Shark Tank: That would do it

Project manager calls pilot fish over to his cluttered desk to see if she can tell why his mouse isn't working. She has no luck until she picks up the mouse to check for obvious mechanical problems. She then spots the trouble. 'We'd been moving his cellphone around the mouse pad.'

          No matter how much this project manager moves his mouse over the pad, the on-screen cursor doesn't move. He calls pilot fish over to his cluttered desk to try, and she has no better luck. But when fish picks up the mouse to make sure it has no obvious mechanical problems, she spots the trouble right away: "We'd been moving his cellphone around the mouse pad."

          They get confused so easily

          Spurred by complaints, this company's IT execs hire an outside outfit to survey users on their satisfaction with IT support, says insider pilot fish. But IT managers fight the idea of an outside survey tooth and nail and finally persuade execs to let them do their own user survey -- with a carefully chosen sample. "Now the execs are happy but confused," says fish. "They don't understand why the IT department received rave reviews in the survey, yet users are requesting information on IT outsourcing."

          That's why

          Distribution centre has problems with its wireless handheld terminals, and this IT pilot fish suspects a flaky antenna. Maintenance guys can't take it down for repair immediately, so they cut off power to that circuit as a stop-gap measure. But next morning, antenna is back on, and handheld problems are back. Why? asks fish. "The clock was on the same circuit as the antenna," maintenance guy explains. "And the employees complained that they couldn't work without a clock."

          All backed up

          This hospital's IT operations staffers are mostly data entry clerks with new titles -- they're good, but they don't always understand the process, says newly hired ops manager pilot fish. So, getting ready to take a four-day weekend, one systems operator tells fish, "I've completed the Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday backups so my substitute won't have to worry about them." Says fish, "I just wished her a good vacation -- and started planning additional training."

          No net

          Early Saturday morning, network engineer pilot fish gets an automated page from a network management system telling him a site he manages in Mexico City is down. "Knowing that nobody is usually in the office on Saturday and that Mexico is prone to power problems, I wait until the afternoon to check again," fish says. By then, he has two emails from the Mexico City office. "The first one reams me out because the network isn't working," he says. "The second email says, 'By the way, we moved this morning.' "

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