Should auld acquaintance …

Everyone was glad to see THAT year finally end.

Computerworld  |  Shark Tank
Computerworld / IDG

The close of the fiscal year at the state university system where pilot fish works has been a nightmare, with one narrowly averted catastrophe after another.

First, one of the buyers in Purchasing has trouble processing requisitions into purchase orders, and the busiest time of the year for his department coming with the start of the new fiscal year. It looks like an easy problem to solve — but it isn’t, and eventually nearly the entire IT staff is working on it, the software vendor is contacted, and no solution is in sight. The only good news is that the fiscal year will close on Friday this year, so they’ll have the entire weekend to work on this problem before those requisitions have to be processed on Monday.

We’ll just move on to other things, says fish’s boss. But that’s when the other shoe drops, says fish. “Actually, a whole shelf of shoes.”

On the morning of the last day of the fiscal year, a key player in one of the agency’s departments resigns. She won’t be coming in, and she’s removed the notebook in which she had meticulously detailed all the steps her department followed to close the fiscal year. Don’t panic, says boss; security will simply change her password and share it with the head of the second department instead of locking the account.

As luck would have it, the head of security is feeling sick and has just been sent home. But the password is eventually changed without him (just a bit more of a delay).

It’s about then that the director of Purchasing’s laptop dies. But the top-notch tech crew is able to repair it and return it, with data intact, within a couple of hours.

Everyone knows by now that they are going to be working very late. But all of this has just been the prelude. With the end of regular business hours, all the printers, across all campuses, go offline. Why? Because networking had scheduled an update for the printer software. This despite the fact that the “Critical Events” calendar warns, “Perform absolutely no system maintenance on this day.”

This is a tougher problem than any other that has arisen so far, since this is the one day of the year when making hard copies is essential. There’s nothing to do but improvise.

The report files are stored in an edit-proof archive, where they will sit until Monday, when the printers will be back up and they can be printed. This plan requires a solemn vow by all concerned: Not a word will ever be breathed about this to the auditors.

Everyone by this time is so accustomed to chaos and the worst-case scenario arising that hardly anyone bats an eyelash when the timer on the air conditioning system shuts it down for the night.

Did we mention that the fiscal year closes on June 30?

Sharky can’t wait until next year for your true tales of IT life. Send them to me at You can also subscribe to the Daily Shark Newsletter.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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