Is the bench dead for the channel?

Friday, October 15th, 2021

The bench is a commonly used term in professional services that refers to employees who are not actively delivering work on commercial projects. Very much like a subs bench in sport, team members on the bench are waiting to be called up to work. But why do organisations have staff, often highly skilled and experienced, sitting on the bench and is this still a viable business model, especially in the fast-paced and constantly evolving world of cyber where we are seeing an increasing demand for flexible access to trusted and high quality capability?
Balancing supply and demand
It’s the age-old conundrum of needing to have enough resource to deliver new and ongoing projects to sustain and grow the business, but at the same time not be overstaffed. If there isn’t sufficient resource available, clients are often not prepared to wait and the company loses business, but if providers are overstaffed, they have an expensive, under utilised resource, which reduces revenue, margins, and profitability. For many service providers, trying to employ full-time staff to keep up with the demands trends of customer growth and increasing compliance requirements can be a thankless task.
This balance of supply and demand is extremely hard to forecast accurately. Professional services providers can often achieve relatively low utilisation rates, which can frequently be attributed to factors beyond their control such as delays in signing a contract, problems aligning schedules, clients’ budgetary constraints, changes in the project scope or even cancellation. It’s clear to see why optimising your management of the bench can be so problematic-you want your team to spend the majority of its time working with clients and generating revenue, but you also need flexibility to allow for growth, react quickly to peaks in demand for services, deal with tight time-frames, and ensure you don’t miss out on any valuable opportunities.
Staff welfare
There’s also another important consideration here, in that staff morale and job satisfaction can be adversely affected by enforced periods on the bench, and it can be difficult to keep employees motivated if they are not actively engaged on commercial projects. There will always be a degree of uncertainty for those who, through no fault of their own, find themselves on the bench, especially if there is no clear view of an upcoming assignment. As a minimum this can be frustrating, but at worst can also be a significant cause of stress and lead to issues with staff turnover.
On the flip side if you don’t have enough resource to hand you risk your staff being over-worked, leading to fatigue and burn-out. Either way, we’re still in the midst of a cyber skills shortage, so employee retention is a key priority for many businesses and managing the expectations of those on the bench can be challenging.
Finally, add in the fact that capacity management and resource planning can be extremely complex and time-consuming, and together all these factors highlight some of the inherent problems with maintaining internal resource. It’s clear to see why an increasing number of companies can no longer afford to operate this type of business model, and instead are looking for additional capability on demand.
What are the advantages? Outsourcing to a trusted third party offers the channel agility and quality as a capability, so that organisations of all sizes can rapidly access industry expertise in a cost-effective and scalable way. Providing additional skills and capacity on demand allows you to seamlessly manage available resource with project requirements and offer a wider portfolio of services. Building these types of strategic relationships not only delivers trust and assurance, but also enables:
• Access to skilled and experienced cyber professionals as required
• Flexibility to ramp up capacity at times of peak demand
• Agility to adapt quickly to changing requirements in the market
• De-risk capacity management
• Reduce overheads and lead times compared to an in-house recruitment process
• Additional resource that seamlessly integrates into your existing team
• Shorter lead time for clients with rapid access to a team of cyber experts
• Opportunities for diversification and the ability to offer a wider range of services
• Increase utilisation rate of in-house staff
• More cost-effective as salaried resource spends less time on the bench
• Keep employees engaged, improving staff morale and retention
• Never miss an opportunity due to lack of resource or scheduling conflicts
As a channel only cyber consultancy, CBG’s goal is to enable our partners’ success by bridging cyber services, business services, resource, and advisory gaps. Our range of packaged, bespoke, and retainer-based cyber services has been carefully developed by our team of experts to align with strategic business goals, providing additional skills and resource for our partners to fulfil demand or increase service portfolio diversification and reach.
By Jamie Murphy, CEO, Cyber Business Growth
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