After intense opposition, Univ. of Michigan stalls Accenture shared services plan

For those at UT who are still examining the pros and cons of shared services, a good hard look at the issues being raised at the University of Michigan might be in order. University officials there had planned to move 275 staffers from across campus into a single building on the edge of Ann Arbor to save money. But on Monday, university administrators said the move, scheduled to begin in April, would be delayed “beyond April.” The “shared services” plan has been met with opposition from faculty concerned about losing trusted staffers. There are also questions about how much Michigan will actually save as a result.

  The “shared services” plan at Michigan is very similar to the one being proposed at UT. It comes from the same source as well. Accenture, a consulting firm that has former executives working in key positions within the administration of both universities, is front and center in the proposals to institute the plan. Accenture also stands to make millions of dollars at both campuses if the plan is implemented.

  Faculty have raised many questions of concern. Not the least of which is the impact on students and faculty within schools and departments of losing valued co-workers who are part of their community, know the programs and needs of students and faculty, and are available as needed when issues arise.  The “shared services” proposal would take staff out of their jobs within the school or department and put them into a pool situation where each would become a single task specialist doing the same job over and over. It is a degradation of the job to drudgery and will not create more efficiency and less turnover.

  Many of the key concerns that are being raised at Michigan are also relevant here at UT. An open letter to the President and Provost signed to date by 1,149 UM faculty named as critical issues the flawed process, flawed financial plan, and lower quality services. Consequences of the plan if implemented include:

Reduction in faculty productivity by 10-20%.

Less faculty access to students and diminished quality of teaching for undergraduate students and supervision for grad students.

Loss of research funding to the tune of several tens of millions of dollars.

Increased frustration and consternation by the faculty because a significant fraction of their effort is diverted into secretarial-like tasks.

No cost savings; on the contrary, a great deal of loss in revenue.

Dehumanization of some 300 staff members.

      To read the open letter:

  The Save Our Community Coalition, Graduate Student Workers, and TSEU members at UT-Austin have pushed back against our own Accenture based “shared services” draft proposal. We have won a small victory, delaying outsourcing of food services, but everything is still on the table. TSEU is committed to seeing this fight through. We will continue to organize and work to unite the majority of the UT community against these attacks on our jobs and the quality of services.