Pinpoint Success Story
Infront Scores $75K Sports Team Contract
As innovative applications and high-tech gadgets promise to enhance the way businesses work, Toronto-based Infront Consulting Group, a training-and-consulting firm, ensures they deliver—not with additional software, but with expert training by senior level professionals who bring real-world experience to their training deliveries.
“No matter how state-of-the-art and user friendly a piece of software is, training professionals really make the difference in how rapidly businesses adopt and see success from new technologies,” says Heather VanDewall, vice president of business development. “Our experience shows that learning from a qualified trainer is far more cost-effective for companies than computer-based training (CBT). In fact, a high-profile professional sports organization switched to Infront for its technology training needs from another provider who did not offer instructor led training (ILT)."
Infront’s Competitive Advantage
VanDewall remembers the Pinpoint customer lead e-mail she got from the sports company last year. “They were frustrated—they hadn’t gotten what they wanted or expected from the training company they had hired, namely live instruction.”
In fact, when the sports organization learned that its training vendor would not supply an actual instructor for deploying Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2, the trainees walked out of the CBT session and demanded a refund.
The Pinpoint Connection
“They were in desperate need to get up to speed quickly on Operations Manager,” says VanDewall. “A member of their team went to Microsoft Pinpoint, searched for System Center training and found us in just a few clicks.”
Infront’s experience with deployment and management of Microsoft System Center technologies, plus architectural design, implementation, configuration, optimization, and ongoing support and training for the Microsoft System Center suite made them the right choice.
Why People Make the Difference
While CBT has its advantages, live instruction often allows for more flexibility and personalized attention. “We’ve found that no matter how sophisticated computer training becomes,” says VanDewell. “Lack of personalized contact detracts from learning.”
Christopher Janicak, a researcher interested in CBT, discovered that it’s the interaction between student and instructor that makes a difference: “…employees must be given the opportunity to ask questions, which requires access to a qualified trainer.” In learning environments where an instructor is not present, directions must be explicitly clear and interfaces easy to navigate. If a participant can’t easily engage they will get frustrated and give up.
Another study by award-winning business journalist Milford Prewitt, confirmed findings that people “prefer the presence of an instructor in a classroom.”
“We don’t have one set-in-stone, read-from-the-book instruction method,” VanDewall says. “We key in to the needs of our customers. And then we apply our experience and knowledge to help them understand concepts that are specific to their environments.”
Boot Camp: Real-World Context and Active Participation
After a brief tutorial of Infront’s offerings, the sports organization signed up several engineering and administrative specialists for a four-day “boot camp” on advanced installation of SCOM 2007. The course encouraged active listening and lively discussions, and provided a hands-on lab to learn the product’s features, server roles, and components.
“Our System Center training comes from people who work with the products day in and day out,” said Rory McCaw, Infront’s Principal Consultant and the instructor for the sports-entertainment customer’s “boot camp.” “Because we regularly bring real-world field experience into the classroom, we are very adept at helping customers face any implementation challenge.”
Trainees rated Infront’s training extremely high and the sports company negotiated for ongoing training and consulting services. Infront is currently assisting the customer in creating attributes, rules, discoveries, monitors, tasks, and views for various Management Packs.
Infront offers numerous “boot camps” and training programs throughout North America. The programs are highly flexible and they can be tailored to large or more intimate groups. Each program can be customized to a customer’s requirements either in a public setting or onsite at the customer’s location.
Satisfaction Leads to Ongoing Contract and a “Triple-Crown” Win
In the end the sports company was “extremely satisfied” with the SCOM 2007 (R2) instruction and consultation provided by Infront, so much so that they engaged Infront for ongoing training over the next year. The win amounted to more than CA$75,000 for Infront.
“Our customer is enjoying greater IT efficiency,” she said, “and they’re receiving an excellent return on investment. The system is also configured to accommodate expansion and growth.”
In fact, VanDewall describes the outcome as a triple-crown win: “In addition to the productivity gains made by our customer, Microsoft wins by having still another Systems Center Operations Manager product successfully embedded in a large enterprise. Infront wins by further strengthening its partnership with Microsoft, as well as securing a reliable IT customer for the foreseeable future.”
The Value of Pinpoint
VanDewall is quick to praise Pinpoint, the online marketplace that has been created to help customers easily find Microsoft partner solutions. Without Pinpoint, she said, it’s highly unlikely that the sports-entertainment company would have found Infront.
“The value of Pinpoint cannot be overstated,” she said. “It was time-consuming to work on our profile and to make sure that all of the information was correct. But the effort has really paid off for us.”
VanDewall also said that Infront’s new customer has become a big proponent of utilizing Pinpoint.