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.