Your Favorite Shark Tanks

Baffled users, clueless colleagues, maddening bosses -- they may not be fun to deal with, but it sure is entertaining to read about other IT pros' woes! Shark Tank brings you outtakes from the Theater of the Absurd, IT-style, each business day. Not surprisingly, it's one of our most popular features. These are the most popular of all Shark Tank sagas you've read the most this year.

There's always a reason

After several smash-and-grab robberies, this company installs a very high-tech alarm, complete with sensors to detect office windows breaking. But the new system seems to malfunction from the start, frequently sending false alarms to local police. Finally, one lonely weekend, this pilot fish is doing a system upgrade and hears glass smashing.

"While dialing 911 on my cell phone, I ran toward the sound," says fish. "But there was no damage anywhere -- just the gentle purring of a PC left on. Turns out our sophisticated alarm system actually did work. This PC had a unique notification sound for incoming e-mail: breaking glass."

Looks pretty automatic already

Pilot fish is working on an internal systems review as this company prepares to install a manufacturing system.

"As part of the review, I interviewed the marketing manager, who told me that a few years prior, she had anticipated that the president might someday ask for a particular report," says fish.

"As a result, she had three staff people spend about three days each hand-compiling the report at the end of each month. This had been going on for several years."

Sounds like a good candidate for automation, fish thinks. So as part of the follow-up, he checks with the president's office to see how the report is used.

And learns it isn't. "His secretary was throwing the report into the trash each month when it arrived," fish sighs. "Apparently the president looked at it when it was first sent and told the secretary that he didn't need to see it ever again.

"Rather than telling the marketing manager not to produce the report, she simply intercepted it each month and threw it away.

"In total, the company had likely spent about two person-years generating a report that was never used."

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