Bad title, I know.
I used to work for a global corporation (headquarters in England, North American headquarters in Southern California). Now I work for a company that does business with them. A large part of my job was writing programs to reformat data. This saved a lot of time and money, since I would get data in the morning and have it reformatted before lunchtime instead of having to send it to the programming department where it might take weeks to be done, and because as a ‘data analyst’ I got paid less than the programmers. Eventually we got a program with a Windows interface that allowed the rest of the analysts to reformat data, but many files still needed the mainframe-based programs.
The company I work for now is one that sends the data I used to work on. Most of the data is simply sent in Excel files. My former employer already has programs (many of which I wrote) to reformat them. But now they’re requiring that we send new accounts to them in their format. That’s good; I like it. Then they changed their format to a much more complicated one. Piece of cake. Any new data gets reformatted into the new format and the old format, since we still use the old format internally.
So why, if I’m sending data in the proper format, does it take forever to process?
Turns out my old department is down to a skeleton crew. Many of the things I used to do are now done in South America. And I just found out today that the new format data can’t be loaded into the database until it’s already been loaded in the old format. So programming needs to be done. In South America. Any issues must be collected and may only be discussed once a week in a conference call with a translator. And to make matters worse, even though there are still at least two people in the department who can write or at least modify the mainframe programs and more who are well-versed in the Windows-based system, they’re not allowed to make any changes. New reformats or ad-hoc changes they’ve been doing for years are now ‘hands off!’.
So our customers have to wait for their reports because something that used to be accomplished in a day now can take weeks. The people at my old company are goaled on the quickness with which they load data. And yet TPTB have taken away the tools they need to do this and have turned them over to an offshore company. I spoke with a former coworker today, asking her about data issues, and she said the way things are now they’re virtually limited to typing ‘sub’ on the command line. She said another coworker, my best friend at that company, told her she’s about ready to slam her pending data report down on Management’s desk and walk out. We agreed that if there were any issues with the data (the Excel files, not the ones I program because their format doesn’t change) she should email me and I’ll fix it on our end rather than pushing it up the chain. We get our data loaded more quickly, and she gets closer to her goals. And no politics.
So what is it with large corporations? Obviously they want to make the highest possible profits, and offshoring has until recently been one way of doing it. (Though with the dollar where it is, the margin has narrowed.) But in ostensibly saving money, they’re losing time. And time is money. Thousands of businesses rely on their product. If it isn’t fresh, there are other options. And now that we’re not under an exclusive contract with them, we can send data to their competitors and sell their competitors’ products.
This is just my own example. I’ve read other stories here where companies (Management, TPTB) have made ‘business decisions’ that leave the people who actually produce the products scratching their heads.