Only effective solutions are prohibited

I caught up on the claims. I doubled up for three days this week and finished what I had left. But then the local accounting department got involved.

They told me that when I have a claim of short-shipment (right product, but fewer received than billed), I should use the RMA (a “return,” but in this case of something that never left; so the reversal of a transaction) to adjust the inventory. And if inventory was already adjusted, I would need to get the previous adjustment reversed, and use the RMA.

However, the accounting department will only allow one person to make those adjustments to the inventory. This one person, H.J., is not very prompt about making the adjustments in the first place (when we find that we are missing or have extra inventory, but do not yet know why). Things have been going okay just recently, after I basically threw a fit to H.J.’s boss, but the idea of increasing her workload must raise the likelihood of the adjustments not being done promptly.

On the phone with one of the Accounting minions, I said, “We can reverse the adjustments and use the RMA, but you will not be able to receive the RMA until H.J. reverses the adjustment.”

“I can’t do that,” said the accountant. “H.J. sometimes takes a while to get things done and the customer is waiting for credit. I have to book the RMA immediately.”

“Well, you can’t do that,” I said. “If we have previously adjusted in extra inventory and then you book an RMA for the same extra inventory, the system will reflect more inventory than we actually have and orders will drop against that inventory, thus telling other customers that their orders are about to ship when really they aren’t because we don’t have that stock.”

“Well, we will talk about it on Monday,” said the accountant.

So on Friday I did not process any claims, since I no longer know what I am supposed to do. I have a feeling I will lose the fight with accounting because they will just say, “H.J. should do her job promptly,” which of course sounds nice, but then it will happen as I said: besides having orders that we can’t ship because we discovered we were short, which already happens, and having to hold on to those orders for as many hours or days as it takes H.J. to get around to adjusting out the inventory, we will have more of the same where we already know exactly what happened to the inventory, but we still have orders dropping that we can’t ship.

Customers can find out if their order is about to ship. I think there is a way for them to do this online, but even if not, they can call the customer service center and those people can tell if an order has dropped for shipment. If so, they tell the customer that the order will ship, because they can’t imagine why we would have a dropped order sitting around for days without shipping it.

Of course, the simplest solution here is to allow yours truly to make adjustments corresponding to the validity of the claims. If I find that we have made a shipping error I should be able to make the corresponding adjustment. This is especially warranted given that the accountant I talked to who receives the RMA’s (inventory adjustments based on short shipment) makes these adjustments solely on the basis of my say-so. Since absolutely no further investigation is done beyond what I chose to do, I am basically adjusting the inventory already–albeit with the delay of going through another person, and without being able to do any negative adjustments.

Supposedly, there are legal (Sarbanes-Oxley) restrictions on who can adjust the inventory. Well, I should rephrase. I don’t doubt there are restrictions. Supposedly, those restrictions require that all the adjustments we need be performed by H.J. only, and I cannot be given the permissson. Of course, the accounting department found a way to give P.B. the permissions to adjust inventory when they realized it was either that or one of them would have to work weekend month-ends when Jennifer was not in to support the mania of maximizing month-end shipments. I guess Sarb-Ox has special provisions to prevent accountants from working overtime.