Anybody who's reading this probably knows me, and you are probably aware that I run a small corporate library for a Fortune 500 (at least it was last year) company. This means that I have most of the control over almost half a million dollars of company cash. It sounds like a big fat pile of dough, but you might be surprised how little that actually buys.
In any case, I have been left on my own to negotiate 10 and 100 thousand dollar database contracts with vendors like LexisNexis, Elsevier, and Nerac. They even trust me enough (or don't care enough not to) to sign off on increases in those contracts without much additional scrutiny. This all seems pretty good so far, doesn't it? We'll set aside, for the moment, the fact that I've been unable to initiate any new contracts even if I was able to cancel other services that would make up for the cost.
So here is the problem. Just recently, a manager who sits three levels above me decides that we're going to cancel our newspaper subscriptions. This unilateral decision saves our half million dollar library an absolute maximum of $350 a year. Whoop-dee freakin' do! Thanks a bunch for making that call for me. I'm sure that $25 a month will save the company from bankruptcy and restore our budget solvency, despite the fact that it's going to cost me nearly $25 an article if our employees need any of that information.
The second, similar, problem is that the library has needed new computers for a long time. Our two publicly accessible computers are still running Windows NT and one of them has a monitor that needs major gamma correction on a daily basis to even be usable. Is it too much to ask that we spend $500 on a new computer to bring us into this millennium? This is not to mention the staff computers that are in better shape, but are still running Windows 2000 and are definitely starting to show their age.
Hell, I've got stuff that I'd be happy to cut to make up the cost, but I know that every time I've made cuts in the past, all I get are those cuts. I don't get any new spending ability, I don't get any new leeway in purchasing decisions, nobody with any clout even really notices that a cut was ever made.
All in all, it's really no way to run a company.