Why DOES it take IT so long to solve user problems?

This seasoned accountant has years of experience at a government agency, and a lot to keep her busy, reports a pilot fish in a position to know.

"Wilma spends her days processing forms, crunching numbers, checking and double-checking figures and printing critical reports that keep the agency up and running," fish says.

"One Monday morning, she comes into the office, gets settled in and wakes up her computer to log in. But her normal routine is shattered by an ugly error message: Incorrect user name or password."

She tries again. Same error. "Hmm," she mutters, "they must be having another system problem. Those IT nerds again."

But she finds some other work to do -- files some papers, rearranges stacks of forms on her desk, generally tidies things up. At 10:30 a.m. she tries logging in again. Same error: Incorrect user name or password.

Seriously? "I'm sure they'll let us know when it's back up," she mutters, and picks up a cross-stitch project she usually reserves for lunchtime. After lunch, she tries logging in again. Same error. She picks up a novel. At 4:30 p.m. she tries one more time. No luck. She leaves early.

Tuesday morning Wilma arrives, tries again and gets the same error message. "Unbelievable," she grumbles. "We seriously need a new IT crew." Eight hours of cross-stitch, the novel and occasional login attempts later, she gives up and leaves an hour early.

Wednesday morning, and it must be fixed by now, right? She tries logging in. Same message. But after lunch, Wilma hits her breaking point. "This is ridiculous," she says loud enough for all her cubicle neighbors to hear.

Then she calls Barney, who's only been with the agency's IT group for two years, but seems to know his stuff.

Barney arrives, sits down in her chair, looks at the screen and sees User Name: admin.

He changes it to Wilma's login, hits tab and gives Wilma the chair. "Try your password now," he says. She does. It works!

"She flashes him a smile and tells him, 'Thanks, Barney!'" says fish. "Then she goes back to her number crunching, right?

"Nah -- the day is mostly gone and there's only 30 pages left in that novel. The purchase orders can wait."

Sharky doesn't want a novel -- just your true tale of IT life. Send it to me at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll get a stylish Shark shirt if I use it. Comment on today's tale at Sharky's Google+ community, and read thousands of great old tales in the Sharkives.

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