"Frank's skill in asking the right questions is un-mistakable, and is at the core of his leadership philosophy.

The power of these questions cannot be underestimated, especially if you want to lead and not manage."
—John Cave
Westhaven Worldwide Logistics

If not otherwise stated—all postings © Frank D. Kanu. All rights reserved.

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Poulet à ciboulette

Add half a stick of unsalted butter into a medium sized pot. Put it on high heat until all butter is melted. Turn down the heat to medium and add 6 drumsticks. They should fit in the pot and cover the bottom. Let them cook until they have a nice golden color. Turn the heat down to the lowest simmer you have. Add 3/4 oz of chives which you chop three/four times. Cover the pot and let the food simmer for 15 minutes. Then add 8 oz of white cooking wine and set the heat to the highest simmer you have. Cook covered for twenty minutes.
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The Top Three Problems IT Managers Face and How to Overcome Them

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Today’s business environment has changed drastically from just a few years back. Rather than working exclusively with equipment, data, and systems, today’s IT managers face issues such as cross training, personnel management, interdepartmental communication, and a widening job scope for all IT employees.

This expansion of the IT job realm has left many IT managers juggling new challenges. While the problems, in and of themselves, might appear overwhelming, there are simple, proven ways to rise above them.

Problem #1 - Tough Data Flow

Information often flows irregularly and is subject to quantitatively strong fluctuations. These fluctuations can become detrimental if not dealt with. The simple solution is to control the information.

Officially, “information controlling” is the analysis, evaluation, and importance attached to the electronic data that is collected and provided with the data under various criteria.

To achieve this, start by making employees aware of the importance of the data they help to gather. Encourage accuracy and demonstrate to employees how their active participation in the process can reap rewards they might not have thought of.

Because your job as IT manager will continue to get more and more hectic, you’ll want to continually look for ways to improve speed and quality while reducing rising costs.

Problem #2 - Rising Costs

Rising costs are a challenge for any manager. They are especially troubling to an IT manager working in the electronic data processing area.

Industry experts show that, despite various “old systems” existing, resources are only used at about 30% of their optimal performance. This leaves room for 70% improvement without an excessive outlay of cash.

To increase ROI using existing resources, consider:

  1. Conducting a survey of departments. Ask what their primary challenges are with the existing systems. The majority of the time the solutions lie within untapped features of existing resources. Search the systems for solutions and provide them.

  2. Getting clear definitions of problems. Oftentimes, employees may not know how to communicate the problems they face in “IT language.” This may relate to an ill-suited solution. Take time to work with employees or department heads to clearly outline challenges so you are equipped to find solutions more quickly and accurately.

  3. Looking for ways to integrate. A smooth flow of information always increases productivity. When possible, work to find ways to integrate existing systems. With a little ingenuity on your part, and a little creativity, you can develop solutions without budget increases.

Problem #3 - Insufficient Sensitivity Concerning Data Security

As the complexity of electronic data processing increases, security often decreases. Not only does this pose problems in the form of breaches, it also has legal ramifications with regard to licenses.

From healthcare companies to financial organizations, the US government is cracking down on lax security. The smart IT manager is taking steps now to not only stress the importance of security to those in his/her company, but to also instill the necessary protective measures.

To help others within your organization understand how sensitive certain data is, create a memo or site page explaining:

  • what security measures are currently in place,

  • why these measures exist,

  • the consequences (internally and externally) for not following security procedures, and

  • whom to contact with questions/issues regarding security.

Although an IT manager’s job is continually evolving and becoming more challenging, there are ways to overcome pressing problems. By looking at each situation from a variety of angles, you’ll be able to define problems quickly and accurately, and then offer solutions that will benefit you, your team, and your entire company.


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What To Do When Your IT Project Is Late, Over Budget, and Looks Like It’s Never Going To Work

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Here’s a scary statistic. According to four prominent research firms, only around 20% of all IT projects are finished in a timely manner. By “timely” the researchers mean without loss of quality or being over budget. They go on to say the average project runs approximately 200 percent late, roughly 200 percent over budget, and contains only 2/3 of the original functionality.

Failure is the norm in the IT industry. But why? And more importantly, how do we fix it?

There must be a way to dissect the problem, and create a solution to the diagnosis of “doomed failure.” Trust me, there is!

Top 7 Problems and Their Solutions

Let’s take a look at the top 7 reasons IT projects are late or over budget. Then I’ll show you some proven solutions taken straight from the trenches.

1. Not Enough Time

Whether it’s a misunderstanding of the complexity of computer system designs or some other reason, many times little time is devoted to gathering the necessary data. Because this is one of the first steps in the process, when adequate time isn’t given to data collection, everything else suffers.

Likewise, enough time is rarely allotted to creating a good design. While the planning stage may not offer the excitement that development does, it is equally, if not more, important. Lack of planning in the design phase almost always leads to ongoing changes during the development phase. When this happens, budget dollars and man-hours are eaten away.

SOLUTION: Give it more time. This vital step must be given due consideration. Adjust your schedule as needed, and you’ll find the rest of the process goes much smoother. Yes, you have to make it to market before your competition. But if you make it to market and your product is filled with bugs, what do you get? A pile of returns and complaints, and a bad reputation.

2. Open the Lines of Communication

It sounds like a cliché, but communication is absolutely vital to the success of any project. The communication between the development team and the users, and also the communication inside the development team must be crystal clear. Does everyone understand you? Do they know exactly what’s expected of them or have you assumed they know? Do they communicate well with each other? With users? With other departments?

SOLUTION: Identify communication breakdowns now. These can only lead to confusion and complications down the road. Never assume that everyone understands. Take just a little extra time to create an environment that is destined to produce a product on time and under budget.

3. Testing a New Program in the Production Server

Testing in the production server leads to a breach of security, which can lead to “immediate” release without testing which can ultimately disrupt the production environment.

SOLUTION: There should be specific protocol setup for security and quality control considerations for new program tests.

4. Inadequate Testing

Experience and studies show that testing is almost always pushed to the end of the development cycle. Since the development is usually bad, the testers run out of time. The result? Running over schedule and over budget. Not to mention the release of an inadequate product.

SOLUTION: Remember problem #1? Ditto! Yes, you have to make it to market before your competition. But if you make it to market and your product is filled with bugs, what do you get? A pile of returns and complaints, and a bad reputation. Test all the way through the process, and you’ll save a lot of time in the end.

5. Pressing the Budget Too Tight

When you have unrealistic goals for a project’s budget to start with, chaos is bound to set in. Departments fall behind, resources are slow to arrive, and - because of budget constraints - the project, once again, runs off the road.

SOLUTION: Create an accurate budget. Also, outline ways to develop better upfront planning of the resources.

6. Never/Rarely Checking the Progress of the Project

As the project goes along, the unexpected happens. Various people implement their ideas as to how to fix these challenges and - when launch day comes - you’re surprised with an entire list of challenges that need your immediate attention.

SOLUTION: Define “checkpoints” throughout the project. Give attention to those things that need to be adjusted along the way, even if they cause minor delays. Fixing them now, rather than later, will take less time overall.

7. Not Reviewing Existing Standards

Do most or all of your projects run late and over budget? Do you keep the same standards in place time after time? How’s that working for you? If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you get. Let’s face it… things change, and if you want to keep pace, you have to change, too.

SOLUTION: Take time to review the standards used for each and every project. Keep a running list of what worked, what didn’t, and how to do it better next time.

The next time your IT project is late, over budget, and looks like it is never going to work, review this list again. Make the necessary adjustments, and you’ll be downright amazed at the difference!


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Delphi Informant Fades to the Sunset

For all the fans of Delphi (the programming tool) out there, Delphi Informant Fades to the Sunset [Update 2/26/2007: The link does not work anymore. Please let me know if you of are aware of a working one. Thank you.]. How many other magazines have been affected by the rise of the web?

Are you willing to pay for content when you can find it free on the web?


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Skydivers trust Homer over former President Bush

People considering a tandem skydive would trust cartoon character Homer Simpson over US President George Bush [Update 2/26/2007: The link does not work anymore. Please let me know if you of are aware of a working one. Thank you.], according to research.

I bet alot of the people asked would also vote Homer Simpson for President…

And yes President George Bush Skydives!


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Eye donation

Interesting story carried by the Sydney Morning Herald: “A one-year-old Pakistani boy saw the world for the first time yesterday through an eye donated by an Indian. Mohammed Ahmed gained partial vision after a difficult operation at the Agarwal Eye Institute in the southern city of Madras. Doctors said Ahmed, who was born blind, would get near-normal sight by the time he heads back to Karachi next week.”


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