IT service demands are difficult to forecast precisely. Large corporations struggle with capacity management especially when the list of new projects is growing. This demand might be addressed by IT Service Companies that specialize in managing resources that are waiting for assignment (sitting on a bench) to a commercial project/contract but remain on the payrolls and receive regular remuneration.
Capacity management based on outsourcing is a cost-effective way to deliver more projects. It also helps when high visibility project needs extra help in a short time. IT services that are scalable and cost-effective help to reduce overhead with in-house hiring processes and long-term help to reduce TCO for large companies.
Firstly, I would like to list down pros and cons of bench based on my experience in IT Industry:
- Nowadays IT professionals are highly demanding and valued people on the market. To hire a person with appropriate skills and competencies may not only be difficult but also takes quite some time (sometimes up to 4-6 months).
- Faster readiness to secure resources for new projects by keeping workforce with appropriate capacity on board.
- Team members that are sitting on a bench potentially back up people allocated to projects in case of their longer planned or unexpected leaves and allow maintain healthy work life balance for individuals with full, long and highly demanding allocations.
- There is an opportunity for available team members to develop their skills and therefore broaden their capabilities, increase their value on the market thus empower selling capabilities.
- With the support of people on a bench the internal projects may be delivered faster.
- No immediate termination of the contract binds employees with the company, so even if they move to another job they are more willing to join a company for a new project again.
- Adversely impacts productivity and, from a short-term angle, profitability of the company.
- Higher flexibility in selecting professionals with more suitable skills directly from the market.
- Without appropriate bench management people on bench who don't know what is in store for them may feel not at ease and become frustrated in relatively short period of time.
After summary of all the pros and cons it appears that using or having effectively managed bench or IT service professionals really makes sense. If you are representing an IT Services Company, it might help you with moving to the next level: from IT Services to IT Consulting providers.
Bench management can also build an advantage for your Company in relation to the competition. As a client you can generate lots of savings (time, money and resources) by engaging vendor who effectively manage bench of IT professionals.
Below I am sharing best practices of bench management that we follow in our Company:
- Keep conducting in-depth analyzes of current bench capabilities against current & future demands.
- Broaden the capacity of people on bench through e.g.,
- engaging them in other projects (like backing up other people),
- networking of the people on the bench to share their experience and knowledge,
- self-development, mentoring and formal training,
- empowering the bench selling capabilities.
- Utilize bench people for internal projects and tasks.
- Encourage bench people in self hunt for searching opportunities in coordination with Sales Department.
- Avoid situation when a person is on bench for a longer period (up to 3 months) with no clear prospect of future allocation.
What is your experience with bench? Do you have it in your organization? Do you use it? Or maybe you currently sit on a bench? Don’t hesitate to share your feedback below!
Senior DevOps Manager