Saturday, August 05, 2006

The wonders of modern technology

How the technology's meant to serve us (and thereby support us in serving our customers); full integration of stock control, which means:-

. computerised ordering, which feeds directly into ...
. the computerised regional warehouse(s), which generates ...
. deliveries and for each a computerised delivery note which when accepted ...
. adds the related stock into our computerised stock levels which ...
. are then reduced as stocks are put through the tills as sold or...
. eliminated electronically as wastage with corresponding stock level reductions that ...
. triggering another electronic order

The system's fallible at several points which coincide with the necessity for human intervention, and human intervention is necessary because our customers are human beings rather than automatons taking home the same things in the same quantities week in and week out.

And then there's the shop lifting... (theft).

Human intervention raises order levels on products in or going into promotion and takes weather forecasts into account as well as factors such as external events (ie, the recent World Cup)

The whole thing's currently buggered up: God knows how old the system is but it's been running on the metaphorical IT equivalent of sticking plaster, rubber bands and chewing gum for as long as I've been here. The point in the local network at which the back office and tills meet has collapsed and there's no traffic either way. Which means stock levels aren't being adjusted and draft orders are meaningless which means human intervention is essential to ensure that we do order what we need to have come in (and conversely not order what we don't actually need to have come in).

And that might explain why on a delivery this week we received a cage of baby clothing (?!) and three dozen boxes (of four dozen items each) of an item we sell 11 of each week. Much swearing (by the Stud) and apologising (by the Bint).

In the meantime the responsibilty for ordering has been lifted from the new HOG's quavering shoulders; for a month. This isn't a solution, its a deferral.

We've been promised replacement eye-candy in the greengrocery department but there's no guarantee that the Stud has a good eye for the sort of eye candy the middle aged women he employs have a taste for.

Then, to our delight late in the day today we had a visit from IT who loitered for a while and made some pretence of making some efforts to fix the problem with the interface between the tills and the back office. Happily he'd been called in on a day off and was dressed appropriately, in tight jeans and white vest...

Tucked away discretely at both entrances (where no-one who can read is likely to see them and be offended by what they say) are notices calling for customers to be fully dressed while in the store in the interests of hygiene. These notices went up during the July heatwave when we suffered an influx of topless men - oatmeal and strawberry coloured on top, hairy, obese, balding, middle aged, tatooed, pierced and unshaven.

As the weather has finally warmed up again in these parts we had a few half naked men drift in this afternoon, blithely ignoring the discrete notices, nipple rings to the fore. The Bulldog, the Frustrated Author and I had a conversation about these "Polite Requests" that customers dress before calling on us. We're not the sort of organisation to get in your face on such issues but the Bulldog being the Bulldog she was all gung-ho (in the office) about pointing the notices out to these eye-sores.

Mind you she'd have taken off the IT guy's vest with her teeth if she'd been given half a chance!

So imagine my surprise when I came upon her engaged in a member of staff who, on his day off, had come into the store shirtless.

I let the opportunity to say something like "nice shirt, X" pass but I did bring the matter up with the Bulldog later ... to which she replied "yes, well" and I expected her usual line of waffle. But what I got instead was "I didn't think I could point the notice out to him when we were in the middle of having a discussion about how we're going to help him with reading and checking off the delivery note when he takes in the Sunday order. He can't read."

So that's another one, and he's in charge of the staples such as milk and butter and cheese.


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