What do you need to setup a services division?

This may seem like a strange question to many, but if you are a Large Account Reseller (LAR) or Value-Added Reseller then I’m sure if you don’t already have a services arm you will be wishing you had.
I’ve tried to compile some of the key areas I think are important to understanding:
Capability

    What services can you offer?
    What value to these provide?
    What sets your people apart from the rest?
    What accreditations do your people or organisation have?
    What training will your people need?
    How often will you need to have people re-certified?

Vision

    What do you want to achieve? If this isn’t clear focus will be distracted and capability sprawl may occur.

Values

    A core set of principals designed to help and guide your services personnel.

Process

    Like with all things, if you can’t do it manually and it’s not documented then you are likely to run into problems.
    Utilise industry standards, they are tried, tested and understood by many.
    Don’t forget the value of communication; keep the people who will be working with the customer involved.

Technology

    Take the process it and inject some software assisted technology into the equation. If you’re going to be able to organise a team out on the road, deal with customer enquiries and report on performance all without breaking into a sweat then you’re going to need a CRM or ERP, through in some DMS and your onto a winner. Weather you go off the shelf, open source or bespoke in house, this is an incredibly import decision which should not be taken lightly.

Sales

    How do we get our services out there?
    Ride on the back of hardware and licensing
    Know your product, unlike a solid object with a limited feature set, knowledge will change and grow, can be adapted for many situations and often can seem like a dark art to those who don’t know.
    Gain customer confidence and reach a “trusted advisor” position.
    Don’t oversell. There’s nothing worse than sending someone into a situation that they are not equipped to deal with.
    Train, train then train some more – Products change at an incredible rate. Keeping the sales team knowledgeable is a major challenge itself.

The list above is by no means exhaustive, I’ve tried to put down the elements that I think are most important to a successful services division.

Office 2010 Customised Install

If like me your memory sometimes fails you here is a quick step by step guide for creating a customised office 2010 deployment. Remember you need to have a VL edition, retail media does not include the admin folder.

1. Run Setup.exe –admin
2. Select Create a New Setup Customization file for the following product
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4. Click OK
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6. Select required document format
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8. Click Install Location and Organization
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10. Fill in as required
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12. If required specify network installation points
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17. Select the required features
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19. Configure outlook options
20. When complete select FILE SAVE AS
21. Save the file in the office source\update folder (.msp)

Document Automation

One of the requirements in my current role is to create a single set of content that can be re-branded to suit different providers.

In the past this has been accomplished by literally creating a new document with copy and paste used to move content with manual editing of styles etc.

How scale this out and it could be that a large amount of time is consumed by this (say 50 services x 50 partners, well thats alot of documents 2500 to be exact!). All of these documents would need to be proof read, version controlled and managed manually. If we estimated this at 15 minutes per document thats 83.3 Days of effort to create the document, let alone manage them going forward. So to combat this I’ve created a POC using mailmerge both in MS word 2010 and MS publisher 2010.

Word is usefull however its ability to handle images from a DB is limited.

Publisher can handle images stored in a DB as OLE, for the kind of document I need that should do the trick. The next piece of the puzzle is to see how to centrally control and manage the db 😉

Is VDI really a cost saver? Not according to MS

With the increase in MS licensing just around the corning I thought I would post this link to an interesting artlce by Brian Madden.

to VDI or not to VDI that is the question…

I still think it has its places along with BYOD, but again its business requiremends that determine if there is one ring to rule them or if you need to to use a blend.

http://www.brianmadden.com/blogs/brianmadden/archive/2010/11/19/microsoft-tco-study-vdi-is-11-more-expensive-than-traditional-pcs.aspx