When Saving Time and Money Costs a Lot of Time and Money

Earlier this week, I had one of those moments when I realized that the system I was using to save time and money was costing me a lot of time and my employer a lot of money.

Then I remembered something that happened back in college.

As an undergraduate student at UCSB in the 1990s, I worked at the on-campus computer labs. At the time, our IT people were trying to figure out how to charge students to print at the labs.

What sounded like a simple process of procuring and installing a payment system, turned into an endless series of trials for one system after another…and a lot failures. Exasperated, the lab manager suggested that we abandon our efforts and take the paper out of the printers. “Can’t we just give students 50 sheets of paper each term and show them how ‘manual feed’ works?”

I don’t exactly remember what the final solution, but I wasn’t the “manual feed” solution. Regardless, I’m sure it doesn’t exist today.

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