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    Highlights—February 17, 2007

  • Yahoo! message board post: "any idea of 2006 IBM Employee Bonus plan payout(s)?" by "sby_willie". Full excerpt: Usually around this time of year we hear about how much money IBM is distributing to the employees in the employee bonus plan based on the archaic PBC ratings. I haven't heard any numbers yet, have you? I reckon this is not a good sign. IBM in the past used to trump any increase they were going to pay out from the previous year.
    The only notification I received was from an internal memo that the bonus will be paid out on 3/15/2007 and I have until 3/1/2007 to adjust the percentage of the bonus payout to be put in the 401(k). I also find it "cute" that this internal memo came from "Capital Accumulation". Since IBM is paying out these bonuses shouldn't it be from "Capital Distribution"?! :)
  • Yahoo! message board post by "grayhorse89". Full excerpt: Only rumor I heard so far was from a friend over in SWG and it was ' Same as last year ' So much for all those stellar results 'trickling down.'
    Of course even if they were higher, with the general downgrading of the PBC ratings that was instituted, the company will pay out less anyway. They win both ways.
  • Washington Post: Downshifting, Not Retiring. By Martha M. Hamilton. Excerpts: There's a lot of talk these days about a "new retirement" that's expected to flourish as a wave of workers reach their 60s during the next two decades. According to popular wisdom, the road to retirement for these folks doesn't end in the rec room at Leisure World, but instead promises a mix of work and pleasure.
    However, the Vanguard Center for Retirement Research looked at those forecasts and compared them with current reality, and in a recent report, authors John Ameriks, Holly B. Fergusson, Anna B. Madamba and Stephen P. Utkus concluded the trend is not so new. [...]
    They used a term I liked very much to suggest what goes on as people begin to move out of longtime jobs. They called it downshifting. Downshifting is either postponing retirement; reducing hours; or shifting to a less stressful, simpler, or -- sometimes -- a more meaningful and personally satisfying job.
  • Winston-Salem Journal: Dismantling Retirement Benefits. Coveted retirement packages are suddenly empty. By Richard Craver. Excerpts: When it comes to preparing for retirement, there are few guarantees anymore. Just ask recent retirees of Hanesbrands Inc. under the age of 65.
    On Feb. 1, Hanesbrands cut its contribution to retirees' health-insurance premiums from an average of 62 percent to no more than 35 percent. It will end its contributions entirely Dec. 1 but will continue to provide access to the group rate for retirees who can pay the full cost of the premium.
    Some pre-65 retirees told the Winston-Salem Journal that they have gone from paying $60 to $130 a month to more than $450. When the subsidy ends, they said, their premiums will rise to more than $750 a month. For a retiree carrying a spouse on his or her policy, the cost could top $1,200 a month. [...]
    A 2006 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that only 35 percent of companies with more than 200 employees offer retiree health benefits, down from 66 percent in 1988. "It's scary to be retired and find out your former employer has pulled the plug on your retirement health benefits," said Michelle Strollo, a co-author of the study. "It really puts them between a rock and a hard place, especially if they retired to take care of an ailing spouse or parent, or because of their own health issues." [...]
    Unlike pension plans, which are backed by the federal Pension Benefits Guaranty Corp., there is no safety net for retiree health benefits if companies decide to eliminate them. Retirees age 65 and older have Medicare and a Medicare supplement.
    But for pre-65 retirees, life is a lot tougher. Analysts said that these retirees struggle to secure a private health-insurance policy even if they can afford premiums that can be up to 15 times higher than what they were paying before their company dropped their benefits.
    "Most people are simply going to have to work longer than previous generations, and they will not be able to retire like their parents did," said John Challenger, the chief executive of Challenger Gray & Christmas Inc., a global-outplacement company based in Chicago. [...]
    Michael York, the president of Blue Moon Benefits Group in Clemmons, said he has heard the phrase "human depreciation" used to describe the way some companies justify the reduction or elimination of retiree health benefits. Blue Moon provides health insurance to individuals and small employers. [...]
    Alan Tonelson, a research fellow for the U.S. Business and Industry Council, said that an ominous factor is "more companies are deciding they don't need to pay a first-world overall compensation package anymore. "They feel it is no longer necessary because they have third-world production options where the benefits Americans are accustomed to are not known, not offered at our level or subsidized by the national government," Tonelson said.
  • San Jose Mercury-News: Report predicts job losses to offshoring. By Nicole C. Wong. Excerpts: Silicon Valley is likely to lose at least one out of every five computer programming, software engineering and data-entry jobs that existed in 2004 due to offshoring over the next decade, according to a first-of-its-kind report being released today by the Brookings Institution.
  • Motley Fool: I Love IBM. By Tim Beyers. Excerpts: In the year of the blue chip, no stock makes me blush redder than IBM (NYSE: IBM) does. Why? Business improvements. [...]
    Then there's the services team. While big competitors such as Accenture, BearingPoint, and Infosys have done well in recent years, IBM is now investing billions in lower-cost regions like India to reduce the attractiveness of offshoring innovation.
  • BusinessWeek: Work Visas May Work Against the U.S. Indian outsourcers file the most applications for temporary H-1B visas. Are they using them to train staff for jobs abroad? by Peter Elstrom. Excerpts: America's visa program for temporary workers was originally set up to allow U.S. companies to bring skilled workers who are in short supply to the U.S. Microsoft, IBM, Intel, Oracle, and Sun Microsystems have been active participants in the program, hiring foreign workers for specialized computer programming jobs and positions managing projects with overseas staff.
    The visas, known as H-1Bs, are popular enough that President George W. Bush is calling for an increase in the cap on the number of workers who can come to the U.S. under the program. "We've got to expand what's called H-1B visas," he said in a January speech. "It makes no sense to say to a young scientist in India, you can't come to America to help this [country] develop technologies that help us deal with our problems."
    But a review of new information from the federal government suggests that the companies benefiting most from the temporary worker program aren't U.S. companies at all. Rather, they appear to be Indian outsourcing firms, which often hire workers from India to train in the U.S. before returning home to work. Data for the fiscal year 2006, which ended last September, show that 7 of the top 10 applicants for H-1B visas are Indian companies. Giants Infosys Technologies and Wipro took the top two spots, with 22,600 and 19,400 applications, respectively. The company with the third most applications is Cognizant Technology Solutions, which is based in Teaneck, N.J., but has most of its operations in India. All three companies provide services to U.S. companies from India, including technology support and back-office processing. [...]
    The dominance of Indian outsourcing companies raises public policy questions about the temporary visa program. Some experts say that while the intent of H-1B visas may be to help U.S. companies hire workers with rare skills, the effect in some cases may be to facilitate moving jobs abroad. The issue has also sparked concern among some prominent U.S. tech companies, which worry that outsourcers could abuse the visa program, harming the tech firms' ability to attract foreign talent. [...]
    In addition, the temporary visa program includes no requirement that companies in the U.S. try to hire American employees before they turn to foreign workers. To obtain a permanent visa, companies must conduct and provide to the government a labor market test, in which they demonstrate that they sought to hire American workers first. But the H-1B temporary visa program mandates no such market test. Instead, companies are required only to pay the prevailing wages and benefits for a certain job in a certain market.
  • InformationWeek: India Sees Cultural Backlash Against Outsourcing. By Paul McDougall. Excerpts: The outsourcing of tech and business work to India by U.S. multinationals has added billions to India's national income, but some in the country are now suggesting that this apparent windfall carries too high a price.
    Of late, some editorialists and social commentators in India are warning that the outsourcing boom is starting to erode traditional Indian values. An author writing Tuesday in the journal Merinews noted that "the outsourcing companies and projects emphasize foreign cultural values -- the place from which the original project has been outsourced." In most cases, that's the United States.
    As a result, some other Indian writers note, hundreds of thousands of young people employed at outsourcers are embracing U.S. traditions and lifestyles and eschewing more traditional Indian social norms. One timely example: The growing popularity of Valentine's Day in the country. This from a spokesman for India's nationalist Shiv Sena party: "We don't need to learn about love and affection from Westerners."
  • Investors Insight: Destitute At 80: Retiring In Secular Cycles. By Ed Easterling. Excerpts: There has never been a thirty-year period for the stock market when investors have lost money; yet there have quite a few thirty-year periods that have bankrupted senior citizens who were relying upon their stock portfolios for retirement income. [...]
    Safe Withdrawal Rate, or SWR, is an actively discussed--and debated--concept among retirees, financial planners, and investment advisors. SWR relates to the percentage of an investor's portfolio that can be safely withdrawn each year following retirement for life's expenses. The key variables are (1) success rate, as reflected in the percentage risk of not running out of money; (2) portfolio mix and return assumptions; (3) how long the retiree assumes that they will live; and (4) a variety of other variables including tax rates, investment expenses, etc.
  • Yahoo! message board post: "career opportunities in IBM?" by "sby_willie". Full excerpt: Anyone else wonder where has all the career opportunities in IBM have gone?
    • IDP/EDP (Individual Development Plan, Employee Development Plan, call it what you like...) is generally just a non-committal, unliving document that is generally treated like your PBC. It's generally just another administrative task required of you to do by you and blindly approved by your manager.
    • less career paths (some professions formerly done by IBM employees have been either vended out or eliminated altogether)
    • most job opportunities are filled with new hires or outsourced abroad
    • very few promotions
    • no longer any IBM career "dual ladder"
    • non-existent retraining programs for other jobs in IBM
    • limited internal education available for career vitality and skills development
    • Never hear that IBM is committed to "Technical Vitality" in regards to maintaining and growing technical I/T careers
    • IBM HR's "PBC 2 Managed Out" program is showing IBM is bent on restricting careers in IBM by forcing employees out of the company
    • increased IBM director "empire building" with increased opportunities for management team under IBM directors. IBM employee just has another layer of management to report up to. The perception of employees falling lower on the organization chart is increasing.
    You will no longer hear of IBM touting how any of the above is getting better for the typical 'beamer. It's so clear most employees still working for IBM after 5 years are in a "dead end job". Hate to say it, but it's generally the truth.
    When are we all going to challenge IBM HR and ask them to supply the REAL information of where are the career opportunities in IBM? Or are most of us just going to sit idly by, muse, shake your head, and just do nothing to improve your career while in IBM?
  • Business News Americas: IBM plans to double LatAm offshore staff in 2007. Excerpts: IBM plans to double its staff working in offshore services in Latin America during 2007, from the 4,900 employees currently working at the company's global delivery centers in Brazil and Argentina, IBM integrated technology delivery VP for the region, David Daniel, told BNamericas.
    The company operates global delivery centers in India, China, Russia, Brazil (Hortolândia) and Argentina (Buenos Aires). During 2005, these countries generated revenues of US$3.8bn for the company, up 14% compared to 2004.
    "We started offering services for local markets from the same countries and then we decided to transfer the internal support services to IBM in Brazil. So a group in Hortolândia started supporting IBM in the USA and Canada, and that was the beginning of service delivery outside the region," Daniel said.
News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
  • New York Times Editorial: Passing the Buck on Health Care. Excerpts: President Bush’s new budget would extend the administration’s warped priorities deep into the realm of federally supported health care programs. The administration long ago sacrificed any meaningful domestic agenda to finance tax cuts for the wealthy and its reckless war in Iraq. The White House’s reckless determination to make the tax cuts permanent is now driving it to slash domestic spending in health and other vital programs.
    Instead of trying to address the underlying problems of escalating health care costs, Mr. Bush’s strategy is to cut services or shift more of the bill to states, health care providers and individuals.
    In the Medicare program, which covers health care for Americans aged 65 and over, the administration would find most of its savings by slowing the annual increase in reimbursements for services, forcing hospitals and other providers to absorb the burden. Given Medicare’s precarious financial straits, the package appears broadly acceptable.
    The real outrage is that the administration has not proposed comparable reductions in the large overpayments — roughly 12 percent more per patient — made to private managed care plans that enroll Medicare beneficiaries. The budget would also phase out Medicare bad-debt payments, forcing hospitals to swallow beneficiaries’ unpaid bills.

New on the Alliance@IBM Site:

  • IBM's statement about PBC's: "The cornerstone of how IBM manages performance is trust and personal responsibility. At IBM, there is no forced distribution of ratings. Under the PBC program, employees can trust that the ratings they receive are an accurate reflection of their contributions for the year, compared to their peer group. There should be no pressure - financial or otherwise - on first-line managers to identify a certain percentage of employees to receive one rating or another."
    Here are the links to the PBC 2 Managed Out presentation:
  • The Politico: Cheney Says Bush Will Veto Pro-Union Bill. Excerpts: President Bush will veto pending legislation aimed at boosting union strength, Vice President Cheney told National Association of Manufacturers members at a Wednesday breakfast meeting to kick off the group’s lobbying efforts.
    The “Employee Free Choice Act,” currently making its way through the House, would change the process of union elections. Under the measure, if a majority of workers in a workplace sign cards authorizing a union, then the workers would get a union. Under current law, even when a majority of workers ask for union representation, their employers can force them to undergo an election process administered by the National Labor Relations Board. Supporters contend the proposal would strengthen unions against unfair management tactics. Opponents warn that the measure is an effort by unions to exert undue influence after years of waning support.
    The manufacturers’ coalition seeks to kill the bill, among a list of four legislative priorities for the 110th Congress. The House Education and Labor Committee is scheduled to mark up the legislation Wednesday.
  • Burlington Free Press: IBM ends 20-year Roundtable membership. By Dan McLean. Excerpts: After two decades of membership, IBM has withdrawn from the Vermont Business Roundtable because the company is "looking to take more of a stronger stance" on several issues, company spokesman Jeff Couture said Wednesday. [...]
    The Business Roundtable, founded in 1987, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization of roughly 120 CEOs who represent all major sectors of Vermont's economy. The group's mission is to develop solutions to public policy issues through collaboration, research, analysis, communication and advocacy, the group's Web site said. Its online policy center, for example, addresses education, economic development, fiscal policy, governance, health care, housing, information technology and permit reform.
    With the exception of nine months in 1993, IBM has been a member of the Business Roundtable since the nonprofit started, said Christian Falk, spokesman for the Business Roundtable. The cost of membership depends on a company's revenue and number of employees, Ventriss said, declining to disclose the cost for IBM. Falk said IBM is "at the top edge."
  • From the Job Cuts Status & Comments page
    • Comments 2/11/07: I hear that a couple of smaller groups in STG in Austin are transferring the work to India. -any mouse-
    • Comments 2/15/07: 1/2 of my spouse's dept was just given 30 days to find a job (haha) in IGS. Plus a sister dept were all given 30 days. I think all sites were hit. Also hear a lot of contractors were let go. -Retired and happy-
    • Comments 2/15/07: Just received notice that March 19th is last day. Big lay off going on. -Anonymous-
    • Comments 2/15/07: Its no better in the customer facing roles. Consulting is gone. Only the sales force is American anymore. They offshore everything and bring in Indians on H1B visas to do the technical work. Unless you have a totally unique skill you are toast. -Ironman-
    • Comments 2/16/07: Major changes and layoffs coming to IBM.COM in Toronto. People can sense it already, morale is crap. Get out before the big blue axe falls and you're faced with increased competition to find jobs. -Anonymous-
    • Comments 2/16/07: 2/16 job cuts again! We got hit 2 weeks ago lost a contractor, lost another one today. Far too short staffed now. Get out as soon as you can. Total now 2 in Poughkeepsie 2 Southbury for my team alone. -yetgain-
    • Comments 2/16/07: For the third time in less than 2 years since I've been let go. I've been approached unsolicited by IBM about a multi-year (contract) job back with them. If they said I don't have the skills, then why do they keep coming back to me?! I could have stayed and finished off my 30 years with the company, if they just hadn't been so trigger happy. Based on what I know of the job offering from doing the interview and then walking away, they will continue to have a hard time finding anyone with the proper blend of skills, but I'm not about to help IBM, ever again, in any way, no matter how much time goes by after they've cheated me out of my retirement. -Anonymous-
    • Comments 2/16/07: Gone ! Left IBM after 8 years, I recovered my dignity, got a salary increase, find pleasure at work again and realised that there is indeed a lot of opportunities on the outside job market, we should never considered ourselves trapped or caught within IBM. Too bad so many nice person keep giving so much of their talents to that brain crushing corporation... Be proud of yourself again, be a respected contributor for a company that will give you consideration, free yourself and get a new job! -Anonymous-
    • Comments 2/17/07: I don't know why everyone here is complaining. I just lost my job of 13 years to an Indian who is probably smarter than me, definitely better educated, surely complains a lot less and only requires 1/3 the salary that I made. Why on earth would IBM retain me and keep this new guy out in the cold just because he lives in a foreign country? -JohnPhog-
  • From the General Visitor's Comment page:
    • Comment 2/11/07: I wonder if Sam reads his emails? I am considering sending this email to Sam. The only problem is that I fear repercussions from my management. -Anonymous- Here is my open letter to Sam:
      Dear Sam,
      I am a long time IBM employee with over 20 years of experience. How come I feel abused by the IBM management culture you have created? I fear for my job every day. I live in constant fear of my managers. They seem to sense my feeling like an animal senses blood. All I want is work hard and keep my job to support my family. I am willing to work long hours and do what ever my management wants me to do. The problem is that I feel IBM wants to get rid of me due to my age (over 50) and save money on the retirement fund since I am a member of the old plan. I also don't look like a "20 something" right out of college. Please give me the opportunity to live out my IBM career to retirement age. Please treat me with dignity and respect as a fellow human being. Thanks for listening.
      Respectfully, A "older" devoted IBM employee
    • Comment 2/11/07: For those IBMers service who are "feeling the pressure" based on the"PBC squeeze", especially those approaching or are at 29 years of service:
      Don't rely on the fact that IBM still will offer the bridge to retirement that you can take so you can get full retirement benefits.
      IBM will freeze the pension in about 10.5 months and after it is frozen the bridge will sure have less support to hold it up so don't rely on IBM to still offer it! The bridge may just then be out by 2008.
      Yes, the bridge to retirement is another benefit that will probably fall too, unless we GET GOING NOW and get a UNION and preserve it in our contract!!!! -go over of under-
    • Comment 2/12/07: Writing to Sam will accomplish nothing. He's making the cuts that make the numbers look good. If taking you out means he looks better, he'll do it. Nothing personal, mind you. -Why Bother?-
    • Comment 2/12/07: To "I wonder if Sam".. doesn't matter if he reads it or not. You're a number that is affecting his bonus, so that email will be deleted, just like you from IBM. No executives care anymore about dignity and respect for fellow human beings. They're not listening. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 2/12/07: Thanks for the heads up on 02/09/07 SamLovesMeNot. I didn't expect the results to be as grueling. We received our percentages on Friday. Software Group PBC rating of 1 can expect a 3% to 4% variable bonus this year. So I guess most of us will be seeing 1% or so, if that. I'm sorry for all of those that busted their tail last year to get that 1 or 2+, and now the end result is, for +/- 1%, it probably wasn't worth it. What a great morale booster for the teams! I guess this is where Sam gets his $5M bonus from. Too bad he isn't down here in the trenches with us, seeing what we do day in and day out for this company. Not that I'd want him here. You want someone next to you that will watch your back, not put a knife in it. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 2/13/07: Ok, if a 1 'performer' thinks they 'busted' their whatever... how about the folks who worked themselves ragged and got a 2? -swg-
    • Comment 2/14/07: Seeing as corporations are treated by our government as persons, can they also be tried for treason as persons? -JustWondering-
    • Comment 2/16/07: You should've seen the IBM.COM kickoff in Toronto - PATHETIC! NO ENERGY - IT WAS LIKE A FUNERAL. People have had enough. Get out while you still can -Anonymous-
    • Comment 2/16/07: Same aura at the SWG kickoff event at RTP. People came to grab a fat laden pastry and split. Very pathetic and demeaning. "Kickoff" has taken on a new meaning, get kicked out the door. I can't wait, pick me please. -rtpsucks-
    • Comment 2/16/07: Why do you people want to work for a company that doesn't care about you anymore? IBM is the leader in being the anti-american offshoring surge...IBM doesn't care about americans.. you know, the same people who have made the company so profitable over the years only to be sold off for cheaper labor. -john-
    • Comment 2/17/07: Do you take sick days? My average over 30 years is less than one day per year. Since I can't get raises now, perhaps I should take some sick days. Fewer days of work for the same pay equals a raise! -Anonymous-
  • Pension Comments page
    • Comment 02/11/07: So last year it was announced that our pensions would freeze on 1/1/08. We waited until almost mid year for a tool that was classified as a modeler however what we have available to us is a useless tool to do proper retirement planning.
      Now our net benefits tool will not allow for an estimate to be created showing collecting retirement benefits beyond 1/1/08 even if you decided to retire from IBM before year end 2007.
      This is getting to the point of being criminal. Here we sit less than 1 year away from frozen pension plan and we still don't have tools for doing proper retirement planning. Maybe we could take a little of Sam's or Randy's bonus money and use it to hire a team to develop a proper tool. -ya gotta wonder-
    • Comment 02/13/07: To: Ya gotta wonder Your right on!!! I'm not at all surprised by this by IBM not being responsive or even considerate with planning tools. Even back in 1999 they pulled the ESTIMATR tool on VM away from the folks that were forced converted to the lousy and age discriminatory cash balance plan. I still hear the ringing in my ears when I called IBM HR and they just flatly and coldly responded "...the tool no longer applies to you so that's why it is not available anymore..."
      I bet IBM's tactic here is to not inform and obfuscate the real facts from us so that we can no longer do any retirement planning with their constantly changing the plans in their favor. So now they don't even care to offer us a real tool. Nor will they ever care judging their vindictive attitude when dealing with pensions and our retirement benefits. -tool what tool?-
  • Raise and Salary Comments
    • Comment 2/11/07: Salary = 63000; Band Level = 6; Job Title = Software Engineer; Years Service = 1; Hours/Week = 40; Div Name = STG; Message = A little surprised that other new hires at the same site are making over 70k. It's good this survey is out there. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 2/12/07: Salary = 53K (w/o bonus); Band Level = 6; Job Title = Tech Services Prof; Years Service = 4-5; Message = Maybe I'll break 55K this year (w/o bonus), but I doubt it. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 2/13/07: Salary = $118,500 + bonuses ($4-12k); Band Level = 8; Job Title = Sr Consultant; Years Service = 3; Hours/Week = 40-44; Div Name = Public GBS; Location = DC; Message = It is a wonder....have no idea what the ranges are and what to work toward or what is the difference between exempt professionals and others, are there two different pay scales? Are you more vulnerable if you are at the top of your pay band? Do I stick around to get promoted? Is it worth it? Or do I just move on to something else? I really like the folks I work with, but most people are not happy with what they are getting. Seems like you have to fight for it all. No one is going to hand it to you. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 2/14/07: Salary = 62K no bonuses; Band Level = 6; Job Title = IT consultant; Years Service = 6; Hours/Week = 40; Div Name = 7T; Location = RTP; Message = I've been passed up for promotion several times while inept people get promoted. Also other people in my dept at the same band level are making 10K more per year than me with no college degree. I'm training some band 8 new comers and doing the same job they do. What do I expect this year from IBM? absolutely nothing of course! The search for a new job is on. -maximus-anonymous-
    • Comment 2/15/07: HP is hiring GTS folks like mad -For Maximus-
    • Comment 02/17/07: Maximus, Amen! I've been passed up for promotion several times while inept people get promoted. Kiss up to your manager enough and you go places. They just promoted someone in our department who has no clue what they're doing. Now I've been assigned to show them how to do their job so that their promotion is justified. It would make sense that you'd be doing the work already to justify your promotion, but most everything at IBM doesn't make sense. -Anonymous-
  • PBC Comments
    • Comment 02/09/07: Prior Yr PBC = 3; This Yr PBC = 3'. 23 year employee. Only had one other '3' in those years and that was a real '3'. In 2005 during my mid-year appraisal, everything was 'fine' no problems, come PBC time, 'Oh, your a 3'. Went up the line, but of course it did no good. Now 2006, new manager says I'm going to get your '2' back. Mid-year appraisal, everything is 'fine'. PBC time, 'Well, your a 3'. So, I've finally had enough, I'm taking a bridge to retirement since the old pension plan is ending this year anyway. I'm tired of kissing all the manager's butts, and then being shafted at the end of the year because 'I didn't do enough'. As far as I'm concerned, the PBC process was the best thing IBM came up with to get rid of people. -Shafted Sam-
    • Comment 02/10/07: Prior Yr PBC = 2+; This Yr PBC = 2+; The big myth is that higher PBC results mean you have a better chance to get better raises, bonuses, and pay. If that is true, and you believe it, then I can easily convince you that the sun rises in the west and sets in the east!!!! -itdon'tmeanathing-
    • Comment 02/11/07: Prior Yr PBC = 2; This Yr PBC = 2; I'm the only one left on a team and we got replacements from other accounts that went offshore. I have spent the past year training these people. Some of them don't show up till 10am, we start at 8:30. Some have screwed up the entire year and I've had to fix things over and over. Come end of the year I get a 2 with the rest of them? Everybody got the same rating? I'm pretty peed off in PBC land. -pbcjoke-
    • Comment 02/11/07: 2004 PBC = 2+; Raise = 0%. 2005 PBC = 2; Raise = 3% 2006 PBC = 1; Raise = ? -Anonymous-
    • Comment 02/12/07: Prior Yr PBC = 2; This Yr PBC = 2; I hope that all you "posters" downloaded and read the document from Randy MacDonald that indicated how the PBC system was going to be used for future terminations. I got the document off of this Alliance web site but then it vanished and I haven't been able to find it again. I took the document to my HR representative and he told me that in fact the document clearly described how the PBC system was going to be used in the future.
      If you're a 3, I want to extend my condolences to you now. Get out while you're working because it will be easier for you to find meaningful work. If you're a 2, you will have a life until your division deems it necessary to get rid of people. Then it becomes a personality game. Does your boss like you? Do you "bond" well with your manager? You'll have a chance then.
      I've read on this site about people condemning Gerstner but remember, Randy MacDonald came in with him. Randy MacDonald is the guy wielding the axe. Randy MacDonald is the guy that needs to go! -Anonymous-
      Alliance reply: Thanks for reminding us about the document. You'll find the links to the pdf version and the power point version toward the top of this page. Both links can also be found at this link: http://www.allianceibm.org/newsupdate.htm Scroll down the page to underneath the "Heating Up The Fight" image.
    • Comment 02/13/07: Prior Yr PBC = 2; This Yr PBC = 2+' 2005 PBC:3=3% 2006 PBC:2+ Promotion to band 3 = 5.5% 2007:2+ =Unknown -Anonymous-
    • Comment 02/13/07: Just to confirm, isn't the target payout for bands 1-9, 12%, and the target for band 10, 24%? -Anonymous-
    • Comment 02/14/07: Prior Yr PBC = 1; This Yr PBC = 2+; Message = Why bother: 2004 - 1 = 0% 2005 - 1 = 3& 2006 2+ = Who cares going to get out -Anonymous-
    • Comment 02/14/07: Changed to new job/different area at start of year. 29 year with company. for first time in all my years mgr gave me 3 on pbc. At anytime during the year I could have taken a different job, if had known about her plan. Now trying to find a job. So far ... not even an interview. I would write more here regarding how I am talked down to, but can not afford to identify myself. First 1st line mgr I have ever had to announce she is going to be an executive. If had stayed in my old job would not have this problem. This is a sick situation. Now I have to find an area willing to take a risk on me and take me in. This after all these years of working all kinds of hours. Not a single person cares. -none-
    • Comment 02/15/07: Prior Yr PBC = 2+ This Yr PBC = 2 Dear \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\"None\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\"....do not let your self-esteem suffer from this place...please log into this site and you will get some understanding of IBM's tactics and you will feel better: http://www.kickbully.com/ -Anonymous-
    • Comment 02/15/07: I read the managed 2 out presentation and don't understand what these stupid IBM executives must thing we are. A bunch of animals that they continue to beat with a stick to get more and more out of us? What a sick company IBM had become. Very sick indeed. -Anonymous-
    • Comment 02/17/07: From the post: "... must thing we are. A bunch of animals that they continue to beat with a stick to get more and more out of us?" Yes, a correct assessment! How many IBMers you think have spoken up to their management chain and HR about what they truly believe was an unfair PBC rating this year? Not many I'm sure. Furthermore, it sure seems that IBM executives and HR recognize that most IBMers are sheep who have no sense how to flock together (to try to protect themselves). What is really sad is that if IBMers don't stick together then they will surely be picked off, one-by-one by the predator that is IBM HR! Flock together IBM and we can collectively fix this PBC mess: join the Alliance.. JOIN NOW!!! -jointheflock-

Vault Message Board Posts
Vault's IBM Business Consulting Services message board is a popular hangout for IBM BCS employees, including many employees acquired from PwC. A sample post follows:
  • "How to tell the difference" by "jimgggg". Excerpts: I question the assumption that any project manager can manage any engagement. I have seen it lead to pitfalls, usually due to a lack of sound sense of the business issues and business problems the project was supposed to be addressing. I would classify projects into three categories:
    • Administered projects - Those where all the administrative steps were followed, all the paper work done and checked off, problems were reacted to in a timely way, people are encouraged to stay on task and on schedule, the client's issues were resolved -- but no value was added, people were not developed, client relationships were not built, and no follow-on work was identified and sold.
    • Managed projects - Beyond administration, good communication existed, problems were anticipated as well as reacted to, people's development was addressed, the value identified in the business case was considered in all design decisions, and the client felt they got what they paid for. As a result, we may get additional work on similar projects in the future.
    • Led projects - Leading goes beyond managing. A leader has a vision and communicates it to the project team and to the client. Visions have power to excite people and provide a common basis for all design decisions. In a led project, value beyond the initial business case is identified in the course of the project and either baked into the effort or noted and set aside as a follow-up project. People are encouraged to think about potential value as they go about their assigned tasks and to identify new issues and ideas at any point in time. Led projects almost always pay for themselves and lead to more work.
    Some good advice to teams is available at my friend John McBride's site: http://johnmcbride.com/webteams.htm. John has also posted a Code of Team Behaviors useful to any team: http://johnmcbride.com/teamcode.htm.
  • "The saddest to me..." by "jimgggg". Full excerpt: The saddest to me is the administrated project that "succeeds" (i.e. doesn't blow up). People may learn from failures but if they think they succeeded when all they did was get by then that is truly sad.
    I don't believe leadership requires budget, as it is about how you do something not how much you do.
    • Time spent by staff being alert to new ideas is time spent alert rather than in a daze. People working with a leader really are more productive.
    • Time spent discussing new ideas is more than made up for in fast/sound decision making that flows from a shared vision of what the team is trying to create.
  • "You left out the most important one" by "Dose of reality". Full excerpt: And the one that occurs the most often, by far: Failed projects.
    These are a common offshoot of your administered project category. Somewhere along the way the client realizes that the delivery is going to fall way short of the glossy charts we put in the RFP. We initially try to stay with the tactical plan (which never had a chance in hell of delivering on the promised benefits), but eventually have to push down on the project team to do more with less, start blaming the client for not coming to the table, and miss milestones.
    Then the project team starts to bail, and we backfill with clueless offshore tech heads. Most client sponsors don't have the balls to admit they made a mistake in hiring us, so they find a way to declare victory, and then they move on.
    We rarely have the budget, talent, or desire to lead projects - all we really want to do is sell big ticket IBM hardware, software, and outsourcing.
  • "Leaders & Empowerment" by "jeeee4". Full excerpt: IBM, like most large companies, has very few leaders. There is almost no empowerment below the VP level so how can anyone be a leader? Here's what do I mean by that:
    A neighbor of mine is an executive in an oil company that is merging with a similar company. He told me "I can spend up to $50,000 without my boss's approval. My equivalent at OilCO can only spend $10,000 without further approval, as he is just not empowered."
    What is your level of empowerment? Can you buy a plane ticket without going to a Vice President? I think not. Bean counting and leadership have almost nothing in common. While they both use the work "accountability" they mean different things by that word.
    Editor's note: Today, at IBM's Global Business Services employees may not buy an ink jet cartridge without approval from senior management.
  • "Agreed" by "Dose of Reality". Full excerpt: Leadership just requires talent and willpower at the top, and success requires premier resources on the front lines. We just don't have any of that.
  • "Very interesting point" by "civilliberty". Full excerpt: When I read this information yesterday I realised that IBM uses the terms 'leader' and 'manager' synonymously - when in fact the two are quite distinct - this tells me that they don't realise anymore what is real leadership (if in fact they ever new).
    Of the people I saw as managers at IBM very few would qualify as being leaders, in my opinion - they really were followers - just towing the corporate line, never finding better ways to do things and often not interested that much in their staff. True leaders take an active interest in their staff, apart from anything else.
  • "A true story" by "jeeee4". Full excerpt: An IBM manager (Level 8) shared with me this conversation with a client:
    Client: This is our fifth IBM project, the first four blew up on us.
    IBMer: So why are we here for a fifth time?
    Client: After things blow up IBM always brings in the good people, the ones you were too cheap to bring in in the first place. They figure things out, straighten things out, and leave us with a working system.
    IBMer: That doesn't seem like a profitable way for us to do business.
    My observation: After the purges of 2005, many of those "good people" are no longer around as they were the low-chargability Level 10 folks the company let go to save money by 'right sizing'.
    Conversely, the theory at another consulting firm was that the best people actually represent the cheapest way to do a typical project because their experience more than makes up for their high hourly rates. (If that weren't so they shouldn't have gotten up there in Level #) So the highest skilled people are the ones most in demand not the ones least chargeable as a group.
  • "Very True - I am a IBM Sewer Cleaner" by "GTS Grunt". Full excerpt: What you said is right on. I am one of the few Band 10's left that actually bill.
    I was saved from the BCS purges of 2004-2005 by moving to GTS. Now all I do is go from troubled project to troubled project, fixing the financial detritus of young inexperienced PM's and technical SME's mixed in with egomaniacal executives with no leadership skills.
    I ran into one of my old buddies at the RDU airport. For almost 29 years, he had been a top technician with patents, corporate awards, etc. He's even got a brand image built-in to his email address. Respected among the rank and file, but feared or misunderstood by management.
    This guy had moved to sales at the end of his career because GTS delivery had eliminated commissions and his OTE had been reduced, thus affecting his pension (he's one of the real old ones).
    When I asked what he was doing and why he was back doing a project, he said he'd been temporarily moved back to save a $7M troubled engagement. Funny, he said, he'd sold it himself and had added 70% profit margin and it was already in the red after 2 months. When I asked him how that was possible, he said..."they've already gone through 6 PM's from GBS and GTS and they still can't get a decent PM that can face a customer and control a project".
    Even though he claims he's only a technician, he cleaned up the project in 4 months and delivered it on time, but at a loss of 4 million...and it took 9 Project Managers!
    I heard recently he was leaving for a boutique in late 2007, says there's so leadership in IGS, just a bunch of scared managers. He's decided to see how long he can do nothing yet not be fired.
    What a company. You don't need to watch soap operas, just look at what's happening inside IBM!
  • "The best people" by "Dose of reality". Full excerpt: It cost another 10-20% at the margin to upgrade the composite roster from mediocre to top tier. That is 3- 5% of revenue. How much more work would we get if we had 90% high performing teams instead of 10%? The math and economics are pretty simple if you are not just trying to cash out and take a downhill path. This is especially true, since the clients expect top tier talent, and a highly motivated team, neither of which you can get with our current compensation policies.
    We are running this place like a commodity manufacturing company, instead of a blue chip services firm.
  • "ISC to GBS" by "pok123". Full excerpt: I'm currently in the ISC and will probably be promoted to a band 8 this year. I'm thinking that I'd like to take my next job as a consultant in GBS and then leave to a more reputable firm in a couple years. Will it be difficult for me to transition to a GBS consulting position as a band 8 with no consulting experience to this point?
  • "IBM Philosophy" by "GTS Grunt". Full excerpt: IBM's philosophy, in my 30+ years in the firm has never been to be top tier. Management has always believed in getting by with the least investment and letting the brand overcome mediocrity.
    Either management is planning to eventually dispose of services, or maybe they think that because the demographics crunch will let them make money despite mediocrity, or some MBA type that's never run a business outside of IBM has sold them on the fact that they can productize services and make people interchangeable disposable tools.
    I think they want to be mediocre and will continue to push to the lowest common denominator (pay, benefits, employee quality) while using the brand image to increase margins for a while, thinking IT will commoditize anyway.
  • "Starting off - Band 6" by "StepinConsultant". Full excerpt: I have got a call from IBM SS&C for consultant role Band-6. I already have one year experience but this is going to be first jump into consulting. I have heard quite a few things about S&C good & bad. Can someone brief me about the finer points on growth and what package to negotiate at?
  • "A rude awakening" by "Dose of Reality". Full excerpt: I am going to cut you some slack, since the IBM recruiting machine is really adept at snowing candidates at entry level. You folks just don't have the consulting industry savvy to ask the right questions or do the right research. You hear the name IBM, and automatically assume that no due diligence is required on the culture or environment. It just sounds impressive to tell friends and family that you are negotiating an offer with IBM consulting, so you jump right to “what package should I negotiate”.
    Regarding the finer points on growth, there are none, because there is none – growth that is. Our S&C practice is nothing more than a bunch of guys trying to sell big ticket IBM products and services under the guise of operational improvement. We do not do business strategy, and the operational work that we do consists of slamming in technology or selling outsourcing. If you are looking for a top tier career path to a C-level post, this is not where you want to start. You will morph into an application configuration specialist.
    Along the way, we will demand ridiculously high utilization targets (the % of your working hours that you have to be chargeable), you will do grunt work for a few years, your evaluations will be clustered in the middle of the pack (where 75% end up), your raises will be very low single digits if you are lucky, and forget anything they tell you about bonus targets – they are contingent on the division reaching profit targets that are always set unachievably high.
    As far as what to negotiate, there is very little room. If you are lucky, we won’t string you a long for months before your start date, as we wait until we have a need for you on a project. We put anyone with a pulse on the “offer” list, and take the cheapest that we can find when it comes time to add staff to the roster.
    You can ignore this information now, and fall into the category of those that regretted it later (see the history on this board for the evidence), or if you are smart, you will demand 10% more than you are worth, and then walk away when they say no.
    If you do join the company, don’t spend a single day trying to meet IBM targets or being a good corporate citizen – that will get you nothing in terms of compensation or career progression. Just spend all your time building your skills for your own sake, and you will be able to salvage something from the experience.
    Welcome to the real world Neo!
  • "Being an ex-IBMer I concur with Dose" by "civilliberty". Full excerpt: I did not come at entry level, but did spend a few years working for the company and whilst I have not seen it at all the levels Dose obviously has, I saw enough to know that what Dose has said is true.
    You will be expected to work your backside off in the hope that you get a good/average PBC/appraisal rating - and I stress the word hope. With the appraisal model they follow there is absolutely no assurance whatsoever as to what rating you can reasonably expect to get - the process is too subjective to allow one to walk away from a year of hard work and achievement confident that everyone will understand just how good you are and what you have done for the company - no matter how well you can justify it. It is a deliberate maneuver by the company to manipulate both the employee and overall appraisal outcomes. This allows them to favour and reward whoever they want and, if they elect to , to not reward anybody - and is probably most dangerous in the hands of certain immigrants flooding the IT market (I know of one case when a person who was to thrown off a project at the request of the client got a top rating of '1').
    It is extremely disheartening to work under this type of regime as an experienced employee who can see all this manipulation, but it would be even worse for a new entrant who may not realise he has been taken for a ride till some years down the track.
    If you want a career seriously consider the successful smaller consultancies who will invest time and training in you. The bigger consultancies are selling out there services and history to the lands of cheaper resources and with that in mind western based resources no longer have the value in their eyes the way they used to.
  • "No, but you need to ask yourself about your choice of employer" by "civilliberty". Full excerpt: There is ample history now on this board to completely justify a recommendation to not join IBM under any circumstances - it's there for the viewing. Everything from a rigged appraisal system, to rampant favoritism, to a non-existent career path and a complete lack of competitive remuneration rewarding the real achievers. If this sounds like a list of features you are looking for in an employer, then IBM may indeed be the place for you.
  • "Seriously..." by "jeeee4". Full excerpt: Studies show that one of the most demotivating things you can do is hold people accountable for things they cannot control. Refer to IBM's bonus plans or even so-called personal goals.
  • "Well Said" by "GTS Grunt". Full excerpt: In GTS, they've moved to a six month commission year and cycle, but raised the minimums to 75%. That means you need to make 75% of the 6 month target each quarter or you get zilch for your commission payments. The sales guys got their salaries cut to 82% of base salary as well. You betcha it's not motivating. The only motivation is to jump and go to HP, which seems to be on a hiring rampage of ex-IBMers for some reason.

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