Monthly Archives: June 2013

Do you have an Escalation Plan?

escalation planWhat does your IT organization do when a mission critical event takes place in your company?

Does the appropriate IT support component spring into action to minimize the risk imposed by the problem, , , or have you even sat down to think about and determine what these issues are and what you should do if they occur?

Sadly, many IT organizations wait until a major problem occurs before thinking about it. Unfortunately, this is a terrible time to start analyzing what you would do in the event of a major problem.

Major issues can occur in any industry, , , some things are unique to a particular business or industry. Here are some situations to think about:

  • Server or network failure
  • Remote office loses connectivity
  • Data interface between applications or outside entities goes down
  • Anything that endangers patient care in a hospital
  • Anything that puts employee safety at risk
  • Issues that can cause financial risk to the company
  • Things that significantly jeopardize client satisfaction

fireman1It’s important for your IT support team to respond quickly when major problems occur like the examples above. To do this, you need some type of high alert process that causes your team to take action when key events happen.

It will be much more effective when your employees know what causes an escalation event. what their action steps need to be, and have the knowledge and tools to be able to troubleshoot and resolve the problem, , , even who the escalation owner will be to manage and close out the response activities.

You want escalation to take place automatically so think about these things now. Trying to figure it all out when you have a problem is not a good time to start.

Dealing with possible employee misconduct

ripped offI received a question from one of my followers this morning about how to handle an employee’s possible misconduct:

Question: Recently one of my assistant managers decided to delete emails from a couple of business users email accounts. What would be the appropriate course of action to take? I would investigate then fire this person. However, I know if I kept him, he would probably be more loyal in the future, , ,even grateful? 
Need some advice.

My response: 
Thank you for your message. Here are some things to consider:

First, IT employees deleting any emails of others (especially our clients) should be prohibited unless you make a corporate decision to purge email from time to time, , , such as all email older than 2 years, etc. as decided by a senior management committee that represents users, senior management and IT.

Second, you probably want to find out why the employee deleted the email messages. It could be he thought this was not only appropriate but needed for a valid reason. He may even have deleted the messages as a request of the client. There could be many valid reasons, , , you need to understand the reasoning behind it.

Third, unless the act was for something illegal or unethical, I would never fire the employee for a first offense. Even then, you may not want to take such harsh action if you think the employee was possibly not aware his action was improper. However, depending upon the circumstances surrounding the email deletions, I would certainly coach and council the employee and make it clear this type of act will have serious consequences in the future, , , and be sure to spell out what those consequences are.

Quite often, an employee isn’t completely aware that his actions are improper, especially if a client has requested it. The key here is to get underneath the issue to determine why email messages were deleted and take appropriate action based upon what you learn.

Hope this helps,

There are a few issues that would warrant terminating an emp0loyee on the first offense, but they are few and far between from my experience. I try to always give the person the benefit of the doubt when facing questionable situations, , , whether it is an employee, a client, or a senior manager I work for.

People make mistakes, , , all of us do. It’s important that a company develops managers who are supportive and help minimize these type of mistakes. More importantly though it’s important for the company to have a culture where people aren’t threatened every time they make a mistake and see management focused to support them and help them succeed.

Management is about coaching, , , it requires continuous coaching and reinforcement to get the results you want as well as the behavior you expect from your team.

What would you do in this case? I’m interested in your perspective and thoughts! You can add a Reply in the box below.

Mike Sisco’s Top 15 IT Manager Tools

When the Editors of Toolkit Café asked me to provide a list of the Top Ten IT manager tools every IT manager should have, three things happened:

First, I never had really thought about “must have tools” for every IT manager. I had always just focused on individual tools or my entire IT Manager ToolKit.

Second, if we really mean “every IT manager should have them”, then we should create an opportunity so every IT manager can access them, , , so we have, , , read on.

Third, when I tried to identify a Top 10 List, I couldn’t narrow it down to just 10. There are 15 IT manager tools in my IT Manager ToolKit that every IT manager needs and should have.

Let’s start with the list and follow with a short description of each tool and my reasons as to why you need it.

15 Tools Every IT Manager NEEDS

15Tools_all1. IT Employee Skills Matrix
2. IT Training Plan
3. New Employee Orientation Checklist
4. Performance Plan Template
5. Project Schedule Template
6. IT Systems Conversion Project Schedule
7. Move/Relocation Checklist
8. IT Initiatives Portfolio
9. Vendor Support Contacts
10. Escalation procedure
11. Annual IT Accomplishments
12. Client Rescue Guide
13. Cost of Downtime
14. Budget templates
15. IT Support Survey

Every tool can be customized to fit your specific needs and each tool includes instructions to help you use it.


Read on for a Description of Each Tool

IT Staff Skills Matrix1. IT Employee Skills Matrix

One of the first things you want to do in an IT organization is to conduct an IT assessment. A key component of this discovery process is to determine the capability and capacity of your IT staff.  In other words, what can you do and how much can you do in terms of providing IT support.

This simple tool helps you quantify the skills you have and quickly identify the skill gaps that exist so you can prioritize training and education for your team. You can modify it to assess any level of skill you want; use it to quantify both technical and non-technical skills. Learn more.

IT Training Plan - General2. IT Training Plan

Training and education is one of the top motivators for IT employees. It always ranks in the Top 3 reasons employees stay with their company so it’s important to have a strong focus on employee development.

Eliminate knowledge silos and develop depth in your organization with a focused employee training plan when you quantify and prioritize training with this tool.
Learn more

Tool_New IT Employee Orientation3. New Employee Orientation Checklist

It’s important to help a new employee get started so he or she can become productive quickly. It also has morale implications with your IT team as well as with your new employee that you may not realize.

Use this checklist or modify as needed to show new employees you are organized and help them become part of the team quickly. Learn more

Performance Plan4. Performance Plan Template

(with examples)

IT employees have a strong need to know what it takes to be successful and they want to know if they are. Employee performance planning and review time is some of the highest quality time you have with your employees.

Included are three sample performance plans for a Programmer, Business Analyst and Infrastructure Manager. Learn more

Project Schedule template5. Project Schedule Template

The key to gaining IT credibility is delivering projects successfully. You need project schedules to help you manage the project team and complete the tasks on time.

I’ve used this template hundreds of times to manage very large projects. You don’t have to be a PMP to deliver projects successfully, but you do need structure and some simple tools. Learn more

projectplan6. IT Systems Conversion Project Schedule

Sooner or later you are going to convert one of your systems to a new platform. This project schedule template provides a generic list of tasks you can use to get started quickly.

In addition, an actual sample system conversion project schedule is included that will provide additional insight into project management. Learn more

Move Checklist7. Move/Relocation Checklist

There is going to be a time when a department of your company needs to relocate. I’ve been in situations where it seemed like someone was moving every week. Nothing hurts IT credibility more than when these relocations go poorly.

Prepare with a move/relocation checklist that helps you support your client by ensuring future relocations go smoothly. Learn more

IT Initiatives Portfolio8. IT Initiatives Portfolio

This little tool is so simple yet powerful. A couple of pages will show everyone how effective your IT organization delivers projects. Summarizes exactly what you need to know in regards to your project initiatives:
• On time
• Within budget
• Results achieved
• Meets client needs
• Successful (Yes or No)
Learn more

Vendor Contact List9. Vendor Support Contacts

When you need vendor support you often need it fast. Keep your vendor contact information close by and make it available to your Help Desk and all your IT managers.  You’re going to need it. Learn more

escalation procedure - loss of connectivity10. Escalation procedure

There are events that take place when you need to escalate IT support to a higher level such as a remote office losing connectivity, a data interface goes down, or a server crash.

Developing practical escalation procedures puts you ahead of the game when these problems occur and positions your organization to be highly responsive.
Learn more

Annual IT Accomplishments11. Annual IT Accomplishments

No one knows what the IT organization is accomplishing if you don’t tell them. I was shocked when assembling data for an annual IT Kickoff. We had accomplished so much more than I realized.

Right then I knew that if I had forgotten as the manager, then my clients and senior managers wouldn’t remember either. From that point I began tracking our accomplishments so we could communicate them with all groups in the company. Learn more

Client Rescue Guide12. Client Rescue Guide

Early in my career an unhappy client intimidated me. Maybe that’s happened to you. Over the years I learned that a “problem client” is simply an opportunity in disguise.

Identify the client’s issues and address them and you have a partner instead of a headache. This template walks you through a process to do just that. Learn more

costofdowntime13. Cost of Downtime

Senior managers don’t understand technology nor want to, but you have to gain their approval to fund many technical projects that are necessary for the company.

This can be especially difficult when trying to discuss infrastructure projects, , , executives don’t get “routers and switches”. A tool that can help you is to educate them on the “cost of downtime”.

This practical tool will help you quantify the downtime implications in lost productivity for any technology in your company, even down to a single PC or printer. Learn more

Budget Templates14. Budget templates

Developing an IT budget should be fairly quick work, but it is a long and tiring process for many IT managers. It was for me too until I developed a few templates to help me in the process.

This tool is actually several templates and can help streamline your IT operational and capital budgeting effort. Learn more

IT Support Survey15. IT Support Survey

At the end of the day, your client’s perspective of how well your IT organization is performing is your measurement of success. You need to be aware of how they feel about IT performance.

To do this, I use a simple survey like this tool but I don’t send it out and expect to get them completed and returned. Instead, I interview my clients and get much more information.

Use this survey form or modify it to determine client perspectives on:
• IT responsiveness
• IT focus
• IT quality
• IT professionalism
Learn more

The tools and templates above have helped me significantly, and I hope you receive value in using them.

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There are over 100 tools and templates in the IT Manager ToolKit. To learn more  click here.

IT Manager Institute #56 – Dubai, UAE

Last week’s program in Dubai was a huge success with 31 managers from 6 countries attending our 56th IT Manager Institute. I’m the ugly guy in the middle in the gray suit.

This was a super group of IT managers and executives and I enjoyed every minute with them.

21 SecretsOn the first day of class at 9:00am Dubai time, I launched a new book to my Practical IT Manager Newsletter list.  21 Secrets Every IT Manager Should MUST Know has been in development for a couple of years and it was nice to launch it during my largest class to date. Each student received a free copy. Learn more

21 Secrets Every IT Manager MUST Know

21 Secrets Every IT Manager Must KnowLast week at our 56th IT Manager Institute in Dubai I announced my new book.

21 Secrets Every IT Manager Should MUST Know

Secret #8, Teamwork is not automatic in IT was posted the other day that will give you a glimpse into the book.


IT managers tend to discount or pay little attention to these “secrets”, , , something that can create real challenges for you and your IT organization.

21 Secrets has been in development for some time. I wanted to write this one because there are many issues that can hinder your IT success, , , even undermine your credibility. Becoming aware of these “land mines” can make a positive difference in your success.

You may purchase the book at