Do it by the numbers -- or just GET the numbers?

This pilot fish is the only IT support guy for a 200-employee company, but that's not as unreasonable as it sounds -- the systems are all pretty mature, and include accounting and payroll software that generates all the company's tax forms.

"The company was then acquired by a much larger firm, whose headquarters and data center were located 1,000 miles away," says fish. "To satisfy terms of the sale, the larger company had to keep the infrastructure from the smaller company available for seven years.

"To accomplish this, I shipped out servers to the Texas location, and the big company shipped me out there to connect, configure and verify everything was working."

A few months after that, fish's time with the company is at an end and he moves on. But in his new situation, he needs to verify income information from a Form W-2 that predates the company sale by a year or two.

Fish knows he can spend nine weeks getting the numbers from the IRS -- or someone can run a quick report against his old company's payroll database and he can have the information almost immediately.

So he contacts HR at the big company. After weeks of delayed responses and back-and-forth arguing, HR informs fish that it's not possible to get those numbers.

That's not true, fish replies -- your company flew me to your corporate HQ for a week to install and configure that software so it would be available for cases exactly like this. If you can't do it, give me VPN access and connection information, and I can get credentials and obtain the information myself!

He waits for a response. And waits. And then gives up.

"I contacted the consultant who used to support the software, and got the needed W-2 information within a few days from his backup of the system," fish reports.

"Two months later I heard back from HR at the big company. They would be able to get me the W-2s I had requested after all.

"I told them not to bother."

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