£25 KVM – yours for £250 (and the rest)

July 8, 2006

(If any other techs have similar stories of how management completely waste their time like this then let me know – it’s nice to know I’m not alone)

A user puts in a request for having 2 PC’s and I have no spare KVM’s so I need to buy one and it’s as simple as this.
The only way I can buy anything is by following the correct procedure so here goes.
I log on to the purchasing system and begin entering the details, to request anything I need to provide 3 quotes from different suppliers – all of whom must be chosen from the list of approved suppliers -NB. after many requests over the past 10 years I’ve never managed to get a copy of this list, in fact the list doesn’t even exist as a list. It’s all a bit hit or miss so in reality I rely on previous knowledge of which suppliers we’ve used in the past.
So eventually I manage to find 3 suppliers selling this product from the list of suppliers I can think of that I’ve had stuff from before and I enter this into the system.

Everything I buy must be approved, not only by my manager but also by his manager so in the purchasing system I set up the list of approvers and hit submit.

I now create an email for my manager outlining the reason for the purchase, the budget that the purchase cost will come from including the current amount of that budget left for the current financial year.

The purchase system also sends an automated email to my manager informing him that he has a new purchase request to approve, this can take some time depending on his schedule so I may need to chase him up. Eventually my manager logs into the purchasing system and reviews the request; before he approves it he prepares and sends an email to his manager informing him of the purpose of the purchase – usually this just means forwarding my email to him with a few extra notes confirming that this purchase is in line with our current policies and strategies; my manager then approves the purchase request and adds and entry into a budget spreadsheet which is for logging all purchases and his work is done.

The purchasing system then sends out an automated to my managers manager who is usually very busy so I usually have to chase him up a couple of times before the request is approved and finally the system forwards the request on to the purchasing department.

About a year ago, low cost item purchasing was outsourced to India which is fun!, so the member of the purchasing department in the UK reviews the request and forwards it to a buyer in India. The buyer in India, like all the members of the purchasing department, has targets; their performance is based on the difference between the quote amount and the final purchase amount so they really don’t want to pay the cheapest price I found, so they phone each of the 3 suppliers and ask them to re-quote at a lower price – they may also request quotes from other suppliers if they think they may get a better price.

I get a call from a guy in India from the purchasing department, the £25 price I found was a special offer that is now no longer available since it has taken 2 weeks to get to this stage, the current best price is £26.99 and since this is more than 5% above the quote price the purchase request has to be re-approved so I modify the purchase request and re-submit it for approval (see above process).

This time the request goes through and the item is ordered but 2 weeks after the order is put in the KVM has still not arrived so I contact our buyer in India and request an update; it turns out that the supplier chosen because it had the lowest price did not have any in stock at the time – this fact is irrelevant to the buyer as his only concern is getting the lowest price. Two weeks later the KVM finally arrives so I go back into the purchasing system and mark the item as received so that when the invoice arrives to the finance department they will be able to look it up on the purchasing system and see that they can release the funds.

I then install the KVM and the job is done – simple as that!.


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