Shark Tank: Just Keeping His Options Open

For this online sales form, there are 60 pages of specs identifying whether fields are required or optional. "But during beta testing, the VP of sales goes ballistic because we don't let them submit a quote without the required fields," says developer pilot fish. "He tells us that the fields are only required if the user knows the information -- otherwise they're optional." How can IT know if the user knows the information? "He replies that he's just responsible for the requirements," fish says. "It's our job to figure out how to do it."

Just Ask Him, OK?

When this pilot fish is laid off, he tries to convince his bosses that he should brief the people who will do his job. But they insist that the remaining staffers know all they need to know. "Fine," says fish, "ask them how to change the server-room combination lock." Turns out no one knows. Then what do the bosses do? "They called the building facilities group to change the combination," fish says. "They couldn't figure it out. So they spent $725 to have a new lock installed -- all just to avoid calling me and asking a simple question."

Just What Fits

State agency's IT staffers do a careful job of spec'ing out PCs, but somehow many of the computers arrive with the wrong hard-disk capacity and missing options. What happened? "Seems the purchasing unit was using a purchase order form that could not hold the PC's entire specification, and there was no continuation sheet," sighs pilot fish. "We only got what would fit on the form!"

Just Like No Laptop At All

College registrar's office asks IT for laptops to use for the big class-registration day at the campus center. Why laptops? "For the convenience," an IT pilot fish reports. How convenient are they? "About an hour into it, the users decided they needed keyboards," he says. "Another half-hour later, they needed mice. By the end of the day, they were complaining that the screen was too small, so a 17-in. LCD was placed at each workstation."

Just in Time

For weeks, this IT pilot fish has been trying to resolve a critical issue after installing a big software vendor's flagship product. When he finally gets to the vendor's highest tech-support level, a programmer calls to tell fish that the problem was fixed in the most recent patch - it's fish's fault for not being up to date. Fish knows that's not the case, but he checks the vendor's site anyway. "Sure enough," he says, "a new patch had been added - that morning."

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Copyright © 2004 IDG Communications, Inc.

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