Monthly Archives: October 2011

UPS Sizing Tool

One of our readers sent me a tool he developed to help him size up his UPS requirements. I want to thank Kenneth Corning, a VP of IT from Dover, MA.

CLICK HERE to download

Do you have a tool or template you would like to share?

Send it to me or contact me by email at with a brief description and you may find it posted in a future ITLever post.

In business, you always need a backup plan

We are at our Camp Liberty again this weekend, but it is business as usual for me and my company. We have orders, questions, and other communications that take place every day no matter where we happen to be so I must have Internet connectivity and email, , , it is a vital service for our company.

A problem is discovered on Friday

For some reason, I can’t send Outlook email messages from my pop3 server, , , I can receive fine and have good internet connectivity but we can’t send messages. I know the problem probably has to do with the DNS setting with our outgoing email account server but I haven’t been able to resolve the issue.

It worked great last weekend but not this time, , , not a good time.

We were entering the weekend and I had a special product offer going on so I knew it was going to be an active few days ahead, , , I knew we had to have incoming and outgoing email capability.

Here were my possible options:

  1. Resolve the problem – this wasn’t happening and my IPS support group is closed for the weekend.
  2. Go without outgoing email capability – also not an option because I knew we would be busy this weekend with lots of orders.
  3. Go home – it’s only 45 minutes away and we can always spend another weekend at the camp.
  4. Find a backup solution for outgoing email

My solution, , , option #4 – find a backup outgoing email solution.

I set up a Gmail email account and will use it for outgoing email whenever I encounter this problem. There is more than one way to skin a cat as they say. I implemented this solution and dozens of email messages were sent out over the weekend. It was business as usual.


Camp Liberty in the fall

One of the things we like about our Camp Liberty are the fall colors and how peaceful it is down there, , , it is like being in a different world.

Here are a few photos taken last weekend.

Miss Liberty overlooks the Buffalo River

One of the cleanest rivers in the US

Fall colors are getting good

The colors reflecting on the river

Our camp sits on a bluff high above the river

Unexpected guests at Camp Liberty

Last weekend we went down to our Buffalo River camp, , , a rustic 100-year old log cabin we call Camp Liberty, , , mainly because there is a 9-foot Statue of Liberty sitting in the front yard looking up the river.

We hadn’t been down there in about 2 months because I’ve been so busy. It’s in the country with lots of wildlife, , , deer, turkey, coyote, rabbit, raccoon, squirrel, eagles, otter, etc. , , , even a few snakes and other little critters we see.

It’s in the country and in a remote location so we always check out the cabin when we get there to be sure we don’t have a few guests who have over extended their stay. Having a couple of cats also helps in this regard.

When Dorine checked our son’s bed she found a couple of cute things under the pillows.

Everything looks pretty normal

What have we here? Something under each pillow sham, , ,

It’s a single acorn stored neatly under each pillow

I also keep a printer down there and discovered something had eaten an acorn inside the print carriage, , , not too cool but fixable.

Headed back down there this weekend.


Every IT manager needs these tools, , , a closer look at the Practical IT Manager GOLD Series

Managing an IT organization is a tough and challenging job, but it can be much easier and more rewarding when you have the knowledge and insight in how to do the job effectively.

Learning to manage by trial and effort is not only ineffective, it is risky and expensive for your company and can even damage your career.

The challenge is there is usually no one around who can help develop an IT manager in a company, , , technology is not the core competency of most companies so the IT manager has to learn the best way he can.

This is high risk and most of the time does not work very well.

What you need is a set of practical processes and simple tools to help you do what is required to succeed in an IT manager role.

Managing an IT  organization is like anything else, , , once you know what to do and how to go about it and have the tools to do the job, it becomes second nature, , , just like riding a bicycle, configuring a router, or developing a web page.

But if you do not have the experience and know-how, , , managing IT can be a very intimidating challenge with severe consequences.

For example, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why is it so hard to become a partner with my senior managers and what do I need to do to become a partner?
  • How do I deal with a difficult client?
  • Why is budgeting so difficult and take me so long to do?
  • How do I develop an IT strategy and get it approved?
  • What are the steps to turn a problem employee around?
  • How do I motivate my staff when I don’t have money to spend?
  • How should I go about prioritizing the work we need to do when we do not have sufficient staff to do the work?
  • Why are my recommendations so hard to get funded and approved?
  • How do you manage client expectations when all they want is everything they request and have it all completed today?
  • Why do my clients not understand or appreciate our IT organization?
  • Why are our IT projects not being completed successfully?
  • Why is communicating to my clients so difficult for me?

Sound familiar? It should, , , these issues occur every day in IT organizations all over the world. In fact, let’s take the last question, “Why is communicating to my clients so difficult for me?”

Are you aware that this is a major issue for over 70% of all IT employees? There are specific reasons why the vast majority of IT people are not good communicators. You may not be aware of what it is but I can guarantee most reading this article find communicating with clients and senior managers to be difficult, intimidating, or at least challenging.

The cause is real simple and I’ll show you how to overcome it so you can achieve more success, , , this single issue is the cause of many, many IT manager failures. Learn what it is and how to overcome it and you will achieve much more success.

This issue and the others listed above plus others is why I wrote my first ten books we called the IT Manager Development Series, , , to help IT managers of the world achieve more success.

These books and the accompanying IT Manager ToolKit we bundled in as a bonus have been tremendously successful with thousands of copies sold around the world over the past ten years.

I just completed rewriting these 10 books, , , from top to bottom and from front cover to back cover. They are completely rewritten with new content, new and revised tools, easier to read and even new covers.

The new product is, Mike Sisco’s Practical IT Manager GOLD Series. Here they are:

Ten new books that took hundreds of hours to complete, , , all to give IT managers of the world resources to help you achieve more success.

Buyers of the full set also receive a BONUS, , , the IT Manager ToolKit containing over 100 IT manager tools and templates, , , all revised and updated. The tools can be used “as is” or customized to meet your specific needs.

The information and insight in these books teaches you how to manage the “business” of IT versus the technology, , , you need to be viewed as a “business manager”, not a “technical manager” to achieve real success..

The books show you what to do and  how to do things to achieve IT success, and they also explain why certain issues are so difficult for IT managers and IT employees and how to overcome these obstacles.

It’s not good enough to explain how to do something, we also need to know why things work or do not work and what causes them to work or not work. When you understand the dynamics of what causes certain things to occur, or not to occur, it makes it much easier to do what is necessary to achieve success.

The books are straightforward and down to earth, , , just what you would expect from me if you have read any of my ITLever Blog posts or articles.

Practical, simple, and to the point, , , no need to discuss something in 20 pages when you can do it in 1 or 2 pages. IT managers are very busy, , , they need you to get to the point so that’s what I try to do in the books.

Simply put, each book conveys:

  • What to do to achieve success
  • Instruction on how to go about it
  • Tools and examples to help you implement each concept quickly

Here is the order I recommend reading the books if you purchase them:

  1. Start with IT Management-101. You can download this one for free when subscribing to my free Practical IT Manager Newsletter. Go to to subscribe. This book is a great foundation and why we make it available for free.
  2. Next, read IT Due Diligence. This book gives you a process and all the tools you need to conduct an effective IT assessment, , , the very first thing you should do in a new IT manager responsibility. You have to determine the business needs and issues plus your IT capacity to develop an appropriate IT strategy of the work you should focus on.
  3. Next, , , IT Strategy. You have to organize your IT assessment findings into logical and appropriate projects of work, , , and they must be prioritized. This book helps you do just that and gives you a few tools that will help you prioritize your work, communicate your recommendations, and gain approval from senior management.
  4. The key to IT credibility is delivering projects successfully, or “doing what you say you will do”. IT Project Management provides everything you need to start delivering your projects successfully, , , even insight as to why they aren’t completed successfully in so many IT organizations around the world.
  5. IT Organization would be my next read. Learn how to right-size your organization by determining what you need and what you have. You need an IT organization strategy, , , this book helps you define what it should be.
  6. If you manage an organization, you better learn how to motivate people, , , IT Staff Motivation and Development is next. I’ll give you proven techniques that will help you motivate your staff like never before and with no money.
  7. IT Budgeting is next on the list unless you are in the midst of your company’s budgeting process or about to go into it, , , if so, you may want to move this up the list of reading. I’ll show you how to simplify budgeting and be confident you create an achievable budget, , , and do it faster and easier than ever before. Budgeting is not difficult if you have insight and tools to make it happen.
  8. IT Asset Management, , , not one of my favorite topics to write about but a necessary focus to manage your IT organization successfully. One of the tools I give you in this one can help create your IT credibility, , , it may be my very best tool in what it has done for my career.
  9. IT Assimilation focuses on the transition activities after completing an IT assessment or company acquisition. You can read this one near the end or right after IT Due Diligence.
  10. The last book is the very first book I wrote, What To Look For in a CIO. Written for executives who are interested in the success of their IT organization, it explains the differences in IT manager types and provides a process to help you define what you need in order to attain more value from your IT investment.
  11. Finally, review the INDEX file in the IT Manager ToolKit to see what’s in it, , , ,there are dozens of additional IT management tools not discussed in these ten books.

Save $195.00 by buying the bundle! You will pay $474.50 if you purchase the books and ToolKit separately. Purchase our best selling bundle like thousands of IT managers have and save! It is one of our BEST VALUES.


BONUS  –  Order by November 30th, 2011 and we will send you a special Executive Report (a $150.00 value) that will give you insight into what makes IT employees tick, , , something every IT manager needs to be aware of. 

The IT-Business Disconnect:
IT Manager Work Behavior – a Key Contributor

Take the quick survey in this report and see if your work behavior is similar to most IT managers and their employees. There are very real reasons why our type of personality is drawn to technology. As technicians these personality traits help us succeed, , , but as IT managers these same traits can cause you to struggle with many things and even fail in your new position. Learn why.

All of my writing is practical and to the point. We don’t have time for lots of theory, , , we just want to know what to do and how to go about it to succeed. This is exactly how I try to present the material in each book:

  • What to do to achieve IT success
  • How to go about it
  • Examples and tools to help you make it happen

The books will be highlighted and sold at We are overhauling our entire infrastructure so don’t be surprised if you see a bit of “work in progress” for a while. That’s right a complete overhaul of our entire infrastructure , , , equipment, web sites, shopping cart and order fulfillment, plus a few very exciting features to support our company strategy that you will begin seeing in the weeks ahead.

Additional titles, new tools, and more training are planned and will be released in the months to come once we have the new infrastructure in place.

2012 is going to be our best year yet!

Communicate Success With an IT Initiatives Portfolio

I delivered another webinar class this morning for a few IT managers in Slovenia and Croatia. The topic – Communicate Success With an IT Initiatives Portfolio.

I’m not sure when I developed this tool but as I mentioned to this group of managers, “This tool may have done more for me in my career than any tool I created.”

The IT Initiatives Portfolio is one of over 100 IT manager tools and templates in my IT Manager ToolKit.

The class only took about 30 minutes and I gave the students a great tool to track and communicate their project initiative performance.

To achieve success, you have to establish credibility and much of IT credibility comes with delivering projects successfully. This tool gives you a simple and easy way to quantify, measure, and communicate your project success in key areas:

  • On time
  • Within budget
  • Benefits achieved
  • Meet client needs
  • Overall success

If you are interested in this tool,, ,

CLICK HERE  to download the IT Initiatives Portfolio tool now.

CLICK HERE to view the 20 Minute IT Manager flash session to learn more about this tool and how to use it.

Practical IT Manager GOLD Series – Pre-launch offer

We are in major transition mode here at MDE Enterprises, so I thought it would be the perfect time to announce a new product to my Practical IT Manager Newsletter and ITLever readers, , , 

, , , and make you a very special offer, , , never offered before and never again.

Yes, we are upgrading our entire MDE infrastructure:

  • New web sites
  • New IT Manager Store
  • New products
  • New training services


I just completed a major rewrite of my first ten books and we have needed to update our web sites for a while. So, , , we are taking the opportunity to completely renovate our web sites, shopping cart, and order fulfillment infrastructure using a WordPress foundation.

We will also be adding entirely new products and services soon.

I took most of 2011 off to focus on the “books rewrite project” and to do some things that will position our company for new product offerings and a renewed training focus for 2012 that will allow us to reach many more IT managers around the world.

Very soon you will start seeing announcements for new books, tools, training, , , and more like you have never seen from our company.

Here is the first offer and it is a significant one, , , and only available to our Practical IT Manager Newsletter subscribers and ITLever readers for a very limited time.

SPECIAL “pre-launch” offer

 Practical IT Manager GOLD Series

My first ten eBooks completely rewritten plus the IT Manager ToolKit containing over 100 updated IT manager tools and templates.

It took me over a year to rewrite my first 10 books, , , and they are completely rewritten, not just a few cosmetic changes I initially thought I could do. The IT Manager ToolKit tools are also updated.


1 week only thru Oct. 31, 2011

This bundle has a retail value of $474.50 purchased separately and
will sell bundled for $279.00 on our new web sites.

See our progress at www.itmanagerinstitute

Sorry, our pre-launch offer ended October 31, 2011

Current price

Here is what you will receive:

A.  Ten new ebooks (all have been completely rewritten):
–  IT Management-101: fundamentals to achieve more
–  IT Due Diligence: merger and acquisition discovery process
–  IT Strategy: align your IT vision for business value
–  IT Organization: right-size your organization for success
–  IT Staff Motivation and Development: build a world class team
–  IT Budgeting: operational and capital budgeting made easy
–  IT Project Management: a practical approach
–  IT Asset Management: tracking technology assets
–  IT Assimilation: consolidating redundant technologies
–  What To Look For in a CIO: get more value from your IT investment

B.  IT Manager ToolKit (revised and updated):
102 tools and templates to help you in virtually every aspect of managing technology resources. Tools come with instruction and samples. Tools may be used “as is” or customized to meet your specific needs.

Career planning webinar held for Slovenia and Croatia managers

I held a 1-hour webinar class on career planning for a group of IT managers in Slovenia and Croatia last week. Career planning is one of my favorite topics primarily because I enjoy working with people so much and helping them advance their career.

Your IT employees want and need career planning help. You may need it as well.

One of the most enjoyable things about IT management (in my opinion) is when you work with someone and see their career develop. It is great to see your employees grow and to be able to achieve more in their life, especially when you have a small part in helping them.

I have delivered several webinar presentations now and trying to get a feel for using this format to deliver IT manager training much more in the future.

On my side, I’m trying to get more comfortable and not feel as though I’m rushing the presentation. It’s a matter of gaining a bit more experience in a virtual classroom setting as opposed to a real class with people I can see and interact with.

We have another virtual webinar class planned for this Thursday so I’m excited about meeting with more managers from Europe.

I plan to offer a significant amount of webinar training in 2012 so anyone in the world can attend some of my IT manager training programs. It will also allow me to deliver more IT manager training than ever before. I’m very excited about it.

Let me know if this is of interest by answering the poll below:

If it isn’t broken, , , don’t fix it

Don’t you love those “little IT jobs” that are supposed to take 15-20 minutes and then after 3 or 4 hours you still haven’t achieved your objective?

The answer is “NO!”

Yesterday afternoon after returning from our Camp Liberty I decided to install a new wireless router for my office. My plan was to install this new Linksys router for faster Internet access and then give my old router to an Aunt when I set her up a wireless network in her home later in the week.

My old router works fine, , , and Internet access is smooth and always works plus my wireless printer works well from all devices, , , a desktop, two laptops, an iPad and an HP TouchPad, , , nothing is wrong with the network I had in place, just thought the faster Internet access might be good.

I should have known better.

Installed the router easily and got Internet access immediately. So far so good, , , feeling pretty good about this project, but there is always something, , , right?

Internet access works fine from all devices.

However, I could not print using the wireless printer. The printer finds the router but there is a problem somewhere between the router and printer. Switch the old router back in and printing fine.

However, now I can’t print from my iPad or TouchPad, , , can’t seem to find the printer. Initially, I could not print from anything but finally resolved the print issue from the laptops.

It’s not a big deal that we can’t print from the iPad or TouchPad, but it’s a nuisance that I can’t get out of my head so I’ll probably spend more time troubleshooting, , , something I don’t need to be spending time on .

20 minutes went into over 3 hours last night trying different things, Googling key word phrases to seek out the answer, , , even tying in a usb cable from the router to the printer. Could not get back to where everything works like it did.

The lesson for an IT manager is that good intentions do not always lead to positive results immediately, , , so think through those key improvements you think is needed for your company.

Granted, I’m not the most technical person, , , I’m capable of focusing and managing technology resources but not very good in actually doing the technical work any longer.

Plus, I’m sure the fix to my wireless printing problem is going to be pretty simple when I finally solve the problem, , , the frustration is that I just don’t need this kind of headache right now, , , your clients and users feel the same way when something goes wrong in their business operation.

So back to my point:

If it isn’t broken, , , don’t fix it!

And one last point, , , I didn’t really feel like I needed faster Internet access, , , what I had worked fine and with the new Lenovo laptop it is already faster. I just thought, , , “it would be nice to have”.

My simple system migration steps

In a recent post I wrote about how I decided to replace my office desktop with a laptop. If you recall, I put this project off as long as I could because I dreaded the conversion effort.

The great news is that the conversion was not as much of a pain as I thought it would be, , , so thought I would share what I did. The other good news is that I really like my new office setup.

What I did not tell you is that I completely renovated my home office where I hang out and do much of my work. When I say “renovate”, this means I took my complete office apart and put it all back together again in order to replace carpet with hardwood floors.

I was dreading this project so much, , , but once started I essentially rebuilt my office, , , did some rearranging to give me more desk space. Maybe I will share this part in a later post. If you spend as much time in front of your PC as I do it is important to make your environment functional and comfortable.

Back to my office computer system upgrade project, , ,

There were several things I wanted to accomplish in setting up my new office computing environment. I’ve managed to do most of it in a reasonably short amount of time and relatively easy process.

My goals were to create a highly functional computing environment:

  • Simpler to manage
  • More portable
  • Able to create a “battleship console” environment with several monitors
  • Access all my personal data files from my old desktop
  • Access saved email messages from my old desktop
  • Use my wireless printer and other peripherals (scanner, etc.)
  • Upgrade to current OS and Microsoft Office applications
  • Transport several key software applications I use every day
  • More power, , , more speed, , , stability and reliability

Here are the steps I went through:

  1. Purchased a Lenovo ThinkPad W520 laptop with Windows 7 and Microsoft Office 2010 preloaded.
  2. Setup the laptop, , , pretty much as simple as taking it out of the box and plugging it in.
  3. Setup e-mail and accessed my wireless router, , , very simple as long as you know the information like passwords, WEP key, etc.
  4. Activated MS Office 2010, , , part of the setup prompts.
  5. Added my wireless printer/copier/fax to the Lenovo laptop and tested printing, , , piece of cake since the Lenovo found the printer automatically.
  6. Copied my personal files from my Dell desktop to a USB backup drive. To give you an idea of how old this desktop was, it took 21 hours (YES, , , 21 HOURS) to copy 46GB of personal files.
  7. Copied my Outlook .pst file to the USB backup drive, , , another 1.5 hours to do this.
  8. Uploaded the personal files to the new Lenovo system, , , a total of 30 minutes, , , WOW, , , already impressed. A key thing I did with this step was to set up an “archive directory” in my C-Drive file structure. Over time your file folders and structure gets a bit convoluted or messy, , , with the new file folders separated from the old files folders, I can simplify my file storage architecture but still retrieve old files when needed. It also allows me to only worry about backing up the newer files created since I now have multiple copies of all the files that were on the Dell system.
  9. Uploaded the Outlook .pst file to the Lenovo, , , 2 or 3 minutes. I also kept this .pst file as a separate Outlook file and now I can access both new email message activity “post conversion” and old email activity “pre-conversion”. Keeping these two files separate allows me to reorganize and simplify new messages but still retrieve the old messages when needed, , , all from the same Outlook screen.
  10. Created a “Mike Window”. This is a user window I use to place icons of all the software programs I use, , , it is always open and makes it easy to launch a new program when I need to.
  11. Loaded the key programs I use onto the Lenovo and added their icons to my “Mike Window”. Click on the image for a better look. At this point, I’ve only added the essential programs I use, , , more will be added as needed.
  12. Added my professional microphone and audio software to the Lenovo.
  13. Added my scanner to the Lenovo.

What is really neat is being able to access both new files or email messages as well as any of the older files or email messages even though I keep them separated, , , see steps 8 and 9.

The conversion took me about 2 days to do it all, but 21 hours was in copying personal files and folders to a USB drive. I also took my time and gave some thought about how I want to operate and how I want to access new and old data.

I’m extremely pleased with the new setup and think it is going to improve my productivity quite a lot.