No good deed (or good work) goes unpunished

Y2K is looming large when this IT pilot fish is asked to lead a project to rewrite an aging database system at a big natural gas processing company.

"A project team was formed that included several representatives from the IT department and several users," fish says.

"Our first meeting was scheduled at a remote location in Wyoming, where we spent five days discussing the overall scope of the system. We also took field trips out to gas wells to see how they were configured, so we could understand the data that the new system had to capture."

The last item on the week's agenda is coming up with a system name. The old system was called "Field Information Network" or FIN. But with all the new features that fish's team plans to add, FIN just doesn't seem to fit.

So team members start throwing out names for the new system -- and rejecting one after another.

Finally, one of the users suggests calling it "Field Automated Reporting Tool." Yes! everyone says enthusiastically -- until someone realizes what the acronym would be.

After another half-hour of kicking ideas around, no one comes up with anything better, and the new system gets its name: "Field Information Network 2."

Nine months after that, in December 1999, the system is rolled out on schedule and under budget. But after running for a month, there's a surprise: Turns out the old FIN system was failing to collect more than $400,000 in revenue each year due to a major calculation error -- one that FIN 2 has fixed.

"So the payback on the system went from two years to one month," says fish. "We gave ourselves a pat on the back that we saved the company so much money.

"Fast forward three more months. Our reward for saving the company so much money? You guessed it: a nice pink slip for everyone in IT. Guess we might as well have gone with 'Field Automated Reporting Tool' after all."

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