2 comments on “Troubleshooting

  1. I totally understand the picture of what transpired🙂. This happens all the time in the course of our work. I am one of the support services people and compliance means a great deal to me. It is a nightmare to have any type of logistics disruptions or what is then perceived as irregularities in paperwork. What just happened could have thrown everything out of sync. What if someone else was already penciled down for a field visit using that same vehicle for 29th or 30th? Then implementation is also disrupted. Plus there’s the “things do not match” mentality; the home office gives you hell when finance documents eventually get to them at the end of the month, or auditors ask you questions about approvals and variances between paperwork and monies paid out, and then submit a report stating basically that you have failed at your job🙂 You then spend a great deal of time and energy writing justifications for past activities and vouchers. We always say we need integrity and transparency in our processes, this is what happens when charities or nonprofits become large. Sometimes the red tape can make things extremely slow, but when one works in an environment without systems, or where technical people have zero planning skills and pull things out without respect for procedures and notice, one becomes more than appreciative of a system like yours.

    • Hi Anne,

      Thanks for your message and I totally agree with you- admin systems and compliance mechanisms are absolutely critical and necessary. I have a lot of respect for normal procurement and financial systems, and am also totally in support of coordinated service guidelines like fleet management and so forth- they are critical to keeping an organization running fluidly, and in protecting both staff and assets from abuse. Where I see the need is to strive hard to find a middle road where agencies aren’t being constrained or driven by admin/compliance requirements- or at least, not unreasonable ones. This has partly got to come from donors who just need to chill out a little (EU, I’m looking at you), and also agencies themselves, who end up having some CRAZY policies written down that make no sense. Like, in my opinion, a policy that says that a staff member can’t be refunded on their perdiem if they extend their trip after departure (and the issue had nothing to do with the need for the vehicle to be back at head office for other tasks- that I would have understood. It was simply that finance was unwilling to reimburse the perdiem because the dates changed after departure). A lot of my time here is spent working with finance, HR, procurement and admin, finding a middle road on policies and compliance. I’ve been managing grants in various fashions for 10 years now, so I absolutely understand the need and value in all of these systems, and yes, I do appreciate a well-structured working environment. It’s about making sure these systems serve the dual purpose of ensuring the right thing is done, but also facilitating field implementation.

      You know, honestly, a lot of this has less to do with the systems themselves, than with the way they are interpreted and implemented- and particularly the attitude of certain ‘gatekeepers’. For example, within the systems we have here, there absolutely is a way that we can extend the driver’s mission and still refund him the perdiem. I’ll sign for the permission, and it’ll be approved, and we’ll be compliant. No dramas. But the attitude of certain types of compliance staff whose initial response is “No it can’t be done” is what often ends up bogging things down. With a bit of creative thinking and a problem-solving, “can-do” attitude, we’re able to make things happen. Sadly, some staff simply don’t see it that way.

      We have a great team here, and senior staff in finance and HR, for example, who totally get it, and when I bring a problem of this sort to them (if I can’t initially solve it with junior staff by), they invariably work with me to help find a solution. But as in any organization, you get people who just like exercising their power and shutting you down, and that’s the sort of thing that needs to change.

      Anyways- always good to hear from somebody on the support-side of the business.🙂 You’re most welcome any time, and I appreciate your thoughts and perspective. Have a great day!

      -MA

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