Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Corporate Memory

Imagine a hypothetical company, let's say it's a major retailer with stores all over the place, and it has a distribution system that carries goods and services from their warehouses to its stores. Now lets suppose that the cost of trucks, feul, drivers, etc. is a large expense and this retailer has found a third party transport company that can do the task at one third the price. The director of the shipping department may decide that everyone on his staff that is associated with the transportation part of the business to be obsolete. This is not an unreasonable assumption, so the manager lets those people go.

So, on the day that the third party transporter is contracted to begin, he lines up his trucks, walks up to the shipping director and says, "OK, we're ready to go. Just tell us where to drive these trucks full of merchandise, and we'll get them there by tommorrow at the latest!"

"Um... I thought you, like, already knew where you were going?"

"Well, once we have the addresses of your stores, sure, we can get there fast and effiecntly!"

"Oh, I thought you'd just, like, know that stuff already or something."

"Uh, no... it's in our contract that you'd give us the addresses of your stores and the names of the managers, and such."

"Oh, right. I forgot about that... hang on..." The manager runs back into the office and starts sifting through papers and searching through computer files. He returns in about an hour holding a box of various papers.

"Ok, it's all here somewhere."

The driver looks at the milk crate full of loose paper. "Uh, you don't expect us to go through all this by hand, did you?"

"Well, we kinda forgot that you might need this information." he holds up a ratty sheet of notebook paper. "Aha! I think these are lat-long coordinates for our store in Des Moines. Or one of our Maine locations. I can't quite read the handwriting, but the numbers are pretty clear."

"...and the store manager?"

"Oh, I think I talked to him at the company Christmas party last year. Name's William Something. The Des Moines guy, I mean. I've never met anyone from the Maine stores."


"Oh, hey! An invoice from a company that did some roofing work on our Ohmaha store! Address and Manager Name right there at the bottom! See? It's all good!"

"...You mean you didn't get a list of this before your last manager left the company?"

"Well, we didn't think we'd need anything they ever did after we brought you on. You can see how the misunderstanding happened."

"You DO realize that we can't do a thing until we know where to send each of these trucks, right? Not to mention which store each one of these is going to."

"Wait, you don't even know which store each truck is going to? Man, logistics is hard!"

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what we're dealing with right now (The Department has been changed to protect the innocent). We're getting data that someone else used to personally keep track of, and now that he/she is gone, we have to figure out what this person did, and get our contractor data in a form that they can use.

And a lot of it is incomplete, or just dirty. To all the managers out there that have to downsize your departments, take heed: make sure you know where everything is before you terminate positions.

1 comment:

Brian said...

that's why i keep everything to myself and squirrel it away in the rafters and hidden storerooms. if/when they let me go, dadgummit, they're gonna suffer for it.