The business case that was presented to secure approval contained some pretty flawed assumptions

The recent travel chaos has led to a corporate inquiry at our place. A special committee has been formed to ensure we are better placed to cope with such situations in the future. High on the list of their early recommendations is that we should make better use of the state-of-the-art video conferencing facility that was installed in our main boardroom last year.

I thought that big flatscreen tellies were getting cheaper by the day, but not this one. I am informed that it is not, in fact, a flatscreen TV but a “global conferencing system”. I think Dixons often throw “surround sound” into the package if you buy a really big telly. Somehow, our corporate procurement team managed to spend a six- figure sum on our bespoke system after busying themselves with managing a formal tender process to award the contract. Quite remarkable. And people wonder why I won’t let them near our marketing agencies.

Of course, the entire justification for the system was based around savings that we would make on travel. It must have seemed a perfectly rational investment decision at the time. But, like almost everything in corporate life, the business case that was presented to secure approval contained some pretty flawed assumptions.

In this case, there was a massive assumption that people didn’t want to travel. Wrong – people enjoy a few business class trips and the personal air miles they accumulate on route. Better still, there was an assumption that the system would actually work. You’d think that this is not too much to ask when you’ve just spent a six-figure sum.

“The business case that was presented to secure approval contained some pretty flawed assumptions”

In fairness to the manufacturers, the failure is probably down to user error rather than equipment malfunction. At the time of installation, two members of our admin team were trained on how to use the system. Both have now left the company, leaving the likes of me to press all the wrong buttons. Group procurement have advised that there is no service support covered in their wonder deal.

Rather than get somebody in who can show us how to use a perfectly good system, their perverse logic will most likely conclude that it is easier to throw the entire system away and buy a new one with a free training module as part of the deal. I am relieved that they are not spending my marketing money.

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