Why we love customers (and sales VPs, too)

It's the late 1980s, and this pilot fish has a project to install some new servers for a rapidly expanding bank.

"Because the bank bought these servers with financing through my employer, it was also my job to get the customer to sign a Delivery and Acceptance document at the end of the project," says fish.

"Installation and cutover to the new system went smoothly. But when I went to the bank's IT manager to sign off on the D&A, he presented a list of problems and a couple changes required before he would sign off."

Fish tries reproducing the problems, but he can't. Still, he makes the requested changes and then returns to the IT manager's office -- but he's gone for the day.

For the next week, the IT manager doesn't return fish's calls. Finally he calls back -- and tells fish he has a new list of problems and changes to be made before he'll accept the system.

Fish returns to the bank, can't reproduce any of the problems, makes the changes -- and once again the IT manager isn't around for the sign-off.

That's the pattern for weeks -- and fish wisely keeps his boss informed about what's going on.

"At about the five-week point, I got called in to see my company's VP of the rep who sold the system," fish says. "He read me the riot act, telling me he spoke to the bank's manager who claimed I hadn't addressed any of their problems. He ended the rant with the threat to fire me if I failed to get the signed acceptance in the next 48 hours."

So it's back to the bank for another list of changes fish makes and issues he can't reproduce. And the IT manager is nowhere around to sign off on the D&A.

Fish isn't fired, but the sales VP screams at him and then gives the bank project to another tech to resolve.

Next day, that tech leads an entire management team to the bank to attempt to soothe the customer and get the sign-off.

Instead, the IT manager gives them what he claims is the final list of problems and some more changes they need, which the sales team promises will be resolved.

"By now I was pretty tired of this, and got a transfer out of that division," says fish. "A month later I got a call from my ex-boss, who told me to check out the day's business section.

"Sure enough, there was a short article about my problem bank being a problem for others as well. Turns out that it was both underfunded and had numerous other financial irregularities -- and had been seized and closed down by federal regulators."

SPECIAL NOTE FROM SHARKY: Sharky's blog moves to Computerworld's new website on Tuesday, and all those thousands of stories in the Sharkives will be happily settled into their new home. What probably won't be there at first will be all the tens of thousands of your comments. Don't panic -- they'll get there soon, just not in time for the launch.

Hey, that's IT life.

So get ready -- the new Computerworld site goes live (really!) on Tuesday, Aug. 26. And in the meantime...

Keep Sharky up and running. Send me your true tale of IT life at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll score a sharp Shark shirt if I use it. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

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