A foolish CFO and the company's money are soon parted

At least there's one upside to the CFO's misguided attempts to cut costs: IT gets to say 'I told you so'

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It pays to do it right at the beginning

Then there was the time the company had to add cubicles for new employees. The expansion meant the need to pull power and network cabling to those cubicles, which Bob said he'd deal with himself.

I suspect Bob hired the cheapest electrician he could find -- the grounding was flaky in all the cubicles. A basic outlet tester would sometimes indicate that ground was present, but other times it would be non-existent. Of course the surge protectors didn't function properly without a working ground.

One morning when the users came in, none of their computers worked. We didn't know for certain if it had to do with surges, but our hunch was yes. In fact, a couple of the computers died twice. On the second time, we could hear the power supply ticking, so we knew it was a power-related fault.

Suffice it to say, Bob gave in and hired reputable electricians to redo the power to those cubicles, and everything's been fine since. Note: This was after spending nearly three times as much to redo the wiring, not to mention the replacement costs of the dead computers.

Spare parts are clutter

Bob doesn't like clutter -- anywhere. This didn't matter much to us until he set his sights beyond his own desk to the rest of the office space, which included computers and other spare parts in a backroom, out of sight and out of the way (or so we thought).

The systems administrator was surprised one morning to find that most of the spare parts were gone. He thought Bob might have moved them to offsite storage. Wrong! Bob had gotten rid of them entirely.

The inevitable day came when a couple of new employees needed computers. We'd once had enough hardware to cover them, but not anymore. The icing on the cake was when Bob refused the order of the typical midlevel desktop that was standard throughout the company. Instead, he insisted on an entry-level consumer-grade desktop.

Great -- the employees were using subpar machines at more cost to the company than if we'd gone with the spare computers we'd had on hand.

Savings trump safety

There was a time when Bob actually listened to us before the situation went south. One day, Bob called me in to explain offsite backups. I talked about encrypting all offsite backups, and Bob stopped me, asking why. For security, due to ID theft and such these days, I replied.

Bob let me have it, saying encryption is a waste of time and money, and it should be sufficient to throw the tapes or disk drives in a locked box at their secure offsite storage site. I made a counterargument about what would happen should this locked box get stolen: the effects on victims of ID theft, the company's reputation tarnished, and so on.

All of that was worthless -- until I told him how much it might cost if the clients sue.

Sigh. We plod on to another day, another foolish decision in the name of saving money, another catastrophe.

Send your own crazy-but-true tale of managing IT, personal bloopers, supporting users, or dealing with bureaucratic nonsense to offtherecord@infoworld.com. If we publish it, you'll receive a $50 American Express gift cheque.

This story, "A foolish CFO and the company's money are soon parted," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more crazy-but-true stories in the anonymous Off the Record blog at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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