Wayback Wednesday: Just leave it to the numbers guys, OK?

Because IT doesn’t know beans about counting beans.

Computerworld  |  Shark Tank
Computerworld / IDG

This pilot fish at a catalog retailer doubles as Mac technical support guy and advertising project manager. “The company had been bought out several years earlier, and most of the decisions were now being made by accountants a few hundred miles away,” he says.

One of those decisions is to extend the original three-year lease on first-generation Apple Power Mac G5s by several years. But, fish notes, these are heavy-use machines and are starting to break down.

Fish sends word up the line that this isn't a good idea — so many machines have failed that the company is dangerously close to not having enough computers to get the work done. That would jeopardize the catalog production schedule, along with millions of dollars in sales, all for the sake of about $90,000.

But for a year, there’s no response. So fish and his co-workers keep moving computers around and hoping for the best. It gets to the point that when servers begin breaking down and corrupting data, the techs have to take old desktop Macs, add external RAID drives, and use them as servers for high-resolution photography and layout documents.

Finally, after months of desperately patching things together, fish gets approval for a new equipment lease. That’s when he finds out the financial details of the old deal.

“It turned out that we were paying $4,500 per month for the old computers, despite having a buyout option on the entire lot for a one-time flat fee of $5,500,” says fish. “And the new lease only cost about $2,500 per month.

“So the accountants who were so concerned about expenses had fought us tooth-and-nail for 12-plus months over a proposal that could have saved them tens of thousands of dollars.”


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