SHARK TANK October 11

Tales from the world of ICT

Taking cost-cutting too far Consultant pilot fish encourages his clients to request a telecommunications provisioning report every year. "Too often, I've found clients who contracted with telecommunications carriers years or even decades ago, and never reviewed their provisioning," fish says. "Often, services are cheaper today, and far too often we find a few phone lines no longer in use but still being billed." One client takes fish's recommendation very seriously, and orders up the provisioning report. Sure enough, she finds a quite a few lines that aren't being used. But she doesn't call fish. Instead, she just starts highlighting every phone number she doesn't recognise. Then she sends the list back to the telco, with instructions to cancel everything that's highlighted. The next day, client calls fish in a panic: The internet is down! Help! It turns out one of those unfamiliar numbers was the company's DSL line.

Making your numbers Pilot fish's job includes managing the allocation of work time for his entire department. "I was asked to ensure that everyone was 100-percent allocated to projects for the next three months, on a rolling basis," fish says. "My manager's manager was rated on this metric." There was one hitch to this arrangement: If all staff were truly 100-percent allocated, no-one could not take on any new work.

Fish finds a way around this, however. "The time allocation system was not linked to the system where time was recorded and charged to projects, so I suspended rational thinking and created a dummy project. Each month I put everyone's 'unallocated' time there in order for the numbers to add up to 100 percent."

Bad vibes Pilot fish gets a call from a user who's keyboard is vibrating. But when he arrives, fish can't find anything wrong. Everything looks normal, including the keyboard. Suddenly the user exclaims, "There it is, feel it?" Sure enough, fish can feel a gentle vibration through the keyboard. But that's not where it's coming from. He feels around the desk. The vibration is strongest right under the keyboard, but there's nothing there — except, fish finally realises, the desk's middle drawer. "I pulled the drawer out," fish says. "All the way in the back — far enough back that just opening the drawer would not allow her to see it — I found a text pager. "It had a dead battery and was vibrating to let her know that she needed to change it. Crisis averted."

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