The kicker was that the in-house CRM app -- the lifeblood of sales in the field -- failed hard. We wound up having to delay the whole project by a month while the app developer came up with a whole new one-page front end specifically for the iPad -- not a monumental task, but on short turnaround, very expensive. The original cost of $600 per device turned into $1,100 when all was said and done -- and that didn't include the hours we spent hand-configuring all 40 of these things or the tech-support hours we're still spending teaching the sales team how to run presentations off the device.
And the worst thing? More and more I'm seeing iPads left on desks when these guys go out into the field.
Fallout: A significant expenditure in time and dollars based on fadware that didn't add appreciable value to the business.
Moral: Fads are fun, but unless they make direct business sense, stick with what you have.
Stupid user trick No. 2: Reducing password management to a single spreadsheet cell
Incident: Shortchanging security is a surefire setup for epic disaster. But this tale of password brain fail, as told by an IT consultant, takes the cake.
We got called in by a client with a basic setup, one of those folks who didn't call much after our meeting: 25 workstations plus a few laptops, three servers, three printers, and the usual switch/firewall/router fabric -- nothing complicated. For a year, we managed Patch Tuesdays from off site, handled a couple of forgotten passwords the same way, and got called in one other time because nobody knew how to replace a toner cartridge. Then hell broke loose.
The call came from the owner. He was freaking out because not only was every workstation in the place either frozen or spewing a never-ending stream of random websites, but private company information had also found its way onto some industry news blogs. He was losing customers and he was pissed.
We rushed over and got cracking -- shut down the network fabric, started working on individual PCs. Even then it took us a few minutes to see it because we're all working separate machines: Every user had the same domain password. Every single one. We gathered in the owner's office and ask the big "WTF?!?!" This wasn't how we left it.
It turned out they didn't like the $90 we charged (collectively) for the few folks who forgot their passwords. The owner told his assistant to put together a spreadsheet with everyone's password on it, in case anyone else ever forgot. She decided that was too much trouble, so she issued a memo telling everyone to use the same password -- which she would change every 60 days "to maintain security."
We didn't know whether to laugh or cry.
Fallout: Major security breach, server rebuilt from the ground up, and two customers who left and didn't come back.
Moral: There is, in fact, something more stupid than storing every employee's password in the same encrypted spreadsheet.
Stupid user trick No. 3: Routing trouble tickets through your teenager rather than IT
Incident: Executives do the darnedest things -- especially those armed with a screwdriver and help desk advice from their kids, as one IT admin attests.
One evening, we're about to pack up to go home when the fire alarm sounds. We knew it isn't a scheduled drill, so we turned off the lights, grabbed our notebooks, and headed out. In the parking lot, the questions started circulating as to what happened.