This company used to have a very useful portal for ordering computer hardware, including replacement parts -- but those days are gone, reports a pilot fish working there.
"Last year, all IT portals were replaced with a new unified portal that would handle all our IT needs," fish says. "Recently my laptop's battery started dying, so I went to our new IT portal to order a replacement."
And sure enough, he finds a link labeled "Products and Services." When he clicks through and searches for "hardware," he finds a way to order a new laptop -- but when he searches for "battery," "batteries" or "parts," nothing is found.
So fish writes up a trouble ticket that asks the help desk to either order a new battery for him or explain how he can do it himself.
A week later fish gets a message from the help-desk guy assigned to the ticket. He explains to fish that he doesn't have any access to the IT portal himself, but he's been told there is a way to submit a hardware request.
"But since he couldn't look at the portal himself, he couldn't give me any details," grumbles fish.
"And then, since there was nothing more he could do for me, he closed my ticket, and I got sent an email to complete a satisfaction survey with how the incident was handled. Let's just say that I didn't give the help desk the highest rating on this one."
But fish doesn't give up. He reopens the ticket, the help-desk guy contacts fish again -- and this time he has a more experienced colleague looking over his shoulder, watching fish's screen remotely.
As fish navigates the portal, they recommend that he choose the "Modify the workstation data" option. Fish shouldn't actually modify anything, they tell him, but in the comments to the approver, he should type in his request for a replacement battery.
Fish is skeptical -- this seems like an extremely obscure way of doing it -- but the help-desk team assures him that this is the correct procedure for ordering replacement parts.
"I sent this request, and then followed up with an email to the approver explaining what was going on," fish says.
"I also copied one of my colleagues who I thought might know more about this. He responded by saying that he had a cache of replacement batteries, and to resupply it he just ordered them from an external vendor."
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