Based on true facts, this present-day farce unfolded right after the company at the center of the story signed a new office lease. The entity's CEO, an infamous procrastinator and a successful decision-dodger, has delayed the execution of the document to the point when only 60 days remained before the moving-in day.
Up until now, the fairly young business always occupied a full-service furnished office suite, where everything from pen holders to receptionists is supplied by the landlord, including all telecommunications and IT administration. However, by this point the successful business outgrew the little rooms and the shared common space of the suites - it was time for the company to obtain its own residence.
As all logical people know, lease signing is only the beginning of a relocation process. A lot of work needs to be done before a company can feel at home and be fully operational in its new place of business. And nowadays, the IT infrastructure becomes a prerequisite to everything else.
This flat-structured small business has a misfortune of having a board of directors that consists of three technologically clueless owners (the type who cannot connect a printer to a PC) and a CFO. The latter has been combining her financial and accounting responsibilities with those of a CTO throughout her entire career. Needless to say, she understands what needs to be done, knows how to go about it (nobody else does in this company), and is more than qualified to make all necessary decisions. Yet, the Board has a rule: anything that involves spending money must be approved by all four members.
So, here is the chronology of making a single decision under the described circumstances:
Motion 1 - 60 days till D-Day. Upon receiving the fully executed lease from the lawyers, the CFO writes an eMemo to the owners requesting a Board meeting in order to develop an action plan that would ensure successful and painless relocation. The plan should assign responsible parties and establish deadlines for each task.
The owners don't acknowledge that the issue was raised and two weeks pass in a complete silence regarding this matter.
(Side Note: All four executives are actually heavily involved in their day-to-day responsibilities. They communicate extensively every day discussing various commercial concerns, while avoiding difficult extraordinary topics.)
Motion 2 - 46 days till D-Day. Recognizing that the owners have fallen into their typical pattern of pretending that the problem doesn't exist (this happens every time an issue lies outside of their comfort zone), the CFO makes another attempt to mobilize the Board to set up an action plan. This time she speaks to each of them in person. They all nod in agreement - "Tomorrow," they say. The CFO squeezes a two-hour time slot into her crazy schedule.
Three days pass without anything happening.
Motion 3 - 43 days till D-Day. The CFO feels the time pressure - at the very least she must start working on IT components, regardless of the owners' ostrich behavior. The business will be simply paralyzed without an adequate infrastructure. She really has no room in her schedule for all research, comparison, and optimization of various ISPs, telecoms, and IT administrators... But who else is going to do it? So, instead of pestering the owners again about the "action plan," she writes a very specific inquiry: "Please confirm your agreement with my taking charge of the groundwork for obtaining the Internet service, telephony, and IT administration support." Without waiting for replies, the CFO starts working on the subject of the highest priority, i.e. the Internet connection, by reviewing nine ISPs whose services are available in the new building.
Motion 4 - 41 days till D-Day. At different hours, the CFO receives messages from the owners - all three are worded very similarly: "Thank you for asking and forward thinking. Please go ahead with the projects." She can almost hear their sighs of relief - somebody else has made the decisions for them!!! The CFO closes her eyes for a second and thinks, "The same shit every time. I wish at least once I would let things run their course - just to see what would happen if I didn't worry about all of this, if I didn't jump in."
By carving little chunks of time in her schedule to deal with this shit, the CFO manages to come to her final ISP conclusion in 5 business days: to accommodate all of the company's needs (including VoIP) she needs a reliable fiber-optics broadband. She narrows down her choices to two ISPs - the award-winning Cogent with dedicated connectivity and Verizon's newest product FiOS Quantum ran through communal cables shared with all other users in the vicinity.
Motion 5 - 36 days till D-Day. She immediately gets quotes from both: Cogent values itself highly - $700/month with a three-year contract, plus $1,000 installation fees; Verizon's rate is only $129/month with a two-year contract. Even with such a disparity in pricing, it's a simple choice as far as the CFO is concerned - she knows that Cogent will provide uber-fast, uninterrupted connection, and if something happens, she can be on the phone with an engineer within 30 seconds. Verizon, on the other hand... well, we all dealt with Verizon at one point or another. Yet, for the owners all this technical staff is as difficult as Icelandic; the huge price difference, however, that's easy. So, the CFO goes back to Cogent's salesperson and dangles FiOS Quantum at $129/month in front of his nose (virtually, of course). He is taken aback - he had no clue that Verizon had started offering this brand new service in that building. He cannot stop himself from uttering, "That's a compelling alternative." The CFO doesn't dissuade him from this train of thought; she waits. And he says that he would go to his director and try to get her a better deal.
Motion 6 - Same Day. Cogent wants the business - the salesperson reverts in two hours, dropping the price to $500/month with a three-year contract or $400/month with a four-year contract. Both rates are exclusive of taxes and charges. With this reduction in hand, the CFO immediately prepares a presentation for the Board, breaking down her selection process step-by-step and making a strong case for Cogent through detailed comparison and scoring of all providers. She sends it out to the three owners and requests a board meeting to make the final decision.
Four days of silence passes. The CFO understands: it's too fucking much for them, they don't want to deal with this, they are hiding.
Motion 7 - 32 days till D-Day. The CFO has no choice but to write to the owners again: "Let me remind you that installing the Internet connection must precede all other IT and telecommunication actions, including setting up the phone system, the computer network, etc. - basically everything that we need for the business's operations. And it will not happen overnight!" This gets CEO's attention. She comes over to the CFO's office and says, "Let's decide by tomorrow the latest."
Two days passes.
Motion 8 - 30 days till D-Day. One of the owners (already in possession of the previously distributed detailed presentation) sends an inquiry, "Can you make a comparison for me between Cogent and Verizon?" as if he just woke up to the issue.
Motion 9 - Same Day. The CFO prepares a simplified comparison chart intended for a 4-year-old audience. Meanwhile, she tells Cogent that the decision is not settled yet and that she will appreciate if the provider gives up something else - like do away with the $1,000 installation fees and make rates flat, all-inclusive (taxes, charges, etc.) The salesperson conferences in his Director and they yield. The CFO simply cannot lose this deal: she goes around and collects the owners' consents in person.
Motion 10 - 29 days till D-Day. The CFO signs the contract with Cogent.
And this is just Act I. Ahead, there are still decisions on a VoIP system, an IT Administration service, furniture, equipment...