Tuesday, November 15, 2005

This Is Progress?

Are we all fooling ourselves? Does anyone really believe the IT age has made commerce run more efficiently? More efficiently for whom, by the way?

If you ask me (which you didn’t but, hey—this is MY blog), it’s all a bunch of hoo-ha. Large corporations should go back to building products and/or providing services.


See, I deal with aerospace and defense behemoths like Boeing, Lockheed, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman (all of whom could be merged into one by the time you read this—you never know.) Anyway, they each have their own super-duper, uber-tech way of dealing with suppliers (me) involving a myriad of org id’s, passwords, password prompts, supplier codes….argh. Oh, and let us not forget that for security purposes, these systems require a change in password practically every time you log on.

Now, I’m no dummy. I’m even a little computer savvy. But when it takes me three weeks to complete the initial registration for a system, I just gotta believe something’s wrong. I’m not talking complicated info here. I mean the first page where you type in stuff like name, address, and phone number. For one particular application, I hit submit and what did I get? A blank screen with the message “invalid data form” in the upper corner. Nothing else…not which field, not what kind of data, nothing.

Well, I tried everything. I tried typing the phone number with a variety of punctuation, then with no punctuation. I tried typing our Federal ID number with and without punctuation. Same with our Duns number.

All returned the same error.

I finally picked up the phone (high tech, I know) and contacted a woman who promised to email me a list of unacceptable words.


Like I said, we’re not talking complicated information here. Well, I never got the promised list. Meanwhile, every day, I received automatically generated emails from a buyer trying to place a purchase order and whining about my failure to get registered. I’m trying, I’m trying. Finally, I called again and found someone to walk me through it.

Are you ready for this??

Their system “didn’t like” the word “union” in our street address. THAT’s what tossed me out every time. So, I had to add an ‘s’ to make it happy. Ah, yes. Progress.

So, now that I’ve registered in like a gazillion of these wonderful systems, I actually have to use them. (Remind me again how this is supposed to reduce our workload?)

Take my go-round with Raytheon yesterday. Seems that updating the date field in a column isn’t enough. Every time you make a change, you have to add verbiage as well. Even if the verbiage merely reiterates the numerical data. WTF? Not only that, but check out this system: say, I promise to deliver my widget on 11-15-05. One would assume that’s the date I’d put in the delivery column, no? No. Because it could take A WEEK for them to get said widget properly received ONCE IT HITS THEIR DOCK, so unless I stretch out that date, I’ll get a black mark for being tardy. Strangely enough, I get the impression that we’re all more concerned with making this cute little graph the right color than in actually delivering on time.

Okay….AND ANOTHER THING. A buyer just called and said they can’t purchase directly from us because we have a poor delivery record. Well, guess what? I happen to know that our vendor record contains entries for ANOTHER COMPANY BY THE SAME NAME. Hey, there’s a system for ya, huh? Yeah, Progress.

All I know is that before computers, before fancy “supply chain collaborations,” and before the proliferation of on-line vendor/supplier communication, we got paid (which is all I really care about) in 15 days. Now, we’re lucky if its 45. And, that’s if they haven’t forgotten to log their PO in the system, lost our receiver, or sent payment to the wrong company.

Ah, yes. Progress.

1 comment:

Brooke said...

Yeah...I love it. The vendor gives out a report card on delivery dates (we have one that you can't deliver more than two days in advance or later than one day after their due date, or you get "dinged"... Now...who grades them on timeliness of paying us!