User in the finance department logs a trouble ticket: According to the company's systems, the monthly billing doesn't match the total monthly contract amount. That's not something this pilot fish takes lightly.

"I assign one of our developers to work with the user," says fish. "The developer requests examples of billing and contracts data.

"Weeks go by as the developer struggles to weed through the mounds of data -- getting nowhere."

By now, senior executives want to know how soon this problem will be fixed. Fortunately, fish is already scheduled to travel to the user's site, and while he's there he sets up a meeting with the user to get a better understanding of the problem.

Walk me through the process that generates the bad report, fish suggests. User does -- and at one point along the way, he shows fish the process log, where he points out a SQL processing error to fish.

But fish has noticed other messages displayed in the log. As they slowly scroll through the log, fish can see messages that read "Error processing invoice -- cannot update batch as the last period has been closed. Invoice skipped."

How many of these entries are in the log? fish asks. They start counting -- and give up when the total hits 250.

Have you ever seen this happen before? fish asks.

"Yeah, it happens every month," user says, "right after they close the period."

Fish asks why he's never reported it.

User replies, "I didn't think it was important."

Fish: Is there any chance this might be the reason your billing and contracts are out of sync each month?

User: "Wow, yeah. I guess that could be it."

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Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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