Friday, March 6, 2009

I like my company and I think all the consultants do good work for clients, but with our internal service being so crappy, how can the company exce

I am a consultant in the Federal sector, and I work on client sites with a very bright team.  My management sells work like crazy, and we bring in revenue despite the economic downturn.  With all the positive facts, I wonder why the hell we filed Chapter 11 protection, and now the answer seems a bit more clear to me.  I am going to overlook the very obvious reason of why we filed Chapter 11 - our defaulting debt (because that's what everyone talks about, and thats what everyone, including the management, tells me).  I am going to look into why all that mess started in the first place.  Our internal service is a mess, a mess that is so nasty that I seriously think we need to bring in another consulting company to fix our operations.  As ironic as it sounds, it is not an uncommon practice.

My train of thoughts all started with a computer mouse.  My first mouse that I received at orientation along with my laptop on my first day of work finally died, so I called service desk to ask for a new one.  The lady on the phone happily helped me and told me that she is going to dispatch the case to procurement, and someone from procurement team will contact me.  Ok, so I will wait.  A week later, I still haven't heard anything from the procurement team.  I called service desk again, and found out that the mouse was delivered to my home office about a week ago.  Wow, Office Max is really efficient, but our procurement team isn't.  If I didn't call service desk, I probably would never know about this delivery.  A week of time wasted.  I then called my home office receptionist to see if the package was indeed there, she fumbled through a pile of things and found it.  YES!  I am on client site 100% of the time, so I asked her if she can mail it to me.  She happily answered yes, I gave her my address and thought the issue was closed.  

Around the same time all that happened, I got an email from my engagement manager asking me why a mouse was billed to my contract number.  I was confused because i thought everyone knew that procurement of indirect cost can never be billed to federal clients, that is.. well illegal.  I will never assume something like this again with administrative employees.  I take some fault in this though, because I might have given her a wrong number, or I didn't at all, who knows.  I tried hard to remember, but the harder I try, the more real each scenario becomes, so I stopped trying and decided that it is what it is.  We fixed the billing problem, and I still don't have my mouse.  It has been two weeks now.

I got impatient, and called that receptionist again, she told me that the package was mailed out a couple days ago, and that I should receive it in the next day or two.  Great!  Two days later, I received an email notification from Fedex telling me that the transition has just been INITIATED.  She lied to me!  3 weeks later, my mouse is finally on its way to me.  I looked at the notification closely, and realized that the shipping was also billed under the wrong contract number!  I emailed and called the receptionist about the problem, no reply.  So I hope that she took care of it, although, I should probably know better and not assume that.  I felt like such an ass because all the issues that came with a little mouse, and the shipping probably cost more than the value of the mouse itself because she overnighted it knowing she messed up.  I ended up being around my home office area anyways in that 3 weeks of time.... sigh...

Here is the highlight of the story though, 3 and 1/2 weeks of time, many phone calls, I finally got the mouse in the mail.  I opened the package like a little kid on Christmas, and realized that.... THE MOUSE IS REGULAR SIZE AND NOT A MINI ONE..... I wanted to cry.  Seriously?! who in their right mind would order a regular size mouse when the ENTIRE company uses ONLY LAPTOPS???? Again, my fault for assuming that they can actually connect these dots.... I have to go back to Office Max to exchange it for a mini one, probably will cost me more money, but I am more than happy to pay for it at this point.  

That was just a little story about a little piece of hardware, imagine it on a much larger scale.  The degree of internal service inefficiency baffles me.  I wonder why we took on all that debt to begin with, I wonder why for many years our overhead exceeded revenue, and I wonder why hasn't anyone done something about it.  The consultants can do brilliant work, and bring in great amount of revenue in the field, but when we have the back office offset all the success, the company will not get to the next level.  Time to do some house cleaning?  

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