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.

Last year we went into depth on how we prepare our metrics and some of the internal processes we go through to drive sales growth and evaluate our progress. Go back and read last year’s article if you haven’t already. This year our team has spent more time together collectively on our planning process than ever before and have an exciting new outlook on our future.

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This past September we began discussing On-premise vs. Cloud  where we shared our point of view that moving everything into the cloud should start with a hybrid approach.

Most small businesses have already begun a hybrid approach if they use Office 365 or an online storage service like Dropbox. Our goal for this month’s article is to paint a picture of how a small business typically implements their network with on-premise technology and how they can begin a transition if it makes sense. We also want to continue outlining some great new tools available from Microsoft’s Azure cloud so you can get a general idea of what a public cloud offers outside of the more commonly discussed storage or server solutions.

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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.

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In our 3rd newsletter article we published back in Feb of 2013 on disaster recovery planning we talked about how managed service providers (MSP’s) structure their business with a technology consulting role to help small businesses understand their technology options when planning for a disaster.

here: http://www.attentus.com/?p=357. A few months later we published another newsletter article titled “Backup & Recovery Strategies” where we explained our perspective on backups and how this aligns with a disaster recovery plan.

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Cyber Security attacks dominated the news in 2014 involving Home Depot, Sony, Target, and JPMorgan Chase along with the various vulnerabilities that rattled I.T. departments such as the OpenSSL Heartbleed, SSL 3.0 Poodle, and Shellshock to name a few. We mostly hear about these larger scale attacks because they impact big business, but this trend is slowly changing as cybercriminals are finding it easier to attack small businesses.

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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. To a certain extent this is true with Microsoft owning the majority of the consumer market since the beginning. Not only have they been wildly successful and invested a ton of money into software, Microsoft has hired some of the most intelligent engineers and business leaders in the world to stay competitive.

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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.

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For the past 12+ years Digux has met with numerous business owners to try and help educate them about the different choices they have when buying I.T. support. Within this article we are hoping to teach those who are considering a change and or perhaps help someone who is in the process of meeting with us and trying to decide which direction to go to give them the ability to make a sound decision. None the less, whatever situation you are in, the buying process definitely gives a person a lot to think about so our goal is to help readers see the ‘forest for the trees’ per say and make it simple to understand because really at the end of the day most business owner’s just want to enjoy their business, make more money, be successful, and spend more time doing the things they love.

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Since the very beginning of Digux we have created a business plan. Each year our business planning process has improved dramatically (This is an understatement). For 2015’s business plan we spent triple the amount of time and the result of this effort has made our vision for the future far more attainable and realistic than before. To be respectful of everyone’s time today we will not outline all of the steps we take to develop our business plan, but we will share several important aspects to give our readers a basic idea of our process then share some of the initiatives we have set for 2015.

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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.

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The challenge we face as small business owners is knowing all the moving parts in our business and how each component can impact the top and bottom line. Developing metrics around the business model is extremely important so we can make decisions based on the numbers and not necessarily on the feelings we get. If we zoom out and look at an I.T. company from a 30,000ft perspective we have many factors to consider when calculating metrics such as the operations, revenue, expenses, profit, the organization, sales, etc. We could spend days diving into all the different facets of an I.T. company and would love to do that, but today we want to go a few layers deep into the operations division.

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The answer is obvious to us because we eat, sleep, and drink our outsourced proactive I.T. service, but the idea from our experience for some small business owners to commit to a new solution that costs more each month and requires a change from what they already know in terms of how they buy I.T. services brings up a lot of questions and can be a scary concept. Note: Go to our web-site www.attentus.tech and click on the WHAT WE DO link and read "How can I.T. be Proactive". This includes some additional information. Typically when a person thinks of I.T. services they think of ‘technology’ which is a natural thought process of course.

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The time has finally come in our opinion where technology has advanced far enough along for us to feel confident in having one computer to accomplish all of our goals in a versatile way weather we are at our home, office, or local coffee shop. The common thought or response we typically get from people after reading our above comment is: “We use a laptop! Those have been around for 20 years and a laptop is not new ground breaking technology!” Well yes. That answer is correct -- people have been traveling around using a laptop in many different ways.

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