BSNL Employees Union: Shaking Their Heads at BCG Partnership

BSNL Employees Union: Shaking Their Heads at BCG Partnership

The Financial express broke the story that the Boston Consultancy Group was brought in once again to ‘fix’ BSNL. The employees brace for another round of management consultancy drama. The telecom giant gears up for a three-year transformation plan while the employees union dusts off their protest banners. EFFKAY is here to give you the lowdown, in this edition of Frankly Spicy!

In a move that’s becoming as predictable as one of NaMo’s election speeches, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has called in the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) to save the day—or at least try to. The state-owned telecom company, which has been grappling with operational challenges, announced that it would be paying a cool Rs 132 crore to BCG for their advisory services. The employees union, however, is less than thrilled, having already been down this road with other consultancies.

The Great Consultancy Revolving Door

Back in 2008, during the reign of the Congress-led UPA government, BSNL first cozied up to BCG in hopes of revamping its struggling operations. Now, fast-forward to Achhe Din! BCG is back with a new three-year roadmap to help BSNL effectively compete with private telecom operators. The plan includes reducing operational costs, improving revenue, enhancing customer experience, leveraging emerging technologies, and revamping sales and marketing strategies.

BCG will also be setting up shop at BSNL’s corporate office in New Delhi, with a team of a director and seven managers. This project will roll out in two phases, starting with a thorough analysis of BSNL’s current state and moving to a country-wide implementation of new strategies.

Employee Union to Management: “Here We Go Again!”

John Verghese, the acting secretary of the BSNL Employees Union, didn’t waste any time penning a strongly worded letter to the CMD of BSNL, Mr. P.K. Purwar. Verghese, with an air of déjà vu, pointed out that despite engaging consultants like Deloitte and KPMG in the past, BSNL’s woes have only worsened.

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He remarked, “The root of BSNL’s problem is lying somewhere else. The government didn’t allow BSNL to expand its network from 2007 to 2012, and the current government has thrown roadblocks in launching BSNL’s 4G and 5G services.”

Adding to the drama, Verghese accused the management of ignoring the in-house talent and failing to address critical employee issues like wage revisions. But, apparently, there’s always room in the budget for another high-priced consultant. Interesting to note that the sarkar shows no Reliance on its own chaps!

A Plan for Everything but Happiness

BCG’s blueprint for BSNL includes everything from improving network quality of service in 11 circles to devising a new sales and distribution policy aimed at slashing commission costs by 25%. They’re also looking at strengthening BSNL’s enterprise segment with cloud solutions, 5G networks, and IoT solutions. Lofty goals for a company that’s still trying to figure out how to keep its call drop rate under control.

The plan even targets BSNL’s operating expenses, aiming for a 5% reduction annually. Employee benefit expenses, which make up over 30% of BSNL’s total spending, are likely on the chopping block. But hey, who needs job security when you can have a shiny new sales strategy?

The BCG Miracle Cure?

BCG will start by analyzing gaps in BSNL’s current approach across key circles and developing solutions to hit vertical-wise revenue targets. BSNL is aiming for Rs 35,960 crore in revenue from operations by 2027-28, an ambitious 80% growth from its estimated Rs 20,008 crore revenue in FY24. The telecom company also has its sights set on an EBITDA of Rs 12,110 crore by FY28, up from the Rs 1,839 crore estimated for FY24.

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[EBITDA, which stands for earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, helps evaluate a business’s core profitability.- Editor]

Yet, the BSNL Employees Union remains skeptical. Verghese’s letter doesn’t mince words, stating that engaging BCG is a “futile exercise” and that the management’s priorities are misplaced. According to the union, the real issues lie in governmental interference and management’s failure to tap into the potential of its workforce.

Same Drama, Different Year

For BSNL employees, this isn’t their first rodeo with high-priced consultants. Each time a new firm is brought in with promises of turnaround strategies and efficiency improvements, the employees are left wondering if their jobs are next on the chopping block.

The union’s letter makes it clear that they believe the solution to BSNL’s problems doesn’t lie in yet another expensive consultancy gig. Instead, they advocate for a focus on internal talent and resolving long-standing issues that have been plaguing the company for years. One of the issues is about an uneven playing field tilted in favour of certain private companies

A Rocky Road Ahead

As BSNL embarks on this new journey with BCG, the telecom giant’s employees prepare for another round of uncertainty and upheaval. Will this partnership finally steer BSNL toward success, or will it end up as just another expensive detour? Only time will tell. For now, the employees union remains vigilant, ready to shake their heads and pick up their protest signs at a moment’s notice.

Stay tuned for the next episode of “BSNL’s Consultancy Chronicles.”