Thursday, May 08, 2008

Distribution

I'm in the wrong business.

In order to ingratiate myself to management and colleagues alike, right after our local data center was moved to the UK for "consolidation" I built a local file server. This held various software builds available via resumable FTP. Since Windows Exploder has never been able to move 12GB of data across even a 10 fibre channel connection, this pleased everyone.

That wasn't enough. I also made directories full of general tools and easy HTTP download menus for my fellow monkeys as well as setting up shares for management applications and data. Once I got my hands on a couple external drives I was able to then offer each monkey 20GB of personal temporary space and set the server up to auto-delete after 14 days. Considering our laptops only had 20-40GB drives, this was seen as a godsend. I was a hero and thanks to automating everything, didn't have to do much except occasionally manually check builds and add some new tools.

But as always happens, the regular availability of such a service was slowly taken for granted. Until, of course, there was no availability. One of the external hard drives with 250GB of builds died and within a week, the video on the machine's motherboard died and wouldn't accept an ISA card as a substitute. Compaq sucks.

Luckily we had one more of this exact model which was working. I was able to swap out the drives and spared myself a full install of Win2K3 and other software. Within four hours I had the system up and running and was once again the office golden boy, if only for a day. The external drive with the builds was another matter.

Both the disk and the housing are shot. We need a new one. Here at $MegaCorp we have to go through a procuremnet process. My latest manager (I'm no longer under Vera!) ess-plained what we had to do. Knowing how important it is to have builds locally available, he told me to go to the procurement site and he'd approve immediately.

No problem. Once I fought my way in through seven -- count 'em, seven log-ins -- I was on my way to getting a brand-new, shiny external drive. Except that I couldn't find it. Back to $Manager who explained that it's hidden and gave me some keywords to try. Success!

It was shaping up to be a four-banananana day. I got to the page and with only 71 clicks (yes, I counted) managed to order the thing and send off the Procurement Approval Request. A 500GB drive would come in as a cost of almost €300! I can get the same damned thing for about €99 in a local store but we're stuck with this procurement crap.

I figured it was just a matter of that being some sort of internal accounting number, that we'd only actually pay the €82 wholesale but that the €275 was a cost basis to include accounting, shipping, and all the other departmental disbursements.

$Manager asked me to come to his office. No prob. I'm a hero today. I didn't tell any customer to fuck off. My queue is clear. I can do no wrong.

"Did you SEE how much they fucking want for this drive?"

Uh... yeah. But we need the drive and we're not allowed to go out and buy it on our own.

$manager happens to have some private distributor accounts for his own sideline business and did a quick look-up.

"We can't afford this in the budget. Here's what you need to do: Go back, go to custom orders, I'll send you this distributor information and attach it to the Procurement Request. In the notes tell them that we have to go to an outside supplier because this is only 40% of what the standard supply costs are."

No problem. "I'll also add something about the standard supplied model being an unreliable drive and give 'em a link to something too technical to bother reading."

"Good idea."

So the procurement request has gone through and we're waiting for an approval from the HQ Asset Procurement division, undoubtedly something which will require approval from no fewer than five levels of hierarchy. If I get the drive before the end of the year I'll be surprised.

But something wasn't sitting right. How the hell can we be cost-basing a hundred-euro drive at almost three times its value? I asked my buddy in the equipment holding pen in the basement. The guy's a serious troll-under-the-bridge but I've helped him out a couple times so I get what I want and I don't have to appear between 14:00 and 15:15 to get it. I'm welcome down in his cage any time.

"Asset Procurement has contracts with suppliers for stable prices."
"Stable?"
"Yeah. We get guarantees for a stable price for 12-24 months on every item. We lock in at the current price and they have to sell us whatever it is at that price for the next year or two."
"Uhh... WHAT?!"
"Huh?"
"You're telling me that we're paying 2006 prices for a 500GB drive in 2008?"
"Yeah."
"Same for the 2006 model laptops?"
"Yup," he said through his teeth as his lips held onto the cigar stub.
"Where do I sign up to be a supplier?"

Wotta deal. It takes a village to raise a village idiot and that's probably where we found the guy who negotiated that contract. Fuckwit.

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In compliance with $MegaCorp's general policies as well as my desire to
continue living under a roof and not the sky or a bus shelter, I add this:

DISCLAIMER:
The views expressed on this blog are my own and
do not necessarily reflect the views of $MegaCorp, even if every
single one of my cow-orkers who has discovered this blog agrees with me
and would also like to see the implementation of Root Cause: 17-Fuckwit.