Hi people, I wanted to take this opportunity and share my toolbox and workflow with you. In case you don’t know who I am and what I do here is a quick reference note.
What I do and who I am:
I’m a Lead Technical consultant specialized in Cisco Unified Communications and Collaboration (a mouthful, but really cool stuff … that, I can assure you!) – yes I do some other stuff but I could not call myself an expert, such as in routing & switching, Network design and architecture. I’m learning a bit more about security, which I though I knew something but not really!
Some Background on UC & Collaboration Consulting
I prepare myself for client engagements in need of a really cools solution that involve Cisco UC and Collaboration, so there are different branches that I’d like to point out and to specify the type of engagements (See the last part). Also I wanted to share part of my workflow, which is helping me to get a bit more organized. Off course this is not all my workflow, sometimes I have to wear many other hats like most of you all do.
My tools are all over the place but help me to be more efficient, in case you want to share your success and tolls that you use, please feel free to email me or comment on this blog, I’m open to critics and recommendations.
Workflow and some tools:
Here is a bit on client/customer engagements and tools that I use to be more effective and to get the most results.
So my first contact with the customer is an introductory one, go over the type of business, know what the customer does in order to be profitable.
Listen, yes listen, wait… don’t listen to respond; listen to understand* (you know you know your stuff, no need to impress nobody, by responding while the customer is talking may be dangerous, be careful) *this one was just stolen from a wise co-worker I have.
Understand the business needs, budgets. Who wants your product in their company? There has to be a good reason why they are taking the time to meet you in person or over the phone.
- A good application to take notes (EVERNOTE)
- A good application to screen business cards and send my contact information back (EVERNOTE)
- Want to show proven designs to the customer on the first meeting, don’t worry, use your preferred Tablet and show off your Visio skills (IPAD)
- Want to be able to whiteboard, use your tablet (PAPER by 53)
- Demo your product if possible (JABBER on IPHONE, IPAD or ANDROID device is a killer on your first visit)
Back to the Office:
- Now you are back in your office and with lots of great ideas to present to your customer.
- Create a quick quote (CCW)
- Create a Visio Diagram and make it a PDF (Microsoft VISIO)
- Create a proposal, this one should include what you are offering and what you understood from the first meeting
- Review with your peers, hopefully they have some experience with UC, if not there are also other things that they can point out, many will tell you if you allocated enough time to do this or that, they have been in the woods too!!! (SHAREPOINT)
Present your proposal:
Once its reviewed, make sure you review it again…
- Coordinate a visit with your customer again or just present by using WebEx (Yes show off that you have WebEx)
- Again and again, listen to the customer, there are many things that he will like added or removed.
- Get more information and generate ideas.
- Customer wants to all that stuff in action? Schedule a demo (DCLOUD.CISCO.COM)
After all these different stages the customer will decide if they want to go with you or with a competitor, they like to feel that you know your stuff and that you were able to understand their needs.
Follow up but make sure you are engaged with an Account Manager, so that way the Account Manager is aware of what is going on. You don’t care if the AM will get bored with all the techie stuff (Make them suffer… not really but just make sure they are on the loop)
Tools (MAC and Windows):
Text Wrangler: this is my best friend, I use it to play with my configs before I screw something up.
CORD: Remote application, like Remote Desktop for Windows
Angry IP Scanner: A very light, ultra thin application to scan a network, an alternative, if you are using your mobile device such as IPHONE or IPAD, use FING.
TFTP Server: use any flavor, I’m still getting used not to use any GUI, but when you need it is there, make sure you have some time to train your CLI skills.
VMWARE FUSION or PARALLELS: Use any of this if you need a Microsoft box for anything.
Cisco IP Communicator (I wish I can install on MAC OS)
Cisco VPN Client (you could do this with embedded network application in MAC, but needed if you need 2 way audio within your CIPC and the system you are working on)
Cisco Unified CCX Editor – Play, create and modify your UCCX scripts
UCCX Applications Agent and Supervisor – Test after you play!
Microsoft Visio – Let the art begin, used to make sure you post what you will or have completed
FileZilla – I use this for FTP but it can be used for other things
VMWARE VSPHERE CLIENT – If you are running UC on UCS, you know why you need this one, unless you are deploying over a 5.5 environment that is another story.
7-ZIP – Play with your .TAR files, I’m sure I could do this on MAC but I’m just learning it, so I know it will take some time.
Beyond Compare – Text based comparison, you completed some changes and not sure if someone else changed your change (too many changes)??? This one is the best for this case
WinRAR – UNZIP different type of files
WireShark – This one is a great tools that will help you isolate any issues, or what I like to call the issues that are not suppose to happen.
Secure CRT – The best SSH application by far
iTERM – I use this one to get SSH connections on the fly, PING, TRACEROUTE and TELNET
ONEDRIVE – My Customer Files and Documentation (Encrypted on the CLOUD)
SHAREFILE – Files and videos I share with my customers
QUICKTIME PLAYER – What I use to make my walk trough videos.
SNAG-IT – I wish I can use this one more but I found an embedded solution on MAC that is quicker (Command + Shift + 4)
JABBER – Test and keep in contact with my peeps at work
X-LITE – SIP Softphone
Caffeine – Keep your MAC awake
1 Password – Keep all your passwords safe
Lock-it – Prevent your computer from unauthorized sharks out there, this app will let you lock your computer without loosing your network connection.
PDF Reader X – Better than Adobe Reader, not saying just saying.
ASDM – Because sometimes there is a Firewall in the middle than can screw your way to success!!
Cisco AnyConnect – Because sometimes you need to connect securely using over that Firewall – Taking the last one back, we couldn’t do too much without Security
Cisco RTMT – Collect logs from CUCM and other UC applications
TranslatorX – to be able to comprehend RTMT logs and traces
COBRAS – For Unity and unity Connection migrations
Dial tone and Voicemail (Basic):
This one that will be a custom solution that requires what is in need to do the job, some customers are only interested in a basic solution that they don’t have to deal too much in a daily basis, and customers that are not interested in IM & Presence, Contact Center, Emergency Responder, Attendant Console and others. These solutions will include what I like to call bronze service.
- Cisco Unified Communications or the Call control (AKA: Call Manager, I was not around the UC world when it was called like that, I guess version 5.x and before)
- Cisco Unity Connection or Voicemail.
More Collaboration Stuff (Advanced):
This type of customer is a more informed one that knows that there is a lot more than just dial tone for the same price. Such engagements require a bit more on the planning and preparing stage of the project. This one I’d like to call it Silver service (and… now you know where I’m going with this).
- Same deployment model from the Basic one mentioned previously.
- Add Cisco Unified Communications IM and Presence (Chat + Presence + Phone Control)
- Unified Messaging (Single Inbox) integration with Exchange
- Visual Voicemail
- Cisco Emergency Responder
- InformaCast (Paging system)
- Cisco Attendant Console
Complex UC and Collaboration deployments, (not Expert but more than advanced, so we will call it Advanced2).
Customer really understand what they need and where they are going, this will require a lot of more planning and preparing, these are the type of projects that have very high risk. By this I mean that you need to calculate your time very efficiently and keep Murphy’s laws in your Statement of Work. Gold Service.
- Customer wants Dial Tone and basic phone functionality, same as basic (duhhh!!)
- Customer requires some or all the other applications and functionality from the Advanced one.
- Add Contact Center Express (UCCX)
- Add Custom Scripting to UCCX
- Add Advanced Scripting Configuration and Database integration
- Add Cisco WebEx on premises
- Add Cisco Expressway
- More functionality to UCCX
- Advanced Quality Management
- Did I say more functionality to UCCX, yes a bit more, including some IVR dialing rules and outbound IVR
I hope you have liked my post and again, if you have any recommendations, please feel free to send me a message.
About the Author:
Andres Sarmiento, CCIE # 53520 (Collaboration)
With more than 13 years of experience, Andres is specialized in the Unified Communications and Collaboration technologies. Consulted for several companies in South Florida, also Financial Institutions on behalf of Cisco Systems. Andres has been involved in high-profile implementations including Cisco technologies; such as Data Center, UC & Collaboration, Contact Center Express, Routing & Switching, Security and Hosted IPT Service provider infrastructures.