This is a corporate horror story right from the bottom of my basket of tales. You have heard about how software companies pay their employees so well and they have a gym and cafeteria – food for free - in their office itself. Well, I have never had any of those amenities in the companies I worked, hm, slaved rather. Hey, but the story here is different. You will see how these companies can afford the abovementioned gyms and cafeterias.
I was working then with the company sales of which was around 2000 crores. A real biggie. The company was listed on the stock exchange and had good projects in various parts of the country. Then the chairman decided that we must computerise the whole operations as accounting for all the projects was getting out of hand. So we had experts suggesting to us whether we needed SAP or Microsoft. Microsoft was favoured because it was cheap. The chairman agreed to give the contract to a company who would do the development of an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system for the company. Meanwhile the chairman also became friendly with the boss of the company doing the ERP system. It was usual for the chairman to have breakfast and lunch with the owner of the ERP company at his home.
I was in the ERP department to implement their Sharepoint system, which is a software that linked all the knowledge resources of the company, so that information was available to all when needed. The ERP manager chosen was a retired army Colonel who knew next to nothing about ERP or computers. The Colonel spent time chatting with his girlfriends on the computer and we pretended to work.
So when the chairman was merrily having breakfast with the ERP company boss, he assumed the Colonel was doing his job. The chairman was also cheerfully signing the completion-related documents which entitled the ERP company to claim their payments. Meanwhile the Colonel who thought ERP was some sort of caper which they played in the united services club went about addressing his staff in stentorian voice about duty and responsibility. He didn’t know what was happening behind his back. He was having long meetings with the ERP company in which he didn’t understand much of what was said, but kept nodding his head.
The chairman signed the last of the phased out payment cheques, a large cheque this time. The entire contract was paid out without much being done. When it came to a demonstration, nothing worked, because the basics of an enterprise resource planning system were not in place. This made the chairman livid with rage. He raved and ranted at the Colonel, who raved at his staff. The staff went home and raved at their poor wives. Crores of rupees had gone down the drain already and then somebody in the staff pointed out that the ERP company had never done any projects whatsoever because it was recently set up by a disgruntled employee of another software company.
The ERP company got rich, Microsoft got rich but the company I worked for was poorer by a few crores. Then the decision was taken to implement SAP. I only know the story thus far because by that time I had left.