Its Been a while

Wow, long time since my last post. I guess its a mix of being busy on projects and being completely uninspired when it comes to writing any thing up here. This occurs mostly in the winter when I feel drained, and this winter has been pretty bad on me when it comes to my mental health. Thankfully we press through and just get stuff done.

Here at BITtelligent we focus on so many different things, and at times its hard to determine where the next focus point needs to be. Being a jack of all, with some razor focus on the SalesLogix product line I sometimes get lost without regards to the bigger picture. BITtelligent has become quite successful of late of SalesLogix web upgrades and almost have it down to a Science.

Over the next few months I hope to provide more details on the BITtelligent Integration Toolkit. A platform and set of services for creating custom/standalone integrations to various systems. Shortly we will be delivering our first mini-integration providing Microsoft Exchange to SalesLogix Ticket and History. We are very excited by these mini platform releases and hope to have a series of releases each year.

I will also be delving into SalesLogix 8. I have been fortunate enough to work with the team in Scottsdale on the product and provide hopefully great insight on how to get the most out of the platform.

Finally we at BITtelliigent will be adding some external competencies around ERP synchronizations specifically MAS90/200 and MAS500 through Dynalink and ERPLink product lines. Focusing on aiding support to the business partner and end customer community to get running and maintaining a working synchronization process.

Meeting by the Lake

Having a beer, sitting in the sun by the lake I met with Barnaby Jeans, a Microsoft Senior Development Evangelist. It was an adhoc meeting after Cory Fowler, my web developer introduced us virtually.

It is a beautiful sunny day here in Cambridge, and in the relaxed setting of the lake the conversation jumped from subject to subject. It was great to speak with Barnaby and for me he provided some insight to some of the technologies that I had yet to GROK in a meaningful way. I really like that the conversation had nothing to do with the purchasing a product, or pushing a specific solution but an open and frank communication, much of the time were I was leading and Barnaby was just listening, and absorbing my thoughts. Those who now me personally understand how frank I can be.

I have had one misconception that I wanted to clear up here with regards to Microsoft Azure. Up to this point I had this notion that Azure changes some of my development processes and that the code we write would need to target Azure specifically. I am very pleased to see that this is not a true statement and its quite possible to host a 3.5/4.0 framework based web up unchanged (except for web config changes to point to the DB).

So this left me with Azure being more of a deployment/IT thing then specifically a development concern. Some of the current products I work on cannot still host within Azure (Barnaby will get back to me) due to some legacy COM infrastructure but from a new development side the platform became a little more compelling.

Now I have to work out the dollars and cents and ensure that from business standpoint the hosting/communication costs and SQL costs justify a move over to Azure for our website.

I appreciate Barnaby‚Äôs time and look forward to further conversations. Of late I have been having a bit of concern on execution especially around  the new platforms that are coming out from the competitors, but I am still pretty much a Microsoft Stack guy.

My Kung Fu is Strong

Ya, a goofy title, I agree.

This post is somewhat a rant and I hope that it is received well. I generally get many, many requests on how to do something on SalesLogix web platform, or coding in general. I have not really a problem with the questions that are directed as could you point me in the right direction, or what are your thoughts. I do however have a problem with the requests that come in for full working examples of functionality. The reason I have problems is that for the most part its pushing the development and and training effort on me. The fact that I may have the ability to create the solution quicker does not negate that there are real hard costs to making the solution work, generally of which the requester is working on a billing project. Creating this examples can take anywhere from an hour to many hours, I have even had request for work that would take days to provide a solution. For the most part those who also request are not supporters of the community and are only looking for a quick solution to something that is racking their brain.

This is where I remind those who request these working samples that software development is what I do. These things you request are things that I have personally had to learn and invest my time into. I am in no way compensated by Sage to support the community, there is no MVP program, or recognition system. I have to pay to be a partner, for my development software and all of the books that I read to ensure that I keep ahead of the curve. The other thing to keep in mind that I have work commitments like the rest of you to deliver code as expediently as possible and creating these samples pushes billable hours, and can encroach on the little family time left.

I have been toying with a couple of ideas, and would appreciate some feedback to what you dear reader think of the feasibility.

1. Create and distribute a monthly SalesLogix web Journal for a sum of $ per year (Good Idea, what would you be willing to pay)

2. Create a training video subscription that includes web, mobile, C#, debugging topics (Good Idea, what would you be willing to pay)

3. Developer on hand program. For those that only need a few hours per month a way to have direct access and get the coding samples you need but would pay for them

4. Fly on the Wall training. When doing an engagement having web ex meetings on specific items to have a developer watch and mentor around the most difficult parts to be delivered.

5. Architectural review and pre-engagement consulting

I really think that all 5 are advantages for any BP looking to be able to do more web business even if they do not have the core developer completely up to speed on the web development. It also allows you to tie the costs to a development and not have more bench time to finance.

Some of the other things I am trying to gauge and hopefully you can provide some feed back is around specific community needs.

1. Do you see a need for Mobile Development Book if so would you buy one and what would your expectation of price.

2. Do you see a need for more mobile training outside of what Sage provides.

3. Do you see a need for virtual events where several industry notables (Ryan Farley, Stephen Redmond, and Me ) provide special event training. Is this something you would attend?

4. What gaps do you see in tooling. documentation, training, support, and development do you see that would make your life much easier to deliver compelling solutions.

If something I provide helps you please also do send me a small email and let me know. Its always good to hear feedback.

Thanks for reading, If you have any thoughts please email me at mark.dykun@BITtelligentdev.com or give me a call at 519.260.0999. 

Some Thoughts – October 7

Each day I watch as the Financial Crisis trickles through the different facets of our day to day lives and each night I concern myself with the knowledge that that this time is a game changer for many. Its not really important from the standpoint of the effects on my retirement savings but more so on shaping my core philosophies as a small business owner. We are in, or going in to a belt tightening  time where businesses and consumers are going to be much more pragmatic about where they spend those critical resource dollars. A time when efforts will and should be scrutinized to ensure the highest level of value for work done. I am leading into the notion that not only should banks, and financial institutions that hold the keys to so many lives look into and implement the regulation needed but also businesses as a whole, big and small.

As a point of fact:

Within Canada we have a retail chain called ‘Canadian Tire’. It has been a bellwether for so many years where people would take their car to get serviced. I even remember taking my first car, a Ford Exp (Pseudo 2 seater sports car) in to get services some 23 years ago. They were know for value and getting the job done. For me as a customer that had changed this year when I when into get some work done on my car with a valid estimate in hand. Coming back to pick up my car after the work was done yielded a 33%. The changer was explained as it too the Tech longer to complete the job then was quoted. Being in the Consulting business and working with Software for so many years I know that there are times that things can take longer then expected however I wanted to know a little more.

Canadian Tire it seems has moved over to a ‘Piece Work’ model where there tech’s are paid for the number of billable hours. Now the fact that this model is employed allows for ‘leakage’ and what I mean by leakage is; say they take your car into the shop look at it and decide that they need to order a part. They order that part that can take several hours to get there and instead of taking the service work off the clock they will continue to charge while the car sits there without any work being completed.

This roughly equates to if I take a contract and look over a clients database, and or specs and park the work for a while and continue to charge while I am on a different contact. For me this seems unethical and the model flawed from the customers standpoint.

I will no longer use Canadian Tire for any of my business for the simple fact that I do not believe that they are working from a customer centered standpoint and keeping my interests in mind.

The model for many businesses will have to change I think from a perceived value to an actual work value. This can have the chilling effect on some businesses that have a higher overhead and pay for those costs outside of the hours that are direct tied to resource work. The other effect is that the work (at least in my business) does not have to be completed within the building, City, state/province or country that the business is in. One thing is for sure Businesses will require a tighter level of information control where the identifying the Target Client Base becomes so much more important.

I run an actual value business, in that I charge for each hour worked. I do not charger for the perceived value of the work I do as that is such a speculative point. I have and continue to take work that ranges from 4 hours to months on a broad and varied group of technologies. I also am always open to discuss  issues, product and development and supporting my community to a point where I will pick up a phone and call someone on the newsgroups who has a problem and help walk through a solution at my own efforts/costs. I believe its good to be good and going out of your way is what makes you/and your company exceptional.

In light of the direction the global economy is going, are you changing your business practices. Are you focusing on customer first billing. Are you setting up practices and policies to ensure that your customers can continue to move forward as a partner?