will equip you to better serve SBS customers.

 

 

 

 

Perhaps the most important planning slide in the whole coffee shop scenario is next, in Figure 1-8. This MBA-type flow diagram really cuts to the chase and highlights several planning points.

·                       Pain and Frustration. Like it or not, the basis for nearly all technology projects is to eliminate customer pain or frustration. The top of Figure 1-8 speaks to this with the “Listen for Frustration” box and the “Priori­tize Hot Buttons” circle.

·                       Information Gathering. Notice that the middle of Figure 1-8 has you engaging in information gathering activities that are both business-


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related and technical in nature. All good consultants instinctively do this whether they are involved in technology or not. Even an in-house technologist would want to honor these formal planning steps, or suf­fer the consequences!

·         Money. Money is an important driver in any technology discussion. Enough said. See the “Determine Financial Impact” button in Fig­ure 1-8.

·         Timing and Follow-up. Having gathered sufficient information from a customer, you can create your Statement of Work (SOW) and return at a future date to present it. This step is recommended even if you’re an SBSer in the “do it yourself” category (not all SBSers are consultants, of course!).

Figure 1-8

Honor this time-tested technology sales and planning flow chart and you’ll

do well with SBS!

 


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The money discussion continues in Figure 1-9 with a darn good break out of soft and hard costs for SBS sites. Even though it’s unlikely all of these points would apply to the discussion at every SBS site in the planning phase, many points do, such as the “Cost of downtime” bullet.

Figure 1-9

Take a moment to revisit how SBS, properly implemented, will affect these business cost areas. Hopefully the impact will be favorable!

Notes:


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Finally, Figure 1-10 summarizes the coffee shop planning approach and puts it in its proper perspective—that this is only the start of the planning process, the first meeting! From the coffee shop experience, an SBSer will have a better idea of what SBS can do for end users (the customers). More importantly, the emphasis is placed on next steps and not on making hasty commitments. Planning takes the form of several steps and much more time than we typically acknowledge.

Figure 1-10

You’ve only just begun the ongoing technology planning cycle at the coffee shop. Fortunately, planning for SBS isn’t as difficult as complex enterprise roll outs!

 

 

 

 

Licensing

No business planning is complete without casting an eye toward the current licensing model surrounding SBS 2003. I don’t even pretend this book can keep up with the ever-changing world of Microsoft licensing, although we have attempted to do so in Chapter 3. Hilton Travis, a reader from Australia, was especially excited about the licensing discussion, in particular the client- side licensing mix. Hilton found that, with regard to providing SBS to


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customers, the licensing issues extend well beyond the server machine itself. The point that I want to make here is that licensing is an evergreen component in the SBS planning cycle: it’s always an issue. And there is some true ROI here. By having your licensing all in order, you not only avoid jail time (as in under-subscribing your licenses) but you also avoid overpaying for licenses (an over-subscribed scenario).

Bill Leeman, long-time SBSer and reader, posted this practical planning advice on the SBS Yahoo! Newsgroup with respect to licensing. (See Appendix A for SBS Resources). Bill writes:

Just thought I’d pass this along as it’s the first time it’s ever happened to me. Got a call from another consultant friend of my bosses who needed help with an SBS 2K3 install. Went onsite and proceeded to get ready and opened the sealed envelope from MS licensing and then broke the shrink-wrap on the SBS2K3 standard Open Business kit. Lo and behold no Disc 1!!! Since SBS doesn’t make use of the eOpen site for the base product (only the CAL’s) I couldn’t use a different Disc 1 with this clients key. So make sure you check your kits early just in case.

 

 

 

–Bill Leeman

cheers….harrybbbb

Harry Brelsford, CEO at SMB Nation (www.smbnation.com)

MBA, MCSE, CNE, CLSE, CNP, MCP, MCT, SBSC (Microsoft Small Business Specialist)

PS – did you know my Windows Small Business Server 2008 (SBS 2008) book is almost here? Yes!

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