Flashback Friday: What’s 24,000 pages in the bigger scheme of things?

Probably a big chunk of a tree.

Computerworld  |  Shark Tank
Computerworld / IDG

It’s the 1980s, and this pilot fish works in an accounting department, where he responds to company order to find ways to lower costs by submitting a request to stop printing six useless inventory reports. “We always immediately tossed them into recycling, and it would save about 1,000 pages per month,” says fish.

The response comes back from IT: “The inventory system is so poorly documented that it would cost more to shut down the print run than we could save.”

Request denied.

Flash forward two years, and fish has dumped his accounting career to become a programmer. His first assignment after transferring into the IT department: increasing the size of a key field in the mainframe inventory system.

That, in turn, means code will have to be changed in every inventory-related program. And eventually fish finds himself staring at the report program that spews out those useless 1,000 pages.

Twenty minutes later, fish has identified which six lines of Cobol code he needs to comment out in order to stop printing the six useless reports.

“A quick call to my old boss confirmed he would be delighted to stop receiving the reports,” fish says. “So I commented the report code and finished the key field changes.

“In less than 30 minutes we saved 1,000 pages per month — two years after the request was denied.”

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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