The Right Way, and the Oh-So-Wrong Way, to Switch to a New iPhone

iPhone in your pocket? Don't get in that hot tub! But if you do, we'll show you how to switch to a new one the right way.

iPhone in your pocket? Don't get in that hot tub! But if you do, we'll show you how to switch to a new one the right way.

There’s a right way to switch to a new iPhone.  It takes a few minutes of your time, and saves you several, maybe dozens of hours of time.

Done wrong, you’ll be stressed, waste dozens of hours of your time, and possibly lose precious memories or important information.

The unfortunate reality is that most people do it wrong. In fact, I’ve been to over 50 Apple Stores in the US and abroad, and even several Verizon Wireless stores, and for some reason even though everyone seems to know how to switch the right way, not only did I never once hear a customer being told how to do it the right way, I almost never hear it being talked about at the Genius Bar or on the sales floor. 

So I’m going to show you the ultimate time-saver that can help you switch to a new iPhone seamlessly. Get the solution and the full story at Switcher Genius

(Click to jump to Switcher Genius) 

Make sure to sign up for Switcher Genius updates and get the entire video guide to switching iPhones.

Six Signs You've Been Suckered by Your IT

Snake oil, anyone? It's fixed-fee. Discounted. And guaranteed to make you ignore the pain.

Snake oil, anyone? It's fixed-fee. Discounted. And guaranteed to make you ignore the pain.

My jaw dropped and I almost choked on my drink when my friend told me why he kept his IT vendor around. “I don’t like them,” he said. “But their contract says…”

I can admit it freely now.  For most of my life I’ve been a patsy, or just plain naive. When I started my business, I needed help in a lot of basic areas where I didn’t want to hire a full-timer, or simply couldn’t afford one: Accounting, bookkeeping, legal, human resources. Like any entrepreneur, I just want to know that if a problem comes up, I have the right go-to person that will handle it, fast and expertly. I also want that person to check in with me from time to time and tell me things I don’t know but want or need to know.  That’s how I measure success of my service providers.

Things didn’t go too well. A controller recommended to me lied about her credentials. A lawyer I liked kept sending me documents riddled with typos. Annual documents didn’t get filed when they were supposed to, costing me hundreds of dollars. I paid way too much money for inept hires recruited by my HR person (did she actually know what I do?). I think my MBA just made things worse.  Instead of getting straight to the real issue, I hyper-analyzed what was going on. I would get on a call with one of these service providers, and actually try to help them by asking them about how they do doing things.

Screwed up?  Totally.  Should I care how a service provider to me does their work?  Absolutely not.

Fast forward 15 years. I’ve learned some lessons and also un-learned a lot of the academic nonsense that I picked up in business school. What I expect of any service provider I trust with my business is fast response, expert performance, and that they keep me informed proactively of what I have no idea to ask about. I have a lot of things to stay on top of, and they help me stay on top of each area I’m not an expert in. All the bozos and clowns are gone. My part-time long-term CFO and legal counsel are second to none, and I have a network of advisors that I’ve hand-picked who are better than me, teach me, mentor me, and help me stay ahead in the game of business.

Which is why I almost choked on the lime in my drink when my friend told me why he was keeping his IT people around, despite hating their guts. My friend is a pretty savvy entrepreneur, so I asked him some questions to understand this apparent relationship mismatch. What I wanted to know was, why do you stay with a provider you hate?

The answers I heard and the experiences shared with me told me that almost every entrepreneur experiences what I went through with my vendors 15 years ago, but much worse with IT.  Tech is the ultimate fog.  It’s goofy-complex, we’re ridiculously dependent on it, and at some point we need to place our trust in an IT person rather than do it ourself.  

The big irony of my learning here is that I didn’t realize just how bad it is for other entrepreneurs, because I never had to give up tech to someone else. Tech is what I do. On one hand, tech is way worse than law, accounting or HR. Getting advice on what corporate entity type is way easier to understand in most cases than figuring out what kind of IT system components are really best for the business. And the potential loss of money and time is so much greater if an IT system is screwed up.

So I’ve lined up the top six red flags that could mean you’re allowing yourself to be a sucker, or that your IT has you pegged as a sucker:

Sucker Warning #1: You keep them around because you like them.

Some of the absolute worst techs I’ve ever worked with were hired into “IT Manager” jobs by employers who liked their personalities. If they had asked me for a review of the tech, I would have told them that they were heading into a disaster. It always takes about 1-2 years for someone to figure out that just because you like the tech (or tech company) doesn’t mean it’s a fit.  Figure it out before it’s too late. 

Sucker Warning #2: Hope. 

When you keep a service provider around because you’re worried it’s going to be harder to find a new one, don’t.  You’re asking for trouble.  If you hope the provider will get better, you’re just delaying the inevitable. And if you’re not happy with them you’d be better off with no service while you find another provider.

Sucker warning #3: You don’t like them.

Again, it’s easy to procrastinate getting rid of someone because you’re worried about how hard it’s going to be to find someone decent and, hopefully better. I had this belief for years until I realized it’s a big market, and that you’ll find the exact service you want when you first define on paper exactly the kind of service you expect.

Sucker warning #4: They’re service vampires.

I hear this again and again, most recently from one of my neighbors who has a service provider that doesn’t actually do anything, cashes their monthly check, then charges them extras for responding to breakdowns.  Providers like this are sucking a business dry if they’re not advising the entrepreneur on things that can be done to prevent problems. It’s one thing to respond to an issue that you’ve already proposed a solution for that’s pending a decision, it’s another to sit back and wait for things to break.  The latter is as noble and the green scum that grows on the side of an aquarium.

Sucker warning #5: Service is random.

When a service provider doesn’t have a mission, or when the employees don’t know the mission, or don’t care about the mission, it’s pretty obvious.  Service is random. And the odds of getting a good guy (or gal) is about one in ten.  When you catch yourself wanting that one person, because on the inside you know you don’t trust anyone else, that’s a problem.

Sucker warning #6: They’re incompetent.

I talked with a business owner today who told me she went back to the same company three times, for the same service to migrate her PC to her Mac, including migrating her email from Outlook to Mac Mail, getting QuickBooks Pro running virtually, etc.  Each time she went to the company they told her they couldn’t get it working.  Three weeks later, with her patience gone and hundreds of dollar into service, she demanded a resolution, only to be told that they don’t have the capability she was looking for: Equal competence with both Mac and PC.  That provider wasted three weeks of her life. 

Your IT system should never be dependent on the service provider, but instead, your vision as an entrepreneur for what’s possible should be made possible by a service provider’s competence.  What to run Mac and PC?  Then you need someone who knows both.  Belief systems abound, and single-vendor specialties, like Mac only and Windows only, are limiting and ultimately damaging to a business.

Question of the day: As an entrepreneur, have you found danger signs or warnings that something is out of whack with your IT?  What were they? Please share in the comments, and feel free to ask questions in the comments as well, and I’ll respond to every one.

How I Lost Four Hours Every Day with an Apple Watch


People who know me know that I'm obsessed with time. I changed my email address from jcoleman to jc just so I could stop spelling my last name to people younger than baby boomers, saving me about 14 hours per year of spelling my name (spelling my name 12 x per day times 30 seconds of distraction adds up quickly).  That's one of the tricks I use for small business email naming to help give a company's employees back hundreds of hours per year instantly.

Several events in my life, some shocking, some beautiful, opened my eyes to the sheer scarcity of time that all of us face but that few recognize. When you realize that your life can be calculated in minutes, and every one of those minutes can never be recaptured, you start thinking about what's worthy of those precious moments in life.

I just boxed up my Apple Watch, slapped the return label on it, and I have never been happier to send a device back to its maker. Let me explain why.

I recently wrote about my Apple Watch conundrum. I totally didn't care about the device during its launch because of the sheer effort I have made to control all things tech and not let them erode my attention and time each day. But I decided to order one to get familiar with it. I'm constantly asked by business owners and executives about the potential benefits of cutting edge technologies, so I always experiment on myself first.

When I received the watch, I was immediately disappointed. Steve Jobs would have gone bananas over this design. It's boring. Clunky. Absolutely not sexy in any way whatsoever.  I bought the space gray with black band, thinking that black is safest in casual or dress clothes. Put simply, it's not a flattering timepiece at all. I own about 20 watches spanning four decades, and each watch has a particular style to it.  The form factor of the Apple Watch is closest to the clunky LED timex my grandfather wore in the late 70s.

Despite this, I started wearing it to test the features.  I paired it with my phone. Like the latest Apple TV build that's criticized so much, there's so much that's unintuitive about the watch. The user interface is a mess, unlike the iPhone which is ruled by some basic tenets of simplicity. The first thing I noticed was a very Mac-like implementation of handoff between my iPhone and Apple Watch.  I'm in front of my MacBook often, and with Apple's handoff I receive text messages on my display- extremely useful for me because everything in my life is protected by two-factor authentication; I need text messages to log into web sites, etc. where I have protected or controlled information.  

I noticed text messages, email and even Line messages (big in Japan) coming through to my Apple Watch just fine when my iPhone was within range.  I use Meraki in my home and office, so my WiFi range and connection is incredible.  I could leave my iPhone on my home office desk and walk out into the cul-de-sac or anywhere around the house and get texts and other communications fine on the watch.

But the design was still bugging me. I found out the next morning that Apple had taken inventory of Apple Watches in their stores for the first time since launching the device. I decided to reserve a silver with white band to see if it looked any better.  My thinking was that if one's going to wear a technical device, maybe silver will look more appropriate given it's high-tech nature.  When I arrived at the store I was totally disappointed. Not just in that the silver and white watch looked ridiculous, like something only a teenage kid with zero fashion sense would want to wear, but the overall shopping experience at Apple was completely the opposite of what I had come to expect after all these years.  

The girl I was handed off to at the end of the customer baton relay starting at the front door had zero empathy.  I was looking at watches, a highly personal thing, and she was clearly disinterested in me, my interests, opinions or anything else for that matter. I had both my black Apple Watch and my Omega Seamaster with me, so I could compare the other watches and try to find a match that would work for me.  I asked to see the stainless steel Apple Watch that retails for $1000.  I decided well in advance I would never buy it. The technology in mobile is evolving so fast that any purchase today will be obsolete in a matter of months. But I wanted to see the stainless steel band, and experience the design that Jony Ive and team had invested so much energy and effort into these past few years.

When I picked up the stainless steel watch, the first thing I noticed was that it didn't feel substantial.  It felt weak. Trivial. Cheap even.  I have two Japanese watches, a Seiko and a Casio, both with stainless steel bands dramatically more fluid, much stronger and more beautifully polished. When I tried to close the latch I noticed that it wasn't an intuitive close.  This completely shocked me.  When I bought my Omega Seamaster in 1999 the first thing I noticed was that closing the band latch, including the built-in extension designed to extend the band around a wetsuit, was intuitive and simple.  I didn't read an instruction manual, I just did it.  The first time.  It was like muscle memory, without any prior practice.

The Apple Watch was not like that experience.  I had to think about it.  I didn't like it. It felt awkward, and it felt cheap.  But I knew that Apple was charging a $600 premium for just the band and the sapphire crystal glass on the watch.  The girl at the Apple Store validated that indeed those two features were the only features that justified the $600 premium.  When I asked about keeping the band and moving it to the next Apple Watch when Apple changes their technology in 6-12 months, she replied, "Apple hasn't said anything about that, we know nothing."  I was silent. She looked at me with impatience.  I noticed that most of the kids on the floor had the same look working with their customers.  Their jobs just changed from helping people with computers to helping people with jewelry.  It's a dramatically different job now.

As much of a fan boy I am of Apple products, I had never in my life been more convicted at that time that I had zero interest in any of the watches from a design perspective.  So I thanked the girl, who grunted an acknowledgement of sorts, and left the store to get on with my day.  I decided to try the black Apple Watch for a few more days.

Then yesterday something happened. I spent a few hours at the pool with my son, followed by a few hours at my office followed by a few hours at my home office.  During the day I received the same amount of text messages I normally receive, about 99% of which do not need an immediate response. In fact, most of the texts I receive are in lieu of email and could be responded to later that day or even tomorrow.  No one I know has the expectation of a response, if they did, they would call me instead.

The haptic touch system kept tapping my wrist.  I would be writing an email and... TAP TAP TAP... I stopped and looked at my watch. Realizing it wasn't important I tried getting back to the email I was writing that was, and had to stop and reclock my thinking.  What was I writing and where was my train of thought?  Then again TAP TAP TAP... another message interrupted me. 

This continued throughout the day.  By 8PM I was sitting with my wife, reflecting over the day, and I realized I could not for the life of me recall what I had accomplished.  This is unusual, because I usually journal every day, and I always tend to get done what I set out to do.  But my conscious mind was fried.  I couldn't remember anything.  The watch had interrupted me every few minutes throughout the entire day.

I took it off and put it on the counter.  I had an immediate sense of relief.  The irony is that I had bought the watch thinking that the reminders with Omnifocus would be helpful in keeping me on track.  Instead I found that the watch was the greatest distraction with the most potential for absolute destruction of personal productivity of anything I had ever encountered.  I added up the number of times I was distracted and multiplied it by the number of minutes I had to refocus on any given matter at hand. By my most conservative estimate I lost four hours of my day. Over a year, that's 1460 distracted, wasted hours. That's almost an entire work year.

This is simply a push vs. pull issue.  I turn off all notifications on my phone on all apps. No banners, beeps or chirps.  My phone calls and text messages are the only things that chirp, and I learn to ignore them except for when I want to check them.  The watch is a completely different animal.  It's on your wrist.  While I could learn to ignore it, or tune it down, what would be the point?  At that point I have my phone, and a very expensive toy on my wrist that I wouldn't use.

Tonight I was listening to an episode of the Random Show with Kevin Rose and Tim Ferriss, and I was pleasantly surprised to realize I'm not alone in hating tech. It's getting downright ridiculous. Kevin and Tim reflected on how sheerly stupid it is to have a device on your body tell you things, like "Stand up" or "Your heart rate is elevated" when you're working out.

Many folks believe Apple will continue to refine the device and will ultimately create something every special.  I question whether or not we really need to go there. Right now, in my humble opinion, Apple has created a device that is distracting, incomplete, ugly and downright destructive to productivity. But the door to wearable tech has been opened in the marketplace, and so the players will play.  I really like my iPhone 6 Plus, and I seriously love my MacBook Pro Retina 13". Both devices are best in class, and no other tech compares.  The watch was a real disappointment to me, but I'm probably not the target audience, or the watch hasn't advanced sufficiently yet.

My Apple Watch is going back to Apple tomorrow. I can't see anyone truly enjoying the device other than some of my geek friends, and the brand loyalists who will pay premium prices for any device Apple produces, even if the device will ultimately be disposed of.

The camera that flies itself

The LILY drone, a self-piloting photo and video drone that can follow you around.  Check out my detailed post here at Family Photo Care, or go straight to the LILY site here.

The LILY drone, a self-piloting photo and video drone that can follow you around.  Check out my detailed post here at Family Photo Care, or go straight to the LILY site here.

Ok, as soon as I saw this I realized we're not that far away from a lightsaber training droid (read = drone). #happyjames

I have oodles of fun with my four-year-old boy with my Parrot Drone out in front of our house. Since I bought the wifi extender it's been almost silly getting up to several hundred feet and looking down at myself in HD.

A friend just turned me on to the LILY, a self-flying, selfie-taking, HD-video and 12MP camera enabled drone that also happens to be waterproof.  I just wrote about it and posted a cool video over at the Family Photo Care blog.

My mind has been running nonstop with the possibilities. I'm certain it's going to get very out of hand very quickly.  I just pre-ordered mine while it's still at the $499 price-point (it's going up as high as $999 after June 15).

protecting precious memories doesn't happen by accident. Losing them does.

Gregory Coleman atop Tahquitz rock- rock climber, teacher, classical guitarist and my dad - not long before we lost him in 2005. This is one of my most cherished pictures and memories of him, and I protect it along with all my family photos and videos.

Want to learn everything about your photos and videos, including how to protect them? Awesome. Because I'm starting a newsletter and a blog on the topic. Email me here if you're interested in learning anything about photos and videos

Around 2003 I really got into photos and videos.  First with my iPhone. Then I bought my first Canon DSLR (you know, the big camera with interchangeable lenses).  It was partially because my dad got really sick and I wanted all the memories I could possibly have of him with family. Then I had my first son in 2010. I don't regret for a moment the amount I've spent on digital cameras and iPhones, constantly upgrading for better pictures. I've probably taken about 200,000 photos in the past 10 years. Seriously. I'm not kidding.

Now every few months my wife comes to me with her iPhone and I get to do the ritualistic offloading of photos and videos- and even though she now has a 128GB iPhone 6 Plus, it keeps filling up. One day several months ago we were driving up to San Francisco and I was telling her about what I'm up to at TechRoom. Mostly stuff for small businesses, really. She looked at me and asked one question: James, where are all our photos?  That was it. Short and sweet.  Her point was: I want to start enjoying 100% of our family photos and videos, anywhere, anytime. You have the technology, you have the skill, and you're going to make it happen, Now, dammit.

I love taking pictures of food.  I took this in Japan about two weeks ago with family at a sushi bar in Kitashinchi, Osaka, Japan.

I got obsessed. Photography was a hobby already, and then I realized I could combine it with what I love about my work: Helping people learn and enjoy all their tech stuff.  I started exploring and teaching myself everything there was to know about storing, accessing, enjoying, and backing up photos and videos.  I've worked for a lot of fun customers who routinely travel the world and come back with thousands of photos per week. I help them get their workflows together and show them how to protect it all so they would never lose a single shot that mattered.  

How could I not help my family enjoy all our family memories?

I spent the last couple years nerding out on everything to do with digital photos and videos, and even music. I learned how to transform all my old boxes of slides, film and printed photos, and I learned how to deal with videos, including VHS and even older- getting them into iTunes. It is awesome to have a 1930s rip of my grandpa's guitar music when he was rocking out in high school, hand-pressed to vinyl in Los Angeles, now imported into iTunes. Even better, I can pull up pictures on my Mac of grandpa (Ervan "Bud" Coleman) in the white house with the Tijuana Brass entertaining Mr. President.

Analog to digital was just the start. Getting a few terabytes of home videos including all our TV recordings available to stream out of the house to anywhere we are in the world was next.  And I can do all of it without the bugs and other shenanigans, restrictions and various issues that can come with relying on Apple's iCloud.  Note: I do use iCloud, but I don't rely on it and I don't put all my stuff there- but that's for a future blog post.

My sweet setup.  A 27" Ultra-HD display powered by a Mac Mini (hidden in the drawer) and a Pegasus 2 RAID.  I saved money where it matters and invested where it counts. And my wife is beyond happy, which is what matters most.

So I started a web site dedicated to helping people get all their photos and videos under control:  It's a site dedicated to sharing everything I've learned through a combination of free resources and also through books, videos and training. My goal is to help non-techies learn how to do it themselves.  I simply can't imagine sitting in a mall having people looking over my shoulder while some kid tries to teach me about an application while he simultaneously tells me that can't talk about other non-Apple products that I need to know about.  

I've been helping some of our customers at TechRoom build simple, awesome photo and video systems in their home that they can use to collect, organize, enjoy and protect all the family memories, photos and videos their care about. Now I'm going to take that to the next level with

I'm starting a newsletter all about the topic of photos and videos.  If you want in on it, send me an email to Let me know what you want to learn!

Are you a Sheep or VIP? An important update from TechRoom

Are you a sheep or a VIP? Don't waste your time on trips to the mall when there is a better option: Tap the Concierge Bell.

Are you a sheep or a VIP? Don't waste your time on trips to the mall when there is a better option: Tap the Concierge Bell.

Hey, it’s James Coleman from TechRoom, and I’ve got an important update to share with you.

Five years ago a lot of us were OK standing in line at a Genius Bar for hours dealing with a computer issue. But it’s 2015. Schlepping your stuff through the mall isn’t cool and it’s not productive. 

Now we have other things to worry about, like the biggest companies on earth getting hacked while we keep putting more of our stuff - work documents and family photos, even our identities - on their systems. How do we enjoy everything technology offers and still protect ourselves? 

People really want to talk to someone at their level about their tech problems. So we’ve made some changes for you:

It’s 2015, and you need a tech sherpa to avoid 21st century disasters. I want to be your guide, and my team wants to help you, your family and your business avoid modern problems.

I would love to reconnect and keep in touch. Connect with me on LinkedIn, and definitely add yourself to my email list. I'm going to provide 100X more value to you with the emails and updates I share than any tech you've ever hired possibly could.

The watch conundrum

It's a full 5 days after the first Apple Watches started showing up.  I was in Japan traveling when the pre-orders started.  I remember right about midnight Pacific Time thinking 'I'm going to sit this one out'.

There are a lot of reasons I don't want the watch. 

  1. I spend a lot of mental energy trying to remain focused.  I have enough things distracting me, and enough self-help systems from my Mac and my iPhone 6 (plus).  I don't need more distractions.
  2. I love my Omega Seamaster.  I've owned it since 1999, and it powers itself, thanks to some 16th century monks' inventions. That's how Dad did it, that's how American does it, and it's worked out pretty well so far.
  3. The watch is ugly. I'm not the least sorry to say, it's not a good looking watch.  The Japanese called, and they want their 1980s calculator otaku wristwatch back.

Then my friend called me today from his watch.  Actually, he called me back just to show me how well it worked.  Thanks, David.  At that moment every mutant nerd chromosome in my body fired simultaneously.  I must have it

I continue to both love and hate the fact that Apple is nailing it.  And it's almost hilarious to me that the industry has been listening to really loud rumors for two years about the forthcoming Apple watch, and now it's like every predecessor doesn't even exist.  Apple is already a decade ahead of them, even with the bugs.

I admit it.  The watch is actually pretty cool.

Get rid of that old paper

After you pick up that new ScanSnap, you'll find yourself with lots of extra paper to get rid of, instead of letting it take over all your free space.  This weekend I found another paper-shredding company here in the OC: Shred-wise (links to site).  You can watch your paper being shredding on-the-spot, and they'll provide you a certificate of destruction.  And George (in the video) is a great guy.  They're open for drop-offs on the weekends, just be sure to call in advance and show up with plenty of time before they close.

A Brief Introduction From Your New IT Guy

Please start by calling me Your TechRoom Concierge I am at your service.


Let’s start with why I’m here. Management added new accountabilities and competencies to the job qualifications of IT guy beyond the basic technical skills like repair, updates and networking. Diplomacy, tact and credibility have been added to the job requirements, as have sincerity and kindness. My job is to manage and redesign the IT system into one that enables everyone in this company, in every role, to create the best customer experience possible, as much as possible, and this means never having to spend more than a minute of your week dealing with a technology issue.

IT is an investment in you. One of the prerequisite conditions I had in accepting this position is the latitude to deal with the habits, attitudes and beliefs of the prior IT resources head on. The management team invests in IT as a tool for you to be more effective, and my job is to ensure that you have the skills and experience needed to use it well.  Other IT departments count the number of service requests by the employees to justify jobs and IT budgets. Effective immediately we’re changing that. We’re going to look at service requests as either 1) a defect in the IT infrastructure we’re responsible for managing or 2) a training opportunity to improve your skills to use the system. 

Our jobs in IT will shift from 95% fixing problems to 95% problem-prevention, starting with training.  Proactively enabling you to be successful in your jobs by being more self-sufficient and more effective is our mission.

The new measure of IT performance. Net Promoter is used with our customers externally, and I see no reason why we shouldn’t use it internally as well.  Effective immediately, every service request will be followed up with a completely confidential two question survey that will bypass me and go straight to the CEO, who has committed to me that she will read every survey personally.  Question #1: On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to recommend your IT department to a coworker or colleague?  Question #2: What would you change, if anything, that would improve the score?

There are no IT standards, there are only company standards.  Moving forward, all aspects of the IT system, including the appropriate use of controlled systems to the use and consumption of peripherals will tie directly to an employee and their manager’s performance, but not one in IT is a judge, jury or even police officer. 

Every “standard” associated with IT must be directly the result of a requirement by the CEO, CFO, or COO, including security standards like passwords and acceptable use polices.  All reporting regarding the appropriate or inappropriate use of IT will now automatically be provided to managers, and to their managers, all the way up to the CEO and executive management team. These reports will no longer be owned by IT.  Every standards that IT is responsible for implementing must tie directly back to our vision, mission and priorities as a company. That way both IT user and IT Concierge will be on the same page whenever we’re training on or supporting a system and the standards that it supports.  

And I heard about the password problems. I’ve already found a great solution that will satisfy the company’s security requirements and make it easier on you as well. While it won’t necessarily make everyone happy, it’s a solution that most everyone will be content with so we can move on to important things, like acquiring and satisfying more customers.

I heard about the contempt and cynicism many of you experienced with the last IT guy. Please realize that he’s out the door and the attitude along with him. I’m Your TechRoom Concierge and I’m at your service, and I look forward to meeting you.

What procrastination can cost you

Usually the nagging feeling you have about your tech service is right, and what you know is usually just the tip of the iceberg

Usually the nagging feeling you have about your tech service is right, and what you know is usually just the tip of the iceberg

I was recently referred into a law practice with about 20 employees by another attorney.  One of the managing partners expressed their frustration to the attorney that referred us.  Everyone in the firm was frustrated with issues that seemed to be occurring over and over again: Phones were regularly losing dial tone. Calls were even being cut off in the middle of conversations. Employees were unable to print regularly. Email and calendars were problematic.

Before my initial visit to the firm, the partners asked me to review the invoices they had paid to their IT vendor over the past year. I did, and during my visit with them they asked what I thought of the invoices.

My response was not what they expected; Instead of focusing on how much they were being charged, I responded with what I thought was far, far worse for the firm. I shared: "Over 90% of the work described on these invoices is to correct the same set of symptoms related to the phones, email and printing issues. There is no solution outlined or presented to you for review and consideration, and no project work to implement a solution to prevent the problems. The other 10% appears to be recurring charges for monitoring."

Why this was worse was what I explained next. "The cost to the firm associated with each of these events is roughly 15-20X the cost of each hour you've been invoiced for. Each one of the paralegals and office employees is supporting one or more attorneys. If they can't work, the attorneys become delayed and there's friction in the office.  Each person who's not an attorney is taking 2-3X longer to get things done, and days are constantly interrupted, with distraction costing about 50% of their day.  If things are taking that much longer with a 50% day, you're paying for 8 hours and probably getting at best 1-2 hours of utilization. And each attorney is losing at least two billable hours for every hour of disruption.  Multiply that times 6 attorneys and that one tech issue - it's costing you about $3000 per hour."  The looks on their faces was both knowing and at the same time shocked and disgusted.  They knew this was an issue, but rarely, especially when people are busy, do you stop to ask what it's really costing you.

It was about two months later after my proposal to replace their IT service that I received the call. The pain had finally become too great.  In my estimation, the additional two months probably cost them more in billable hours and FTE hours paid than the entire years' worth of invoices from their prior IT vendor.  Why did they wait?

For many business owners and managers, it's extremely hard to take action regarding a poorly performing resource. It's a natural problem that nearly all managers, owners and principals are confronted with their entire careers: The pain of letting go of someone seems higher than just putting it off a little longer.  "I'll deal with it later," that classic decree of procrastination, allows us to tuck the thought away so we can focus on things that appear more pressing.

Do you have a poorly performing resource? Ask yourself: Are you putting off the inevitable?

Next, ask yourself, what is the real cost of putting off the inevitable? What else is there that you don't know that's likely a problem too?  Often we're only aware of what we're feeling.  When it's time to inspect, the results always present what we already suspected. Ask yourself: What would you save by dealing with it now and righting the situation?

If you believe you may have an issue with an underperforming tech resource, whether it's an employee or a consultant or a company, that needs to be dealt with, please feel free to contact me for a confidential call to discuss the situation.  The benefit to you and your firm from taking action is worth your time.