Shark Tank: What could possibly be hard about managing IT?

There's downsizing. And departmental restructuring. And when the dust settles, this small company's IT team is lumped in with the operations department, and in charge are two managers who have never run an IT staff, says an IT pilot fish on the scene.

"However, they deem themselves outstanding managers and feel managing IT is easier than managing operations," fish says.

But he has more pressing problems to worry about: The company's mail and file servers are running out of storage. So he asks his new bosses for permission to attend a computer storage trade show in a nearby town. It won't cost anything but a little time, and fish and his fellow admin will be able to collect information from all the disk and tape vendors at once.

Fish's new boss responds by e-mail: "To be honest, both your time would be better spent on other, more important stuff, bearing in mind the storage of our excess computers is not a big issue at the moment and I don't envisage it becoming an issue for a long time."

No, thinks fish, not that kind of computer storage. "He thought the recently vacated offices would provide ample storage for all the extra computers previously used by the redundant staff," says fish. "It seems he wished to prevent his newly acquired IT staff from exploring cupboard or Tupperware options."

But it's an easy mistake for someone new to IT-shop jargon to make. So fish begins drafting an e-mail response to clear up the confusion: "Boss, we meant computer storage, not storage for computers" -- when his boss's boss, the department head, passes by and notices what fish is doing.

"When your supervisor says no, he means no," department head tells fish. "Stop writing that e-mail and focus on more important things."

"She then walks off, leaving me to pick my jaw up off the ground and find something more important than an impending server crash," fish says.

"I update my resume and resign the following week. The mail server crashes two weeks after I leave.

"Why? Storage problem."

Copyright © 2004 IDG Communications, Inc.

7 inconvenient truths about the hybrid work trend
Shop Tech Products at Amazon