Shark Tank: Press enter

IT pilot fish finds out why the ERP system is so much busier during lunchtime. 'If there's no activity for 45 minutes, the system logs you off,' says fish. 'So the ladies in accounts payable were putting staplers on their Enter keys at lunchtime -- so the system wouldn't log them off.'

          IT pilot fish can't understand why the ERP system is so much busier during lunchtime -- until she talks to users. "If there's no activity for 45 minutes, the system logs you off," says fish. "We have one-hour lunches. So the ladies in accounts payable were putting staplers on their Enter keys at lunchtime -- just so the ERP system wouldn't log them off."

          Hey, a four-day week for IT!

          After the IT budget for a new automotive warehouse is slashed, it goes live -- and processing each day's business takes 36 hours. Until the hardware is upgraded, there's a new schedule: "We process Monday's and Tuesday's reports, and by then it's Thursday," says pilot fish in the middle of it. "So we skip Wednesday's reports and process Thursday's and Friday's. By then it's Sunday -- and we start all over again."

          Actually, no

          New hire in marketing sends a dozen digital photos in a single message to more than 350 employees. "Each photo was about 5MB," says email admin pilot fish. "With close to 22GB of email, the mail server started getting slower and slower." Fish finally figures out why and kills the transfer -- then overhears marketeer telling a co-worker, "You know, a Mac could have handled that."

          It adds up

          Auditing company uses Microsoft Word templates to generate letters to clients. But every day at 2pm, one new hire complains, her PC is so slow she has to reboot. "Don't reboot!" support pilot fish tells her. "Call me." That's when fish notices user never closes a template -- she just keeps starting new ones. Sighs fish, "I had no idea a Pentium II with 64MB of RAM could support 54 copies of Word."

          Late again!

          "I need these end-of-month reports now for the CFO!" clerk tells pilot fish on the first day of the month. The data's not available yet, fish says. That will take a few days of extracting and cross-correlating from several external business sources of data. See, last month's reports are dated the third, like they are every month. Howls furious clerk, "That's because you're always late!"

          Aw, dry up!

          User complains that he switches on his server at 8am, but it won't boot until 10. Server tests out OK, so tech pilot fish goes on-site. "The wall behind the server was so humid, it was dripping," says fish. He figures humidity builds up in the server overnight, and it takes until 10am to dry out. Fish finally persuades user to relocate the server -- and the problem evaporates.

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