Thursday, August 21, 2008

Red tapestry

The other day some vendor bills which I had given to Finance for processing came back to me with a post it which said “please complete the purchase order” on this. I was mildly surprised – I used to input autographed bills to the concerned chap in commercials and sooner or later (usually later, after a couple of weeks or stalking and dire threats) he would produce a cheque which I paid to the vendor. There had been no post it’s with unfamiliar terms like purchase orders and requisitions before.

I went to the boss to make inquiries – he said “I’ve got a flood of mails with attachments which I have not read. There was something about purchase orders – that’s probably what they are talking about”

Then he has a happy notion of forwarding these mails to me.

So far, so good.

However, on further investigation, it is revealed that these mails have five attachments in excel and word outlining new “processes” for the payment of bills. These processes include a multistage complex choreography of activities which involve the participation of people who have absolutely NO connection to
a) My division
b) To the finance department
c) The senior management /signatories
d) The Business vertical which is initiating the project

These people were apparently hired to some software development for our associate company in Singapore and in other words, are completely and absolutely as de-linked from the work (and consequently the vendors) as it is possible to be in a moderately large organization.

But, for some reason, the Gods –that –sit-in-the-boardrooms have ordained them as the people who will decide the fate of my poor suppliers.
Unusual perhaps, but still acceptable.

The killer requirement however, is the footnote that hits you if you have managed to wade through the document “Please provide all copies in triplicate. Original copy goes to X, first copy to Y and third copy to Z”.

Incidentally, the company prides itself on its cutting edge technology. The factory has the state of the art – minimal human interaction – robotized machines. It is completely wi-fi enabled and even the lowliest flunky is given a fancy laptop and absolute connectivity (the fact that a lot of the people can barely open word is a different story altogether).

But yet, they are pleased to inform us that fifty page documents need to be photocopies in triplicates and attached with PR and directed through three levels of bureaucracy before a simple bill can be processed.

A further twist in the tale happens when one after a laborious process, somehow manage to get the bills out through these faceless chaps – lets call them Mr. X ( bill is kept on X’s desk, after about fifteen mails exchanges where one is forced to submit the most trivial and inane data as supporting evidence.).

Then we go to round 2 where we need to deal with Y. Y who was born Mr. Doubtfire in earlier janam. He has been hired for the sole purpose of being suspicious. He views everyone sceptically and is labours under the absolutely unshakable conviction that they are out to swindle the company of the hard earned (sic!) monies. Getting the forms through him is like living through the Spanish Inquisition. He stalks. He eyes you suspiciously. He whispers things to the finance department while all the time glowering at you.

By the time you actually manage to convince him that the bills ARE genuine for services rendered, your insides have been converted into a state of quivering mush.
(As an aside in one of the companies I have haunted, one of the Mr. Y’s had a profound objection to people making STD phone calls even if it was work. So after a particularly acrimonious tete-a-tete where he asked me whether I wanted to call a client in Delhi for WORK or other reasons. I told him I wanted to call him to send him my shaadi ka card. Quite a clever repartee I thought at that time. This would be a good time to applaud by the way)

And the final task is to get the signatures from the Man-who-never-was. He has a cubicle, he has a secretary, and he has a couple of phones and blackberrys (blackberries?) But rather like the Yeti and Nessie, while people know he exists, no one has actually seen him. Thus it means oozing out whatever little charm is left (after Mr Y has put one through the wringer) to get his all-important secretary to get the signatures.


Mind you, our mission statement has been bursting at the seams with words like nimble and cutting edge and progressive. I wonder whether they see the irony of it. Hmm.


Epiphany said...

Process consultants = Babudom in private sector...As for the approvers their bonus/hike is actually linked to the costs they reduce so I guess they just hope you will go away and forget about sending the shaadi ka card ;)

Trinaa said...

OMG..poor u..!!!! :(

Amey said...

This would be a good time to applaud by the way

Where do I send my applause? ;)

Are you sure the secretary hasn't "invented" her "boss" in order to get a cushy job?

Trinaa said...

u have been tagged...

Anonymous said...

hello, hope everything is good.


Scribblers Inc said...

that was a trip through whatchamacallit MNC!!

Scribblers Inc.

AmitL said...

LOL..Cyn,you're lucky-you know how many people used to sign a Purchase Order in my prev co?
- Ordinary:(Upto a million dirhams):
- The project engr,the project manager,the finance executive,the finance manager,my purchase officer,and me!
= Higher than a million: The same list as above,but,the MD also.
And,being nimble,cutting edge and progressive-meant,how fast we could release a purchase order,in spite of all the above setbacks..ROFL.:)
Lastly,*claps*-applause for the clever repartee about making an STD call to send your wedding card.:)Cheers!

Australopithecus said...

sounds just like my old office. and i worked in the the government.

Sud said...

Ah the babus and the secretaries. where would we be without them?

Cynic in Wonderland said...

epiphany - you will scandalize all the process consultants by calling them babus. Tsk tsk. How can you do that?

trina - yus i know!

amey - yus i think so too. I have staked out the damn place and never seen the man.

trina - will do.

Cynic in Wonderland said...

A - uhm, I'm not completely certain whether this is the person I think it is (pls to clarify). But yes life goes on. Hope all is well with you.

scribbler inc- yus MNC's it seems. Actually ive realized the bigger and more famous the MNC's the worse the babudom.

amit - seriously. i wonder whether they realise the time cost which is wasted doing all this rubbish.

austro - im sure it was nimbler and more progressive. oh did i mention that they also speak largely in marathi?

sud - we would be considerably happier?

Australopithecus said...

telugu. in my case.

Anonymous said...

It is I, L. Good to know everything's good.


Cynic in Wonderland said...

austro - but i work in a so called MNC aiyo.

A - hmmm. everything is okay right? I believe congratulations are in order as well?

Amey said...

Not even during fire drills? Don't tell me you don't have drills when you lock your pc, collect everything on your desk and walk out at your leisure talking to friends 5 minutes after the alarm ;)

I went to the boss to make inquiries...

And you wonder why: Then he has a happy notion of forwarding these mails to me.

Anonymous said...

congratulations? perhaps I am a different A.


Cynic in Wonderland said...

amey - in typical indian style no one moves when there is a fire drill. there have been so many false alarms that people stroll in leisurly fashion and have a smoke in the gallery. bah

A - house?

Anonymous said...

Oh yes I turned out to be the correct A. thank you. And you too.


Cynic in Wonderland said...

A- thank you - tho I didnt have much to do with the buying part of it. this is pretty weird

AmitL said...

Hi,Cyn...u're also mentioned in my latest check..:)

Lekhni said...

Quite awful. Obviously the only thing to do now is to hire more consultants to clean the mess. (Of course, what those new consultants will do is (i) charge lots of money; (ii) create more messes and more rules and documents. But this will be known only months later :) )

Pinku said... u have been invaded too...fight on brave friend...goof up on the system regularly...ensure ur papers are never in order and pass on the personal no's of X, Y and Z to ur vendors for payment follow ups...and u may still win the war.

Pranoti said...
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