Top-level executive support, redefined

It's the late 1990s, and this multinational company's US division is developing a new system for its call center, says a pilot fish who's hired to be the systems manager there.

"The CIO and the cheapskate US division president clashed on the new custom system," fish says. "The CIO wanted to use the Oracle and AS/400 system that was being developed by the UK office, because it was being designed as a strong business application.

"The president wanted to use a system being developed in the Mexico office -- in FoxPro, which was already being phased out at most IT shops, and certainly wasn't enterprise-grade enough to develop the company's primary business application in."

And, not surprisingly, it's the boss who wins that fight. The CIO is pushed out, and the president replaces him with the head developer from the Mexico office -- the guy responsible for the new application that's now dubbed "the Mexican system," or TMS for short.

The new guy turns out to be about as good an IT director as he is a systems developer. Among other things, he decides that his personal user login should be the native Novell "admin" account, which leads to a heated disagreement in the HR director's office, which in turn leads to a contractor being hired to finish work on TMS.

Not long after that, with the new system ready to begin pilot testing, fish gets a visit from the president, who has a question that neither the new IT director nor the consultant can answer to his satisfaction.

President: "That server sitting on the shelf -- will that run TMS?"

Fish: Define "run." That's the old server we just replaced. It's going to get scrapped.

President: "But will it run TMS?"

Fish: TMS will run on that server, but not well. As soon as you start getting a lot of people logging in--

President: "But it will run?"

Fish: It will run, but you won't like it.

President: "OK. Set it up."

Reports fish, "Within a month, the new consultant quietly asked me to get quotes for new server hardware.

"I left shortly thereafter."

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