IT War Stories – Front Line, Sob Line, Laugh Line and Supply Line: Part 9 of 10 – Supply Line Examples (continued)

We’re back with more IT war stories. These tech worker tales come from the supply line — that is, the products that clients often require help navigating. Some of the stories are funny, and some might make you cringe, but they all share a common thread: a support specialist working hard to fix the situation, whatever it may be. 

There’s a Sticker for That

This IT specialist found the solution to an ongoing product issue. As everyone knows, sometimes all it takes to fix a printer is to restart the computer. Of course, people usually create an IT ticket before thinking about handling the issue on their own by rebooting. And, it’s the first suggestion IT will usually give when there’s a product problem.

This specialist found himself repeatedly asking, “Have you restarted?” So, he made a digital sticker for his communications app — a photo of him with text reading, “Have you restarted?” He started using it as part of his responses to his tickets.

The metrics show that it worked. A year later, product issues that only required a restart have dropped dramatically from his ticket queue. When users had a problem, they would remember the sticker and try restarting first. 

How Many USB Ports?

This product issue has to do with a keyboard. The user called IT and reported that their USB keyboard wasn’t working as usual with the laptop. The tech ran through the basic questions, determining that the keyboard was working fine before and was securely connected.

The tech checked the make and model of the laptop and noted that there are two USB ports available. They confirmed that neither USB port worked for the keyboard. Then, the user asked if their new headset and mic had anything to do with the keyboard not working.

The tech asked if the headset was USB and, as you can probably guess, it was. The user reported they had a two-hour meeting in the morning and the keyboard and mouse worked just fine before it. After the meeting, the keyboard stopped working and the mouse was still functional.

Of course, the tech advised that, with the mouse plugged into one port and the headset in another, the keyboard wouldn’t work…

Late Features, No Problem

This product story comes from a software developer. They received a request from the client to add a specific feature, which wasn’t a simple request. The product owner wanted an estimate and the software dev guess it would take two months.

The dev got to work and built the feature, testing and debugging it. After two and a half months, he delivered the feature, a little late. He figured the client wouldn’t be too mad, given that it was only slightly delayed. 

The boss thanked the dev for shipping so quickly, which left him confused — and even more confused when the boss said they’d told the client six months as the estimate. It turned out that when the dev told the product owner it would take two months, she padded it and promised it in three.

From there, the project manager padded it future to four months then a business relations manager promised it to the client in six months. So, the late features received accolades for being so fast!

One Way to Replace a Printer

This product story involves a printer — a very, very old printer. It also involves some creative thinking, although it’s the kind of creative thinking that some managers might not love! 

This story comes from a network operations center attached to a colocation datacenter, in which techs had to maintain a physical copy of all the work requested by customers from the datacenter.

They had to get the request by email, put it in a ticket, print it and put it in a folder. The problem was the printer — a home-grade, 1990s-era printer with single-tray feed and single-sided printing.

One night, right before the night shift, the manager told the techs he was not allowed to buy a new printer until the current one broke. He then announced that he was going home, with a smile and a nod. Later that night, the printer accidentally fell down four fights of concrete steps. A new printer arrived by the end of the week.

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