Monthly Archives: September 2010

Weekly contest winner – Steven Schauer

Steven Schauer from East Moline, Illinois won the weekly ITLever contest concluded on September 25th. He received an IT Manager ToolKit that sells for $175.00.

Steven had this to say about ITLever, “Thank you for the gift and the wonderful services that you provide.  The stories and practical insights provided by ITLever provide much food for thought and inspiration to progress in the complex world of IT.  I like the format of small snippets of practical advice that are brief and can be read quickly.  I look forward to being able to use the toolkit.”

For a complete list of winners, click here.

Budget for it and you might just get it

It’s budget preparation time for many companies and I’m reminded of an event that happened early in my career, , , over 20 years ago, in fact.

It was November 1986 and our company had just gone through a major reorganization, , , I mean MAJOR !

With this new focus, I was to begin managing a small support unit called IFAS. In this organization, we supported the IFAS software which our company had licensed to large hospitals throughout the US. My group, , , the Southeast IFAS team!

On this team we had 23 people supporting 25 hospitals in the southeastern part of the United States. Because it was November, we needed to develop an operating budget for the next year.

As I worked through my budget, I remember clearly thinking that I needed to budget something for an “event” to motivate my new team and to show them my appreciation during the next year. So what I did was put in $1,000 in a Miscellaneous category for some kind of employee event. I had no idea what the event would be, , , but the important thing was I planned to do something.

As we got into summer of the next year, I sat down with a couple of my people to determine what we could do to “appreciate the team”. We discovered we could rent a houseboat on Lake Lanier for an afternoon for $700, and because the boat was docked during the morning we were told we could hold a meeting on the boat prior to taking it out, , , , that’s exactly what we did.

Monthly staff meeting on the top deck of the boat in the morning and swimming, water skiing, and enjoying the day on the lake in the afternoon.

This little “event” went over great and my staff was so impressed, , , it was a huge morale booster. The word got around to the other four IFAS offices pretty quick and many wondered, “Why does Mike get to do these things?”

The answer is pretty simple, , , I budgeted for it, , ,  even though I didn’t know at the time of my budget preparation exactly what we would do. What I did know is that I needed to spend some money on my team the next year and show them I appreciate their hard work, , , so I put some money in the budget to make it happen.

Are you putting money into next year’s budget right now?
If you are starting to develop next year’s budget, be sure to include key things in addition to your basic expense items, such as:

  • Employee recognition
  • Employee outing or “event”
  • Employee training
  • Training for yourself

Budget for something and you might just get it. Don’t plan for it and I can almost guarantee it won’t happen.

Book_IT BudgetingNeed additional insight about budgeting for an IT organization? Check out my book, IT Budgeting: operational and capital budgeting made easy. Included with the e-book are the tools I use to develop operating and capital budgets.

Bottlenecks will “thwart” your progress

Is “thwart” a word?  I think it is and I like it, , , except when it happens to me!! 😦

It means:  “prevent from accomplishing a purpose”

Bottlenecks are limiting constraints of a project. In any project there will be one or more bottlenecks that can prevent you from completing the project successfully. It might be getting the resource you need, it may be failing to complete a critical task on time, or any number of other issues.

One of the important responsibilities of a project manager is to identify the bottlenecks of the project and to figure out how to eliminate them or minimize their impact.

Bottlenecks are the “breakers” of projects – Bottlenecks exist in every project and are just waiting to spoil your successful completion of the project.

A key focus for any Project Manager is to identify and eliminate bottlenecks – A strong project manager understands the relevance that bottlenecks have in regard to project success. Because of this insight, successful project managers work diligently to determine where the bottlenecks are and how to address them early on.

Eliminating a bottleneck can create more bottlenecks – When you eliminate a bottleneck it may create one or more new bottlenecks, usually further down the project timeline. Be aware of this fact because you will need to “seek and destroy” any new bottlenecks that occur.

An example of this is that you might eliminate a bottleneck in a manufacturing assembly line thinking that when the bottleneck is eliminated you will produce more “widgets”. However, in some cases the elimination of an identified bottleneck may create more bottlenecks downstream in the assembly process and actually reduce your production output of widgets rather than increase it.

Eliminating a bottleneck can have big benefits – When you eliminate a bottleneck, it often frees up time within your project and can actually build in time buffer for other tasks of your project. Keeping your project on time or possibly improving the time schedule can reduce the cost of the project and positions the company to reap the benefits of the project sooner.

When you build a project plan, schedule the tasks conservatively to help insure you can complete them on time. Finding any bottlenecks that positions you to complete the project ahead of schedule is a huge benefit when it occurs.

Anticipate and look for project and business bottlenecks – Make it your mission to find the bottlenecks in your projects or business environment. Anticipate where they can occur and do what you can to detect them early and to eliminate them once discovered.

Example:
When you have a project to open a remote office that requires connectivity to your network, one of the primary bottlenecks is to establish the local circuit connection in the new office. The specific bottleneck that you have very little control over is with the local telecom company in getting the local connection up and running. This issue can be frustrating and can hurt your credibility with the clients who plan to move into the new office and need systems connectivity to work if you don’t achieve your committed timelines.

One of the things I used to do was to estimate 60-90 days to get the connection established in certain parts of the US because our experience with telecom companies in these regions often took that long. It should only take 30 to 45 days at most but some companies are simply slower than others.

If you plan for the best possible time it should take, it’s pretty much a certain way to fail in the project. I always try to put a conservative time frame with buffer into these type of plans.

Estimate conservatively and begin focusing your resources on pushing the connectivity as soon as possible. I used to tell my technical resources that I wanted connectivity as soon as possible although we built into the plan for it to be there in 60-90 days from the start of the project. I would rather pay a couple of months of the telecom costs even though we aren’t using it than to miss the date by a week.

Office openings have several events planned that require scheduling and that affect many people such as training, moving furniture and equipment, etc. It’s much cheaper to pay two months of unused telecom charges than what it costs our company when we can’t open the office as planned.

Minimizing the downtime is key, so getting the connectivity in place ahead of time actually gives us more flexibility in coordinating the office opening. It’s a great relief when we know we have eliminated one of the primary stumbling blocks, or bottlenecks, in this type of project.

Summary
In any project, one of the best things you can do to help insure you deliver the project on time is to find the bottlenecks and do what you can to eliminate or minimize their impact on the project. Be proactive and hunt the bottlenecks down and start working on them and you’ll find yourself achieving more success.

Don’t let bottlenecks “thwart” your progress !!

41st IT Manager Institute

It’s hard to believe I have delivered 41 IT Manager Institutes since starting the program in 2003. The agenda has grown and the content has improved over the years and we have taken the program to many locations around the world including:

  • Nashville, Tennessee (20)
  • Anchorage, Alaska
  • Boulder, Colorado
  • Atlanta, Georgia  (2)
  • Regina, Saskatchewan CANADA
  • Orangestad, ARUBA  (2)
  • Willemstad, CURACAO
  • Johannesburg, SOUTH AFRICA  (4)
  • Abuja, NIGERIA
  • Lagos, NIGERIA
  • Dubai, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES  (3)
  • Ljubljana, SLOVENIA  (3)

Last week we delivered the 41st program at Graymere Country Club in Columbia, Tennessee where I live. It was our first class in Columbia. The staff at Graymere did an excellent job and made us feel very much at home, , , it was truly a peaceful and enjoyable venue for the class and a location I will consider for future middle Tennessee classes.

Graymere Country Club

I can confirm that a 5-minute drive to class every morning sure does have some upsides and our students liked the hotel and classroom setting. They especially liked the $85.00 per night hotel room rate we were able to get for them, , , and the food at Graymere is always great.

We almost canceled this class due to a few last minute drop-outs caused by late year budget cuts, , , but I decided to hold it due to the travel arrangements made and efforts of two managers.

Joseph Melendez flew up from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Our weather was unusually warm so he didn’t get the fall weather break he was expecting, , , was still a bit cooler than he is used to.

Ariel Phiri traveled all the way from Lusaka, Zambia, , , it’s where Victoria Falls is located. It was his first trip to the US and we tried to make him feel at home. He stayed a couple of extra days so I was able to take him to our Camp Liberty on Saturday and show him what we call “paradise”.

Ariel Phiri at Camp Liberty

Both managers passed their IT Business Manager Certification exams and received their ITBMC. Congratulations Joseph and Ariel !!!

For upcoming classes, take a look at the IT Manager Institute page on ITLever. Headed back to Dubai in November (will be my 4th Dubai class and one of my favorite locations) and a new venue has already confirmed for Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in early December. We have open seats for both of these great locations if you are interested in attending.

Why some managers get promoted over others

I’m sure you’ve seen it, maybe even experienced it yourself. Some managers seem to get the promotions and others do not, even though they work very hard and are extremely conscientious about managing technology resources effectively. This happens for technology employees as well, , ,  some get the nod and others do not.

If you are interested in what’s going on read the rest of the article. I’m going to give you a senior management perspective that can help you in your management career.

As a CIO or executive of a company, we want to promote from within as much as possible. Promotions are encouraging to our employees and to be quite frank, we like taking care of our own when they do a good job for us. Unfortunately, we often can’t promote from within our company and must go outside to find the resource required to do a certain job.

I believe there are several important issues that position you for a promotion. This applies to technical employees as well as IT managers.

First – you must be promotion material
This means two things. You have to have done a good job in the position you are in and we must be able to backfill your position when you are promoted. In addition, you need to be right for the job in question. Let’s break each of these aspects down a bit and explain.

Job performance – This is a no-brainer. To be promotion material, you need to be excellent at what you are doing. As a senior manager, I want to promote the top 10 to 20 percent who I think will be able to rise to the occasion when confronted to the bigger challenges and issues of the new position. Job performance is a key factor we look for when determining whether someone should be promoted and can handle the next level position. Simply put, we promote the best we have, not average or poor performers.

Backfill your position – Being promoted is going to create a gap in your current area of responsibility.  Your position will most likely need to be backfilled. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat in senior management meetings to discuss the needs of a new position of a growth company and not be able to promote from within. When looking through our organization, we had people who had shown the performance to make them a good candidate for the higher role but when looking at how we would fill the gap created by promoting them, we had to back off making them the offer because there was no one to fill their position. Many times we had to go outside when we had a great internal candidate, but losing them in their current position was too big a risk.

A management-101 principle is that you need to find a way to position someone to take your place. Having the skill and experience isn’t enough; you need to be able to backfill your position so business continues to run smoothly, , , so star investing in someone to take your place one day.

Right for the position – I had a great employee in my Help Desk organization many years ago. As we grew, we eventually had the need for a new Help Desk Manager in our high growth company. My employee had very good management potential but because we were growing so fast I decided to hire someone from outside the company who already had management experience and in scaling up the Help desk services and resources of a fast growth company. My employee was pretty upset initially, but I explained to him that promoting him to this particular management position too early would potentially run over him as fast as we were growing. I convinced him that he would become a much stronger manager by learning from a seasoned Help Desk Manager who had already experienced what our company was going through. I also committed to invest in developing his management skills to position him for a management role in the future. This employee became a very strong IT manager and CIO in his own right in later years. Had I put him into a situation that he was not ready for and if we couldn’t support him properly, I could have ruined his management career.

Proven track record
You have to have a proven track record of success. As a manager, you have to deliver tangible results. The same is true as an IT employee. Not only is it important that you achieve quantifiable results, much of whether you are promotion material is about how you go about getting the results. For example, as an IT manager your efforts need to be in sync with your client and they agree that you have done a good job for them.

For IT employees and IT managers, it’s imperative that you exhibit strong teamwork as you work with your peers and others in accomplishing your job. We don’t just look at your technical skills when determining if you should be promoted or not. People who work well with others in a cooperative spirit and foster a win-win environment are those we want in senior level leadership positions.

So, what this means is that regardless of your position you should pay attention to the track record you are creating. IT has a poor reputation for delivering projects with some studies suggesting that 70% of all IT projects fail. Put yourself in the 30% success group and keep track of your successes. You may find that people, especially senior managers start looking at you differently. We promote the people who we trust will be able to do the job, , ,  and your past track record is a good indicator of what the future should look like.

Deliver what you say you will deliver
Sounds pretty simple, but you might be surprised at how many people promise something but don’t come close to delivering it. One very simple aspect of this is to follow-up on your commitments. Whether you are the CIO or a Desktop Support Technician, it’s imperative that you follow-up on any commitment to someone.

What often happens is that we see something that will improve a client’s situation so we make a promise to do something for them later. Before we get back to our desk, we are hit with five more issues that need attention and as a result we forget our promise. Well, I can assure you that the person you promised something to does not forget. It may be a very minimal thing that doesn’t even have any real importance but the fact that we forget it tells the person we do not follow-up or take our promises seriously.

Nothing increases your value as much as when people view you as, “the person I can count on to do what he says he will do”.

Strong communication skills
This one is significant. People who have strong communication skills have a real edge on those who don’t. I encourage anyone who is reading this article to make an effort to develop your communication skills. There are classes you can go to in virtually every university plus companies who focus on effective communication. Topics like public speaking, negotiation techniques, organizing and holding productive meetings, presentation techniques, etc. are all worthwhile and can be important investments in positioning you for a promotion.

Learn how to speak in public, make stand up presentations, hold meetings, and how to communicate your vision, plans, and status of things. I cannot emphasize enough how much solid communication skills can mean to you. In many cases, the person who gets the promotion over others is the one who can communicate effectively. Effective communication skills are real career differentiators.

Business minded
Being business oriented and focusing your resources on issues that provide tangible value to your company is key, especially for IT managers. Too often, our managers are focused on the technology and not what the business needs. In management roles, this is a very important issue when looking to determine who should be promoted. I’ll always opt for the manager who knows how to build strong client relationships and has a track record of delivering business value to our business operation clients.

Managers are not good promotion candidates if their focus is out of sync with our business partner’s needs and issues. Most studies suggest that over 50% of all IT organizations are out of sync with the business so this is not a small issue. Senior managers promote those who show they can focus on the right issues for the company and don’t get sidetracked into doing things for technology sake.

The need must exist
We can do a lot to help prepare an employee or an IT manager for the next level promotion, but at the end of the day the need must exist for such a promotion to occur, , , and the person must be a good candidate for the specific position.

In a small company with very few technology employees, promotions just don’t happen quickly. In high growth companies that grow 20-30% every year, promotions seem to happen quite often.

When counseling your employees and discussing the idea of preparing and positioning them for the next level, be sure you make it clear that our company has to have the need and the candidate must be a good fit before such a promotion will occur. Otherwise, you will be setting an expectation that when certain things occur in the employee’s development, the promotion will follow. Again, we have to have the need and a good fit before a promotion will actually occur.

I hope this gives you some things to think about as you make efforts to enhance your career and move to the next level. Getting a promotion usually means you are ready for the role so take a look at what is required in the next position and be sure to develop the skills necessary to be successful in the position. If the next position is an IT manager role, you will be required to handle the following type of issues:
–  project management
–  people management
–  communication to many different levels of people
–  leadership
–  developing and motivating staff
–  organization
–  and much more

Best of success.

Phil Sargeant wins Contest #5

Phil Sargeant of Alexandria, Virginia wins our 5th weekly contest and is awarded a free IT Manager ToolKit valued at $175.00. Our tools and templates are used by thousands of IT managers around the world and are simple to use in helping you organize, manage, and monitor your IT business. Over 100 tools and templates.

When asked about ITLever.com, Phil made these comments, “Each post in the blog deals concisely with one subject, giving actions that the reader can put to use right away.  There is value for the learner without needing to devote a lot of time to reading a long commentary.  You present your material in kind and gracious ways that help readers not only with the technical information but also as examples of how to interact with other people.”

Go to https://itlever.com/2010/08/12/subscribe-to-itlever-and-win/ to learn more and to see a list of all winners.

Are you a “Giver” or a “Taker” ?

There are two types of people in the world in my opinion. There are “givers” and there are “takers”. This article explores the issue and emphasizes the importance in becoming a “giver”. I’ll also give you some personal examples where “giving” has rewarded me over and over.

This article is taken from my article archives and offers a timeless lesson worth remembering.

It’s 4:30am here as I write this article. I just finished a Question and Answer conference call with a seminar group in Nigeria about a PowerPoint presentation they just saw me deliver on IT due diligence in a merger and acquisition environment. I wasn’t there but they watched my slides and heard me speak in a flash presentation. It’s 11:30am their time and the second time I’ve done this to support the Nigerian company hosting the seminar.

When you work with people all over the world like I do, your hours can be a bit out of the ordinary, but I love it. The reason I bring this up will be clear later in the article as it is a prime example of what “giving” can do for you.

Look around. If you observe people closely, you will find that people tend to fall into one of two categories. A person tends to be someone who “gives” or will tend to be someone who “takes”.

“Givers” are willing people who truly want to help others. I think nurses and teachers are some of the best examples of this. Teachers are not as concerned about what they can receive as much as what they can do to help others. Nurses have similar characteristics.

In my own family, I believe most of my relatives are more “giving” in that they don’t really ask a lot of others and aren’t always looking for “what’s can you do for me”. On the other hand, I have a couple relatives who are really interested in only doing things that will do something to promote their agenda.

In management, “takers” can be detrimental to the IT organization’s success, especially when the “taker” is an IT manager or CIO. In an IT management role, you always get a more positive acceptance with clients, employees, and senior management when they view you as one who “gives” versus one who always wants to “take”.

What does this mean?

“Givers” go the extra mile. They don’t just do the job, they work hard to ensure that when they do a job it is thorough and complete. They make certain the quality is there and they want people to know, “my name is on this project”. They “give” when they aren’t necessarily asked to “give”. It’s second nature to them because they inherently understand that, “it’s better to give than to receive”.

We have all heard this phrase. Well, I can tell you from personal experience that it is truer than you might ever believe possible. I have many examples in my personal and professional life where my family and I have reaped huge benefits because of a simple “giving” gesture, even when I wasn’t expecting anything in return.

A challenge in our world of technology is that supporting technology is a dynamic and ever changing business. Because of the amount of change that occurs we constantly need things from others. We need our employees to do their jobs, to do it in a quality manner, and to pay attention to the details.

We need assistance from our clients as we implement new technologies or support the technologies of their business environment. The point to this is that to be successful IT managers and CIO’s, we are highly dependent upon others.

If you are predominately a “taker”, someone who only deals with others when you need something, it becomes more challenging for you to approach others and ask for their help. Actually the difficulty is not in asking for the help (“takers” have that game down very well).

The difficulty lies in getting the help or getting help in a quality, committed effort that is going to make your project a real success.

Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Let’s say that person is your client, a Department Manager in your company. A Department manager is extremely busy with issues in his department and is challenged to make improvements that help him achieve department objectives. When the CIO or IT Manager approaches him and asks for help by allocating department resources to work on an IT project, who do you think he is going to help?

You got it; the Department manager will eagerly seek a way to help the IT manager who has been “giving” and helping him attain department objectives much more quickly than he will to help the IT manager who always “takes” more then he “gives back”.

It’s a simple issue really; we all want to help those who have shown they truly want to help us.

Managing employees works the same way. Our ability to exhibit to our employees that we are genuinely interested in their success and that we do things to help them succeed is key. When we do these things we are “giving”. In my mind, “giving” is a key responsibility of an IT manager, not an option.

Some examples of “giving” to employees are:
–  establishing processes to help employees succeed
–  developing employee performance plans that include training and education investments that grow their skills
–  rewarding individuals and teams for excellent performance
–  telling your employees you appreciate their commitment to the job and focusing on the quality of their work
–  working with an individual to develop his/her career plan
–  even coaching an employee on improving his/her performance

Back to my Nigeria example:
In my business, I’m able to “give” quite a lot, and it always seems to return tenfold. I may not realize it immediately, but I receive much more back in the long run than what I believe I “give out”.

A perfect example is the Nigerian project. It all started in 2004 when I was asked to travel to Nigeria to make a presentation about the importance of IT due diligence in a company acquisition. Unfortunately, there was no way to make this happen in the timeframe needed, , , so I declined the invitation.

In an email message I received back, it was obvious that the group needed help, , ,  the message was professional, sincere, and heartfelt.

What I agreed to do was to put an online PowerPoint presentation together that would address their business objective and that they could present to their audience. They agreed and paid me for the project.

Here is a key part of the story, , ,

  • All I was required to do was to develop a 1-hour PowerPoint presentation on a topic that I’m very familiar with – IT Due Diligence.
  • I was already paid so there was no tangible incentive for me to do more than what was requested to fulfill the project commitment.
  • I had never worked with this group before so there were no personal ties to motivate me to do more than what was minimally required.
  • I was very busy at the time so I didn’t have a lot of extra time to do more.

The bottom line is that I could have provided the minimal requirements of our agreement and the client would have been very satisfied with the project.


Here is the distinction of “giving” versus “taking”.

I decided to do more than what was minimally required!

Why?

Simple, I genuinely wanted to help the Nigerian company make their conference a success. So, I made suggestions of things we could add that I thought would help improve the experience of attending the conference for their clients.

The end result is that in addition to the 1-hour PowerPoint presentation I developed for them to deliver, I added several things to make their conference a real success:

  • A second 45- minute presentation on Key Considerations in Conducting IT Due Diligence in a Company Acquisition
  • A Case Study that could be used as an exercise to point out issues associated with conducting an IT due diligence
  • Two e-books and due diligence tools I sell that discuss the process of IT due diligence and assimilating the technology resources of acquired companies
  • The right to make CD copies to give to each conference participant containing the presentations, e-books, Case Study and tools, , ,  a fairly comprehensive IT due diligence package for an IT manager.
  • Time for me to sit in on a Q&A conference call that would be conducted immediately after showing my first presentation. This meant being available at 3:30am my time.

The Nigerian company was more than pleased as you might expect by the “extra’s”. Some of these “extra’s” were already produced so it took me no additional time or effort, , , but I also didn’t have to offer them.

The key here is that I was automatically looking for ways to help make their project a success as soon as I got involved and committed to the project. I wanted to “give” versus “take”.

I was not looking for anything above the initial payment made for the single presentation we had agreed upon; in fact it never entered my mind.

Well, good things happen to those who “give”. The reason I’m taking a second Q&A call this morning is because the Nigeria company was asked to hold a 2nd conference, , , the first one was such a big success that many who couldn’t attend wanted the information and requested a repeat conference.

The company paid me a second time to replicate what we did in the first conference. All I had to do for this second conference project was be available for the 3:30am phone call.

My objective was not to “take” or “get” more; it was simply to do what I could do to help them succeed in their project. The result was getting paid twice for essentially fulfilling one consulting engagement, , , but guess what, , , it was a win-win for the Nigeria company as well as for me.

UPDATE – September 2010

This little Nigeria conference project and the business relationship we developed has led to significant business ventures. First, there was the 2nd conference. Then we delivered a trial IT Manager Institute training program in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2005. This has led to joint ventures in delivering 8 IT Manager Institutes in South Africa, Nigeria, and United Arab Emirates in the last 6 years. I might not have delivered any of these classes if this relationship had not been created, , , and I had not “over delivered” what was expected.

My point: “when you give, you get back much more”.

“Giving” is part of my basic nature and it has been developed over time. I didn’t always understand this issue early in my career, , , for a long time I was a “taker”. I can tell you that I believe I started being more of a “giver” in 1986 and when I did my career literally took off.  This is material for another day, but suffice it to say that I believe there is a direct cause and effect in “giving” and career growth.

I highly recommend you begin seeking ways to start “giving” to others and go out of your way to help others be successful. You will be surprised at how successful it helps you become in return.

Plus, it’s a lot of fun helping others.

IT Manager Institute planned for Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

To say I get to travel to some exciting places is putting it mildly.

We announced today plans to deliver the IT Manager Institute in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, , , that’s East Africa for those unfamiliar with Tanzania.

This is a special treat for me as I’ve had several from Dar attend past Institutes. In fact, the reason I’ve been invited is because Kenneth Wakati attended the 4th Institute in 2004 and wants the program delivered to his management team, , , IT managers of the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) in the Government of Tanzania.

Kenneth has seen a positive difference in his career and has sent others to the program. He understands the value and benefits of our training. We have been working on making this event happen for several years, and now it’s becoming a reality.

When:   December 13-17, 2010
Where:  Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Nine TRA managers are already enrolled and we have a few more seats available for managers from other companies.

Details and registration information are at www.mde.net/institute

Jim Biggins wins Contest #4

Every week we give away a free IT Manager ToolKit to celebrate our company getting to be 10 years old, , , a major milestone for us.

Jim Biggins from Torrance, California won last week’s drawing. Here is what he had to say when asked what he likes about ITLever: “It’s personalized.  So, I can tell you are a real person. It’s concise and gets to the point with links or observations. It’s a useful learning experience and a good free resource.”

You must be a current subscriber of ITLever to win.

To subscribe, click the EMAIL SUBSCRIPTION link in the righthand panel and then select the frequency you want to receive new posts to our ITLever Blog (immediately, once a day, or once a week).

For a complete list of all winners, go to https://itlever.com/2010/08/12/subscribe-to-itlever-and-win/

Subscribe to ITLever and you may be our next big winner.

Warn all users

One of the things you need to do in your company is  educate your users about the danger and risk associated with improper use of e-mail and the Internet.

The Internet is great but it’s also full of land mines sitting there waiting for an unsuspected user to come walking by, , , and BOOM, , , we all know what can happen to the network.

An Internet Usage Policy is great, , , but I don’t know that it always helps your users fully appreciate the situation.

I just read a great article on CNET News that I would highly recommend you share with your users about phishing sites. It’s titled, A flood of phishing sites and how to avoid them by Elinor Mills. Her discussion is high level and discusses the issue in easy to understand terms, , , perfect for the technology users in your company you are supporting.

Elinor includes a statistic that should scare the daylights out of all users and get their attention as to how rampant this issue is and the danger lurking for the unsuspected user:  “During a three-month study of its global malware database, Panda Security found on average 57,000 new Web sites created each week with the aim of exploiting a brand name in order to steal information that can be used to drain peoples’ bank accounts.”

Below is a sample of a fake EBAY message.

I see these bogus messages all the time and simply ignore them, , , but they sure look real and can tempt you to “take a look”. You will be doing your colleagues a great service in helping them avoid these pitfalls in your company and even more so on their home PC by helping them better understand what’s taking place.

Elinor’s article is a MUST READ and SHARE ARTICLE !!

Read the article at:  http://news.cnet.com/8301-27080_3-20016026-245.html?tag=nl.e703