Monthly Archives: May 2011

Friday the 13th

Today is Friday, the 13th. It is supposed to be unlucky so be careful.

Are you superstitious?

I never have been but some people are, , , even some on your IT staff are truly concerned about certain things happening that might cause them bad luck. My belief is that you create your own “good luck” by working hard and preparing for what you need to do.

Athletes can be very superstitious, , , especially baseball players. Are any of your people superstitious?

Here are a few superstitions people worry about. Got any from your part of the world? Leave a comment to this post and let us hear them.

Black cats crossing in front of you – Not an issue in our house. Our cat, Boo, is as black as can be and she only brings us good luck.

Walking under ladders – I can see how this could be unlucky. My Dad once tried to move a long extended ladder that was leaning on the side of a cabin and forgot he left his hammer hanging on the top rung. It nearly knocked him out when it slipped off and hit him in the head. Bad luck?

Break a mirror and it is 7 years bad luck – I’ve broken a mirror before and didn’t experience any bad luck, , , but who knows, , , it might have cost me millions of dollars.  🙂

Step on a crack, , , break your Mother’s back  –  This is a weird one I’ve heard all my life, , , not sure I understand it fully.

Have a great day, , , maybe this is your lucky day!!!

Can you identify Mike Sisco?

I have an analytical challenge for you. Can you pick me out of the baseball team photo from my youth? Take a close look at the photo, decide, and answer the poll before you scroll down to see the answer.

1962 Lewis County Dixie Youth Baseball Team

Take a guess in the poll and we will see how many get it. Three clues follow to help you zone in on me. Click on the image for a closer view.

Three clues
First of all, , , a current photo of me is in the right-hand panel of this page, , , it should help you find me on the team photo. Surely, I haven’t changed that much in 49 years.

Got another surprise for you. My brother, Larry, who is 11 months younger than me is also in the team photo and there is one player sitting between us.

Need another tip? I’m wearing a baseball cap and Larry isn’t. This should give you the answer.

Make your best guess in the poll above before scrolling down to see the answer. I’m really interested to see how good your analytical skills are.

, , , , , , ,

, , , , , ,

I’ve had people stop me in an elevator, , , in the airport, , , and in a hotel and ask me if I was “Mike Sisco”. It usually catches me off guard until I learn they are headed to the same meeting as I am.

Got your answer submitted yet?

The answer is below, , , answer the poll before looking, , , no peeking!

, , , , ,

, , , , ,

, , , , ,    here we go , , ,

The red arrow points to me and the blue arrow points to my brother, Larry. I was a little guy as you can see but made up for it by hustling and working harder than the bigger guys. Even my brother who is a year younger always seemed bigger than me.

Don’t wear glasses anymore, , , eye surgery took care of that nuisance.  Sorry for throwing you off track by mentioning the photo on the right-hand column, , , couldn’t help myself.  🙂

Larry is driving up from Florida to visit for a couple of days and thought he might enjoy this photo so I printed it and others I received from an old friend to give him. Terry Jones made these available and is the guy sitting between Larry and me.

Hundreds of free IT Downloads at IT Business Edge

Do you know about IT Business Edge (

Have you seen their IT Downloads section?

If not, you are missing one of the best values and IT manager resources in our industry, , , hundreds of free IT tools and templates downloads.

Lots of informative tips, insights, and tools, , , and easy to find what you are looking for with a search. Search by keyword or browse through the Type or Topics lists. You can even see what the most popular downloads are and what people are downloading.

I have provided several downloads for ITBE’s site including the following:

  • Cost of Downtime Calculator
  • IT Initiatives Portfolio
  • Annual IT Accomplishments
  • Annual IT Survey
  • Client Rescue Guide
  • , , , and many more

IT Business Edge has been a great partner since 2004. This week, I agreed to work on a special project for them as they launch a new product to enhance the content on their site, , , look for an announcement soon.

ITBE is a free subscription and offers the IT manager community a significant amount of insight and tools to help you manage your business.

Check ITBE out at

Clear your calendar and block out the time

You haven’t heard from me for a few days. It’s because I’m working on a major project and have been “heads down and in the weeds”.

Remember me suggesting you “have to block out time to focus on a major project”, , , like developing your budget, , , building a strategic plan, etc.?

Well, it’s no different for me. I have been trying to work on a big writing project for some time and haven’t been able to focus like I need to, , , so I cleared my calendar and have been focused like a laser beam for the past couple of weeks.

No travel, pulled back on my IT Manager Institute class schedule, , , and focused time and energy to the project work I need to work on. Guess what, I’m seeing some results.

The project is going well although slower than what I would like. Isn’t that always the case?

Look for my announcement in a few weeks to let you know what’s coming.

Another “industry average” to be careful with

Many CEO’s monitor IT spending by taking a look at a calculation called the IT Expense as a Percentage of Revenue. A good CEO knows about what his IT organization should spend, , , he may even have an industry average he uses to compare your spending with the rest of the industry.

Using this calculation is a good thing if used in the right context, , , but you need to be careful.

Let’s say your industry average is 2.5%. In other words, an average company in your industry spends 2.5% of revenue on IT. If your company has $500 million in annual revenue, that means your IT organization spends about $12.5 million a year if you are at the “industry average”.

What if you are spending $17.5 million (3.5% of revenue), , , or maybe 5% of revenue, twice the industry average? Does this mean you are doing a poor job in managing your IT organization?

No, , , definitely not. It certainly could mean you are doing a poor job, but the IT spending percentage of revenue alone does not tell the whole story.

Take a look at this example I use in my IT Manager Institute class.

In this example we have two companies with about the same revenue and the same number of clients, , , but that’s where the similarities end. EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) is quite different. Some call this operating income.

Company A is much more profitable than Company B. Why is that?

Well, there could be many reasons, but two reasons show up on the slide. First, Company A is much more automated. Automation tends to indicate the company is much more productive and has fewer clerical functions and processes less paper, , ,  which reduces cost.

The second reason is because Company B is spending a lot more in IT. In fact, they are spending over twice as much money in IT than Company A spends.


The slide tells you the reason. Company B has many more technology platforms and multiple data centers. The background you don’t see that’s provided in the class is that Company A grew by simply adding new business. Company B grew by acquisition and has not consolidated the technologies.

Both companies are the same revenue size but have very different situations.

In class, I ask a key question, , , “Which IT organization is doing the best job?”

Take a look at the graphic below again and answer the question before moving on. Which company is doing the best job, , , Company A who is spending 2.5% of revenue for IT (let’s also say this is the industry average), , , or Company B who is spending 5.8% of revenue for IT (over twice the industry average)?

In every class, most will say that the CIO in Company A is doing a better job. This is the answer I get almost every time.

The answer is, “I can’t tell who is doing a better job in managing their IT organization, , , until I conduct an IT assessment and determine what’s going on and what the issues are.”

Certainly Company B is spending a lot more money than Company A, , , but even on the slide with very little information I can see that this IT manager has more to deal with.

Once you conduct an IT assessment on both companies, you might determine that Company B should be spending 7% of revenue to attack the issues it has. Company B’s CIO might actually be doing a much better job than Company A’s CIO, even though he is spending over twice the money for the same size business.

The point
The message here is that you have to be careful with industry averages. They tell you what the average is for all companies in the industry, , , but your company’s situation determines at what level you should be performing. You have to understand the variables that exist before coming to any meaningful conclusion.

Company B will need to spend more in IT than Company A for some amount of time until more of the opportunities are achieved and Company B begins to catch up with Company A.

Over time, Company B becomes more profitable as IT spending decreases and more automation is developed.

Mike Sisco attacked by alligator

Did the headline get your attention?

No, I wasn’t really attacked by an alligator, but I wanted to have some fun with this post, , , and also bring to your attention of the need in using an “attention getter” when making a presentation.

Your first sentence and first two minutes have to get your audience’s attention. If you don’t get it, your presentation is likely to fall flat.

One of the things I do in my IT Manager Institute is to tell my students, “You have the toughest management job in your company!”

And then I explain why, , , which leads me up to the processes and tools to help them overcome these obstacles that face an IT manager.

Back to the “alligator attack”, , ,

Last week I was doing some yard work at our Camp Liberty on the Buffalo River, , , nothing major, just some cleanup and doing a few things I’ve been meaning to do for some time.

In one of the landscape islands is a small concrete alligator, , , one of those decorative pieces people put in their yard. Dorine was out taking photos of my Uncle Bob and me working so I thought I would have some fun. Here is the photo she got.

Nice tennis shoes

To take it a step further, I decided to make a newspaper article about it and this is what I came up with.

Click on the image and you can read the story

Sometimes you actually need to use a bizarre or shocking headline to get your audience’s attention. When you do, be sure to give them something valuable to keep their attention.