IBM: Customer visit costing £75 in travel? Kill it with extreme prejudice

And I would walk 400 miles – because my employer wouldn't pay for a train...

It’s not just teleworkers that are feeling the sharp end of IBM strategic shifts – services personnel must now justify visiting a client on site if travel costs £75 or more.

Tosca Colangeli, Big Blue’s UK veep of Global Technology Services, has told her team: “All travel requests raised should be critical requirements that cannot be achieved by a tele or web conference”.

A return trip weighing in at less “less than £75” is “likely to be supported” but anything over and above that baseline will require additional supporting evidence before it is agreed.

The criteria for approving a relative travel-related blow-out includes: showing that work must be carried out at a customer's premises to avoid a breach of contract; that a “revenue-related milestone will be at risk or missed” if travel is not approved; or if a client agrees to pay for the travel expense, Colangeli stated.

Further, the GTS exec said bulk travel requests should not exceed one calendar month ahead and “should be absolutely minimised”. In addition, “all flights” need to be signed off by her.

Just in case any of the techies were in any doubt, “all non-client travel is prohibited with the exemption of internal auditors and business control personnel. Non-client travel includes participation by our resources in cross-brand events, workshops and other internal meetings”.

Anyone - except bean counters and biz control staff – that ignores the corporate message can expect “no post-approvals and no-reimbursement for non-customer travel”.

Clamping down on expenses isn’t exclusive to IBM, it is a mechanism pulled by other troubled vendors too – HPE’s former Enterprise Services arm was put under similar pressure to contain costs.

IBM has not reported sales growth for the past 21 quarters – it was back in Q4 2011 that Big Blue last filed anything like year-on-year sales growth.

The firm has already told staff it wants them to work “shoulder to shoulder” in the office rather than work remotely, and has now clamped down on travel, the next move may be to tell employees it doesn’t want them at all. Oh wait, that’s already happened to some. ®

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