Penny wise

Well, it would be nice to have the must-haves.

Computerworld  |  Shark Tank
Computerworld / IDG

The owner of a local business is a notorious skinflint, so the company’s facilities are in an advanced state of ramshackle before he even thinks about moving. Naturally, everyone is amazed when they learn that the new facility is being custom-built just for them.

And during the design phase, each department manager is asked to provide a list of must-have features for the new facility. They have no problem complying, because most of them have spent years getting by with jury-rigged solutions for basic problems.

The print shop, for example, has been running extension cords from other rooms to bring power to the main printers. These are massive machines capable of handling rolls of media weighing 100 pounds each. They run on ordinary 110V current, but each one requires its own dedicated circuit. Then there’s the laminator, which requires 220V current and produces a lot of excess heat — a problem for the heat-sensitive printers. That particular issue has been dealt with by cutting a hole in the wall for a window air conditioner.

And so the print shop manager has some solid must-haves: plenty of 110 outlets, at least one 220, and piped-in air.

But the boss hasn’t changed his ways; he goes over the lists with the architect and crosses off features that would raise the cost — or that he just doesn’t understand.

After more than a year, construction is complete and the managers are invited to a walk-through of the new facility. Among the deficiencies they notice: The new print shop has fewer power outlets than the old one, and none of them are dedicated circuits or rigged for 220V. There’s central cooling, but no print shop thermostat for temperature control.

At least the new print shop has a large set of double doors, to accommodate the printers and cutting tables. It isn’t much, but it’s something.

The managers all revolt and explain that their must-haves weren’t nice-to-haves. He resists, and the managers make their case anew. Finally, the boss gives in, though of course with some compromises. The print shop will have enough power outlets, but the AC will be controlled from a nearby office, with the thermostat placed in a locked box to keep the workers in that office from changing the setting when they get cold — so the owner doesn’t have to pay to reroute the ducts.

Moving day is delayed by several months, because the custom-built facility has to be retrofitted to make it usable.

When the big day finally arrives, the printers, laminator and cutting tables are lined up to move into the new print shop. But one side of the double doors won’t open. It was installed improperly. It will have to be removed and reinstalled before it will work.

So, just like in the old print shop, it’s necessary to rip out parts of the building to get the equipment inside.

Sharky has left the door open for your true tales of IT life. Send them to me at sharky@computerworld.com. You can also subscribe to the Daily Shark Newsletter.

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