Opportunity 05

Consultants
$200-$250 million +

 

†† DTE and their consultants had the represented workforce, and others, collecting and submitting cost savings ideas focused primarily (on the represented side) in the area of their own specific jobs. This may have been a too narrow focus as evidenced by the fact there were about 4500 ideas collected and not a lot of information supporting substantial savings. (as of about April Fools Day). The input by a large majority of employees (thousands of people) and 10 of thousands of hours involved over the 6 or 8 month process to this point, may have cost as much, or more than the first year savings when you factor in the considerable fees of the 3 or 4 consulting firms involved.

 

†† Personally I didn't get to be involved with as much of the process, or make as many visits to the Service Centers as I would have liked because I was often engaged elsewhere. I had about 15 savings opportunities I thought were significant, however faced with considerable time constraints, and other issues, consequently I didn't get to research most of them. The handful I did complete should demonstrate what might have been achievable had DTE and the consultants not had everyone on such a narrow focus. If everyone had been focused more globally, enterprise wide, we might have have been able to generate ideas making a difference of billions to the bottom line over a 5 year period. (in Nov. 2005 effects of the process was stated as lasting through 2010)

 

†† The 5 cost saving ideas I did get to research could affect DTE's bottom line in excess of a half billion dollars, should DTE choose to pursue the ideas. Previous experience tells me that isn't likely to happen, as in the words of one of my Union brothers, DTE often spends dollars trying to save dimes. Couple with that, the fact these ideas came from a source DTE rarely acknowledges as having meaningful ideas.

 

†† One thing to remember, DTE, or any company, can take an idea and do a minimum of 2 things with it. If it's something the company is in favor of, they can prove it successful regardless of itís merit or potential to save money. On the other hand, someone can offer them the grandest idea since the light bulb, but if it's an idea they don't want to pursue, or if it was tabled by the wrong people, the Company can prove it unworkable, and/or unprofitable and squash any real potential it may have. Much will depend on how vigorously the Company pursues the ideas, and the person or persons assigned. If the players aren't totally dedicated and committed to embracing the opportunity, it will go nowhere. Really good ideas, might resurface later with a slightly different spin and and someone else's name attached.

 

†† My initial guess was that over the last 5-6 years DTE spent over 200 million dollars on consultants. I have since learned that since 1999 that figure may be over 300 million. If the other consultants rose to the same level of incompetence as those currently onsite appear to have risen to, we've wasted a lot of money. Either the consultants are grossly incompetent, or they never were looking for significant savings, which could very well be the case. One of the process pieces I was involved with actually suggests this could have been the case.

 

†† For example we were asked to put together a list of duties we routinely perform and the time, by percentage, we typically spend on each of the job functions per year. I made the list of Stores duties as comprehensive as I possibly could, and was just as diligent about putting accurate percentages devoted to each.

††

†† When I gave it to the consultant, he told me I had too much information and too much detail, following with, they didn't need all that. Given where the PEP process has taken us, I now understand his dilemma at being given so much information with considerable detail.

 

†† It may have been DTEís consultants didn't want the whole picture because they only wanted enough information to establish a set of basic duties, thus it would be like taking a stroll by the Stores window, looking in and seeing 2 people engaged in primary duties and 2 engaged in other duties, then saying only 2 workers were busy with Stores work, so we can cut the other 2.

 

†† What better way to help justify the need to cut heads than by collecting thousands of ideas, yet fail to find any significant savings, then disregard all the duties one does in the performance of their job that might help justify their need? Then essentially lock Union members out of the process once the ideas are collected and the evaluation process begins, and you have the makings of a process, that from the Union perspective, can best be regarded as suspicious. The information can easily be molded behind closed doors by DTE and their consultants to say whatever they desire it to say.

 

†† As stated earlier in the Introduction, Union Members were there for the idea collection process representing the bargaining units, and as eyes and ears for the Local and to lend expert support to the respective teams as Subject Matter Experts. Itís highly suspicious that the experts were no longer needed once the ideas were collected and the feasibility of the ideas were being evaluated.

 

†† Cutting heads or shaving heads by the way were the words of a not too sympathetic D.O. Supervisor at Trombly who told his workers back in November or December, cutting or shaving heads is what the PEP was designed to bring to them.

 

†† The workers were highly upset and called me while I was sitting across from the D.O. team lead, who at the time, was trying to romance Stores and Motor Trans into joining his team. This wasn't the lone incident of this type. I received numerous complaints from other locations about a number of Supervisors upsetting the membership by telling them their jobs were going away, they were going to be laid off, half their jobs were going to be cut, they were going to end up on the streets and similar remarks.

 

†† In stressful times, it's comments like these that cause unstable and volatile situations to boil over and erupt into more dangerous situations. It appears much of this is being done across the board, so I hope Supervision hasn't been doing this with the expectation someone will get angry enough to get themselves disciplined or fired.

 

†† During the merger we were involved with a number of consultants on numerous issues. Even afterwards we have continued having consultants coming in, up to and including the ones onsite today. From my involvement with them, one thing I have noticed is most bring little new information or ideas to the table. Most of the current new ideas came from actual experts. I mean the real experts, the ones that do the work and know what's involved, inside and out.

 

†† DTE could save 10's of millions a year, maybe as much as $200-$250 million or more over the next 5, by going to the workers to ask questions and get expert information instead of hiring consultants to ask the employees and potentially provide skewed information that may be modified to suit the consultants agenda.

 

One of my coworkers said the consultants were even taking part in conference calls during a storm recently. Maybe DTE should hire people that knows how to run a company instead of having to bring in so many consultants to tell them what to do. With 9 presidents and at least 27 vice presidents, one would think they should have the collective knowledge to know how to run the Company without consultants. If they don't know, an obvious question then would be, why do we have them?

 

This page originally uploaded 05/03/06. Last revised on 07/08/06


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