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Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with approximately 2,59,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world's most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments.
Accenture originated as the business and technology consulting division of accounting firm Andersen Consulting in 1953. Its first project was to automate payroll processing and manufacturing at General Electronics Appliance Park in Kentucky. Since then, it has been consistently expanding.
In 2001 Andersen Consulting adopted its current name, "Accenture". The word "Accenture" is derived from "Accent on the future". Accenture felt that the name should represent its will to be a global consulting leader and high performer, and also intended that the name should not be offensive in any country in which Accenture operates.
Accenture's high performance business strategy builds on its proficiency in consulting, technology and outsourcing to improve its client's performance. Using its technology capabilities and industrial knowledge, it identifies new business and technology trends and develops solutions to help clients around the world enter new markets, increase revenues in existing market, improve operational performance and deliver their products and services more effectively and efficiently.
Accenture follows a Matrix Organizational structure. All the employees are given certain basic trainings (known as Green Field Training) based on their previous skills set. People with similar skills are pooled and allocated to work projects based on their suitability.
Every project has 2 managers: A project manager and a functional manager. The authority of the functional manager flows vertically downwards and the authority of the project manager flows sideward. Hence, each functional worker usually reports to the functional heads, but does not normally work directly under their supervision. Instead, the worker is controlled by a project manager. This way, each worker has two superiors, who will jointly ensure the progress of the project.
Most of the projects in Accenture follow Strong Matrix i.e. most of the authorities lie with the project manager. The project manager has a full time role, controls the project budget and he has full time project management administrative staff under him.
The functional head may be more interested in developing the most exiting products or technologies, whereas the project manager is more concerned with keeping deadlines and controlling project costs.
There is no fixed leadership style in Accenture and it varies from project to project based on the project manager. My project manager's leadership style can be best described as 'Participative'. Even though he didn't have much technical knowledge, he used to take all the critical decisions by gathering inputs from the employees working under him and coagulate all the information to reach a final conclusion. This made the group members feel more engaged in the process which made them more motivated and creative.
Accenture has a unique culture in which every new employee is given a KT (Knowledge Transfer) Session by his team members (irrespective of his designation). This session includes an overview on the working style of the project, all the technical details that are supposed to be known by the new member. After this process, the new member is asked to shadow the existing members of the same designation for 1 week during which, he is only supposed to sit, observe and understand the work performed by the existing employees. After the end of 1 week, the new employee is asked to give a Reverse KT which includes a presentation on his learnings during the week in front of a few senior members of the organization. Reverse KT is a measure to determine the grasping power of the employee which helps the manager in deciding the sub-team to which he should be allocated.
Also, there is a culture of celebrating all the festivals by wearing traditional clothes and getting sweets from home. Since there is a lot of regional diversity in the company, this helps in gaining knowledge of each other's cultures. The whole team sits together for lunch on festive occasions and enjoys the sweets.
Accenture has a quarterly awards ceremony in which a few of the best performing employees in the project are given awards (such as 'Tiger of the Quarter', 'Shining star of the quarter'). They are given certain CP points as rewards which can be used to shop online (1CP point = Rs. 10). This increases the passion, zeal in employees to outperform their peers and win the award resulting in a more dedicated lot of employees.
Team Building initiatives:
One of Accenture's core values is to attract, develop and retain the best talents for their business and foster a collaborative and mutually supportive environment for them. Hence, they give a lot of focus on team building activities.
Accenture organizes inter project competitions such as cricket matches, cultural competitions (singing, dance, battle of bands etc.) every month which binds the project co-workers together and increases their interaction. Cricket matches give the project co-workers a sense of unity and improves teamwork amongst co-workers.
Accenture also allocates quarterly budgets for group dinners where the whole team is taken out for dinner by the project manager. The budget depends on the performance of the team. Hence, this is another motivational factor for the team to work harder and improve their performance.
Also, every team member's birthday is celebrated in the office cafeteria with a cake cutting ceremony during which the whole team is present. This improves the team dynamics and keeps the employee enthused.
Power and politics go hand in hand. The same was the case in Accenture. Office politics such as favoritism, groupism existed in Accenture. Individuals used to make use of the power assigned to them for the purpose of obtaining advantages beyond their legitimate authority. On occasions, team leads used to recommend those employees for quarterly rewards with whom they had a good repo irrespective of the work being performed by them.
Innovation / Creativity initiatives:
There are certain SIMs (Service Improvement initiatives) which can be raised by an employee to add in his creative ideas and innovations. These SIMs follow a specific procedure where they are validated by the functional manager first by checking the feasibility of the idea and the procedure on how to implement it in the existing environment. After testing, they are moved forward to the project manager. Upon attaining his approval, it is passed to the Senior Executive who informs the clients about the innovation. After all the required approvals are taken, the team is asked alter the system by adding the creative idea to the existing environment. Even though this is a time consuming process, it is more methodical and takes into account all the drawbacks and negative impacts of the creative initiative on the existing system.
Critique on the current internal scenario / internal environment including people practices:
The biggest problem faced by the employees of Accenture is the allocation of projects. Even though there are Accenture Delivery Centers spread out across 7 cities all over India, people are not given their preferred city. A person opting for Delhi might be given Chennai and vice versa. As a result, people have to live away from their hometown which decreases the EQ level as well as results in an additional cost of living which the employee has to bear. Therefore, the satisfaction level of the employees reduces which results in a reduction in their efficiency or even a company switch.
Suggestions and recommendations to make the organization a "Futuristic" or "Visionary " Firm of Endearment or Conscious Capitalistic organization:
Accenture has come a long way since its separation from Arthur Anderson in 2000 to evolve into a mega external service provider with its roots in various industries, regions around the world.
Accenture has many opportunities to gain market leadership in various countries which can be done via small/medium sized acquisitions. This will help the company expand it capabilities, service, presence worldwide.
Accenture should expand and recruit more people from developing country (like India, Philippines, China) which provide low-cost development and support to local client-facing personnel in a given domestic market. This will result in a more hardworking set of employees at cheaper costs. Also, the cost of setting up delivery centers in those countries will also be cheaper than the developed countries like UK, USA. To be highly competitive, external service providers such as Accenture should possess strong global capabilities to manage clients and engagements worldwide. Hence, Accenture should plan to increase its low cost work force.
Also, the firm should change its project allocation system and focus more on the preferred cities of the employees. Being with their families will keep the employees satisfied. It would also reduce the reallocation charges and brokerage charges that the company usually pays when reallocating an employee to a city which is not his preferred one.