I am currently employed by a big, multinational company dealing with various IT outsourcing and consultancy deal. With the Philippine office alone, we are already dealing with more than a hundred projects, therefore the company explored various ways to augment its information distribution channel especially for emergency situations wherein not all personnel have access to their company email (default communications channel). The company employed a SMS-based emergency information dissemination channel wherein employees can subscribe to receive ‘late-breaking news and advisories’. Given that the SMS-usage in the Philippines is very pervasive; this looks like a perfect deal.

The infrastructure seems to be ideal but as always it is the human side that functions like crap. The problem with the setup is somebody has to send out the message and given the variance of project culture in the local office, such messages need to be approved (re: immense red tape). The system really underwent a litmus test yesterday when typhoon ‘Milenyo’ hit the NCR area and I have to say that the SMS system is just an excess baggage.

Understandably the NCR is buffeted by strong winds since it was given a Signal No. 3 rating. Normally that should have suspended work since it is a fortuitous event, an act of God if you will. Unfortunately the SMS channel was dead silent even when I have arrived in the office. The SMS announcement came at around 1PM, at the height of the storm when roofs were being torn and billboard structures and trees were being ripped from the foundations.

To add insult to the injury the message goes something like “Exercise discretion if you want to go to the office as safety is a personal responsibility. Project management can work out with you if you want to go home. Should you go home you can charge the hours to your vacation leave.” Typical upper management bureaucracy! The message is worthless because:

  • Majority of the employees are already in the office!
  • The purpose of the emergency channel is to provide emergency information when its usefulness is still relevant.
  • We don’t need to know that project management can work out offset or leave hours if we want to go home due to the weather. We already know that but whatever the reason (cheap, needy or working on a tight deadline), we cannot afford to skip work. Management knows it is the norm in an outsourcing environment since the storm does not cover the international client.

It would have been useful to receive that message when I was still at home. I would have skipped the exciting experience of getting stuck in traffic for 2.5 hours from Ayala to Shaw Blvd (standing nonetheless since the buses are jam-packed),and standing in line in the FX terminal for 3 hours since most FX units are not on the road due to damages caused by felled trees and flying debris.

Worthless crap of a service. They should either retire it, or else revamp the red-tape laden process.