Thursday, July 23, 2015

Avoiding the ‘Jack of All Trades, Master of None’ Approach

As a member of a professional services group within an IT sales organization, my team’s focus is on evaluating our customer’s business problems and engineering solutions in the form of products and services we offer in order to fix the issue.  We are, by definition, “problem solvers.”  This reminds me of the old adage, “there is more than one way to skin a cat.”  Well Mr. Customer, there is more than one way to solve your storage issue, more than one way to clear up that excessive network traffic, and more than one way to leverage virtualization to increase consolidation and availability.

Between application and operating system software, networking, compute, and storage hardware, there are hundreds of thousands of products one can choose from.  How can we be experts in all of them?  Quite simply, we can’t, you can’t, and no one organization can, without employing hundreds of people to match the product counts. It’s just not feasible in most IT sales organizations, which are typically small to medium sized businesses. If they aren’t careful, this leads to simply having employees who have about kiddie pool’s depth in knowledge about a vast number of technologies instead of specializing in a select few.

Since we want to avoid this “jack of all trades” approach, we have chosen to be diligent in our selection of the hardware and software products that we recommend to business owners so that we can “master” those that we do offer.  As a sales team, we must be able to show the value or ROI of the purchase, implement the solutions in professional services roles, and support the customer post-sale with knowledge and possibly more professional services as the environment grows.  As an organization, we must maintain strong relationships with the manufacturer’s technical resources to overcome problems that will most certainly arise.

Our engineers spend their hours on training, using, patching, identifying bugs as well as fixes, and vetting the products so that we can solve problems before or as they occur.  We choose to hone our skills on a concise portfolio because we know the dangers of trying to be everything to everyone.  Even with all our focused efforts, do we know it all?  Not a chance, but we will also work for you to find answers when we don’t.  While there are many similarities we can assimilate, every environment our products go into will have its own priorities, flaws, designs, and problems.

Outside of buying the tangible product, we find that many organizations struggle because they set out to install new applications or hardware without sufficiently planning for the intangible side: Implementation!  Likely your pre-planning includes how your own IT staff will manage the products in your environment once they are installed, but does that mean they can implement without any experience or manage it without training?  Just like engineers, IT staff members can’t possibly know how to use every product either.  There are not enough hours in the day.   The actual cost to a business to fix a botched implementation, not only in manpower but also in lost productivity or downtime, far exceeds the cost to plan and include the services of expert users ahead of time. Using experienced engineers in an onsite or remote fashion for best practices and “I learned it the hard way” advice to your staff is valuable training that you won’t get from a pre-installation checklist.

Great Lakes Computer is proud to offer our customers professional services, including, but not limited to the following products in our portfolio: VMware, Microsoft, Juniper Networks, Palo Alto Networks, Aruba Networks, Cisco, Fortinet, Nimble Storage, Pure Storage, Veeam, and Unitrends solutions.   Please consider engaging our engineering staff on the front end, in tandem with your IT administrators, or as a supplement to a short staff that might not have the resources to get the project up and running to meet deadlines.   We truly are a partnership that can springboard your next implementation to success!

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