Monthly Archives: January 2012

Business value is the key to IT manager job security

I just finished writing an article for Cutter Consortium’s IT Trends for 2012, , , an annual survey and review they do every year. This will be my fourth year to do this.

Cutter polls their subscribers with an annual Technology Trends Survey and has two people along with their senior editor review the results and write an analysis. They include an academic and an operational IT manager.

In the academic case, it is Dennis A. Adams, Associate Professor of Decision and Information Sciences at the University of Houston.

The operational IT manager perspective is where I come in.

When I started writing these articles it was the beginning of 2009 and much has happened since then. One of the nice things we receive in the survey feedback data is an ability to see how managers answered questions over time, , , in other words, we can see the trend.

In 2009, IT organizations were anticipating layoffs and downsizing. So, when I wrote a newsletter article about “Business value is the key to job security”, it was geared to the downsizing momentum that existed in 2009.

In reviewing the 2012 survey data most IT organizations believe their staffing situation is stable or they are going to be hiring this year. I’ve seen this consistently in many articles and surveys over the past year.

So, why do I rewrite the article when hiring seems to be the trend versus downsizing?

The reason is simple, , , no matter what your situation, business value is absolutely key to your success.

If your organization does not know how to identify and deliver business value, your success is going to be limited.

This article is not intended to make you worry needlessly or to be a negative message.  In fact, the message you should get from the content below is a very positive one.

In today’s business environment, it is more important to have an IT organization that is appreciated and valued by your senior management team than ever, , , and it is ultimately essential for your viability in the company.

It’s never too late to start building a presence where you and your IT organization are appreciated and valued for what you do, , , so if it doesn’t already exist in your company, you need to get started RIGHT NOW !!

First step – understand the importance of business value.

Business managers want and need your IT help, but they do not and will not fully understand technology. There are exceptions to everything, but for the most part they don’t want to understand the technology. They just want to do their jobs and to support the company’s mission, , , and they want you to do your job.

What business managers (senior managers and department managers of your company) do understand is business value.

When you deliver business value, speak in business value terms, and do things that have business value benefits, , , then and only then do you get their attention. You also gain their respect and appreciation for your organization’s hard work because they better understand what it is you are achieving.

However, if you do not connect with your client (again, senior managers and department managers of your company) on a business value level, it is difficult and potentially impossible to gain their respect for what you and your organization do.

They just don’t get it when you deliver technology and talk technology.

It’s about the business. It is not about the technology.

Business value comes in many forms:

A.  Increase revenue  –  Implementing technology that helps the company sell more of its existing products or services or sell new products or services.

B.  Decrease expense  –  Decreasing a departmen’s expenses or avoiding costs by implementing technology.

C.  Improve productivity  –  Improving a department’s employee productivity so they can handle more work with existing employees and avoid hiring more employees or they are able to reduce staff.

D.  Differentiate the company  –  Doing something that gives the company an advantage over its competition by differentiating the company’s offerings.

E.  Improve client satisfaction  –  Retaining a client can be more cost effective than replacing a lost client with a new one. Improving client satisfaction can be valuable to a company.

In a “for-profit” company, there is a common theme in all of these elements. Each of these value propositions help the company become more profitable, , , and profitability is the name of the game in a “for-profit” company.

Even in a “not-for-profit” company increasing revenue, decreasing expense, improving productivity, etc. are important to help the company continue to operate and do the work of it’s mission more effectively.

So, regardless of your situation business value is a key component in delivering IT support.

Your IT organization is the one organization in your company that can positively impact every organization or department in the company.

This is real leverage!

There is probably no other organization in your company that offers this much leverage to the senior management team.

The problem is that your senior managers won’t realize this much leverage is right under their noses if your organization has been delivering technology instead of business value.

Understand that most business managers see the IT managers of the company as technical managers, not business managers. In far too many cases, they don’t think their IT manager or CIO understands business very well.

You must change this perspective they have of you. And, when you do they will appreciate you and your team for what you can do for the company and not see you as a “cost center”, or a manager who likes new toys and spending lots of money.

An IT manager who delivers business value is viewed as a partner, , , a business partner to be valued for the positive contributions he has made in the past  and can make to the company’s prosperity in the future.

Second step is simple:  All IT initiative recommendations must be cost justified and provide tangible and quantifiable business value to the company.

You simply don’t work on things unless you can quantify the business value that will be gained when the project is completed and every recommendation is cost justified and easily understood by the management team.

This means you must be able to frame projects and discuss them in financial terms. Business managers don’t understand routers and switches, programming, and such technical things as you do; but they do understand revenue, expense, productivity and those type of discussions.

Your tendency is to discuss the issues in technical terms and when you do, you lose a business manager’s attention. Learn to discuss your projects in business value and benefits terms and you get their attention.

Plus, they might even understand what you are talking about.

When senior management trusts you such that everything you do provides business value and that you only spend money prudently (like a business owner would do), you will find they will appreciate your IT organization much more than you might imagine, , , and they want you as their partner.

Let me give you an example, I’ve been very fortunate to have worked with some excellent senior management teams. In my career, I’ve had two CEO’s ask me to spend more money when they were cutting costs in other departments. The reason was the same in both situations, , , these CEOs understood the leverage value of an IT organization that delivers business value.

Insightful senior managers know they can get much more cost savings from IT when we do things that reduces expenses or improves productivity in the bigger organizations.

Sure, if they ask me to cut 10% from my budget in the 2nd half of a year, they will get something fairly tangible cost savings, , , but not nearly what they can get if I can implement technology that improves a large organization’s productivity considerably.

Even better, this type of improvement is usually an ongoing benefit, not a one-time benefit.

You have to earn business management’s confidence. To gain the trust of the business managers requires a third step:

Third step – establish a track record of success where you can show:

1.  All your recommendations are cost justified and have tangible business value

2.  You deliver the approved projects successfully

Sounds pretty simple and it really is when you get right down to it, but so many IT organizations fail to do this.

Business managers are looking for partners who help them achieve their goals and objectives.

When you deliver what you say you will do and the results include specific business value benefits that helps a CEO or Department Manager achieve his/her objectives, you simply gain a lot of respect, trust, and value in their eyes.

They wouldn’t think of running the company without you when this partnership exists.

IT Manager Store web site announcement

Last week we announced the IT Manager Store web site to our newsletter subscribers, , , one location where you will find some of the best and most practical IT manager resources in the industry.

To “jumpstart” the site and offer our newsletter subscribers an opportunity, we announced a 20% across the board discount for items purchased on the IT Manager Store site through January 31, 2012.

Tools and templates

You can take advantage of this limited time special. Simply use the coupon code “jumpstart” and the site’s shopping cart will reduce your price automatically.

Go to
and check it out

Offer good through January 31, 2012

Big plans for 2012

As you look at your own IT management situation, new optimism occurs with the beginning of each new year. The holidays are over and a new year has begun.

Have you developed your 2012 plans, , , do you know what you want to accomplish in this new year?

We have big plans for 2012 at MDE Enterprises, Inc. and have been working very hard to get positioned for 2012. Let me outline the key components for you:

A.  IT Manager Institute training – our flagship IT Manager Institute training program will expand in 2012 with webinar training and we will add many more IT managers to the ITBMC certification list. Our goal is to make this exceptional training value available to every IT manager in the world by making it accessible and affordable. There are now 3 options to attend the IT Manager Institute and gain your ITBMC status.
–  Classroom  –  Five classes scheduled so far with trips to Dubai and Atlanta.
–  Webinar  –  IT Manager Institute webinar class will be delivered each quarter.
–  Self Study  –   IT Manager Institute SELF STUDY program is the most affordable and one of the best values we have.

B. WEBINAR Training Series – We plan to deliver 1-hour webinar classes to expand our reach considerably in 2012, to make our training more affordable for many, and to be able to offer a variety of IT manager training topics.
–  2 webinar classes delivered each month and recorded for future access. Our first webinar classes include:

  • Feb 6 – Boost Your Career With a Professional Development Plan
  • Feb 13 – Communicate IT Success With an IT Initiatives Portfolio
  • Mar 12 – Turn Difficult Clients Into Opportunities
  • Mar 26 – Dealing With Problem Employees
  • Apr 9 – Triple Threat to IT Success
  • Apr 16 – IT Assessment: the key to success

–  Quarterly IT Manager Institute webinar programs

  • Monday-Friday, February 20-24
  • Monday-Friday, April 23-27
  • Monday-Friday, July 23-27
  • Monday-Friday, November 12-16

C. 20 Minute IT Manager Series – Tom Mochal and I are developing new 20 Minute IT Manager sessions and will start delivering two per month. Here is the list of topics for the first six months:

  • Jan – Value-Add PMO (TM)
  • Jan – Simple Client Survey Tells You a Lot (MS)
  • Feb – Successfully Market Your PMO (TM)
  • Feb – Effective IT Staff Meetings (MS)
  • Mar – Managing Outsourced Projects (TM)
  • Mar – 10 Ways To Improve Client Service (MS)
  • Apr – Five Keys to Project Success (TM)
  • Apr – Prioritizing IT Projects (MS)
  • May – Applying Project Governance (TM)
  • May – IT Self Evaluation Checklist (MS)
  • Jun – Optimizing Project Resources (TM)
  • Jun – Create an IT Manager Dashboard (MS)

D. IT Due Diligence and Assimilation Program – Join me in a 2-day training program to learn what you need to know about IT due diligence and assimilation when acquiring another company. The process and tools are based upon my due diligence and transition experience in over 40 company acquisitions.

  • March 27-28, 2012 – Columbia, TN

E.  Books and tools – You probably know I devoted considerable time in 2011 to rewrite my first 10 books. They are completed and now called Mike Sisco’s Practical IT Manager GOLD Series. This series includes an updated IT Manager ToolKit and has been our top seller for 10 years, , , and it just got a whole lot better. CLICK HERE for info.

New book titles + new tools will be released in 2012. Stay tuned.

F.  New products – We have been hard at work to bring two new services to our IT manager community. The first is a Membership Program that allows you to access tools, training and products from our huge inventory of IT manager resources. There will be 3 levels – FREE, Silver, and Gold. Become a Premium Member and save. Active GOLD Members will receive new products and training we deliver.

The second product gives you the ability to earn commissions by creating awareness of our IT manager products. Affiliate status is available to a very select group, , , you have to be an IT Manager Institute graduate or a current GOLD Member of our membership program to participate. We are testing this system now and plan to roll it out in January to our Institute graduates first.

2012 is going to be a super year full of new experiences and great new projects to work on as we continue our mission of, “helping IT managers of the world achieve more success”.

I wish you the best of success as you enter this new year’s challenges and opportunities.

IT Management-101: fundamentals to achieve more

Over the next few days I plan to post a quick article highlighting each of the new books in the Practical IT Manager GOLD Series.

At the end of each post, I’ll include a FREE IT manager tool discussed in the book you may download and use.

IT Management-101: fundamentals to achieve more
We distributed well over 300,000 copies of the original book, , , the new version is much better.

Learn about the Triple Threat to IT Success, , , the three key things that cause IT failure. You will also learn about what makes an IT employee “tick”. Some of these traits are extremely helpful as a technology expert but create big challenges for you as an IT manager. This book is a foundation every IT manager should have.

This is the publication that puts an IT manager’s responsibility into perspective. Managing technology resources can be much easier if you know what to do, how to do it, and have tools with examples to help you.

Eleven key traits of successful IT managers are emphasized that will leapfrog you past other managers. Tools are included to help you assess an IT situation and to gain insight to insure your team is in sync with your company’s needs.

IT Management-101 provides a solid foundation on which to build upon in developing your IT management skills and capabilities, , , and to achieve more™ success.

Table of Contents

Sample excerpts


Buy Now – $29.95, , , or
Download FREE when joining my free Practical IT Manager Newsletter
CLICK HERE for information on the Practical IT Manager GOLD Series.

FREE Tool from the book
— New IT Employee Orientation/Start-up List —
One of the things you want to do with any new employee is to get them productive quickly. This is the checklist I’ve used to help me integrate dozens of new IT employees into our organization quickly. I use this tool and expect my IT managers to use something like it to ensure we get new employees “up and running”  and help them feel part of the team quickly.  Download Now has moved to

Well, it is finally completed, , , our web sites have been completely overhauled using a WordPress foundation. The web site will be phased out over time and we have moved to


Pretty simple, , , the old web site certainly needed a facelift plus the tools we were using were not very search engine friendly although we rank pretty good in some keyword instances.

I also felt we needed to brand “IT Manager Institute” more with a .com domain.

In addition, we have many new products (some in place already and a few being developed) and wanted to replace our order process, shopping cart, and fulfillment tools, , , so everything really needed to be rebuilt from the ground up.

Lastly, maintaining a web site with WordPress tools is so easy I couldn’t resist making the move to this environment. Creating the ITLever Blog opened my eyes to how much more fun and productive it can be.

The heavy lifting is completed. I’m sure we will find things that need “tweaking” but the new site is up and running and we are selling books, tools, and training from it already. We are pleased with the conversion. will stay up for a few months because of some of the page rankings in the search engines.

Hope you like our new web site.

My e-Learning production environment

A few of you have asked about the tools I use to develop e-Learning training sessions, , , so thought I would give you an “inside look” at my home office “studio” and a brief description of the equipment and software I use.

–  My desktop is actually a laptop, a Lenovo W520 ThinkPad. This may be the best thing I’ve done in years, , , awesome. It sits on a Lenovo Mini Dock Plus Series 3 docking station for a power source and extra connectivity ports. Nice to be able to start-up in just a few seconds each day.

–  HP Photosmart C7280 All-in-One printer has been with me for a couple of years, , , works great in wireless mode. Prints excellent color front and back, faxes, copies, and scans plus it uses easy loading ink cartridges. Great 4×6″ photo prints plus it reads virtually every camera card made.

–  My display was a surprise Christmas gift, , , a Samsung 36-inch HD TV/Monitor. I only use it for a display monitor. What’s great about it is being able to throw several windows up on it at the same time to work with. While developing 20MITM e-learning sessions this weekend I saw a nice boost to my productivity plus it is so much easier than going back and forth to different windows on a smaller display. I tried using multiple monitors and although this works fine I didn’t like the desk space required and having to move the cursor across screens, , , just not as easy as having it all on one big screen. Thank you very much Dorine and Eddie, , , I will enjoy this XMAS gift for years to come.

How do you like the shirt I purchased in Dar es Salaam?

Canon LiDe 210 Scanner – Even though the HP All-in-One printer scans, I like this scanner and it only cost me $99.00, , , small footprint, very quiet, extremely easy to operate, and excellent quality scans.

– My audio equipment is professional grade. When Tom Mochal and I decided to develop the 20 Minute IT Manager e-Learning training in 2006, we knew we needed high quality audio equipment so we both invested in the same setup and it has worked extremely well for us. Each of us has an Edirol UA-25 USB Audio Interface System with an Audio Technica AT2020 Studio Microphone. Sound quality of your work is good as it gets with this equipment.

I use a lot of software as we all do, but let’s stay with what we use to produce e-Learning sessions.

PowerPoint 2010 – Best version yet although I’m still trying to get familiar with the new interface. Hard to beat PowerPoint and the use of PNG images to make your presentations “pop”. Love PowerPoint!!

Articulate Presenter ’09 – Installs as a PowerPoint plug-in and creates the presentations we end up with. This is a great tool we have used a great deal. It is very versatile and creates a nice user interface. I liked it so much I built my IT Manager Institute Self Study using these tools.

Sound Forge Audio Studio – This is what we record our PowerPoint slide “voice over” with. Has great editing capability, , , much better than the earlier versions of what was included in PowerPoint. Haven’t tried the audio recording features of PowerPoint 2010 yet and know it’s got to be better, , , a project for another time.

That’s it, , , production is simple and straightforward. Just develop your PowerPoint presentation, record the voice-over for the slides, and publish the content using Articulate Presenter.

Take a look at a 20 Minute IT Manager session titled, IT Initiatives Portfolio.

Update – completed three new 20MITM sessions

In my last post I talked about the preparation work it took to rebuild my e-learning production environment after upgrading my system a couple of months ago.

It was a challenging few days but all is good now, , , plus I completed three new 20 Minute IT Manager sessions this weekend. Tom Mochal and I plan to announce the availability of two new e-learning sessions each month, , , one authored by each of us.

My first three new titles are:

  • Simple Client Survey Can Tell You a Lot
  • Effective IT Staff Meetings
  • 10 Ways to Improve Client Service

Feels good to complete this project and know that my production center is working so well after the upgrades we have gone through in the past 3 months.

I’m liking my setup more every day.

I’m reminded of things taking longer than planned

Tom Mochal and I decided to develop new 20 Minute IT Manager e-learning sessions this year. For three years between March-2006 to March-2009, we delivered weekly 20-minute training sessions to our subscriber list, , , 162 sessions in all. See for details.

These sessions are excellent training modules that will be great training resources for years and years to come because they aren’t hinged on any specific technology. They are practical tips and techniques on:

  • IT management
  • Project management
  • People management
  • Leadership
  • Professional development

Well, I started getting prepared to produce new sessions, , , essentially developing PowerPoint presentations, recording the voice-over, and publishing the sessions for upload to our Internet servers.

Sounds simple enough, , , after all, I’ve developed over 100 training sessions using the tools we use, , , Articulate Presenter, , , GREAT TOOLS.

But I forgot one simple thing, , , I upgraded my computer system in October and this will be my first time to use these tools in my new environment.

This one little change made my setup preparation a much bigger deal than I had planned. I thought I would be recording in just a few minutes.


First, had to install a new licensed set of software so I downloaded the trial version and tried to register it with my registration key.

“Houston, , , we have a problem!”

Apparently to do this we needed to uninstall the version on my old desktop to free up the license. Unfortunately, this desktop has been put away never to be used again except for dire emergency and the longer we go the bigger the emergency needs to be. Surely we can avoid this “hassle factor”.

When making the system conversion I didn’t worry about this part because I knew I had the registration key needed to activate the software on my new system. Didn’t realize I would actually need to uninstall the software on the old system to free up the license.

A few hours to get the licensed software setup on my new system after contacting their support team, , , they are very good by the way.

OK, ready to go.

Not so fast, , , let’s test a few things before we go too far.

Good thing I did because when I imported an audio file for one of the slides, , , my PowerPoint system freezes, , , locked, , , can’t do anything.


Everything else works fine but PowerPoint is locked solid.  “HU^$%#^%&VFF#”

After considerable Google searches I contact Articulate Support once again and they send me recommended solutions to identify and fix problem. I walk through their recommendations and sure enough, they work.

The issue, , , my new Lenovo laptop (which I absolutely love by the way) comes configured with WinDVD and it causes a conflict with Articulate Presenter. The Articulate Support Team was right on top of the situation, , , told you they were good.

I follow the problem resolution steps, do another audio import test and see that we are now in business, , , no lockup when importing audio.

OK, , , ready to go.

Not so fast, what’s your hurry?

Let’s do another simple test, , , let’s create a 3-slide presentation and publish it to see what it looks like just to ensure all is working well. We don’t want to have to do lots of rework down the line after completing an entire presentation, , , right?

My test presentation publishes the 3 slides without a hitch except for one thing.

It does not look like our other 20MITM sessions we have created. It is obvious that I have to set up Articulate Presenter all over again, , , things like:

  • Our custom user interface template
  • Presenter photos and biographies
  • Default attachments we include in every session with new file paths
  • Even the PowerPoint Slide Master has to be updated.

The bottom line:  My 1-hour prep work turned into a 2-day effort due to the lag time back and forth with support, my learning curve, and the extra work I had to do to troubleshoot and get my presentation production environment back to where it was with the old PC.

The good news, , , I’m set up once again and the new production environment is better than ever, , , faster and even easier to use.

Remember the IT Project Golden Rule, , ,

IT projects usually take longer and cost more
than you think they will.

Don’t you just love these support calls?

I want you to put yourself into your client’s shoes for a minute as I tell you about a support call I made yesterday.

Our DSL service has been having intermittent problems of late. In every case, I was able to unplug and replug the modem and wireless router to “reboot”.

Worked fine, , , no worries.

This week the number of “lost internet” issues increased so when the problem occurred twice yesterday and I had more difficulty in re-establishing connectivity, I decided to give my DSL provider a call.

I’m the client in this situation.

I was fairly certain the problem was with either the DSL line or the modem. Everything looks good on my end, , , I’m just not getting out to the Internet plus the Internet light on the modem is either red or doesn’t light up at all and it should be green.

The Support Rep is courteous enough but not very receptive to input I try to provide so he can focus on the line or the modem.

We establish pretty quickly that the line is OK, but then he starts having me disconnect the wireless router and do all kinds of things assuming the problem is on my server and cable end.

After an hour, we are no closer to a problem resolution and my system has been totally disconnected from what we need, , , then he says that to replace the modem will be a $75.00 charge plus an activation charge of $125.00.

Are you kidding me?

Their modem is faulty, I pay a monthly service fee that includes the equipment, , , and, “I have to pay to fix your problem?”

About this time, I’m getting a bit frustrated so I ask to speak to a manager. After another 10 minutes he comes back to say they are all busy and not available but he can arrange a callback. Yeah, , , right.

I have a serious problem. My business depends upon Internet connectivity. This has to be resolved and resolved quickly.

The Support Rep starts giving me all kinds of explanations and possibilities but he isn’t taking us to a resolution. We need this problem resolved, , , and it lies with the modem I’m pretty sure.

After considerable more time of working with this chap, we determine that the problem appears to be with a firmware problem within the modem. We reset the modem and reconfigure it and wallah! All works well again.

Today the problem occurred again but this time I was able to replace the modem and so far, , , all is working just like it should work, , , and normally does.

I think we could have saved a lot of time and frustration if he had focused on the modem as a possible source of the problem in the beginning rather than stepping me through all the hassle of disconnecting and reconnecting cables and suggesting I probably had a systems problem.

My point, , , it is easy to point to your customer as the problem. In some cases, they actually are but in my experience it is more often something on our technology side that’s causing the issue.

2011 in review

The folks at stats prepared a 2011 annual report for my blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 33,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 12 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.