Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Unsolicited Rant: The Travel Bureau(cracy)

By Matt:

Next week I head off to San Francisco on a business trip - doing a couple account visits and making some sales presentations... typical stuff. Getting business trips approved, however, suddenly seemed to get dramatically more difficult at my company.

Like most large corporations, we have a dedicated 'travel agent' who works for the company and books travel on behalf of all the employees. Now here's the process by which we must get approved for travel...

First, I have to get a quote from the agent - an estimate for how much the trip will cost including the airfare, car rental, and hotel. I did this last Friday, and the agent got back to me with a quote for $750.

Next I have to fill out a Travel Authorization Form, and naturally like all good corporations we're obsessed with acronyms so it's simply abbreviated as the TAF Form... which of course is redundant. The TAF is this archaic little Excel workbook that has to get emailed all over the place. I start by filling out the TAF with my trip info and email it to my boss who needs to 'approve' the trip. My boss then emails the TAF to our Division Head, who also needs to approve the trip. And of course two levels of approval is nowhere near enough... the TAF still needs to go to the CFO of the company who has the final say. Wow! Really?

So on Friday I get my quote from the agent. I email the form to my boss, who is out of town and doesn't get to it right away... Monday afternoon it gets emailed on to our Division Head and by Tuesday it goes on to the CFO, where it sits... and sits. Apparently the CFO is out of town, and of course there is no work-around - all trips must be approved by the CFO. So while I wait through Tuesday, and then Wednesday, and then Thursday, airline prices continue to rise, and my trip is coming up in just three days. I finally get everyone to sign off on the thing on Thursday afternoon and email the approvals to the travel agent who proceeds to book the trip.

But oops, travel agent girl doesn't have my corporate card info, so can I please "email in my credit card number?" What, really, email my credit card number? Now that's a plan for data security... sheesh!

Well the final cost of the trip ends up being $900, up $150 from the original quote. Why? Because I need three levels of approval to make certain we aren't frivolously wasting money traipsing across the country on business trips. Sound logic, huh? Good grief, it wasn't this hard to get my father-in-law's approval to marry his daughter!!

Companies are rife with bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo like this... Anyone else have some ridiculous stories trying to make trips on behalf of the company? Email them to thecorporatehack {@} and we'll publish it here!

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