Tales from the world of ICT

Cutting insurance costs Pilot fish works at a big insurance company that buys a smaller firm. "The small outfit's sole customer was a city government, which was the only reason we bought it," says fish. The small firm’s claims application was written in a PC DOS database and the developer of the application ( who is also the former owner of the acquired company) has written it in such a way that, at the end of each year, he has to manually tweak all the menus to add the new year. So when fish's company buys out the small outfit, the developer is kept on retainer for $12,000 per year to provide the necessary maintenance. Boss asks fish to look at the app and determine whether it could be maintained internally. That doesn't take long. "I merely added the next six years to all of the drop-down menus," fish says. "Plus I fixed some rather glaring bugs. "My boss promptly ended the retainer.”

One happy user

"A user says he wants Windows 7 installed on his PC," recalls pilot fish. The user is close to retirement, and has a son in IT who sometimes provides him with tips. Today's tip: Get Windows 7. Fish explains to the user that Windows 7 isn't yet supported by the company’s IT department. "He protests but goes back to work," fish says. "The ticket is closed. "The next day, we get a new ticket with a request for Windows 7." This time the ticket includes a long list of the benefits of Windows 7. The request ends, "When I can get it installed?" Fish makes another trip to the user's desk and explains getting Windows 7 is a big investment because IT has to test the company's other systems to ensure they can run on the new OS. "He throws his hands up and goes back to work," reports fish. "The next day, we get a new ticket with a specific request for Windows 7 Pro with Windows XP virtual running for programs that are not compatible." Fish and the helpdesk supervisor hatch a plan; they bring the user's PC into the shop and install a different desktop theme and wallpaper to give the user's Windows XP a fresh look. Then they sit down with the user and train him on the "new" system. "The next day, we get a thank-you note from the user for installing Windows 7 on his computer, saying how much better it performs," fish says. "A copy of the note ends up getting to our boss's boss, who questions why this one user has been allowed to run Windows 7 when the company hasn’t yet rolled it out. "We explain the situation and the available options. He agrees that we made the right decision.

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