FINALLY, with the grace of God, a local authority has been so kind as to offer 10 laptops for the kids.
I thought it would be easy, just call up the CIO or talk to them, get things moving and after few weeks, laptops and pc's will come pouring down. Well, that's the idea, but did not work that easily.
Asset disposal is a giant mess in most companies, while you are very careful in ordering stuff, to dispose stuff is horribly difficult. And people do not think through the logistics. Let me give you some examples, first by taking the example of a laptop and second via the example of a mobile phone.
You get a mobile phone from the company and then after 2 years, you lose it. So you order a new one and a spanking new one appears on your desk, you drool over it and so on and so forth. After 2 weeks, you find the old mobile phone nestling inside the umbrella stand where you dropped it when bending over it. This is the problem, what do you do with it? if you take 100 people in this situation, 90 will simply chuck it into a drawer at home and forget about it, 5 will give it to their children or wives, 5 will bring it back into the office and ask what happens with old kit. 99 times out of 100, there is no mechanism for actually accepting old mobile kit within companies.
Full asset refresh is a different matter. I kitted out the whole floor with 1000 pc's, so after 2 years, I refresh the entire lot, so the entire lot gets disposed off properly and I can sell off the old piles. But when you are talking about 1-2 old kit, once in a while, they will be left to collect dust and mould in your secretary's desk, underneath some desks, inside some cupboards, or what have you.
It is just too expensive to worry about 1-2 pieces of kit and most people just do not return kit. We ran a scheme that if you returned your own mobile in these large charity containers, we can recycle it and then buy goats in Ghana or something. Guess what happened? very few old mobile phones came through, and even those which did, were actually picked up by other employees whose current mobile phone was of an older generation than the disposed one.
So between laziness, difficulty in collection, no proper disposal policy and so on and so forth, collecting laptops for the charity is very difficult. Even if somebody at the top was willing to help out, the huge amount of work required to go after changing the policy neatly defeats the entire exercise. I personally failed to do so at the last bank I worked in. I was going down the wrong way by going for the top and asking for donations.
So what I am trying to do is to play the same game. Try to hook into the asset refresh cycle. Some laptops will be handed back to the ordering desk, and if we can hook into those few returned laptops, then we are in business. And then the van can come down from Nottingham on a regular basis and collect them.
This means that I have to press the flesh of many many senior people and network widely. And so many people say yes and well, not much happens. Nothing wrong with that, these things happen, people are busy, but its tough on everybody, raise expectations, expend energy and then fail. I am currently running at about 20 contacts to 5 actual asset conversations to now the first actual delivery. So I think I am doing ok...
But every now and then, and this is for the first time, that we have managed to get 10 laptops freed from a London council. I am very grateful to the gentleman concerned, his asset manager and the young lady who made the introductions.
Here is a photograph of a very kind gentleman who donated a laptop he won to a long term ill child.