Connecting BSNL Employees / Subscribers 4 Growth of BSNL: How to convert BSNL into a world class organisation (Part-4)

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How to convert BSNL into a world class organisation (Part-4)

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How the subject matter of this article helps convert BSNL into a world class company?
v  By extracting performance from employees by giving essential & qualitative training
v  By reducing training costs,
v  By motivating employees to learn from work & to be able to work

BSNL Management, recognizing the training needs of its employees, has formulated a training policy. Many letters on the training policy and related guidelines have been issued. The striking aspects of these initiatives are:

v  Mandatory training at each stage of time-bound financial up-gradation
v  Training opportunity to all employees in a systematic/rotational manner; targets given to training coordinators, officer-in-charge of training
v  BSNL management is not worried for the expenditure involved; doesn’t mind to spend liberally

The discussions and suggestions on some of the aspects of training & learning are made as follows:

v  Evaluation of the present training system in BSNL
v  Objectives of training
v  Radical change in the existing system
§   Training plan
§   Syllabus
§   Course material
§   Delivery system
§   Examinations
§   Incentives/Disincentives
v  Role of professional & management institutes
v  Role of Training Centres in BSNL
v  Role of Faculties in Training Centres
v  Role of Resource Teams / Study Groups

The discussions may seem to be not applicable for technical / engineering related trainings. But plans can be made for them on similar lines.

An Evaluation of the Present Training System: Let’s think about the present scenario –
v  Much investment has already been made and much human & financial resources have been deployed

v  Too many people are working in training centres without much productivity

v  Sending employees to training centres involves a considerable expenditure. The costs associated with training:

  • Salary of faculty members
  • Establishment costs of training centres (fixed and variable costs)
  • Train/Bus/Air fare, Daily Allowance, Hotel room rent, etc.
  • Loss of productivity and other problems in work due to absence from work

v  If just the TA/DA of a trainee is considered, at least Rs. 2000/- is spent for sending one employee for training. If all costs are taken into account, it may become Rs.3000/- at the most conservative estimate

v  All employees do not get a chance to attend training

v  Some people get nominated for trainings repeatedly and some people have never attended any training; this causes dissatisfaction

v  Many employees attending training lack the interest for learning

v  Many employees go for training for spending some time outside and to do some other personal work in the city/town

v  Many faculty members are not competent

v  Faculties, not being resourceful, spend time in classroom by discussing irrelevant topics

v  Involvement of outside experts/resource persons is very less

v  Some in-house faculties fear that their incompetence may get exposed before higher level officers if they invite outside faculties; and try to teach themselves

v  Some accounts & finance officers said that outside experts are not invited for saving money (say Rs.5000/-); but they forget that at least Rs.60,000/- (for a group of 20 trainees) is lost if the trainees don’t get the required knowledge

v  Right Employee – Right Training Course mismatch is found quite often

v  Course content and duration are often irrationally decided and fixed

v  Training programmes are not at all conducted on some very important subjects

v  Unnecessary efforts are made to produce training materials when standard quality books are available in the market

v  The materials prepared by in-house faculties are often sub-standard

Aim and Objectives of Training: Why training?
The aim should be all of the following –

Strong Foundation: The training should help create a strong foundation of knowledge in executives and non-executives. The knowledge level of employees is very low. A strong foundation facilitates self-learning in future as the situation demands. Some examples to convince the readers:

  • One Sr. TS (O) was preparing for Departmental JAO Exam for several months. One AO was conducting free coaching classes in office after 5.30 PM. Once the prospective candidate asked – what is the full-form of DDO?

  • One CAO does not know how to save a word document in a floppy.

  • Once BSNL Corporate Office in a letter relating to audit objection emphasized two aspects of Inventory Accounting; 1- physical verification of inventory, 2- documenting the process of physical verification. But Circle Office, being unable to understand the matter, omitted the second aspect while endorsing the letter to SSAs.

  • Once BSNL Corporate Office circulated a letter regarding some observations/ requirements of Audit Committee; the Circle Office marked it to SSAs; Accounts Officers at SSA level could not find the full-form of “ERP” for a few days.

Working with Ease, Speed and Accuracy: When it comes to computers, accounting, auditing, law & tax matters, many of our accounts officers themselves are ignorant and, thus, unable to guide subordinate staffs. Some officers don’t have adequate knowledge on traditional matters also. Due to this, many mistakes are committed, time wasted, work not taken up, fine imposed and customers dissatisfied.  Thus, we need to train our staff and increase their technical skills for smooth, speedy & accurate work.

Back Up/ Substitute Worker: At least 30 % Group-B officers and 60 % Group-C staffs are below average or totally useless. The entire work load at grassroots level is on 40 % excellent/ good/ average Group-C staffs and 70 % excellent/ good/ average Group-B officers. Often, some aspects of work is under exclusive control of a single person, he only possesses the knowledge and skill to handle that work, no substitute or back up is available. The effects of this phenomenon are many: in the absence of that particular man, work is held up; after transfer of that particular man, work is affected; that particular man shows pride & sometimes takes undue benefit of his indispensability.

So, we need to train some more hands to face the contingency.

Motivation to Group-C Staff to Work & Learn: Training should motivate employees to learn to be able to work efficiently and work to learn something from work. We find that most Group-C staffs are avoiding, protesting work; sitting idle; making noise in office; not doing minimum work; not willing to learn the work. This situation can change to some extent if an environment of learning prevails in office.

Ability to Visualize Change: Training should enable the employees to perform their existing duty with confidence, accuracy and speed and also adapt themselves to changing situations and even to visualize the change itself. Once some standard quality training is given, employees in future would catch up with themselves.

These objectives are to be achieved in the following manner:

Quick Training: we cannot wait for 3-4 years to complete our targets of training to all in this fast moving competitive scenario. We have to quickly train and equip our staff.

Low Cost training: BSNL’s profits are declining. Margins are very low. We cannot spend lavishly on training. Money saved is money earned. We have to search for alternatives to achieve our aim with less expenditure.

Qualitative Training: Training courses for a few days or 1-2 weeks are not sufficient. Trainings should be comprehensive, complete and highly qualitative in content.

Training Needs of Accounts & Finance Officers
The most essential areas of knowledge in which at least a working knowledge is a must for accounts & finance officers in BSNL are the following. The no. of days required for training on each of the subjects is stated against the subject.

v  Principles of Management                                                                                    5

v  Financial Accounting                                                                                            15                   
v  Accounting Standards (some specified standards only)                          15
v  Auditing and Auditing Standards                                                               15      
v  Analysis of BSNL’s Accounting System and Auditor’s Report                5

v  Company Law                                                                                                      10  
v  Law of Contract                                                                                                    5                     
v  EPF & Misc. provisions Act, & some other Acts                                      15

v  Income Tax (specified portion only)                                                                     15       
v  Service Tax and CENVAT                                                                                   15
v  Value Added Tax (VAT) and Central Sales Tax (CST)                           5

v  Basics of Management Accounting and Financial Management                        30
v  Information System. (MIS, ERP concepts)                                                         5

About 155 days are required to impart training on these minimum areas of knowledge. We cannot afford the time, money and efforts to train all the Departmental-JAO, AO, Sr. AO, CAO and DGM (F&A). So, a scheme of continuous learning covering the above topics may be framed for accounts & finance executives.

Some of the possible features of the scheme may be:

v  Must be compulsory for all F&A executives having > 2 years remaining service
v  Course to be completed within 1 year
v  Exam date should be a fixed date and should not be changed
v  Reward for completing within time: Entry in service book, 2 additional increments, lump sum Rs. 10,000/-
v  No reward for completing after 1 year and within 2 years
v  After 2 years, withdraw some benefits till completion of course: Entry in service book, No promotion, No further increments
v  No training should be given for the course (because cost will be prohibitive).
v  No course materials should be prepared by BSNL (because quality will be poor).
v  But a detailed outline for each subject may be prepared
v  Standard textbooks available in the market should be prescribed, just one book for each subject
v  Questions should not come from outside the detailed syllabus/ the prescribed book

Training Needs of Group-C Staffs:
Group-C staffs can specialize in any one of the following 3 broad area.

v  Marketing, Customer Care, Sales, Revenue Outstanding Pursuit & the related areas
v  General Management, Office Administration, Establishment, Staff Relation, Service Matters
v  Cash, Accounts & Finance

A cheap & easy way to make employees acquire knowledge and to encourage their learning may be to encourage them to pursue any of the following courses:

v  PG Diploma in Marketing from IGNOU
v  Diploma in Management from IGNOU
v  Foundation Course of ICAI, ICWAI or ICSI

These courses are cheap and very relevant for BSNL. Study materials are of very good quality. Most employees would be eligible to enroll for these courses.

The course is to be completed within 1 ½ years. An incentive scheme can be made as follows:
v  For completion within 1½ years : Two additional increments, Lump sum Rs.7000/-
v  For completion after 1½ years     : Only reimbursement of fees paid by the employee

The psychological impact of such a scheme would be:

v  The employee would understand that hundreds of thousands of youths have done such courses and struggling to a get a salary of Rs.5000/-; but they are lucky enough to get very high salary
v  Employee would respect his officer
v  Employee would work closely with his officer to learn from him
v  An officer, may occasionally link the subject matter of work to the academic aspect, while motivating his subordinate staff to take interest in the work and to start the work. If the staff is pursuing a course, he may take keen interest to listen and do the work.

What are the advantages?

Advantages to BSNL:-
v  Employees would do all things themselves;
v  BSNL need not spend time and resources in training;
v  No need to develop training material;
v  No need to conducting training class;
v  No need to conducting examination;
v  Load on training centres would partially reduce;
v  Resources of training centres can be utilised for those training which is necessarily to be given in-house;
v  Idle facilities in training centres is not a problem, those facilities can be profitably put to many alternative uses;
v  Huge amounts of money can be saved on account of TA/DA etc;
v  Absence from duty by employees attending training can be avoided;

Advantages to Employee:-
v  Examination will be conducted by credible agencies;
v  Excellent opportunity for employees to choose from alternative courses;
v  Certificate from reputed & recognised body is a matter of prestige for the employees;
v  Employees can further ascend in their career path with the help of such courses.

The mandatory training at each stage of time-bound financial up-gradation may be restricted after giving 1 to 2 trainings for 1st & 2nd time-bound financial up-gradation. This training is not cost-effective.

The Distance Learning Scheme recently launched by BSNL is good but applicable for executives and also optional. This scheme may encourage only high level & costly courses. So, the proposal discussed in this article may be in addition to the Distance Learning Scheme.

Some more thoughts…
v  ALTTC, BRBRAITT & NATFM may work with IITs, IIMs, ICAI, ICWAI, ICSI, top-B-Schools;
Ø  To design & develop high level training courses;
Ø  To prepare course material tailor-made to specific requirements of BSNL;
Ø  To train the trainers & officers placed at critical levels;

v  ALTTC, BRBRAITT & NATFM as apex training authorities should:
Ø  Act as mentor;
Ø  Monitor the quality of trainings at RTTC;
Ø  Advise RTTCs;
Ø  Coordinate to ensure consistency throughout India in quality, course content, frequency, type of trainings etc.

v  RTTCs should approach ICAI, ICWAI, ICSI chapter offices, MBA institutes, universities. Faculties & members of those organisations should visit to RTTC and train our staff. Whatever we may have to pay would be worth spending.

v  Only outside faculty should train our officers on subjects such as Management, Accounting and Law.  On Computers, Engineering & Technology subjects perhaps our in-house faculties are somewhat competent. Training on any emerging new area may be arranged by inviting outside experts.

v  Past Branch Auditors and Internal Auditors, being a valuable source of knowledge, should be requested to partner in our training activities, share their experience and suggest solutions. We may have to pay, but that would be worth their contribution.

v  Study Groups can be formed consisting DR-JAOs, DGM (F&A), auditors, outside experts/ practitioners. They should discuss various issues and design courses.

v  Experts, practitioners who are involved in the group can also act as advisers to BSNL. Doubts, issues & problems can be discussed with them at Circle Office level.

v  High standard text books may be prescribed/ recommended.

v  Course materials of academic/ professional institutes should be selected and prescribed for long-term training. The aim is not to re-do, re-invent things which are already done.

v  Special course materials should be developed with the help of outside experts/ resource persons on special topics relating to BSNL’s working.

v  The cost of giving training at RTTCs/ CTTCs to all employees will be very prohibitive. RTTCs may give training to some selected offices of BSNL units (SSAs etc.,) and these trained officers may disseminate the knowledge to the staff at SSA level / field unit level.

v  Investment can be made in field units for creating facilities such as renovating conference hall, LCD projectors, books, library etc., The same infrastructure will be useful for other purposes such as press conference, DSA/ franchisee meeting, customers meeting, staff meeting etc.,

v  An incentive scheme (may be nominal) may be structured for trainers, speakers, rank-holders in training exams.

v  Training PORTAL should have a provision for posting QUERIES by staffs and their ANSWERS by competent persons.

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